April 4, 2013

What will it take?

Some days I think New York State government could declare itself a kleptocracy and change the Three Men in a Room's titles to Chief Thief, Robber King, and Maximum Chaos and most New Yorkers wouldn't do anything different.

The Albany Times-Union remains slightly more optimistic:

"We're loath to underestimate almost any politician's vulnerability to temptation and tendency to engage in corruption. But could the plot alleged by federal authorities have been hatched in an environment where political money wasn't already wildly out of control?...

Time to take it back, then, New Yorkers -- step by step. Don't let the Legislature get away with anything less than historic reform."

I'm not sure that things are actually worse than they've been for a while, but they sure aren't getting better. The institutions are rotted through, but somehow we keep pretending they function. "Our legislator or our party is so much better," we tell ourselves, hoping that it's true.

Posted by simon at 9:10 AM Comment

April 5, 2013

More on Mount Varna Monday

Want to know more about the proposal for developing the northeast corner of the Freese Road / Route 366 intersection?

Developer Todd Fox will be presenting his current plans on Monday, April 8th at 6:00pm at the Varna Community Center, 943 Dryden Road.

Posted by simon at 6:18 AM Comment

Gas pipeline through Dryden?

There already is one, as residents of Ellis Hollow Creek Road who drive by the E. H. Borger station know. There's also a line off that going to the Cornell heat and power plant. This would be a connection to the Cayuga Power Plant (formerly AES Cayuga, formerly Milliken Station) if it switches from coal to gas:

A proposed natural gas pipeline running through Tompkins County may become part of the uncertain future of Lansing's coal-fired power plant.

The pipeline would be built from the power plant, on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake, to an existing pipeline in either Dryden or Auburn. The Dryden pipeline is at the Borger Station, 219 Ellis Hollow Creek Road.

The new pipeline is part of a plan that retrofits Cayuga Power Plant, formerly named AES Cayuga, to burn natural gas. The facility's name was changed after AES Eastern Energy went bankrupt and the power plant was bought by Upstate New York Power Producers.

One thing that's odd about this story is that the plant's owners say that there would be problems for electrical reliability in the county if the plant closed. NYSEG performed a major upgrade of its lines across Cortland County and Dryden into the Etna substation a few years ago that I had thought was meant to address just that problem. How did that fail?

The New York State Public Service Commission is requiring that NYSEG either upgrade its infrastructure or that the plant keep running, Goodenough said.

They're also planning on a 2-megawatt solar panel array. The article doesn't say how much power the plant itself generates.

Posted by simon at 6:37 AM Comment

April 13, 2013

Ellis Hollow Nursery School enrolling students

An announcement for Angelika:

Ellis Hollow Nursery School, a non-profit parent cooperative located on the eastern side of Ithaca, is now enrolling students for the 2013-14 school year!

Our class of 16 children, age 3-5, meets Monday through Thursday from 9:00am-12:00pm (with a 3-day option Tues-Thurs). Monthly tuition is $250 (or $200 for 3 days/week).

See the flyer for more information, or email or call our registrar, Angelika St.Laurent: angelika@simonstl.com or 607-277-8105

Posted by simon at 6:33 PM Comment

April 16, 2013

Can't beat Martha, so hope to shout her out

The Ithaca Journal reports that Tompkins County GOP Chair James Drader is trying a new way to try to get County Legislator Martha Robertson out of office: issuing a press release demanding that she step down, immediately.

Running for Congress, apparently, is a full-time job that can't possibly go with the part-time job of County Legislator. Drader seems deeply concerned about time management.

Drader is far from the only one in this conversation, though.

Voters get to decide in November whether they want to have a legislator here who is also running for Congress. The early stages of a Congressional race aren't the final constant travel stage that Drader seems to think begins immediately. Robertson's announcing now rather than in, say, December, gives the voters a much greater chance to see how this goes now and make up their minds about it.

If Drader is seriously concerned that Robertson shouldn't be running for Congress while sitting on the County Legislature, all he has to do is find a candidate to run against her in November and win. Perhaps he's hoping that grouchy press releases will make that happen?

