April 2, 2008

While I'm out

There's still plenty happening in Dryden, of course!

If you're looking for more on what's happening in the Town, Dryden Democrats has lots of news, including recreation, planning, broadband, and dog control. Dryden Daily KAZ reflects on weather, national politics, wildlife, and the Dryden schools Superintendent search. Dryden is Home writes about aerial photography, movie mashups, Earth Hour, and how reaching out to a mugger can make the world a brighter place.

Woolgatherings writes about children and about business, while Potter's Blog writes about pottery and all kinds of everything.

For a very different take on the world, try Two--Four, which mixes guitars and libertarianism. It's definitely not the friendliest read, but also in the neighborhood.

In print, I strongly recommend (as always) the Dryden Courier, which is routinely putting the Ithaca Journal and even frequently the Cortland Standard to shame with its deep coverage of the Village, Town, and schools of Dryden. Tompkins Weekly is doing well too, though it covers the whole county.

If you'd like to get your news in person, you might wander over to the Dryden Community Center Cafe and talk with friends.

(And if you don't know why I'm distracted lately, here's why:

Sungiva sleeping
Sungiva sleeping.)

Posted by simon at 7:18 PM Comment

April 4, 2008


Sometimes a little contrast is a good thing. I pointed readers to Two--Four yesterday, a site I can always promise will be interesting, and Billy Beck wrote a piece welcoming visitors. (He lives just outside of Dryden, close enough for Living in Dryden purposes.)

What he wrote - about Dryden and in general - clarified some thoughts I've had about this site and the rest of the work I do. Not that I agreed with it - we definitely come at the world from different perspectives. He writes:

I might point out that I could be just as friendly as the next guy, except on those days when I am mortally concerned for my country, because my first political touchstone is freedom.

I hadn't really thought about "my first political touchstone" before, but it came to me quickly on reading this - community. Community and the trust that's the vital ingredient for creating, sustaining, and building it.

You can pretend you have community if you don't have trust, but what you probably have is convenience. I can live with that sometimes, and don't necessarily object to working with people I don't trust, but in the end trust lets us get a lot more done, without hating each other. Making that work will, of course, require a lot of freedom. Trust doesn't seem to work in authoritarian systems either.

One thing I've always enjoyed about reading Two--Four is that despite our different touchstones, we both seem to share a suspicion of of power. I suspect for him it's because the abuse of power leads quickly to violation of individual rights, while for me it's because the abuse of power leads quickly to the violation of trust and the demise of community. Even though we're completely different in many ways - I can't imagine thinking of the Village of Dryden as "way too commie for me" - I think we might still have enough in common to both keep at least some aspects of the world from going even further out of whack than they've already gone.

As I said, though, Two--Four is always interesting, worth reading for some necessary contrast with the way I'm comfortable thinking.

Posted by simon at 1:27 PM Comment

April 5, 2008

A couple of quotes worth remembering

This week's news has been fairly quiet, though I need to do a more formal run down. This morning, while Sungiva's sleeping, I just want to make sure I get two quotes recorded here.

The first, hopeful, quote is from Town Attorney Mahlon Perkins, speaking to Tompkins Weekly in his role as attorney for the Coddington Area Neighborhood Association, which is fighting a proposed widening of Coddington Road:

"I am always concerned when you have a multimillion dollar project that cuts the corners when it comes to environmental impact."

The second, egregious, quote is from State Senator Jim Seward, in response to challenger Don Barber's weekend bus tour announcement. I guess Seward feels pretty entitled to his seat to say things like:

"People come first, politics later. Now is the time for governing, not games. While some are starting the political silly season early, I am focused on getting results in a state budget that helps with property taxes, gasoline and home heating costs, jobs and affordable health insurance."

Right. Seward's right there with the most secretive Three Men in a Room budget process in recent memory. And politics is just "silly season"? Come on.

Attitude like this is just one of the many reasons this district can do better than Jim Seward. He seems to forget that people, who do indeed come first, actually vote for their representatives, and his record isn't all that exciting once you look beyond the pork. Maybe he's just feeling too comfortable in his bizarrely gerrymandered district? He shouldn't.

Posted by simon at 10:02 AM Comment

Freeville resident reflects on Tibet

Finally catching up with a week or so of the Ithaca Journal -

Freeville resident Rachel Dickinson reflects on her visit to Tibet in July 2006 in the light of recent riots, concluding sadly:

It makes me so sad to think of what is happening in Tibet today. I imagined that China would try to capitalize on Tibet's quaintness and that the trouble between the Tibetans and the Chinese would be postponed until the power struggle that's sure to ensue when this Dalai Lama dies. But how naïve I am. As I sit in my house in Freeville and read news stories about Tibet from all over the world I am sickened by the violence and fear for the country's future as either a sovereign or autonomous region. And I look at the tattered prayer flag I brought back from Tibet and have hanging in my overgrown wintered-over garden and know that whatever happens won't be good.

A fire on Wood Road in Freeville last Saturday morning displaced two people. The Freeville, Dryden, Etna, Cayuga Heights, McLean and Varna fire companies responded.

An article on firefighter training at Pyramid Mall mentions that the Dryden Fire Department has "Firefighter Assist Search Teams, known as FAST".

How They Voted in the Tompkins County Legislature includes unanimous approval for "Sincere appreciation to W.B. Strong Fire Company and Freeville Fire Department" and a 13-1 vote on "Authorization to execute a contract for engineering services for Caswell Road landfill leachate disposal study". They're also still looking for a new county administrator.

The big news at the county level this week is the state's finding probable cause to hear a sexual harassment and retaliation case against Sheriff Peter Meskill based on charges from Ithaca Alderwoman Robin Holtham Korherr. There was a more detailed report on the process, with some skepticism from the County Attorney, and today there's a much detailed report of the allegations against Meskill.

At the state level, I mentioned Don Barber's announcement of a run for State Senate and Jim Seward's scornful comments earlier.

Posted by simon at 1:56 PM Comment

Convenience store manager missing

The Cortland Standard's ever-smaller web version is easier to catch up with, though not entirely happy.

There's an article on a missing manager of a Dryden convenience store, who was last seen at her Killawog home Tuesday night. They also report on the new student center at TC3.

Posted by simon at 2:25 PM Comment

April 7, 2008

More on missing convenience-store manager

This morning's Journal reported on Bethanie Dougherty's disappearance from her home in Killawog, talking with her co-workers at the Freeville Xtra Mart - that'd be the one on 13/366. There is as yet no sign of her, but her family is posting signs all over.

On the opinion page, Christine Bravo-Cullen of Dryden writes to complain about Congressional earmarks.

Posted by simon at 10:03 PM Comment

April 8, 2008

More Sungiva photos

I've had lots of requests for more photos of little Sungiva, and I've posted a new gallery of photos. Some of them have been up before - new photos start on page 3.

Simon, Angelika and Sungiva
Simon, Angelika and Sungiva.

Posted by simon at 9:19 PM Comment

April 9, 2008

New Dryden schools superintendent

(There was a lot in yesterday's Journal and today's Journal about Dryden, so I'll post separate stories.)

