Rensselaer County Leadership Exposes Seniors to Additional Risks
Rensselaer County recently provided those over age sixty-five the ability to register for a limited supply of COVID vaccines. This came in the form of a link (which crashed), and then a phone number (which quickly overwhelmed the Department of the Aging). The most recent method, a Gmail account, creates another issue for those already frustrated: identity theft. By providing your personally identifiable and sensitive information to an unsecured email address, you have become a significant target for bad actors and cyber criminals seeking to benefit from the misfortune of vulnerable groups. How will that data be safeguarded? Who is monitoring a mailbox that numerous employees have access to? With the rapid changes in how the county asked you to provide that information, what was their review process for this decision? A responsive leadership would have spent time preparing for the vaccination process and planning a proactive approach that did not include pointing fingers or causing further distress among residents likely to rely on family, friends, or neighbors to assist them with technology. The County’s failure to embrace and understand modern technology means you and your family will end up working even harder towards goals with simple solutions. There is no need for the County to actively make the situation worse by adding cyber intrusions and identity theft to already overwhelmed seniors. I recommend that readers visit https://www.usa.gov/identity-theft and https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/identity-theft for useful information on preventing and detecting identity theft.
Justan Foster is a resident of North Greenbush in Rensselaer County and is a graduate of Albany Law School’s Cybersecurity & Data Privacy program.https://www.linkedin.com/in/complianceinnovator
Poestenkill – Vote NO on the Blank Check Taxing District, Part 4
You are being misled by the Town of Poestenkill.
From the Town’s website:
“Those voting no – will direct the Town Board to maintain the current First Responder service provided in town and with coverage by Mohawk Ambulance.”
The resolution says nothing about what a NO vote means.
The Town Board has not discussed what will happen if the voters reject the blank check taxing district.
However, we are always looking to improve everything we do. Here are some of the steps previous Town Boards took to help improve patient outcomes in emergencies:
1. Installed an AED in Town Hall.
2. Worked to add additional emergency services offered by the First Responders.
3. Discussed working with the County to implement a service like PulsePoint. Using GPS, this service connects volunteers who are nearby so they can help out.
4. Worked with the Fire Company to get more residents to install 911 addresses on their mailboxes.
In addition, the Poestenkill Business Association (PBA) donated AED’s to the Lutheran Church, the Fire Company, and offered them to other local civic organizations.
The PBA, working with Mohawk Ambulance, conducted a CPR course for Town residents and will offer more courses in the future.
The Poestenkill First Responders are always looking for ways to improve their training, equipment, and recruitment of new volunteers.
Mohawk Ambulance is also working hard to improve their service. They just opened a new ambulance station in Brunswick.
Mutual aid would be a big benefit in some cases. Four years ago I put pressure on Sand Lake Ambulance to restore mutual aid to the Town. They refused, and threatened me with a lawsuit if I continued writing letters in the Advertiser.
Please vote no on the blank check ambulance district vote on March 30, 2021, from Noon – 8PM at the Sullivan-Jones VFW in Poestenkill.
Dave Hass, Councilman, Town of Poestenkill
Poestenkill Ambulance Tax District
On March 30th Poestenkill will vote on a proposition to “establish the Poestenkill Ambulance District”. The district is a way for the Town to raise taxes as much as necessary to pay for currently free ambulance service.
There is no limit to the Ambulance Tax District’s authority to raise taxes. The proposition does not limit the amount that the Town Board can increase taxes. Town board members are predicting a tax increase of 15% to 65% a year.
Today Mohawk Ambulance provides service to Poestenkill for free; only the recipient of the service pays.
If an Ambulance Tax District is approved all Poestenkill residents will pay for what was a free ambulance service; the recipient of the service will also continue to pay.
Last fall two Town Board members met with Mohawk Ambulance to discuss the cost of one paramedic dedicated 24/7 to Poestenkill. Mohawk’s estimate was $1 million.
One million dollars is three times what Poestenkill residents now pay for their fire department. One million dollars is about a 65% tax increase.
Other Town Board members are saying it may only be $225,000 which is a 15% tax increase.
Before allowing unlimited tax increases for a service that is now free Poestenkill voters should consider:
* Do current ambulance services need improvement?
* If so what are those needed improvements?
