Newburgh Symphony To Present “All is Bright”

The Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra (GNSO) will present a fabulous Holiday Concert on Saturday, December 11 at 4:00 pm at Newburgh Free Academy in Newburgh.  Historically, this is the best-attended performance of the year, which virtually sold out in its last iteration in December, 2019. 

Russell Ger, Music Director of the GNSO, said “‘All is Bright’ revisits our old favorites while being wholly unlike anything we have done in the past. The first half features our string section in a sumptuous assembly of Christmas music from across the centuries. Many of these pieces will be new to our audience and will have people running home to update their Holiday playlists. The second half will see the return of some familiar faces in the singers who will send us into the Holiday season with the appropriate joy and cheer.”

Now in his fifth season of GNSO leadership, Mr. Ger has led the orchestra to new attendance records and artistic heights. This is the second concert scheduled for the 2021-22 season, with at least five more in the months ahead, for which dates and sites will be announced in the near future

Again, “All is Bright” will be presented Saturday, December 11 at 4:00 p.m. at Newburgh Free Academy.  Call 845/913-7157 or visit www.newburghsymphony.org. Students are admitted free to Open seating.

The Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra is one of the leading cultural institutions of the Hudson River Valley.  It was founded in 1995 by Dr. Woomyung Choe and its first president, the late George Handler, who was followed as president after 10 years by the late Fred McCurdy.  In addition to its regular concerts, the Orchestra performs special engagements, such as the Moxart and Boscobel engagements.

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Village of Washingtonville held a big “Thank You”

This past weekend the Village of Washingtonville held a big “Thank You” for essential workers including girl scouts and those who are seniors in high school, all pitching in together to say thank you and to help make the world a better place.

At the end of the walk to Vern Allen Park there were cookies, cupcakes, bags of chips and bottles of water.

It has been a very rough 18 months and it was awesome to get together to celebrate outside and say thank you to everyone!

Girl Scouts thank Essential Workers
Washingtonville Mayor, Joe Bucco, offers tribute to essential workers

Don Stillwater’s 100th Birthday

1714 Route 300 was the place to be on Tuesday November 9. His family took him for a ride and to lunch, while  at the house family members were busy decorating  He came home, walked  in and couldn’t believe balloons and decorations. American Legion members from Post 1420

and many other friends came. There was cake and drinks and lots of memories. Around five p.m. Cronomer Valley Fire Department showed up with fire engines blasting along with  air horns.

Don has been a member of Post 1420 for over 75 years.  He and his great grandsons climbed ito an old Mack and went for a ride with firefighter Stevie Williamson. After lots  picture taking Don sat on back bumper with the members for a picture—Happy 100th Birthday Don.

(Photos by Bob McCormick)

Scouts of Newburgh Troop #4027 Hike 2,100 Miles On Appalachian Trail

Back toward the early part of 2021, three former scouts of Scout Troop #4027 of Newburgh decided to go for a walk during the COVID crisis.  And then they walked, and walked and walked!  In little more than 5 months the three young men walked from Georgia to Maine along the Appalachian Trail.  The trail is actually over 2100 miles long, and while on the way they had the adventures of a lifetime.  AquaDog, Savage, and Trainer, as they were called by their trail names on the trek are all experienced scouters. 

AquaDog is the middle son of a family in which all 3 boys have been in the troop over time.  Trainer is the third scout in this troop from his family.  Savage came into the troop when a friend of his invited him to join with him and has been on many camping trips.  They all have spent plenty of time in the woods, honing their skills and learning their equipment that prepared them for this adventure.  Their camping experiences have included all types of weather including, Freeze O Rees, canoeing, survival skill practices, and doing Eagle projects to have the opportunity to share these experiences with others. 

A Note From “AquaDog”

The Appalachian Trail begins at Springer Mountain, Georgia. Each year thousands of hikers summit this mountain in an attempt to complete the entire trail. To the surprise of many, the majority of these hikers start alone! It is extremely difficult to find a friend that is willing to sacrifice home commitments and live outside and hike for six months. Troop 4027 has somehow generated three scouts with this special type of crazy. Colton, Corey, and I embarked on this expedition together. Growing up we were young and enthusiastic, always looking for a hike a little longer and more challenging. We finally convinced our parents to let us go on our very first day hike alone in Harriman state park. Shortly after, it was our first overnight camping trip alone, then a weekend trip, after that it was a winter backpacking trip at the age of 16. In a blink of an eye, I was telling my parents that I wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail! Scouting has helped me realize that there is no mountain unreachable, I just need perseverance and a dream. 