The Dryden school district will have a new superintendent who's familiar with the district: Dryden Elementary School Principal Sandra Sherwood. She'll start July 1st, and interim Superintendent James Lee will finish out this school year. (There's also an article on the problem of superintendent turnover.)

State Police will be more aggressively patrolling the main route from Ithaca to Route 81, Routes 13 here and Route 281 in Cortland.

Dryden Town Attorney Mahlon Perkins, working in his private practice, has put a temporary halt to the county's road work on Coddington Road.

The Dryden, Freeville, and McLean fire departments were among those responding to a house fire in Groton.

The search for a Killawog woman who managed the XtraMart on Route 13/366 was scaled back on Monday without results.

Posted by simon at 8:27 PM Comment

Nedyrd in Dryden

Cathy Wakeman's Dryden Town Talk column today is a directory of different things going on in the Town:

  • She reports on the presentation Margaret Lorenzen will lead on the Nedyrd Food Cooperative, at 7:00pm on April 23rd at the Dryden Village Hall

  • Tracy Kurtz is on her way to jail - for a fundraiser.

  • Oskar Schmidt is offering massage therapy on Genung Road.

  • Jeanne Calabretta will be hosting "Young at Any Age," at the Dryden Fire Hall from 6:30pm to 9:00pm on Tuesday, April 22nd.

There's also a piece on Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton hosting a session on garbage trucks passing through on April 17th at 1:00pm.

Posted by simon at 9:03 PM Comment

April 10, 2008

Major change coming on Game Farm Road?

David Weinstein left this huge piece in comments. Well worth reading!

I learned late last week that the county is planning on widening Game Farm Rd, cutting eight feet of the venerable old-growth forest McGowan Woods on Game Farm Rd. Apparently both the Cornell Plantations Plantations and the Cornell Forest Advisory Board had reluctantly acquiesced on the county's plan to add a foot to each lane of traffic and a bicycle-jogging lane, cutting all the trees in that swath, some of which are quite sizeable. There are, of course, plenty of large trees in McGowan Woods, but anyone who passes the woods regularly knows that there are a profusion of wildflowers right in this swath, and that the unique environment supported by the light diffusing properties of the woods boundary on this east-facing side encourages some spring ephemeral populations to only be found near this boundary. The cutting is not only going to tear up 8 feet of soil on the whole east side of this woods, but will greatly change the morning light penetration into those woods. Although the road builders have apparently agreed to installing some sort of moisture membrane, who really knows how this is going to change the unique drainage of the area.

And why is this being done?

1. Because it is easier to cut the trees than to worry about putting a bic path on the other side of the street (like they did on Pine Tree Rd)?

2. Because cars need to go faster on Game Farm road (as increasing the wide of the driving lane will inevitably cause them to do)?

3. Because drivers need to go fast by Game Farm rd because they are bound to lose time when they have to slow up where the road narrows as it crosses Cascadilla Creek (that is, if they CAN slow up before hitting one of the abutment retaining walls)?

I am all for bicycle lanes everywhere we can install them, but if we need to move some electric poles to put these lanes on the other side of the street and avoid changing any part of the McGowan Woods environment, I think that would be well worth it. I do not see any reason for widening the driving lane at all, and I thought we had already learned that lesson locally. Note that Coddington Rd, a major local conduit, has 9 foot lanes. Do we really need 12 foot lanes on Game Farm Rd.

I know the County vetted this idea past knowledgeable people, and so I should be willing to say the process has worked as it should, regardless of the fact that I don't like the conclusion. However, I am amazed that this project has not been subjected to wide public scrutiny (I haven't seen any mention of it, and I watch the local media pretty carefully). I have informed Martha Robertson about this, and she has started asking a lot of people questions, but the trees are now cut to install the drainage (including 3 oaks with diameters between 20 and 30 inches and a group of other trees with diameters between 10 and 20 inches). With the road reconstruction scheduled for next year, all that is left is the post-mortem to figure out how this could be handled differently next time.

I am dismayed that County officials still talk about needing a standard clear zone (an area next to the road that is free of fixed objects) width is 10 feet (John Lampman's words). This is a straight stretch of road. What kind of drivers are we trying to make our roads safe for? The County engineers are still talking about fixed rights-of-way, when clearly state law gives them no jurisdiction over areas that have housed 100 year old trees for a century.

Cutting these trees is not an act of biblical proportions, but there were alternatives through which the road could have been rebuilt and a bic-pedestrian-safe zone could have been created without touching McGowan Woods. There is no evidence that these alternatives were seriously considered, and no evidence that the public was invited to help think through these alternatives with the County.

It sounds like the county highway department's gotten vastly more aggressive in their road design, something that seems like a very bad idea to me. Yes to bike paths - but this doesn't seem like the right way to go about it. I hadn't realized that this project would echo Coddington Road.

Posted by simon at 1:08 PM Comment

Possible federal tax break for volunteer firefighters

The main news for Dryden in today's Journal is a proposed refundable $1000 federal income tax break for volunteer firefighters. I'd love to see it, especially given how weirdly messed up the state has made local tax breaks for firefighters.

Posted by simon at 8:53 PM Comment

April 14, 2008

More on TC3 security

Saturday's Ithaca Journal had an article on changes to campus security, including TC3 security. There's also a piece that interviews students about it.

A Dryden resident was sentenced to probation and restitution for theft committed while managing the Ithaca AutoZone.

There was also How They Voted in Albany (budget bills) and How They Voted in Washington.

Silas Magee of Dryden participated in a Clean Snowmobile Challenge as part of the Clarkson University team.

There were three Dryden-related Laurels - one from the SPCA, one from Dan Karig of Brooktondale, and one from Natasha Thomas thanking the Sheriff's department, kids at Etna Park, and someone who found her wallet there.

In news updates over the weekend, there was a notice that the Cornell garden plots on Freese Road are available.

Posted by simon at 7:42 AM Comment

Election costs drive poll consolidation

New election equipment will cost the county extra, as New York State's painfully slow process for updating its equipment rolls into a presidential election year. To avoid some of that cost, the Dryden Fire Station is going to host more polls:

The Dryden Fire Station will absorb two polling places. Voters who typically went to the Village Hall and the Dryden Baptist Church will now go to the Dryden Fire Station.

(The machines the Board of Elections chose for the county are fine with me. I'd prefer to keep the old lever machines, personally, but the federal government, among others, won't accept that option. Alternately, a return to plain paper ballots counted by hand would be fine with me.)

Gary Simmons of Dryden writes to object to the $1.25/pack increase in New York's cigarette tax.

Posted by simon at 7:57 AM Comment

Awesome New York State Sauerkraut

Last week, I saw some sauerkraut in the Ludgate Farms vegetable case. It was marked local, and since we're eating locally, I figured it was worth a try despite the $5.69 pricetag for fifteen ounces.

Over in Ghent, NY, Hawthorne Valley Farm is doing something very right. This is easily the most delicious sauerkraut I've had, though I'm no expert on it. Angelika (who is German but doesn't claim to be a sauerkraut authority) also thinks it's delicious.

I like it enough that I keep taking the jar out of the refrigerator and eating it cold.

