Category: News

A Broadband Victory for Rural Communities

A recent update from NY-19 congress-person, Antonio R. Delgado, included some positive news on our area’s ongoing broadband improvements. 

In January, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that New York State was ineligible for Phase I Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) awards. This decision would have made New York State broadband providers completely ineligible for $16 billion in funding to improve broadband internet in unserved communities. Because this would increase the digital divide, hinder economic growth and opportunity, and stall quality of life improvements for residents in our state, particularly those living in rural communities, I led a bipartisan group of my colleagues in urging the reversal of the decision. After a phone call with FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, and a follow-up letter, I’m glad to say that the FCC reversed its decision to completely exempt New York from participating in the program. This is an important step for our state, but it is just the first of many needed to ensure upstate communities aren’t once again left on the wrong side of the digital divide.

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Columbia County Awarded $5.3M in REDC Grants


Columbia County received 20 individual awards totaling approximately $5.3 million from the state’s Regional Economic Development Council (REDC).

The awards ranged from $30,000 to nearly $2 million, going to a variety of initiatives such as arts programs, aging infrastructure development and Main Street revitalization.

One major award is for a new Shaker Museum for Columbia County. Shaker Museum Library will receive $1,569,000 from Empire State Development to renovate a large 19th century masonry building in downtown Chatham, into a state-of-the-art museum facility to house its library and object collection. It will provide flexible space for exhibitions, community programming, and educational activities.

Other Columbia County awards include $145,000 for studio restorations at Art Omi Inc., $950,139 for performance space restorations at Basilica Hudson, $750,000 for the city of Hudson’s stormwater system upgrades, $197,000 to the Friends of Clermont for renovations at Livingston Mansion.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the awards allocated across the state, a continuation of a program that has been instated since 2011.

The Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative is a key component of Governor Cuomo’s approach to State investment and economic development. In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 Regional Councils to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions. The Councils are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. The Regional Councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom up approach and establishing a competitive process for State resources.

After nine rounds of the REDC process, more than $6.9 billion has been awarded to more than 8,300 job creation and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans, projecting to create and retain more than 240,000 jobs. For more information on the Regional Councils, visit


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Early Voting Available in Columbia County for 2019 Elections

Early voting begins this year in Columbia and Greene Counties. Columbia County will have three early voting sites, and Greene County will have one.

Columbia County’s polling sites will be at the Columbia County Board of Elections Office in Hudson; the MH Glynn Municipal Building in Valatie; and Copake Town Hall in Copake. Voters may select any of the three sites to vote at. If you choose to vote early, you will not be eligible to vote on Election Day (Nov 5).

“Voting will be exactly as it always has been on Election Day — on a paper ballot that the voter will vote and then scan into a voting machine,” said Virginia Martin, Democratic commissioner of the Columbia County Board of Elections. “Sign-in will be a little different. To accommodate the flexibility that voters have, we will be signing voters in on new electronic poll books, which are special tablets that have been programmed with the voter rolls.”

Columbia County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Jason Nastke said, “I think this gives voters a greater chance to participate in the democratic process by opening up the amount of hours available to them to cast their vote,” Nastke said. “Last year, 18% of the vote in Columbia County was cast by absentee ballot. I think early voting should cut down on that significantly.”

Early voting will be open to anyone who is registered to vote. Just show up at the location, and then you will follow the same procedures as usual. Absentee voting will still be available.

For the November election, voting will begin October 26 and will run through November 3. On Monday, Nov. 4, there will be no early voting, and the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the usual polling sites.

Columbia County Board of Elections Office
401 State St., Hudson, NY 12534

MH Glynn Municipal Building
3211 Church St., Valatie NY 12184

Copake Town Hall
230 Mountain View Rd., Copake NY 12516

In Greene County, there will be one early polling site, at the county building, 411 Main St., Suite 430, Catskill.


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Columbia County Historical Society Awarded a Preserve New York Grant

Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse

The Columbia County Historical Society (CCHS) is one of this year’s Preserve New York (PNY) grantees. Their grant of $10,000 will allow the CCHS to work with Walter Wheeler of Hartgen Archaeological Associates to complete a Historic Structure Report (HSR) of the Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse in Kinderhook.

The HSR project will assess the current condition of the building, make recommendations for repair and restoration and serve as a guiding document for continued interpretive use and future preservation. The schoolhouse is not currently listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and the Historical Society hopes that the research provided through the HSR process will create a strong case for a future nomination.

Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse_1900s

The Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse was initially constructed in 1850 at the intersection of Route 9H and Fisher Road as the District #6 Schoolhouse for the town of Kinderhook. Although the structure was moved just 200 yards from its original location in 1974, it remains an excellent and intact example of a rural, one-room schoolhouse with a gable roof, clapboard siding, and a single pent-roofed entrance.

Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse Interior.jpgThe interior consists of a large classroom with two adjacent cloakrooms – one for boys, and one for girls. The building was never modified to have heat or hot water and still retains its original 1929 wood burning stove, wood flooring, chalkboards, and double-hung sash windows. Several condition issues are present that must be addressed in the near future: the condition of the metal roof and the stability of the structure, as the building still rests on the steel girders that were used to move it in the 1970s.

“We are thrilled the Preservation League of New York has endorsed our commitment to the Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse with this grant.” said CCHS Executive Director, Lori Yarotsky, “The iconic literary character is an important part of Columbia County heritage and we want to preserve its namesake schoolhouse–including its architecture–for future generations and visitors. Thanks again to the Preservation League for their recognition and support.”

“NYSCA is proud to support the vitality and character of our communities through our Preserve New York partnership, which provides key resources to historic sites, buildings, and cultural centers statewide and underscores the importance of architecture and landscape design in community revitalization and economic development,” said NYSCA Executive Director Mara Manus.

“Thanks to the League’s record of making effective preservation grants through Preserve New York and TAG, our program partner, the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), has increased regrant funding significantly over the past several years,” said Erin Tobin, Vice President for Policy and Preservation and the Preservation League, “At the same time, in response to growing demand, the League has successfully lined up additional support to leverage NYSCA funding and League resources. NYSCA and the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation make these grants possible through their program partnership and financial support.”

The 2019 PNY grant cycle was the most competitive in the program’s 26-year history. An independent jury met in June to review over 70 applications. After two days of deliberations, $262,498 was awarded to 31 projects across 25 counties.
Preserve New York is a regrant partnership between the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and the Preservation League of NYS. PNY enables the Preservation League to support projects in all of New York’s 62 counties.

The Preserve New York grant program is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation has provided additional support for projects in Nassau, Suffolk and Bronx Counties.


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