Genesis Ramos Named Exec Director Of Desmond Center for Community Engagement

Newburgh Mount Saint Mary College is proud to announce the appointment of lifelong Newburgh resident Genesis Ramos as Executive Director of the Desmond Center for Community Engagement and Wellness.“It’s an amazing opportunity that the college is embarking on and it’s truly and honor to be at the helm of it,” said Ramos. “There is a critical need for this in our community.” The Desmond Center will be located on the college’s campus in what is currently Guzman Hall and will provide medical and educational services for low income individuals and families, including the uninsured.  “When it comes to healthcare, community engagement and outreach are critical,” Ramos said. “We need to involve our community in the process so that they can become empowered with their healthcare.” To that end, the center will offer educational workshops, family counseling services, fitness checks, immunizations, professional development events, and more for local residents. Once completed, the college expects the center to serve more than 4,000 residents per year. In addition to providing opportunities for area educators and professionals to volunteer their services, the center will also house the college’s Desmond programing for adult enrichment.

Blooming Grove Councilwoman Sonia Ayala Appreciations On Retirement

“It has been an honor and privilege to represent the 4th Ward in the Town of Blooming Grove for the past 4 years.  I would like to thank the residents for putting their trust in me to represent them.

I am moving away from the area and starting a new chapter in my life with my family.

It has been a pleasure working with my town council colleagues, Supervisor, Highway Superintendent, Town Clerk, Receiver of Taxes, and Town staff. 

Daughter Allison and Husband David Ayala Offer Flowers and Appreciations (Photos by Edie Johnson)

This Town Board worked as a team and put the best interests of our constituents first when making decisions.  We accomplished so much in the past 4 years and I wish the Town Board members many successes in the next two years.

I am not saying good bye but see you later.

I recommend that this Town Board be for 4-year terms and staggered. There is no other municipality in Orange County that the terms for Town Board expires at the same time. When the Wards were created in 2017, the Town Board inadvertently created 2-year terms resulting in having the entire board expiring at the same time.

My recommendation is that the Town Board moves forward with 4-year terms and staggered for Town Board so that only two positions are up for election at a time.

At the close of Tuesday night’s Town Board Session, Mrs. Ayala received two large bouquets, and both a few smiles and tears coming from tremendous pride in her accomplishments.

As Mrs. Ayala shared with residents and her fellow board members that she is leaving the area with her family at the end of the month one after another of the board members thanked Sonia for her extraordinary years of service, and commented that they all have worked exceptionally well together, despite (or perhaps because of ) the different background,  political leanings and different perspectives they have had to share, noting that this board is one that benefits greatly from its diversity,.  Ayala is in fact so well liked and respected that Councilman Chuck Quick qupped several times that he would not accept her resignation. Several board members thanked her particularly for her political acumen, and her knowledge of local and state connections and how they work. Councilman Steven Amante thanked her for helping educate them all saying “There is some knowledge that doesn’t come from a degree.”   Supervisor Rob Jeroloman thanked her for her help over the many years they have worked together, and said he was accepting her resignation with regret.  During his years as Mayor of the Village of South Blooming Grove, Sonia sat as a Village Trustee, and participated  on the Zoning Committee, and the. Zoning Bord of Appeals before becoming a Town Councilwoman.  He added that there were is a long list of other contributions she has made both to committees, acting as a liaison,  and helping to obtain grants, both at the local and federal level., and that they will miss her.

Community Preservation Committee Starts Phase II Of PDR Efforts

By Edie Johnson

Blooming Grove – Just about 5 years ago some of the top environmental experts in the county came to Blooming Grove and helped with the hard work that was done by the Town’s Community Preservation Plan Committee. They started exploring  parcels identified in their Open Space Inventory, discussed them with Town Planner, Bonnie Franson, and narrowed the prime parcel choices from over 11,646 to 5, 472 acres, with 53 identified as especially desired parcels.  The goal was to apply to the State for a Home Rule PDR plan under which farmers can be compensated with tax exemptions in return for not developing portions of that land.  The PDR program can also be used toward Open Space purchases, the money being gleaned by a small transfer tax on real estate transfered , the resulting funds being collected in a special account to be used for these preservation efforts.  The authorization for this home rule transfer tax fund was passed by the state legislature last year.  It now sits on Governor Kathy Hochul’s desk awaiting her signature.  