Beyond the flavor and texture, there are two things I really liked about this. The ingredients list is simple:

New York State Organic Cabbage, and Unrefined Sea Salt.

Finally, someone identifies where there ingredients came from! And the list is appropriately simple - the two necessary components of sauerkraut.

The other thing I liked was that the jar briefly described the process - lacto-fermentation - used to make this, and that was a good idea, since when I opened it, it fizzed a fair amount.

They also make gingered carrots, kim chi (which I think needs more red pepper), and a variety of other products.

Definitely worth a taste!

Posted by simon at 8:01 AM Comment

April 15, 2008

Residents and superintendents

This morning's editorial in the Ithaca Journal emphasizes the importance of including resident input on school superintendent decisions, and notes Dryden's recent search:

Last week, Dryden hired Sandra Sherwood to be the next superintendent after serving as elementary school principal for four years. The district used input from 53 residents on six committees, including one committee that was made up of 11 students....

When districts in Tompkins County conduct superintendent searches there are many options from seeking input from the public. It is impossible to try to reach every resident like a Census counter, but the examples of using broad-based committees and surveys helped Dryden and Lansing expand their reach.

Also on the opinion page, Brenda Teeter of Freeville objects to phone companies dropping phonebooks in the snow next to mailboxes.

Posted by simon at 3:16 PM Comment

April 19, 2008

Varna firefighter honored; truck route controversy

The County Legislature honored Will Hine of Varna as the county's Distinguished Youth for April. Hine, 19, responded to more than half, nearly 200, of the company's calls. (The Journal's Wednesday editorial also supported a federal tax break for volunteer firefighters.)

It sounds like a truck meeting turned into a trainwreck for Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton. Dryden residents on Route 79 may be especially interested. The Journal starts with some questioning by her Republican fellow legislators and the Upstate New York Safety Coalition Task Force :

Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-50th Dist., and Assemblywoman Lifton, D-125th Dist., disagree about whether a bill proposed by DeFrancisco in the Senate could stand up in court. The Upstate Task Force sided with DeFrancisco, along with many audience members.

The same bill has been put forth in the Assembly by Assemblyman Will Barclay, R-124th Dist., and Lifton said she has not signed on because everything she has heard indicates that Gov. David Paterson will veto the bill.

The bills in the Assembly and the Senate would designate the state Department of Transportation as the truck-routing agency that would have the authority to designate what routes trucks can travel. Lifton said a bill stating that the DOT can designate routes "is not going to meet constitutional muster."

"That means the governor is going to veto it and it's not going to happen," she said.

There's no discussion here of whether it's a good idea - Lifton seems simply not to want to vote against a veto of an unconstitutional veto. But there's more here - not even from Republicans knocking down both of those claims. First, the DOT claims not to have taken a position yet:

Lifton said transportation officials have told her the bill would not hold up constitutionally.

"State DOT has read the DeFrancisco bill and they say that they will turn around to the governor ... and urge the governor to veto that bill," Lifton said. "That's what's going to happen currently. That's what DOT is telling me."

Skip Carrier, a public information officer at the DOT, said the department has not taken a position yet. Carrier was not at the meeting.

"We're looking at the legislation and are reviewing it," he said. "We haven't taken a position on these bills yet."

Then, a representative of fellow Democrat Chuck Schumer's office questions the "unconstitutional" claim:

Amanda Spellicy, a legislative aide for Schumer, disagreed with the fact that the bill is unconstitutional.

"I do have to respectfully disagree in terms of the constitutionality component," she said. "We've done a lot of vetting and truck agencies absolutely can be created. There are states where they exist. The key element is that reasonable access is afforded because that is where we get into some of those interferences with clauses. As long as that's done we have every assurance that there is precedent constitutionally to do so."

Lifton's answer to all this seems to be the classic Albany approach to making it look like you want a problem solved without actually having to take action that might bother someone: creating a "Blue Ribbon Commission."

The Syracuse Post-Standard also has a blog entry - "Assemblywoman Lifton irritates garbage truck task force, others and an article - " Task Force Hits Detour".

Posted by simon at 7:15 AM Comment

Food prices climbing

Today's Journal notices what the Cortland Standard noticed a few months ago: increasing grain prices are making it harder for local bakers and others who use lots of flour. There's also a more general piece on wheat prices and another piece that examines energy and food inflation.

Food prices are climbing for a lot of reasons, but as the article on bakeries notes, energy is a key component. It just plain costs a lot to truck 100-pound bags of flour around, and diesel prices seem to have climbed even more than gasoline prices.

Even before you get the food into the truck, though, nearly our entire agricultural system today is bound to oil. I first started figuring this out in 2004, when Richard Manning's The oil we eat shocked me with this simple story:

"A two-pound bag of breakfast cereal burns the energy of a half-gallon of gasoline in its making. All together the food-processing industry in the United States uses about ten calories of fossil-fuel energy for every calorie of food energy it produces....

That number does not include the fuel used in transporting the food from the factory to a store near you, or the fuel used by millions of people driving to thousands of super discount stores on the edge of town, where the land is cheap."

It doesn't help that we're turning large areas of good land into source of ethanol fuel, or that Australia is having serious drought, but in general the cost of food is going to climb as the cost of energy increases. We've enjoyed cheap food because of cheap energy for a long long time, and we need to remember that that was a privilege, not the natural state of things.

At our house, we're lucky at the moment, having bought local wheat in bulk last summer, but I don't think the Town of Dryden is likely to see a resurgence in wheatfields. However, I do hope that our garden will help ease our budget and our impact on everyone else's budget, and encourage more people to try it.

Posted by simon at 7:38 AM Comment

More on missing store manager

On today's opinion page, the Journal's Opinion Editor, Andrew Tutino, reflects on the life and disappearance of Bethanie Dougherty, talking with friends about the manager-in-training at the XtraMart on 13/366.

Posted by simon at 7:53 AM Comment

April 21, 2008

Garbage truck trainwreck continues

"Clearly, people don't understand how state law is made."

Hmmm.... Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton seems to have put herself in a tight spot after last week's meeting on garbage truck traffic on two-lane highways. Maybe headlines as far away as Syracuse titled "Assemblywoman Lifton irritates garbage truck task force, others" were a bad sign (though the print edition had the milder "Task Force Hits Detour".

Today's article presents Lifton asking for clarification of the Department of Transportation's position, as "there may have been a lapse in communication as personnel changed in state offices." These two paragraphs seem to cut to heart of the matter for Lifton:

Lifton's letter to Commissioner Astrid Glynn said that over the past year and a half, DOT counsel told both the Assembly central staff and Lifton's staff that DOT has "many concerns" with the Senate bill sponsored by Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-50th. Lifton also said in her letter that, "Some must think I'm not telling the truth," based on the fact that it appears as if she is not saying the same thing DOT is saying....

"I hardly know how to respond," Lifton said of the comments made against her. "I'm actually trying to work on a bill that the DOT would approve and the governor would sign into law to help mitigate this problem. I find it an incredible misunderstanding on where we are. Clearly, people don't understand how state law is made."

This Journal article presents the conflict as one between Democratic and Republican bills, which is unfortunate, as the original article included a representative from Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, whose office found the Republican proposal constitutional.

