Thursday, April 30, 2020

COVID-19: An Update on the Update

The Columbia County Department of Health released its numbers for the day at 3:00 p.m. Then at 4:15 p.m., they updated the number of positive cases after receiving "late afternoon results." The total number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County is now 205. The number of positive cases yesterday was 175. That's an increase of 30 in one day.

One might think the higher number of positive cases is simply a consequence of doing more testing, but a reader suggested this was not the case. On March 20, when the Columbia County Department of Health started reporting positive cases and the number of tests administered, there were 3 positive cases out of 118 people tested. That's about 2.5 percent. This afternoon at 3:00 p.m., there were 188 positive cases out of 1,338 people tested. That's 14 percent. Looked at in a different way, between 3:00 p.m. yesterday and 3:00 p.m. today, the results of 59 tests revealed that 13 people had the coronavirus. That is 22 percent.

On March 24, when there were 18 positive cases of coronavirus in Columbia County, Jack Mabb, director of CCDOH, warned, "We haven't reached anywhere near the peak of the COVID-19 cases we expect in the county." More than a month later, with now 205 positive cases, it seems we are still on the ascent. Tomorrow, we find out where those 205 positive cases are located in the county.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have have thirteen new cases of COVID-19--the second highest number of new cases in one day since this all began. There have also been four more recoveries. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 remains at fourteen, but two more of those hospitalized are now in the ICU.
As of 3 p.m. on April 30, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 13 community members that have passed away from COVID-19
  • 188 positive cases of COVID-19
  • 92 of the 188 cases have recovered from COVID-19 
  • 14 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 6 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 1,338 test results completed for Columbia County residents
  • 138 residents are under mandatory quarantine and 21 under precautionary quarantine

What's Next?

We're not through this health crisis, but many people are already thinking about what's next for our little city, which has had such a long history of boom and bust. At the Common Council Finance Committee meeting last week, Council president Tom DePietro said he'd read an article recently that predicted, when things started opening up again, "local tourism will have a huge boost." At the meeting of the Hudson Cultural Task Force on Tuesday, Tambra Dillon, executive director of Hudson Hall, shared a similar prognosis: "Hudson is very well positioned for the next phase. . . . People will not be getting on planes."

James Howard Kunstler, who spoke in Hudson almost a year ago on the theme "The American Small Town Is Where It's At--Let's Get It Right," returned to the first part of that theme in an article that appeared last week in The American Conservative: "Where Will You Live in the Post Covid-19 Future?" The article has the lede, "Cities are cramped, sprawling suburbs are a dead end. That leaves two places well equipped for uncertain times." The final paragraphs of the article identify what those two places are:
It's too soon to tell exactly what long-term effect the Covid-19 horror show will have on the psychology of city-dwellers, but it's not hard to imagine the trauma of being cooped up for weeks or months in small living spaces with little access to the meagre amenities of nature that cities offer, not to mention being deprived of the main reason for city life in the first place: the vibrant daily hubbub of human interaction. . . . Surely a percentage of city people will be looking for someplace else to live. . . .
Since suburbia is a dead loss, that leaves small towns and small cities. . . . These places have two big advantages over big cities and the burbs: 1) many have a meaningful relationship to farming (i.e. food), and 2) they are already scaled to the smaller resource and capital realities that we're facing. Many of them are on inland waterways--the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, Great Lakes, plus the Hudson River and its Erie and Champlain canals--which will have great value in the years ahead. These are the likely places where people might move, invest, and thrive in the post Covid-19 future.
To echo Kunstler's own theme for his talk here in Hudson last year, "The American small town (or in our case small city) is where it's at. Let's get it right."

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

This Seems Curious

In his virtual town hall meeting last Friday, Mayor Kamal Johnson said he had directed every department to submit plans for how its budget could be reduced by 5 percent and by 10 percent. This action was in response to the expected loss of revenue from sales tax, lodging tax, parking meter fees and parking fines, and possibly property taxes as well. In the context of this anticipated austerity, it seems odd that this notice recently appeared around town.

It reads: "A vacancy exists in the Youth Department for a Secretary 1 position. The current base salary for this position is $35,000." The notice is dated April 24, and "all persons interested" are asked to respond by April 28.

