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Letters to the Editor
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Providing Hope ~ Improving Lives ~ Strengthening Community

In commemoration of National Crime Victims’ Rights week, Family Services was pleased to conduct our 3rd Annual “Visions of Hope and Healing Art Show and Award Ceremony on Tuesday, April 8th.

This important event included an exhibit of the art and poetry of a number of women, men and children –survivors of crime - who told their stories of hurt, healing and recovery through the power of the arts.

Conducted at the Cunneen – Hackett Arts Center, the Family Services event honored three 2014 Champions of Victims’ Rights .

Dale and Lu Picard, and posthumously, their service dog, Rosie were honored for Rosie’s role as the first judicially approved court house dog, providing support and comfort to a child as that girl offered difficult testimony in the trial of her abuser.

Detective Jason Ruscillo was recognized for his adroit investigative skill, coupled with his unique sensitivity toward victims of crime at their most vulnerable moments.

United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (with her Regional Director Susan Spear accepting on the Senator’s behalf) was applauded for her courageous and relentless advocacy for the rights of sexual assault victims, particularly in the United States Military. 

We were particularly pleased to be joined by and hear remarks from State Senator Terry Gipson and Dutchess County Legislator Chair, Rob Rolison, both of whom have demonstrated their commitment to the rights of crime victims.  

We are proud of the dedicated employees of our Crime Victims Assistance Program whose passion is the support of victims of crime in their journey toward healing and wholeness.

Brian Doyle
Chief Executive Officer
Family Services
(April 16)


Neuhaus: Manufactured crisis

New Republican County Executive, Steve Neuhaus, faults his predecessor, Eddie Diana, as responsible for reducing the county’s property tax base, which he claims contributed to the county’s budget problems.  He now cites the budget woes as a reason to transfer Valley View to a Local Development Corporation, which will oversee its sale to a private entity. 

Yet, Neuhaus is no different than Diana.  It is another manufactured crisis, the same ideology versus common sense.  Economic growth and jobs are the catchwords or political-speak used to justify policies that surrender tax ratables.  Neuhaus endorses the same IDA tax incentive policies to attract development, without regard for whether they serve the best interests of the county just as Diana did.

Case in point, he endorsed Diana’s major sales tax exemptions, property tax abatement and other inducements for the multi-billion dollar (Competitive Power Ventures) CPV Valley, LLC, a holding company, planning a power plant for Wawayanda/Middletown citing job creation despite the fact that the plant will result in only 25 long-term jobs for its anticipated 30 year lifespan and displace countless green technology jobs.  Neuhaus disregards assertions that there is no need for the plant; that it will add 2.2 million tons of Green House Gases, neurotoxins, hormone disrupters, sulfuric acid and more to Orange County’s already Ozone non-compliant atmosphere; that it will require additional gas infrastructure, prolong dependence on fossil fuel, slow the transition to green energy technology; and, that county residents will see their electric bills and taxes go up to subsidize its construction and operation.

Neuhaus would abandon our seniors, veterans and family members at Valley View and see county workers lose their jobs to balance the budget rather than use common sense and tax corporations that can afford to pay. 

Randy Hurst
Slate Hill
(March 26)


TAP reform

It’s time to reform and revamp the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), so that it can actually make a difference for those attending and planning to attend college. The first thing needed to be done is to make TAP all inclusive. We need to extend TAP to undocumented youth, graduate students, and incarcerated youth. They deserve an affordable education just as much as the rest of us do.

Next, we need to update TAP, so it fits the needs of students today. TAP is forty years old and has not been reformed in over a decade. TAP has not changed based on inflation and students are suffering from that, especially while tuition is increasing at alarming rates. TAP’s maximum award should be bumped up to $6,500 for all students. This would cover the full cost of tuition, which TAP was originally designed for. Also, the $100 per year cut to students’ TAP grants in their last two years of school should be eliminated. Why should upper classman be penalized? If anything, as time passes, the more debt we accrue, the more assistance we will need.

On top of the changes we need to make to TAP we also need to implement a system that periodically reviews its effectiveness, so that in another forty years we won’t be going through the same things again.

Students need a more affordable education, and this is one of the best ways to make that happen. With the final budget coming out in April timing is critical, so we must continue putting pressure on our state electives through things such as tabling, informing, making calls and lobbying.

Nicole Striffolino
New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Intern
SUNY New Paltz Sophmore, Graphic Design
(March 26)


Obamacare Scare at Town Hall

After the annual organizational meeting, the most boring town board meeting hands down is where the kindly insurance agent comes in with his powerpoint presentation showing the board exactly what their insurance coverage costs will be for the upcoming year.  You can usually expect the regular 2-5% increase (it never ever goes down!), but wait..what is he saying now?  That because of Obamacare, the policy that the town carries now is being dropped, and what used to be hundreds of other options have now been pared back to maybe a couple dozen or so! Oh no.he's explaining that each of the new options, with much the same type of coverage the town enjoys now, will have premium increases of what looks to be about 70% across the board.  And worse..these all have much higher deductables than the current policy!  What will the poor town employees do?  How will they ever be able to pay these increases in premiums and endure higher deductables?

But wait..the town supervisor is speaking, and he doesn't seem worried at all!  That's because the town employees won't have to worry about paying more.YOU WILL!  That's right, the Town of Gardiner not only subsidizes 100% of the employee premium, they also pay for 100% of the employee's family premiums.  On top of that, the town reimburses the employees for anything they or their families have to pay as part of the deductable, and also the co-pays!  Whew..so no one need worry or care that the cost's have skyrocketed so much.except the poor saps, us taxpayers, who will pick up 100% of the bill.  I offered a comment that the town seemed to be crazy generous when it came to doling out health care benefits, and for once, the town supervisor agreed with me.  Maybe when the board sits down to build the 2015 budget, and wrings their hands over where to cut, they can start with the insanely generous health care subsidies for town employees.starting with the town supervisor himself. 

Pamela O'Dell
(March 26)



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