There are some pieces in the two articles and in the background story that I think might explain what's happening, though doubtless someone will show up to tell me that "Clearly, [I] don't understand how state law is made." Still, if you connect the pieces, there appears to be a pattern. First, the background:

  • Senator Schumer's office has been active on this issue for a long time. In fact, I'm pretty sure I first heard of it because of his office. I'm not a huge fan of Senator Schumer, but he recognizes that the entire state elects him, and does push hard on Upstate issues.

  • This is an issue that Upstate Republicans have united on. They're not huge fans of regulation generally. However, their constituents are definitely annoyed by the truck traffic, this affects people in a number of different Assembly and Senate districts, and a lot of the traffic comes from New York City, making it even easier for constituent temperatures to rise.

  • Democratic legislators are much less happy about this issue generally. Many of them represent districts where the garbage originates, and their constituents would have to bear the burden of the extra costs.

Today's article adds two things:

  • The article notes that Lifton is not even optimistic about the possible fate of her proposed "blue-ribbon commission" bill, never mind the more concrete Republican-sponsored bill - "She said at the meeting that she does not think her bill could get through the Assembly by the end of the year."

  • The role of the DOT leadership in this remains murky. What's the story on the earlier statements? Were they telling Democratic legislators what they wanted to hear, for better or worse? Lifton's letter to the DOT (missing a page) notes that "Tomika Bennett, an attorney on your staff, was slated to come to Ithaca to explain why the DOT is opposed to that specific bill, but cancelled shortly before the meeting due to illness."

To me, the telling part is Chuck Schumer's aide coming to the meeting and saying bluntly:

"We've done a lot of vetting and truck agencies absolutely can be created. There are states where they exist. The key element is that reasonable access is afforded because that is where we get into some of those interferences with clauses. As long as that's done we have every assurance that there is precedent constitutionally to do so."

With that comment, she blew the story wide open. It's hard to oppose this on grounds of constitutionality when a Senator from your own party not only disagrees, but points to its use in other states. Schumer, of course, isn't very worried about what the Democratic conference wants - he needs to make sure that Upstate knows he's working hard for us.

So overall, I think:

  • Lifton is trapped between her constituents who hate these trucks and an Assembly that won't likely pass any bill on the subject;

  • Lifton is unwilling even to push for a bill with stronger language because that would be bucking the Democratic conference in the Assembly;

  • Lifton is unwilling to come out and say something like "the Democratic leadership just handed us $2 million for dredging Cayuga Inlet - why would I challenge them this week?" That would force her to acknowledge some ugly things:

    • that one constituency might be more important than another;

    • that money gifted by the leadership is more important than passing legislation;

    • that money from the leadership has something to do with one's loyalty to the conference's wishes rather than to one's loyalty to the district.

I'm pretty confident in that analysis. Of course, though, "Clearly, people don't understand how state law is made." And no, I haven't asked her office - I doubt I'd get any different answer on the record than she's given the Journal or made at the meeting.

Update: I just noticed this on the WHCU news page, which felt like a stronger statement from Lifton than I see in the Journal:

Lifton Asked For A Clarification And Said If It Turns Out The DOT Has No Objections She Will Introduce The Bill In The Assembly.

That led me back to look more closely at Lifton's letter, where she writes that:

If you are indeed supportive of S6461, please let me know immediately, and I will introduce that bill in the Assembly and push for its immediate passage. If you are not supportive and you would urge the Governor to veto such a bill, perhaps you would explain your opposition to the public and offer another remedy to [cut off]

This sounds like Lifton is leaving her position up to the DOT, which is itself a very strange position for a legislator to take. She's supposed to represent her constituents to the DOT, not the other way around. Beyond that, I suspect there's a large gap between "supportive" and "would urge the Governor to veto such a bill." And why would she have to introduce the bill herself, when Barclay's already introduced it?

(I really don't like Barclay after the State Senate race in the 48th, but side-stepping a bill that's already introduced is just more Assembly shoving around, I think.)

I think this part was meant to sound strong, but sadly, it just comes across as more weakness.

If I had known that meeting was going to be that interesting I'd have gone. I guess the best ones get away, sometimes.

The Journal's editorial calls for more attention to keeping volunteer fire departments healthy, and also calls for people to come out to run for school board. (Petitions are due today - maybe they should have run that earlier?)

I'm a little disappointed in the list of qualifications they provide for school board members - after the recent run of disasters in the Ithaca schools in particular, I'd have thought there might be more openness to board members who question how things are run rather than striving to always be a team player.

Posted by simon at 7:13 AM Comment

Life and death on the kitchen window

Spider hunts fly
Spider hunts fly

Spider eats fly
Spider eats fly

Posted by simon at 6:49 PM Comment

And more Sungiva

Everyone I talk with wants more Sungiva photos. I'm continuing to build a collection, so here's a gallery of her first twenty-six days, with new photos starting here.

Here are some previews of Sungiva at her baby-finest.

Sungiva makes a point
Sungiva makes a point.

Sungiva grips her carrying sling
Sungiva grips her carrying sling.

Posted by simon at 9:04 PM Comment

April 22, 2008

Dryden Police leaving Freeville

The April 16th issue of the Dryden Courier leads with an article on the end of Village of Dryden police covering the Village of Freeville. Freeville had been paying $42,000 a year, but according to Dryden Mayor Reba Taylor, "Their taxes are going way up next year. They simply won't be able to afford us any more." I haven't seen anything from Freeville on taxes, but maybe news on that will surface. (The Dryden police log in the paper doesn't list anything for Freeville.)

The strange part, though, is that there's no mention at all in the article of cuts to the Dryden Police department. You'd think that a $42,000 cut would mean a reduction in the department that suffered it, and maybe it happened, but I don't see it.

There's one last bit I'd like to point out. Mayor Taylor crows at the end about how "Most of the budget work was done during a board work session, which Taylor said was open to and attended by some of the public. Trustees and village resident Mike Lane all had a part, she said." That's the nicest face she can put on it - she routinely delivers the budget after election time, and prepares it herself beforehand. The Village of Dryden budget is hardly a showcase of open government.

There's an update on the Tuttle House, next to the new Town Hall, which seems doomed to demolition because of its asbestos siding. The Town bought it for the land, but the house itself has proven impossible even to give away. Between the asbestos and the need to move the house, no buyers emerged. Demolition will cost between $16,000 and $25,000, largely thanks to the asbestos, while renovation would cost around $119,000.

Inside, there's an interview with Sandy Sherwood, the Dryden Elementary School principal who's moving up to become superintendent.

On the opinion page, it looks like Finger Lakes Newspapers, the publishers of the Courier, have decided that "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em", and set up a blog-based online presence. Right now the detailed articles are pretty Trumansburg-centric, but hopefully that will broaden.

Also on the opinion page, regular Dryden columnist Kelly Horrocks looks at conservation and alternative energy education possibilities, noting wind but also pointing out Dryden's abundance of cow manure. Her conclusion sounds promising to me:

It has been said that Americans always do the right thing, once they have exhausted every other possibility. Maybe, with our support, our schools could take the lead by modeling how there are ways to become fiscally sound and environmentally conscious. Not only would it take the bit out of the spring budget vote, it would create and upcoming generation of economically aware and environmentally responsive students.