Given the uncertainty of the City's financial future, wouldn't a hiring freeze be in order?

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there are six new cases of COVID-19. Three more people have recovered, and the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 is down by one. There have been no more deaths.
As of 3 p.m. on April 29, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 13 community members that have passed away from COVID-19
  • 175 positive cases of COVID-19
  • 88 of the 175 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 14 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 4 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 1,279 test results completed for Columbia County residents
  • 141 residents are under mandatory quarantine and 16 under precautionary quarantine

We May Be Just Entering the Woods

This morning, in his daily COVID-19 briefing, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he would be issuing an executive order this afternoon allowing hospitals in some counties to resume doing elective surgery, provided that 30 percent of the hospital beds remain available for COVID-19 patients. The counties eligible to resume elective surgeries are those that do not present a "risk of a COVID surge." Columbia County is not one of those counties.

Yesterday, Columbia County had fourteen new cases of the coronavirus, the highest number of new cases since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Columbia County was reported on March 20

Stay home. If you must go out, stay six feet away from other people and wear a mask.

Funding for Artists

Last week, Gossips published a post about public art in post offices created during the Great Depression, in particular the sculptural relief by Vincent Glinsky in our post office in Hudson, which was funded by the Treasury Relief Art Project (TRAP), one of the programs of the New Deal. That post mentioned the suggestion, made by Linda Mussmann at a meeting of the HDC Emergency Cultural Task Force, that there be a Hudson WPA project to hire artists to create something of value to the community. Since then, that idea has developed into a reality. Today, the creation of the Hudson Arts Emergency Program was officially announced. What follows is the press release issued today about the program.
The Hudson Arts Emergency Program, a community-funded, WPA-style project, will support individual artists with stipends for projects that speak to life in Hudson during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
A project developed by the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) Emergency Cultural Task Force, the program seeks to create a means to assist creative workers in Hudson by supporting projects that would benefit both them and the greater community via meaningful employment during this time when their earning potential has been greatly impacted if not totally eliminated. Creative artists are often ineligible for government aid programs that are based on job losses rather than loss of income and opportunity.
Funding for the project will rely on donations from individual and organizational sponsors. As of 10 a.m. on April 29, the amount of $6,500 had been pledged to the project. Stipends will be awarded in amounts of $500, $1,000, and $2,000, depending upon the scope of the projects.
Contributions to the artist emergency fund can be made via PayPal at and or by sending a check made out to Hudson Development Corp. with Arts Fund in the memo line, mailed to: Hudson Development Corporation, Attn: Hudson Arts Emergency Program, 1 North Front St., Hudson, NY 12534
The program will be administered through the HDC, which is a 501(c)3 and therefore equipped to collect tax-deductible contributions and to distribute funds for such a program. All funds raised will go directly to individual artists, with a very small amount set aside for administrative costs.
Potential grantees will complete a simple application form downloadable at and Proposals will be reviewed as quickly as they come in and funding will begin immediately and continue on a rolling basis.
The program takes its inspiration from the mid-1930s Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal agency established in the wake of the Great Depression that employed musicians, artists, writers, dancers, choreographers, photographers, actors, and directors in large arts, drama, media, performance, and literary projects. People like John Steinbeck, Alice Neel, Jackson Pollock, Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan, and Ralph Ellison received such WPA grants years before they became household names.
Some examples of potential projects:
  • an artist or group of (appropriately social-distanced) artists could paint a mural or series of murals around Hudson
  • a musician or composer could create a song cycle, opera, rap, or instrumental work addressing the emotional impact of the pandemic, culminating in a recording, video, and/or public performance once the quarantine is lifted
  • a historian could record residents discussing life in Hudson during the pandemic shutdown, culminating in a radio broadcast, podcast, and an historical artifact
  • a filmmaker could create a series of portraits for broadcast on the local cable-TV channel or for streaming on YouTube, Facebook, or other online media platform
  • a painter could be commissioned to paint images of life in Hudson during the pandemic shutdown that will culminate in a public exhibition
  • a dancer/choreographer could be commissioned to create a piece about life in Hudson during the pandemic shutdown that will culminate in a video or public viewing
  • a photographer could document the streets and scenes of Hudson during the pandemic shutdown that would culminate in an online and/or gallery exhibition
  • a writer or poet could create texts reflecting life in Hudson during the pandemic shutdown that could culminate in a chapbook, a slam-poetry session, and/or a collection of other writers works
With input from the public and the HDC, the program was created by [the] Emergency Cultural Task Force, led by Seth Rogovoy, working in tandem with Linda Mussmann and Jonah Bokaer.