(I would be happy to see a Republican challenger here. Uncontested races depress me. I'm reasonably certain that not only would the challenger's odd of success be low, anything increasing voter turnout on the west side of Dryden will help Democrats hold the town board. I suspect Drader is well aware of that last issue.)

Posted by simon at 5:53 AM Comment

April 22, 2013

Solarize, Tuesday at Dryden Fire Hall

Solarize Tompkins SE wants to bring many new solar photovoltaic (PV) or solar thermal (hot water) installations to Caroline, Dryden, and Danby in 2013. Working with state and county organizations, area residents, and solar energy installers, this campaign will streamline the installation process, making a Solar Energy system easy and affordable. This program is open to residences, farmers, business owners, municipalities, and institutions.

The Solarize campaign will reduce costs and technical barriers by pre-selecting qualified installers, enrolling a group of motivated customers that will enable bulk purchasing discounts, and educate our neighbors about the benefits and feasibility of solar power.

On Tuesday evening the Solarize project will announce its installers and give details of pricing and enrollment. Our excitement is RISING WITH THE SUN!

Come learn the details of the program with Solarize Tompkins SE.

Dryden Fire Hall, 7:00 pm, Tuesday April 23.

Kick the fossil fuel habit. Go solar in 2013!

For the complete schedule of public meetings see SolarizeTompkinsSE.org.

Solarize will have another meeting in Dryden on Wednesday, May 1st, at 7:00pm at the Varna Community Center, and then additional meetings in Caroline and Danby.

Posted by simon at 2:46 PM Comment

April 24, 2013

Cheesemaking in New York State

I've only made cheese once, but I need to do it again. This is a great reminder of how it grew from small to large and now has small again.

New York State Cheese: from Home Production to Factories

Cheese making and distinct cheese varieties are part of the cultural and historic fabric of societies in all parts of the world. Professor David Barbano, of Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is a recognized authority on cheese making. He is a past president of the American Dairy Science Association and works with cheese makers all over the globe.

On Tuesday, April 30th, Dr. Barbano will be the guest speaker at a meeting of the Dryden Town Historical Society. He will provide an overview of cheese making and the evolution of cheese production from the farm house to small local factories to large regional factories and the artisan cheese makers of today. Cheese production once flourished in and around the Dryden area and it is making a comeback.

This meeting is free and open to all and will be held in the Dryden Village Hall (corner of George and South streets). The doors open at 6:30 PM and the meeting will begin at 7 PM. For more information, contact Mary Hornbuckle (898-3461).

Posted by simon at 9:07 PM Comment

April 26, 2013

Malloryville bog book to be featured at Ithaca bookstore

I need to finish reading The Journey to Malloryville Bog and write a proper review. So far, so great, if distressingly familiar.

This Sunday, Apr. 28, at 3pm, Buffalo Street Books will be hosting a discussion with Bob Beck, the author of The Journey at Malloryville Bog: Commitment, Teamwork and Tenacity in Defense of Land and Nature.

Faithfully relating a fifteen-year story in first person--an environmental case study of sorts, fully documented with letters and memos of the many participants--this is the author's personal narrative of his home and the collective effort to protect his cherished land. Here is his account of glacier-formed eskers, kames and kettles, of diverse woodlands, swamps, fens and bog, of mining applications and recurring environmental reviews, of uncertainty and long struggle, and of diligence, awesome teamwork and phenomenal land deals. Ultimately, this is a story of conservation success, culminating in the establishment and dedication of The Nature Conservancy's magical and treasured O.D. von Engeln Preserve at Malloryville, located in the picturesque Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York.

Bob Beck was raised on a dairy farm in Upstate New York, and he has been a teacher of biology, animal behavior, natural history, and general science, having taught at Cornell, Ithaca College and Sarah Lawrence College, as well as for docents' training at the Bronx Zoo and for middle-school students at a Montessori school in Ithaca. Bob was was a curator at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Library of Natural Sounds, and he was a founding board member and the first executive director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust. For his efforts in organizing and leading the defense of Malloryville Bog, he was honored with The Nature Conservancy's "Friend of the Land" award and a 50th Anniversary "Hero" award.

I posted pictures from the bog a few years ago, with an extra few in winter. It's easily one of my favorite places in Dryden.

Posted by simon at 11:08 AM Comment