Getting there will be difficult, I fear, but that's the right direction to head.

In sports, there's a report of the young Dryden lacrosse team's loss to Maine-Endwell, and Matt Colbert of the Dryden Baseball team is an Athlete of the Week for a game against Union Springs with four shut-out innings, eight strikeouts, 2-for-4 batting with three RBIs, including a key RBI near the end of the 14-13 Dryden win.

There's an article on how the Town is looking for alternatives to the SPCA for animal control, as the cost keeps climbing rapidly, and another article on Groton's provider, Country Acre Pet Services in Homer.

There's an announcement of tomorrow's Nedyrd Food Cooperative talk, presented by the Dryden Town Historical Society at Dryden Village Hall, 16 South Street, at 7:00pm.

Dairy Day will be having an amateur photo contest, under the theme "Fly Your Flag for Dairy." Photos should be sent to Elsie Gutchess, 19 E. Main Street, Dryden, NY 13053 by June 6th, and should have your name, phone, age division (12 and under; 13-19; adults 20+), and category (vintage photo, contemporary photo, computer-enhanced photo) on the back of the photo.

In Anecdotes & Brevities, Harry Weldon explores Dryden's pioneer days, telling the story of Lyman Hurd, who settled in Willow Glen in 1800.

Posted by simon at 8:02 AM Comment

Bear between Midline and Irish Settlement

Bears are definitely returning to Dryden, as Kathy Zahler demonstrates with a picture and a couple of stories.

Bears have been moving north for a while.

Posted by simon at 10:21 AM Comment

Governor Paterson: Let's fix the garbage truck problem

When the Syracuse Post-Standard last looked at the garbage truck question, the conclusion was:

Lifton said after the meeting that she is not going to back down and needs to do this the right way. When asked if she would take the suggestion of a meeting attendee and discuss DeFrancisco's bill with Gov. David Paterson to see if he has a problem with it, she said, "That's not the way it's done."

As it turns out, well, that's definitely a key part of the way it's done, if you're a different Democrat, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. The Post-Standard's latest doesn't even mention Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, but there's some sharp contrast between this and her highly nuanced position of last week:

Garbage truck issue in Finger Lakes gets boost from governor

Central New York residents fighting tractor-trailers hauling New York City garbage through the Finger Lakes are getting some help from Gov. David Paterson.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. called Paterson Thursday seeking his help on the issue.

Morgan Hook, speaking for Paterson, said the governor is turning to state agencies such as the Department of Transportation to do "a thorough review of state laws and regulations" to see what he can do on this problem.

He also has his staff, deputies and lawyers looking at the issue.

When asked if Paterson can order the state DOT to set routes for these garbage trucks to use, Hook said "he's looking into that."

"He wants to do everything in his power and the state's power" to solve this issue," Hook said.

"These trucks have created a problem that desperately needs a solution," Paterson said in a release. "I have already begun to work with the New York State Department of Transportation and other state agencies to conduct a thorough review and find a solution that will not only preserve quality of life, but also protect the rights of businesses in New York state."

Schumer's calling Thursday is interesting timing, especially as Lifton's meeting was that day.

The Upstate New York Safety Coalition Task Force chair sounds vastly happier with Paterson than she was with Lifton. Contrast:

"We're not going to spend our time with her. She obviously doesn't support us."


"We're thrilled that he's working on this."

Paterson also talks about the need to figure out the best solution, but he puts in a way that suggests he's interested in immediate forward motion, not in "blue-ribbon commissions."

(Thanks to NYCO for pointing out the story!)

Update: I should have checked the Journal site - they have the story as well, and mention Lifton more specifically. And here's the press release from Senator Schumer.

Posted by simon at 6:21 PM Comment

Game Farm Road to stay closed intermittently

This evening's Ithaca Journal web site notes that the County will be closing Game Farm Road intermittently between Stephenson and Route 366 through June 26th. Not everyone loves the work they're doing.

Posted by simon at 10:23 PM Comment

Dryden School Board race contested

I'm very sad to see that most local school board elections are uncontested, but happy to see that the Dryden schools actually have five candidates for four slots. Three of the candidates - Kathy Zahler, Chris Gibbons, and Karin LaMotte - are incumbents, and Bill Harding and Jennifer Davis are running for their first terms. The seats are for three-year terms, with one one-year term. (Ithaca's deadline is later, April 30th.)

Also in today's Journal, they reported on Governor Paterson, whose common sense I'm really admiring at this point. Why? He wants a hiring freeze in state government, and recognizes that the STAR property tax breaks are not necessarily the most effective way to address the growing challenge of property taxes.

Posted by simon at 10:27 PM Comment

April 23, 2008

Red Cross coming to Dryden tonight

There's an article in today's Ithaca Journal on the Tompkins County Red Cross's new director, Jennifer Yarbrough. The first few paragraphs have some interesting bits about the organization's reaching out geographically:

This vision and past vistas will be on display at the chapter's "Night of Nostalgia" tonight at the Dryden Mutual Insurance Company on Ellis Drive. The event will include music, refreshments and the historical photographs of Verne Morton, a late 19th-century photographer. The public event will also showcase the services of the Red Cross -- which are available to the entire county, Yarbrough emphasized.

"Right now, I perceive that we're too Ithaca-focused," said Yarbrough, who became the director in December. "I think we rely too much on the community to come to us. For 91-plus years we've been part of this community, and we hope to deepen our relationship with the community and expand our services."

They have done a fair amount in and with Dryden, but this is all good to hear.

NYSEG is upgrading its distribution transformers, and should lose less energy to heat as a result.

At the state level, there's more discussion of streamlining local government.

On the opinion page, Nancy Neaher Maas contrasts state legislators' concern for their own salaries with their lack of interest in judicial salaries.

Posted by simon at 8:04 AM Comment

Moving forward on truck re-routing

The Journal has the latest on garbage truck routing this morning. I'm not sure if the Journal was unkind in its selection of Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton's quotes, or if she really was as unfocused as they make her seem.

Yesterday's news was that Senator Chuck Schumer had called Governor Paterson Thursday, probably after the meeting Lifton held where Schumer's aide had challenged Lifton's concerns about constitutionality. Two Downstate politicians seem to have agreed on the need to fix an Upstate problem.

Between Schumer's challenge at the meeting and the Department of Transportation's disavowal of her take on their position on the bill, Lifton was left pretty much high and dry. I've speculated on Lifton's being unwilling to challenge her conference, but what she told the Journal was:

Lifton expressed cautious optimism over the news. She said she thinks it is a good thing that the governor is involved, but that this is a difficult issue to address and could still take some time.

"It's a kind of big problem - a problem that has to do with state and federal governments, major issues around New York City and the New York City area," she said. "Obviously it would be a huge help to have the governor jump into this and try to use the power of his office to do something quickly here."

Lifton's concern is that state legislation could violate the federal interstate commerce clause and wind up in courts for a prolonged time period, which happened in New Jersey years ago....

Lifton said the governor could put forward a governor's bill, or he could use some executive authority, though that authority is limited.