Architecture Snark

As we have seen time and again, early renderings are often inaccurate representations of the building that is finally constructed, and, in fairness, this may well be the case for the rendering that recently surfaced for building being proposed by the Galvan Foundation for North Seventh Street.

We are asked to believe that this is the same building originally proposed for 708 State Street simply re-sited. Clearly, it is not. For starters, the new rendering shows a building that is a story taller.

When the Hudson Housing Authority was proposing its new buildings across State Street from Bliss Towers, we were told that the original design was meant to be reminiscent of the old Union Mills building at North Sixth and Washington streets, now known as the Pocketbook Factory.

A reader suggested that the design for the proposed new Galvan building had also taken its inspiration from the Pocketbook Factory.

Photo: Scott Baldinger

I have to confess that the Pocketbook Factory was not the first image that came to mind when I saw the rendering of what's proposed for North Seventh Street. Rather it was this: Sing Sing Prison in 1855.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Documenting Hudson

It's been more than fifteen years since Two Square Miles documented Hudson's struggle against a $300 million cement plant proposed by a Swiss multinational corporation. Now, Hudson is in a different struggle, one shared by most of the world: the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, Helsinki Hudson announced that it is working on a documentary film about life in Hudson during this unusual time. The following press release was circulated today.
Helsinki Hudson will produce a documentary film about life in Hudson during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. RE-IMAGINING HUDSON: A Rivertown in Time of Pandemic will capture a moment in time, when a global pandemic hits a small city of 6,000 on the Hudson River in upstate New York, and document how its residents cope, respond, react, and rebuild their fragile socio-cultural ecosystem.
Hudson, N.Y., was a city on the rise, having been revived after decades of post-industrial neglect left its economy and social resources in shambles. The oft-told story of Hudson's slow but steady revival over the past two decades garnered repeated coverage in the New York Times and in national press and magazines, as the once hardscrabble town became a gathering place and refuge for artists, writers, designers, makers, musicians, choreographers, and other creative entrepreneurs, whose efforts in front of and behind the scenes sparked a transformation of the city from a place that time forgot to the place to be.
The transformation did not come without a price--increasingly the gentrification of Hudson posed difficulties for long-time residents and potential newcomers alike as the landscape changed, some got left behind, and real-estate prices skyrocketed.
Just as efforts were underway to address some of these issues, aided by a $10 million development grant awarded to the city by the State of New York, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated shutdown struck Hudson. The city's vibrant sidewalks and social life, centered in the art galleries, performance venues, bookstores, cafes and restaurants, and other gathering places, came to a sudden halt. No number of Zoom meetings or phone calls could take the place of the small-urban energy that fueled this small city of 2.5 square miles.
RE-IMAGINING HUDSON: A Rivertown in Time of Pandemic will document Hudson's revival and how its creative community responded with creative measures to cope with, survive, and reboot the city in the wake of the pandemic.
The film will capture in real time how artists and organizers and activists and thought leaders reexamined the city's social values as reflected in its policies, and how the temporary shutdown and the efforts to reopen the city brought about a new, mindful consideration of how its citizens wanted to live differently, with a re-envisioning of how the new Hudson could reflect those cherished values of community, compassion, and belonging.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there are fourteen new positive cases of COVID-19--the highest number of new cases in one day yet. The number hospitalized has not changed, nor has the number of deaths, but there have been four more recoveries.
As of 3 p.m. on April 28, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 13 community members that have passed away from COVID-19
  • 169 positive cases of COVID-19
  • 85 of the 169 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 15 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 4 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 1,219 test results completed for Columbia County residents
  • 141 residents are under mandatory quarantine and 21 under precautionary quarantine

The "Friendly City" in a Pandemic

Last night, a reader sent me this picture of a notice he'd spotted on Warren Street.