* What will be the cost of those improvements?
* Will eastern Poestenkill families near the Berlin/Grafton boarder get the same service improvements as those near the fire house, Heather Ridge, and Algonquin Estates?
Owen Goldfarb, East Poestenkill
Police Reform Review
Per an Executive Order, localities must adopt a police reform and reinvention plan by April 1, 2021 to be eligible for future funding. North Greenbush Police Chief Keevern and others that developed the North Greenbush reform plan. In early February, I was one of a number of town residents that provided comment on a draft of the report. I encourage all residents of North Greenbush to read the report and learn both about the policies of the department as well as historic data. I was pleasantly surprised to read about the low use of force data over a 5-year period. Related to the report, in October 2020, NGPD started posting monthly reports of police activities including calls for service, accidents investigated, arrests, and other details. The North Greenbush police reform plan is posted on both the town (townofng.com) and police department’s websites (northgreenbushpolice.org). Changes can be made to the report until March 11 after that it will be presented to the North Greenbush Town Board for review and adoption. I encourage all in the county to review their respective locality police reform plans as well as the Rensselaer County plan.
Michael Myer, Wynantskill
The Arts Are Still Happening in Sand Lake!
While COVID-19 precautions still limit many community activities, the Sand Lake Center for the Arts continues bringing arts programs to Sand Lake and beyond. These programs are all free and open to the public!
Throughout 2020, we did online theater productions, gallery exhibitions, and adult and children’s craft workshops in socially distanced formats.
This outstanding programming will continue in 2021. Here’s some of what we are planning:
• Four Plays in Four Months – free online readings of new plays featuring some of our favorite actors and directors over Zoom the last Saturday of the month. (Free registration required.) From the WWII era and Civil Rights movement to modern love and today’s schools, these plays will entertain and intrigue.
• Art Gallery Exhibitions – our Dan Sekellick Visual Arts Gallery is open Saturdays from 12- 3 pm. Stop by for these great shows this spring:
o Through February: Alan E. Opresko, Found Object Assemblage & Leslie Berlinsky, oil paintings
o March-April: SLCA Community Birdhouses/Eric Washburn. Birdhouse/Photography.
o May-June: Joe Johnson. Photography
• Craft Workshops: Watch for our springtime project!
• Youth programs this summer: We hope conditions will allow the summer arts programs for kids. Stay tuned. (While these aren’t free we hope to keep the fee as low as possible and offer scholarships. )
• And a few more surprises! We’ve got a magical event in mind for summer.
(Save the date for the SLCA Golf Outing, our major fundraiser to support the After School Arts Program (ASAP), August 28, 2021 at BLCC.)
When times are challenging, the arts can help revitalize us. See for yourself by trying one of our programs. More information and free registration on our website.
See you at the SLCA!
Barbara Neu Berti, SLCA Board President, Averill Park, NY
Brian Sheldon, SLCA Executive Director, Nassau, NY
Poestenkill Ambulance District Vote
On March 30 the Town of Poestenkill land owners will have the opportunity to vote on whether to establish an ambulance district for the Town. This will be a tax district that all landowners will have to pay for. The resolution to establish this district, (supported by three of the Town Board Members, Keith Hammond, Eric Wohlleber, Harold VanSlyke) allows up to $225,000 to be spent. This should be voted down.
The resolution has no valid direction. The Town Board will decide who will get the contract. There are no goals stated and no definition of results to be achieved. It is like giving the Town Board a blank check.
The resolution is to put out to bid a contract to local ambulance services to provide bls and als to the Town. Keep in mind that Mohawk Ambulance currently provides this service at no cost to the Town.
Proponents of the resolution claim that the current service does not provide timely service. Times that Mr. VanSlyke has been reporting, range from six to two years old. These times are very flawed. These times do not take into account the type of call, non-life threatening or life threatening. Distance of the call. Some calls can be 10 to 15 minutes from the center of town. Weather conditions.
If this resolution is voted in, and the District is created, consider future years. For example. If the
first contract is for two years and after that two year period the contract becomes $450,000 or higher. You know it will keep going up. Landowners will be responsible for that amount.
Keep in mind. Just because there is an ambulance district, the service is not free. You still will be billed if you use the service.
Vote this down. VOTE NO.
Lou Basle, Poestenkill