"There may be some executive powers," Lifton said. "He could ask the DOT to do this. He has some narrow authority, it's not broad authority (as) I'm told over and over again by Schumer's office, by the counsel at all levels from the DOT to the (Department of Environmental Conservation), that it's not broad authority that the states have. It's narrow authority to do some truck designations."

No one else in the article - whether from the DOT, Schumer's office, or the Upstate New York Safety Coalition Task Force - seems to share her caution. Apparently this isn't a major constitutional breach, or even that difficult for the governor and DOT to do. Schumer's spokeman explained:

To get trucks off local roads such as routes 89, 79, 38, 41 and 90, the governor can use executive power to designate a routing agency or he can designate the routes himself, said Alex Detrick, a press officer for Schumer. Trucks can also be removed from roads through joint legislation signed by the governor. The former option is the quicker of the two.

The DOT spokesman sounds pretty happy about this too. There's still a ways to go on actually implementing this, but I suspect it's gotten over the biggest hurdle, and I doubt Schumer's office will let it disappear.

I wish I could think of a good reason Lifton invested her political capital in an effort that seemed to both serve her constituents badly and damage her credibility, but I can't.

Posted by simon at 8:13 AM Comment

NEDYRD Cooperative presentation tonight

Tonight, the Dryden Town Historical Society will be hosting a presentation on Dryden's former NEDYRD food cooperative. The Dryden Village Hall doors open at 6:30pm and the presentation starts at 7:00pm.

Thirty years ago, before the proliferation of local farm stands and whole foods choices now available in the Dryden area, a group of women came together to form a food buying cooperative. The Nedyrd (which is Dryden spelled backwards) Food Co-op was a way for local families to obtain affordable and nutritious food. Margaret Lorenzen, a founding member, will open the program and discuss the history of the organization.

It was open from 1978 to 1991, apparently. Come learn more!

Posted by simon at 8:27 AM Comment

April 24, 2008

Youth opportunity and volunteer firefighter taxes

Most of today's Dryden news is on the opinion page in today's Ithaca Journal. The Dryden Youth Opportunity Fund has a letter from Paul Streeter and Michael Dick of Dryden encouraging readers to remember the DYOF and:

consider providing your own economic stimulus package: invest in young people. The dividends are virtually incalculable.

Dryden Town Board member (and volunteer firefighter) David Makar writes in support of the Journal's editorial supporting Congressman Maurice Hinchey's proposed $1000 federal tax credit for volunteer firefighters, and also points out that Congressman Mike Arcuri is a co-sponsor.

There are a number of articles at more of the county level: one on the Tompkins County Foundation changing its name to the Legacy Foundation, one on Sara Pines and the Friendship Donation Network, and one on prospects for wind power in the county.

Posted by simon at 7:37 AM Comment

Remembering Nedyrd Co-op

Our efforts to eat locally keep reminding me just how important the connection between people and food is. Over the past century, our country disconnected itself further and further from the food foundations it started with. Starting in the 1960s and 1970s, though, some folks noticed what they were missing, and some of those people were in Dryden.

Nedyrd Cooperative logo
Nedyrd Cooperative logo.

Margaret Brownell Lorenzen, founder of the cooperative, led the discussion, and then lots of other people who had been involved added their own memories. The following is a summary - please let me know if I've gotten something wrong!

Nedyrd started in 1977, and closed in 1992, though it took a long time after 1992 to finally dissolve the corporation.

Margaret Lorenzen got the idea when she went to a conference in New York City, which had workshops on how to hold a local food day (which she also did) and how to start your own food cooperative. Dryden residents who wanted food beyond the usual had to drive to Cortland or Ithaca, and often found it expensive in any case. She and her husband printed up 1000 fliers and distributed them with the help of local children.

A group of residents came together as a result of those fliers, and got started as a buyers' club, meeting in the Presbyterian Church. Lorenzen attended meetings at Greenstar and another cooperative in Geneva to figure out how the ordering worked. They put together orders for bulk, and then had to meet a truck with their own containers to collect the food. If they had almost enough for an order, they'd place the order and save the leftovers. If they didn't have enough for that to make sense, they'd wait to place the order. Early on, they also took orders for fresh fruits and vegetables, though that didn't last very long because of constant price changes. (Gina Prentiss remembered being amazed at how little they cost, though!)

The leftovers accumulated, and they moved them to a back porch. Then they moved to an old and trashed house where the A-1 parking lot now is, and spent some awful time cleaning it. Then they moved to 2 East Main Street, later the Villa Trinceri, around 1980.

The emphasis was on whole foods, foods that hadn't been processed to remove their food value. Lorenzen noted flour in particular as a food we process severely, losing most of the nutrition, and there was some discussion of the mills the cooperative got flour from, including New Hope Mills up in Moravia and another in King Ferry. All these grains meant they had a huge challege in fighting off flour moths, which would arrive in the products and then reproduce in the store.

Cheese, molasses, and peanut butter also came up as popular items.

They didn't make a lot of money. Lorenzen remembered a lot of negative balances, and a 1989 Ithaca Journal article suggested a lot of zero balances. Because of their cooperative structure, they could only sell to members. Members who worked in the store (I think two hours a week) paid $12 annually, and it was $30 for non-working members and $6 for senior citizens.

Markups were low, originally 5%, and some goods, like spices, seemed especially cheap but had great quality. Dryden Town Historian Sue Olmstead said that she joined the co-op to take advantage of the prices, but ended up learning a lot about nutrition.

The cashbox and keys were kept at Hill Drugs, next door to the Dryden Food Mart on Route 13. Members used a set of labeled shoebags to collect orders, and five-gallon buckets were a key part of the operation. There were some spiral notebooks used to record the comings and goings.

Muriel Likel remembered the friends she'd made working at Nedyrd, and Gina Prentiss reflected on the early conversations there which led to the creation of the Dryden Town Historical Society.

As time passed, it got harder to sustain the co-op. While Lorenzen emphasized that "I just can't tell you the feeling of community among the members," she also described changing times that made it harder and harder to keep it going. The 1990s were "more stressful," with more people working, making it harder for them to commit to work at the store. New member orientation was sometimes the last they'd see of a new member. Founding members' families had grown up and moved away, reducing demand. Missed shifts meant the storefront was sometimes closed when it was supposed to be open.

Jean Warholic reflected a bit on the challeges of dissolving Nedyrd, describing the maze of state bureaucracy she had to navigate. Mike Lane helped out with advice, while former Assemblyman Marty Luster provided some necessary pressure.

It sounds like the co-op considered closing a few times before it finally did, in the end selling much of its equipment to Kathy and Rich Duell, who started a store, The Olive Branch, specializing in local food and handcrafts while maintaining the bulk food ordering of Nedyrd. That only lasted a few years. There was another store (whose name I missed), and today we have Back to Basics at the intersection of 13 and Irish Settlement. Back to Basics' Kim Schenk was at the event to share her memories of Nedyrd as well. As she put it, "we just figured out how to do it, working together."

A number of people mentioned the Dryden Community Cafe, which seems to working much like that today.

I've posted a small gallery of photographs from the evening.