The notice is posted on this building, on the northeast corner of Fourth and Warren Streets. I'm sure the notice has nothing to do with the owner of the building, but, like the building, it hardly represents Hudson putting its best foot forward.


Meeting Reminder

Today, Tuesday, April 28, at 3:00, the Cultural Subcommittee of the HDC Emergency Task Force is meeting at 3:00 p.m. To join the Zoom meeting, click here. The meeting ID is 972 7312 5560. The password is 009933. Gossips' information is that an exciting announcement is to be made at this meeting.

The History Room Carries On

In the current situation, the Hudson Area Library is closed and its programming suspended, but the History Room has found a way to carry on. Library trustee Gary Sheffer, who chairs the History Room Committee, has created a podcast called History Room on Zoom, in which he interviews local history experts and aficionados. So far, Sheffer has published two of his interviews. 

The first interview is with Peter Cipkowski, supervisor for the Town of Hillsdale, who, through his grandfather's photographs and home movies and his own research, has educated us all about Front Street and lower Hudson before urban renewal re-imagined the landscape. That interview can be seen here.

In his second interview, Sheffer speaks with Kelley Drahushak, co-owner of The Spotty Dog Books & Ale, whose roots in Hudson go back to the early 19th century and who may be the city's best and most enthusiastic authority on our historic Hudson City Cemetery. That interview can be seen here.

Gossips has learned that there are more podcasts to come.

Monday, April 27, 2020

First Postponed, Now Canceled

The New York Democratic presidential primary was originally scheduled to happen tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28. First, it was postponed until June 23. Today, the New York State Board of Elections canceled the primary altogether. The New York Times shared the news this afternoon: "New York Board of Elections Cancels Democratic Presidential Primary."  According to the article, "Officials said they had struggled with the decision but they ultimately concluded that the risk of spreading coronavirus was too great to justify holding an election with no real meaning." Bernie Sanders ended his campaign at the beginning of April.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there are two more positive cases of COVID-19, and four more people have recovered. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 remains the same, but one more person is now in the ICU. The number of deaths remains the same.
As of 3 p.m. on April 27, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 13 community members that have passed away from COVID-1
  • 154 positive cases of COVID-19
  • 81 of the 154 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 15 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 4 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 1,175 test results completed for Columbia County residents
  • 146 residents are under mandatory quarantine and 22 under precautionary quarantine

After It Ceased Being a Place of Worship

The building on State Street that was once St. Matthew's Lutheran Church has taken on new life since it ceased being a church in 2011. Two years ago, Gossips linked to a video about the building when it was being marketed as a short-term lodging on Airbnb.

In early April, the church, now being described as a "live-work-event space," was featured in an article in Chronogram: "Space 428: Choreographer Jonah Bokaer's Church of Dance in Hudson."

Photo: Seth Davis| Chronogram

The Latest on 75 North Seventh Street

Gossips reported yesterday that the Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz would be studying the proposed PILOT for the affordable housing project being pursued with the Galvan Foundation. Today, there was an official press release from Council president Tom DePietro.
Review of PILOT Agreement Announced By Hudson Council 
Independent study will assess the property tax exemption plan for the N. 7th Street Affordable Housing Program. 
Hudson’s Common Council President Tom DePietro announced today that the Council has commissioned the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz to conduct an analysis of the PILOT agreement for the proposed Seventh Street affordable housing project. The study is expected to be completed within four weeks, in advance of the Common Council’s vote on the project. 
Common Council approval is required before the housing developer can move forward to secure the necessary funding from New York State Home and Community Renewal (HCR), the state’s affordable housing agency. 
The Galvan Foundation, developers of the proposed affordable housing project, is underwriting the study. 
“The Common Council is committed to increasing affordable housing in Hudson,” said President DePietro. “At the same time we need the expertise of the Benjamin Center to analyze the costs and benefits of the PILOT agreement.” 
A tax abatement agreement between the city and the developer, known as a PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) is typical of affordable housing development projects. 
The N. 7th Street affordable housing project’s proposed PILOT agreement covers 95% of the intended square footage, and excludes the remaining 4,000 square feet of commercial space. 
“The Council takes its due diligence seriously,” added President DePietro. “Bringing in the Benjamin Center for an impartial review of the PILOT agreement is part of exercising that responsibility.” 
At last week's Council meeting, when it was decided there would be a special meeting about the project on Monday, May 4, DePietro indicated that he would call for a vote from the Council at that meeting. It appears from the press release that the vote will be postponed until the May Council meeting, scheduled to take place on Tuesday, May 19. 