So now, the Blooming Grove Town Bord has decided that it is time to call back the Community Preservation Plann Committee, and have it take another look at the group of prime preservation properties, anticipating that the selections may be coming closer to fruition. 

On Tuesday night the Blooming Grove Town Board reviewed the names of  committee member selections (most having already participated in the first round).  There is one more seat available, but as of now the Committee members will include Elinor Hart, Edward Gannon of the town’s Planning board, Sean Brady of the ZBA, and Perry Ragusa of the Community Preservation Committee.

The board members are in “forward thinking mode”, ready to follow up on this important work, before building projects snatch those especially environmentally valuable sites up, and we lose our open space views, hiking and farming lands forever.

This is an incredibly exciting time for the Town of Blooming Grove to pick up the gauntlet of selecting land to protect, both via Protection of Development Rights on Farmland, and Open Space selections.    Any action, obviously, will rely on Governor Hochul finally signing the bill, which was put through last year’s legislative session nearly 11 months ago through efforts by Senator James Skoufis and Assemblyman Colin Schmitt.  Committee members are very eager to restart their work.

Solar Joins The Town’s Environmental Plans

With a large expansion of the Orange & Rockland Substation on Round Hill Road that will soon be processing Megawatts from the McCarthy Solar grid nearby, Supervisor Rob Jeroloman said his team is taking a closer look at options to have additional solar project resources in the town.  With the Orange & Rockand headquarters right down the road on Route 208, IF community solar acreage can be sited  where it will be useful and helping to cut fossil fuel use that is believed to be a prime source of negative climate change. 

IN ORDER TO DO THIS SOLAR GROWTH THE BEST AND RIGHT WAY, THE TOWN BOARD MEMBERS HAVE DECIDED THAT UTILITY PROJECTS SHOULD HAVE THEIR OWN ZONING CODE, AND NOT BE PART OF THE NNI ZONE (“Utility Code”  NOT part of Non Nuisance Light Industrial)

The good news is that there is a whole new approach to solar in our area. by the engineers and professional businessmen involved.  Solar developers AND the engineers at O&R are stepping into a new kind of “WOKE” in terms of the right way to so large scale solar, a way that best uses the associated land.  In discussions with  the O&R team earlier this month, the principals said that at the Round Hill site (which includes a new additional 10 acres), they are committed to doing full scale buffering landscaping, including several rows of mature buffering arborvitae along the road (which is a Scenic Byway, with a Scenic View, and adjacent to an important Biodiversity Corridor.  Not only do they plan to do significant habitat restoration there especially for endangered species.   They even want to set up birding stations/possibly with educational materials in this area that has high protective value including views of the Schunnemunk Ridge. As  a neighboring homeowner, what a treat to hear that the lead professional’s wife is an artist and longtime Cornell Extension Agency member.   These projects are beginning to sound like “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Stay tuned! 

No One Fights Alone!

By Michele Wing

New Windsor Community Pulls Together For Jett “Macho” Diaz

It was a crisp and foggy fall morning last Saturday, but the New Windsor Little League Complex on Cedar Avenue was warm with community spirit, support and love for one of its younger residents.  Jett “Macho” Diaz, a 13 year old boy from New Windsor, was recently diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and the New Windsor/Newburgh communities responded with the rallying cry that “No One Fights Alone”.

An astounding number of more than 1100 people crowded onto the grounds of the little league fields to prepare for a 5K “Jog for Jett” event. Newburgh classmates, teammates, and travel baseball teams from several counties, made their way to the fields where Jett grew up playing baseball.  Sponsorship was strong and evident with raffles, live DJ music, a food vendor, water bottles offered along the race route and countless hours of organizing by a legion of volunteers including Jett’s travel baseball Coach, Joe Voltaire who spearheaded the event.

James Diaz, Jett’s fatherand a teacher and baseball coach in the Newburgh School District, addressed the crowd prior to the race saying, “We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support for Jett.” He added, “Jett is a brave guy. He’s got a big fight ahead of him but he’s not battling alone.”  Later he and his wife, Patty sat with Jett in the driveway of their home and graciously greeted the runners, joggers and walkers as they passed by.

The link for donations to aid the Diaz family through the 5K race has been closed at the request of Mr. Diaz but the OCP will keep readers informed of Jett and his journey.

Photos by Michele Wing