Posted by simon at 8:45 AM Comment

April 25, 2008

Lifton digs deeper

I wrote about Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton's garbage truck trainwreck earlier, and of her fellow Democrats who undermined her case completely in their quest to get things done.

There's a strange thing about a trainwreck, though. In movies, where there's a stunt crew making sure the destruction is visually exciting, they're a lot of fun. In reality, where someone has to clean up the many disasters left behind, they're not much fun. Instead of being exciting spectacle, it becomes painful to watch.

Unfortunately, Lifton pushes forward into that pain zone in this morning's Ithaca Journal, penning a guest column that never mentions the name "Schumer". She keeps plowing forward, arguing that it's just those Republicans and a transition at the DOT that made it look like her train was off the tracks. Democratic U.S. Senator Schumer, the state DOT, and Governor Paterson pretty much pulled the rails out from under her - that's why her train is wrecking.

To make things worse, her proposed solution sounds even more perverse than the "blue-ribbon commission, let's study it" option that earlier articles suggested she was proposing:

I am working on a bill that calls upon the governor to form an independent commission that would designate routes to be used by tractor trailers. This commission would have the power to recommend and execute policy and would operate under a specific timeline with the full inclusion of local stakeholders. Unlike DeFrancisco's bill, it does not leave the fate of truck routes in the hands of a state agency indefinitely.

You know, once upon a time I thought we had a State Department of Transportation that was supposed to maintain and manage state highways. I'd really like an independent commission to take a look at making Route 366 livable, too, but for some reason the DOT is in charge of that. The role reversal in hearing a Democrat call for keeping the fates of truck routes out of the hands of a state agency might have been ironic, if it was actually a good idea.

And "independent" is not a very meaningful word in New York State government. Who appoints the members? For what terms? Somehow I'm guessing that the legislative leadership would get to have a hand in that, and maybe they'd even get around to appointing members, eventually. I also expect that the commission would include plenty of representatives from the places where the trash comes from, who might not be excited about a "solution" of any kind.

A lot of the rest of the article is outrage at the DOT for having a different position from hers today when she's still doing what she thought they told her to do months ago, and blasting at the Republicans for not being her friends. As much as I hate to defend Republican State Senators, this is deeply disingenuous:

It's worth noting that DeFrancisco has said he has been working on this issue for 10 years but never drafted a bill to respond until recently. He also apparently never asked his close political friend and ally, former Gov. George Pataki, during his 12 years in office, to address this problem by issuing an Executive Order to the DOT. DeFrancisco suddenly drafted a bill last August well past the end of our session in Albany.

Lots of people have complained about truck traffic for a long time, but the current garbage truck problem is a relatively new one, caused by shifts in how New York City and New Jersey handle their trash. This wasn't the pressing issue under the Pataki administration that it is today.

The only sensible thing I can find in this article is Lifton proposing the use of rail to move the garbage instead of trucks. That makes sense to me. I hope it goes further than the rest of this, which seems to be an effort to justify Lifton's position in ways that only work if you haven't been paying any attention whatsoever to the actual unfolding story.

Some days it's best just to stop, issue a press release thanking the Governor and the Senator for their interest in a pressing matter and express the hope that you can be a constructive part of the solution. Instead, Lifton seems intent on riding her original position as far as she can.

Also on the opinion page, former Dryden resident Richard Couch of Cortland congratulates Dryden schools for choosing a superintendent who's already part of the community, and writes about the challenge of superintendent salaries.

The Journal also has an editorial on the dangers of brush fires. It's the time of year when the soil may be wet, but the plants aren't. Be careful!

Posted by simon at 8:23 AM Comment

April 26, 2008

Don't burn things today

I'm too tired to write much now, but please don't set fires and don't dump your trash where it doesn't belong.

For more entertainment, Carol Kammen recommends a great site of online historical images, or you can visit my recent duckling stories.

Oh - the county budget's going to be ugly this year, thanks to the combination of a 2% decrease in state aid, and an $840,000 increase in unfunded mandates.

Posted by simon at 8:06 AM Comment

April 28, 2008

New York State and energy

A few quick notes while everyone is asleep and all the animals are fed -

This morning's Ithaca Journal has an editorial on state laws and energy, citing bills that might make some small dent in the cost of a tank of gas. The ones that just plan to lower the taxes on gas seem unlikely to have much effect to me - I never noticed the prices on the Thruway dropping much below the surrounding stations despite the signs proclaiming reductions. I agree with the Journal that locking A9211 to be "held for consideration", probably forever, is ridiculous, yet another abuse of legislative procedure. I don't think Senator Winner's proposal for reducing the power of gasoline brands is likely to make a whole lot of difference either.

Gas prices march toward $4.
Gas prices march toward $4.

The problem with our gas prices, though, is not the oil companies, state or federal taxes, or (especially) the gas station owners. Sure, I'd like to see oil companies operate at a lower profit margin, but that's not the cause of our higher prices. The cause is simple: supply and demand. The "invisible hand of the market" doesn't always work in our favor.

We've built our nation and grown our economy on the assumption that energy costs will remain cheap. That lets us live wherever we want, taking advantage of cheap energy to drive to more exciting housing filled with all kinds of energy-using devices that make our lives easier or entertain us. Americans have taken this further than anyone else, but there are lots of people out there working to emulate us. Not only that, but they're using lots of energy to make things to sell us.

On the supply side, we still have plenty of oil and coal for now - but little room to grow, and what looks like a long slide toward more and more expensive energy. We've used up the best of our coal, though we still have lots left. On oil, new discoveries keep getting big headlines as saviors - but then a few days, weeks, or months later the reality of the new fields looks smaller, more expensive, and generally less bright. Production can't climb as fast as demand.

New York never had the Pennsylvania coal fields or even their oil fields, though we do have a bit of oil in western New York. We certainly have hydropower - think Niagara Falls - but we've blown way past that capacity. New York State as a whole is much more energy-efficient than the rest of the country, but that's largely because of the New York City area's concentration of services, especially transportation.

We're on the edge of a strange new world, one in which everything we've learned about energy for the past century and a half is going to change. We'll still have energy, even oil - but the prices aren't likely to come down over the long term. It's a good time to batten down the hatches and get ready for a long (probably slow) change in the way we live.

Update: This doesn't help.

Posted by simon at 7:33 AM Comment

Looking for a dose of spring?

Today's colder and rainy, sure. My ducks like it, and we need the rain, but it's not a lot of fun.

If you'd like something brighter, stop by Craig Cramer's Ellis Hollow blog. He has all kinds of pictures from the past few weeks of "hyper-spring."

Posted by simon at 8:18 AM Comment

NYSEG and Borg-Warner

I missed an interesting article in this morning's Ithaca Journal - thanks to David Makar for pointing it out.

Borg-Warner will be moving 174 jobs from Oklahoma to their Lansing plant thanks in part to a $400,000 incentive from NYSEG. I'd love to see more details on how this works, and the article sounds kind of like a press release, but I'm guessing this will increase demand for housing across the line in Dryden as well.

Posted by simon at 9:51 PM Comment

Big dig in Gutchess yard

Sadly, the Cortland Standard keeps shrinking the amount of news they put on their website. (They did have a piece on TC3 students trying out teaching.)