During the mayor's virtual town hall meeting on Friday, DePietro said a comprehensive guide to the project would be posted on the City of Hudson website today. That guide, which includes the above press release, can be found here.    

Of Interest

Gossips has done a couple of posts comparing the progress of the redeveloping One Monument Square in Troy with the attempts to redevelop the Kaz site here in Hudson. Hudson Development Corporation has so far made two attempts to redevelopment the Kaz site, both of which failed to get community support. Troy was on its fifth attempt, when consultants were hired to gather public input, and in June 2018 a three-day design charrette was held to hear ideas from the community.

Photo: Donna Abbott-Vlahos|Albany Business Review
In July 2019, the City of Troy selected Hoboken Brownstone Company as its development partner for the site. Today, the Albany Business Review reports that the Troy Local Development Corporation has settled on terms that will provide Hoboken Brownstone Company with "a two-year window for design, approvals, and applications for funding": "Troy reaches development agreement with One Monument Square developer."

The Hudson Development Corporation holds its regular monthly meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28, at noon on Zoom. One wonders if that meeting will offer any updates on plans to redevelop the Kaz site.

Another Online Event to Know About

Today, at 1:30 p.m., there is a webinar called "Complete Streets Responses to COVID-19." One of the speakers for the webinar is Mike Lydon, a principal with Street Plans. Lydon, who is the author of Tactical Urbanism, spoke in Hudson last year at one of the Future Hudson events. His urban planning and design firm, Street Plans Collaborative, is part of the team that was chosen to undertake the BRIDGE District Connectivity Project which is one of Hudson's DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) projects.

Photo: Street Plans
Click here to register for the webinar.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Virtual Meetings in the Week Ahead

It's now been six weeks since Mayor Kamal Johnson issued his first State of Emergency order canceling all nonessential city meetings, but Council meetings continue, as do meetings of the HDC Emergency Task Force, in a virtual format. The week ahead--the seventh week of social isolation--has a goodly number of such meetings.
  • On Monday, April 27, the HDC Emergency Task Force meets at 5:00 p.m. To join the Zoom meeting, click here. The meeting ID is 884 8032 6330. The password is 658221.
  • Also on Monday, April 27, the Common Council Fire Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. and the Police Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. Both meetings will be live streamed and can be heard here.    
Update: Tonight's meeting of the Common Council Fire Committee has been canceled.
  • On Tuesday, April 28, the Hudson Development Corporation meets at noon. To join the Zoom meeting, click here. The meeting ID is 986 6023 6864. The password is 702135.
  • Also on Tuesday, April 28, the Cultural Subcommittee of the HDC Emergency Task Force meets at 3:00 p.m. To join the Zoom meeting, click here. The meeting ID is 972 7312 5560. The password is 009933.
  • On Thursday, April 30, the Hospitality Subcommittee of the HDC Emergency Task Force meets at 3:00 p.m. To join the Zoom meeting, click here. The meeting ID is 857 3559 2807. The password is 917586.

Performing Arts . . . Virtually

The Cultural Subcommittee of the HDC Emergency Task Force has talked about how news of arts offerings that are happening now, during this time of isolation and social distancing, can be gathered and communicated to the public. To facilitate this, Stephanie Monseu, ringmistress of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, is in the process of creating a platform where individuals, arts companies, and cultural organizations can list their live-streaming events--classes, open studios, open rehearsals, workshops, performances, readings, private lessons. Called "Performing Arts Offerings NOW," the listing can be accessed here, for those seeking to post information.

Speaking of live-streaming performances, the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus offers "Bindlestiff Open Stage: Quarantine Edition" every Monday at 7:30 p.m. It can be accessed on Facebook or on YouTube.


COVID-19 Update

In his COVID-19 briefing today, Governor Andrew Cuomo reported that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Preventation) is recommending that the hospitalization rate must be in decline for 14 days before restrictions can be relaxed and reopening can begin. For the state overall, the hospitalization rate has been in the decline for almost two weeks.

In Columbia County, however, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is still climbing.

Here are the numbers released today by the Columbia County Department of Health. Since yesterday, there are three more positive cases and two more people in the hospital. There have also been three more recoveries.
As of 12 p.m. on April 26, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 13 community members that have passed away from COVID-19
  • 152 positive cases of COVID-19
  • 77 of the 152 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 15 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 3 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 1,154 test results completed for Columbia County residents
  • 142 residents are under mandatory quarantine and 24 under precautionary quarantine

The State of the City

In his preliminary remarks during the virtual town hall meeting on Friday, Mayor Kamal Johnson said he had directed every department to submit plans for how its budget could be reduced by 5 percent and by 10 percent. This seemed to be in direct response to a suggestion made by Alderman Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward) at the Finance Committee meeting the previous Tuesday, although the percentages proposed then by Alderman Jane Trombley (First Ward) were 10 and 20 percent.

The proposal for 75 North Seventh Street was a major subject in Council president Tom DePietro's comments during the virtual meeting. He started out by assuring everyone that "the city continues to operate effectively" and "the City Council [sic] is looking towards our future." He then announced that, in response to criticism that the project was proceeding too fast and without enough public input, "a comprehensive guide to the project" would be posted early Monday morning--that's tomorrow--on the city website. The page will allow the public to submit questions and comments about the project. DePietro concluded by asserting, "It's important that we address perennial problems in Hudson as much as we deal with the urgent ones."

In his closing remarks, which begin at 1:01:52 in the video that can be viewed here, Johnson talked about what he called "the elephant in the room"--the proposed housing project. He declared that he "firmly believes" in the project, but it is now up to the Common Council to do "its due diligence." He claimed he cannot speak about Galvan's other properties in the city, saying, "My relationship with the developer is only around this project." He then dismissed "polar plunges, WiFi programs, food distribution, and other symbolic resolutions" as "feel-good initiatives" and asked "What are we really accomplishing if we are not progressing the lives of each other and our neighbors?"

This drawing of the proposed building appears in the PILOT presentation

Yesterday, Gossips learned that the Galvan Foundation will be funding a study of the PILOT for the proposed project to be conducted by the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz. Hudson has a little bit of experience with this group. Last summer, in the Future Hudson series of community discussions, Joshua Simons, senior research associate with the Benjamin Center, was one of the presenters in the "Preserve, or Not to Preserve" event in the series. The video of that event can be found here. Simons' presentation begins at 2:25.

A few things to bear in mind: The City's share of the $77,000 PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for the proposed project has been calculated to be $22,237--an amount that will increase by only 2 percent every year for the next forty years. Over the past three years, the Oakdale Plunge, which the mayor characterized as a "feel-good initiative," has raised close to $60,000 for the Youth Department and the Fire Department Water Rescue Team--almost as much annually as that PILOT would bring into the City's coffers. The decision to join East Light Partners' community solar plan, which was like pulling teeth for many of the aldermen, will save the City between $30,000 and $40,000 a year in utility costs.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been seven new cases of COVID-19, and two more people have recovered. There have been no new deaths from the virus.
As of 3 p.m. on April 25, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 13 community members that have passed away from COVID-19
  • 149 positive cases
  • 74 of the 149 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 13 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 3 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 1,129 test results completed for Columbia County residents
  • 145 residents are under mandatory quarantine and 25 under precautionary quarantine
Today, in his briefing, Governor Andrew Cuomo reported that the overall numbers for the state are continuing on the descent. The total hospitalizations today were the same as they were on April 1.

Here in Columbia County, we are not seeing anything like that curve. The bar graph below shows the number of new positive cases over the past three weeks.

During the virtual town hall meeting yesterday, Assemblymember Didi Barrett, whose district includes parts of Dutchess County, where the number of COVID-19 cases is a staggering 2,660, said, "We're lucky not to have a huge problem here [in Columbia County], but our time will come." If it's been demonstrated, as it has in New York City, that human behavior can control the spread of the virus, why do we have to accept the notion that "our time will come"? If we stay at home as much as possible and wear masks and keep our distance from others when we are outside our homes, perhaps things won't get any worse than they are right now.