Elsie Gutchess let me know that the Standard had an article on April 21st, about Ithaca College students filming a 10-minute piece about a 9-year-old who tries digging to China, and the support his community gives him. Thanks to some green paint and artificial flowers, they managed to make it look summery even before the recent weather. There's a picture, and hopefully there will be more to this story when the DVD gets shown at the Dryden Community Cafe eventually.

I know I'm missing a lot of Dryden news in the Standard, and I should call them again to see if I'm still too far west for them to get to. If you see something interesting, let me know.

Posted by simon at 9:55 PM Comment

April 29, 2008

Trucks rerouted through Dryden

The biggest Dryden story in this morning's Ithaca Journal doesn't mention Dryden. Route 79 in Ithaca is getting resurfaced between Mitchell Street and Bridge Street, closed to all through traffic. (This closes 79 above the intersection with 366.)

Trucks are being diverted at Richford to take Routes 38 and 13 into Ithaca. That should give folks in Bethel Grove a brief break (until around May 30th) from truck traffic, while adding to the traffic pouring through the four corners intersection in the Village of Dryden and down 13. I'm curious whether this will include the controversial garbage trucks - I guess we'll see how those respond to the blockage.

Speaking of the garbage trucks, the Journal's editorial lets Lifton off the hook, mostly, focusing on Governor Paterson's stepping in to address the issue and leaving the rest in a confusion of Democrat vs. Republican fighting - which it really isn't. Oh well.

On the opinion page, Liam Murphy writes about county courthouse security.

Posted by simon at 8:28 AM Comment

My long-term bet on rising energy costs

I've had a couple of conversations lately with people I like that led to strange places. One was about the seemingly crazy investment I'm making in ducks, chickens, and all the infrastructure they need, and the other was what I get for saying that I think we need to take a serious look at one-room schoolhouses as an alternative to busing kids everywhere.

I'm doing a lot of things that might strike people as strange or even inconsistent, but the driving force in most of it is an expectation that energy prices are going to keep climbing. I could, of course, be wrong, but unless we discover fusion technology, I feel pretty comfortable arguing that this is going to be the case for a long time. Demand keeps climbing, while supply isn't looking so great.

This doesn't mean I've disconnected my house from the grid, built a barbed-wire fence around my compound, and set up a world that's all about preserving me, whatever prices may do.

It does mean, however, that I'm looking at the world in a very different way. I'm trying to invest in things now that will serve us well later. The new roof, furnace, and insulation were key components of that, as is all the gardening, the apple trees, and terracing the yard. We've learned how to can and freeze food.

All of these are good things to do anyway, even if energy prices don't climb. Okay, I do worry that converting my yard into a garden may make the house harder to sell in this lawn-obsessed country. On the other hand, the return on investment for some of them will take a long time. The furnace and insulation have probably paid for themselves by now, and, well, you always need a solid roof.

The rest of the investments are pretty much a gamble. I can certainly drive to East Hill Plaza and buy groceries more cheaply at P & C than I can grow them here today. Setting up the garden, and especially the fenced areas for the chickens and ducks, is an expensive adventure, if an interesting one. How many eggs does it take to pay for a $200 fence? Plus a coop, and all the feed the chickens ate in the meantime? And the time it takes to feed and attend them?

If I run these calculations based on current costs, I'm pretty clearly going to lose money. If, however, I calculate these investments as advantages in a world where energy and food rapidly become more precious, I may well come out ahead. (Looking at the rapid climb in wheat and rice prices, it's looking like a good bet sooner than I expected, though I expect they'll come down again before climbing over the long term.)

I'm already coming out ahead in knowledge, since I now know all kinds of things that I had no clue about before. (I still have much to learn.) Because I'm showing these ideas off both here and on my gardening site, I hope to plant seeds in people's heads as well - the "I can do that" seed that develops into projects.

(And I'm also taking a look at policy related to these issues through the lens of TCLocal.)

So if I come off as kind of strange, pushing ideas that don't all make sense at first glance, try to remember the context I'm working in. I live in the current world and do enjoy it, while planning ahead for a world that I expect will be pretty different. We'll see what Sungiva thinks of all this when she's older.

Posted by simon at 12:29 PM Comment

April 30, 2008

Tompkins County Dairy Princess needed

There's no Dryden Town Talk today, but Ulysses Town Talk leads off with this item, complete with Dryden phone numbers:

The Tompkins County Dairy Promotion Committee is seeking young ladies between the ages of 12 and 24 for the roles of Dairy Princess and Dairy Ambassador.

Dairy Princess candidates must be at least 16 years of age, and connected to or sponsored by the dairy industry. The Dairy Princess holds her title for one year, and her responsibilities cover a wide range of public relation activities. A state training seminar is provided to help prepare for the role. The Dairy Princess will be selected at a banquet on May 10.

Dairy Ambassador candidates must be at least 12 years of age, and will assist the Dairy Princess with her duties. She should enjoy meeting people and promoting the dairy industry. For more information on the program, contact Brenda Carpenter at 844-8049, or Linda Foote at 844-8781. The application deadline is May 2.

The rest of today's Dryden news is basically about the county. There's an article about the need to fill recently emptied positions at the Sheriff's Department, which quotes Dryden legislator Martha Robertson. The state of emergency banning outdoor burning has been lifted, and the county's economy looks a little less healthy.

Posted by simon at 7:41 AM Comment

Vigil for missing woman tonight

There will be a vigil for Bethanie Dougherty tonight in Marathon at 7:00pm.

Dougherty, of Killawog, was a manager-in-training at the Freeville XtraMart on Routes 13 and 366 until her disappearance April 1st.

Posted by simon at 8:01 AM Comment

Discuss Dryden recreation May 8th

If you're interested in Town recreation, there's an important meeting May 8th at the new Town Hall that you won't want to miss. The Town is creating a new recreation master plan, which will set out priorities for the town. There isn't much detail in the release but I'm guessing the conversation will include:

  • Parks, trails, and facilities - what do we need, and where?

  • Children's activities - sports and more

  • Adult activities - what would people like to do?

  • Entertainment - Music in the Park, Music in the Hollow, and beyond

  • The relationship with the County Recreation Partnership

You might also want to visit the Draft Official Map of the Town of Dryden, which shows parks, trails, preserves, proposed trails, and more.

Here's the full official announcement:

Important Announcement from the Town of Dryden Recreation Department!

Dear Dryden Resident and Recreation Department supporter,

Please read below for information on a very important meeting coming up on May 8th.



This Plan will create a vision for future recreation programs and facilities offered in the Town. It is important that the citizens of Dryden let their voices be heard on this matter

Additional questions regarding this meeting can be directed to Melissa Bianconi at the Town of Dryden Recreation Department at 844-8888 ext. 228 or the Town's consultant, Thoma Development Consultants at 753-1433.



I look forward to seeing you there!

Melissa Bianconi
Town of Dryden Recreation Coordinator

If you'd like to know what's been done in the past, you can review the results of a 2006 survey (936KB PDF) conducted by SUNY Cortland.

Posted by simon at 8:04 AM Comment