Hudson in 1974

Included in the recent scans on the amazing website are these pictures of Hudson, taken in 1974 from the recently constructed Bliss Towers. 

Looking southeast--the building at the bottom of the picture still stands on North Second Street, next to Long Alley (see below); in the background, at the left, you can see that dome of the courthouse and the spire of St. Mary's Church

Looking south--the building at the bottom left stood where Providence Hall now stands; at the right, along the river, you can see the oil tanks that were once located just across Ferry Street Bridge
Looking west--to the right, the buildings that were once Hudson River Knitting Mills still stand intact; straight ahead and to the right, the northern end of the then newly constructed Hudson Terrace Apartments
Looking northwest--"The Shacks" can be seen, just beyond the waste water treatment plant at the left
Looking north--the church building that was once Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, known familiarly as the Polish Church

A Hub for the Hud

In the past month or so, Hudson's own impresario extraordinaire, Rich Volo, a.k.a. Trixie Starr, has taken a break from organizing events (pride parades, bed races, bar game nights, movie nights, dance parties, etc., etc.) to build, a website offering a comprehensive list of all that's happening in Hudson. Gossips has explored the site, which launched yesterday, and can report that it is like the venerable "Ellen's List" on steroids. is still a work in progress. For now, it provides information about businesses--eateries, grocery stores, convenience stores--that are still serving customers during this global pandemic. But there's a technologically sophisticated events calendar (Trixie is a drag queen, but Rich has worked in IT for decades) that allows anyone to post their events. This is particularly important now, because, although no public events or gatherings are happening, art and culture persevere in a virtual format. There's even a forum planned where people can post information about yard sales, lost and found pets, and services like cars and drivers, home repair, and gardening.

Check out and see how it can keep you connected with the community during this unsettling time of isolation.

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Market Tomorrow

Tomorrow was to be the first Saturday that the Hudson Farmers Market would be outdoors at Sixth and Columbia streets. Because of social distancing requirements, the market has been outdoors for several weeks now. This Saturday, as it has been for the past two Saturdays, the market will be in two locations--at the corner of Sixth and Columbia streets and a little farther west in the municipal parking lot behind the former St. John's Church. 

The maps below will help you find your favorite vendors. The first shows the lot behind St. John's Church. The second shows the lot at the corner of Columbia and Sixth.

This Saturday, the market returns to its regular season hours: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Remember the protocol: Grab and go! Wear a mask, shop as efficiently as you can, get what you need, and then head on home.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has published its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there are four new positive cases of COVID-19 in the county, and six more people have recovered from the virus. The number of deaths remains at thirteen.
As of 3 p.m. on April 24, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 13 community members that have passed away from COVID-19
  • 142 positive cases of COVID-19
  • 72 of the 142 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 11 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 3 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 1,060 test results completed for Columbia County residents.
  • 139 residents are under mandatory quarantine and 19 under precautionary quarantine

Where Are the COVID-19 Cases Now?

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for the week, broken down by municipality. In the list below, the first number is last week, the second is today. The new numbers show that there are just two more cases in Hudson, for a total of 20. According to Jack Mabb, the people who have tested positive in Hudson live in different neighborhoods all over the city. The significant increase in the county for the week is at Pine Haven, where the number of cases in the past week has gone from 26 to 31.

Ancram  4 | 5
Cannan  1 | 6
Chatham  4 | 7
Claverack  2 | 4
Clermont  1 | 2
Copake  4 | 4
Germantown  4 | 5
Ghent  14 | 16
Greenport  5 | 9
Hillsdale  6 | 6
Hudson  18 | 20
Kinderhook  11 | 12
Livingston  3 | 5
New Lebanon  3 | 3
Stockport  1 | 1
Stuyvesant  0 | 4
Nursing Homes
Livingston Hills  1 | 2
Pine Haven  26 | 31

Help Delivered for Small Businesses

On March 30, Gossips reported about a new fund being created to help small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis: the Columbia County Business Continuity Fund. Today, the Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) and the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (BTCF) announced that nearly $190,000 has been awarded in 92 grants for local businesses. Gossips has learned that 44 of those businesses are in Hudson; the remainder are located in town and village centers throughout the county. The press release making the announcement reads in part:
The businesses receiving grants are spread out across Columbia County and met key grant-making criteria, including being located in city, town or village centers, open to the public and reliant on foot traffic, and having fewer than 10 full-time employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue. An independent, volunteer committee of local business leaders reviewed and rated each application based on these criteria. The committee had representation from throughout the county and from women- and minority-run businesses.
Award amounts varied based on severity of need and total resources available, with nine out of 10 grants sized at $1,500 to $2,500. These one-time, rapid response grants were designed to help cover costs such as retaining employees, rent and other fixed operational costs. A list of recipient will be released following their acceptance of the grants.
Generous individuals, foundations and businesses made this fund possible. Major gifts came from BTCF's Community Fund and CEDC, BTCF's Fund for Columbia County, the Hudson River Bank and Trust Foundation, Martha McMaster and Sheldon Evans, Berkshire Bank, Henry J. Kimelman Family Foundation, Stephen Mack and Brian Schaefer, Susan Danziger and Albert Wenger/The Spark of Hudson, Linda Gatter/Max Dannis Fund and the Arthur and Eileen Newman Family Foundation. In addition, more than 40 individuals made online gifts totaling over $17,000.
The press release contains quotes from representatives of CEDC and BTCF and elected officials at all levels of government, but this is the quote Gossips found most compelling. It is attributed to Chuck Rosenthal and Monica Byrne of the Hudson Business Coalition:
Truly, small businesses are the heart of every community. They are owned and staffed by our friends and neighbors. They provide service and jobs, and they drive local economies. They are the creative outlets that often define a community's unique personality and culture. We know that when disaster strikes, rebuilding the small businesses is key in rebuilding the community overall. We know that the quicker and more efficiently we get aid to small businesses, the less it costs and the quicker they rebound. When small businesses thrive, entire communities do, too. Rebuilding our small businesses in Hudson is key to rebuilding the community overall. The Business Continuity Fund's ability to distribute aid to small businesses allows these businesses and our community to begin to rebound, and the effects will be exponential.

Who Knows Where We'll Be in June?

The Democratic presidential primary in New York, which was supposed to happen next Tuesday, was postponed until June 23, the same date as other federal, state, and local primaries. Effective April 9, absentee voting was made available to all voters for the June 23 primaries. The following information from the Columbia County Board of Election appears on the county website. (The use of underscore, boldface, and italics is as I found it.)     
Due to the COVID-19 situation, any voter may apply for an absentee ballot for the June 23 Primary by submitting an absentee application and selecting "temporary illness" in Box 1 of the application form.
In addition, no hard copy application is required for the June 23 Primary. Your completed absentee application form may be scanned and emailed (or mailed or delivered) to the Board of Elections at "" The Board encourages electronic submission of application forms.
At present, these modified rules apply through June 23 only and do not apply to the November 3 General Election.
Primary Ballots will not be sent to voters before early May.
The application, which cannot be completed online but must be printed, completed, and then scanned, can be accessed here.

Update: Just as I was completing this post, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in his daily COVID-19 briefing a new executive order requiring county boards of elections to mail an absentee ballot application to every registered voter. Apparently, downloading and printing the form will not be required. A form, with return postage, will be mailed to you. In the briefing, it was also clarified that polling places will still be open on June 23.

More Deliciousness to Get Us Through

Good news for all the window shoppers! Verdigris has announced that its espresso machine is up and running again. So, along with the fine array of chocolates available--all on display in the Verdigris window--you can get hot and cold drinks curbside.

There are baked goods as well! Regina Simmons, the Verdigris baker, is back in the kitchen. With 48 hours notice, she will bake you the cake, pie, or tart you crave. Cookies, cupcakes, biscotti, tea breads, and brownies are also available. Call ahead to place your order518 828-3139and your comforting treats will be ready for curbside pickup.

Verdigis Tea & Chocolate Bar, 135 Warren Street, is open every day except Tuesday from noon to 5 p.m.