Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pictures and Comments Related to the August 1 Shandaken Town Meeting

I took some pictures of people who presented at the Shandaken Town Board meeting last Monday that were not published in my Watershed Post article so I thought I would publish here.

It was very interesting to hear the enthusiasm in the voices of Maria Todaro and Louis Otey (world famous singers and two of the founders of Voicefest ) as they discussed plans for the Phoenicia Voicefest this week. The Voicefest is a wonderful addition to the summer events in the Catskills, and it is gratifying to see that it is receiving national and international recognition. Chelsea and I are looking forward to attending "Don Giovanni" at the fest this Saturday.

People who live in the Catskills can sense the gradual economic decline of the region, judging by the stories of friends who are having a hard time finding a decent job, and the number of "for sale" signs on businesses and houses. A fellow used book dealer said to me the other day "we are in a depression plain and simple, even though no one wants to say it." Two summer visitor walked into our bookstore last Sunday and commented on how every summer in the past four years when they have summered in the Catskills the economic decline of the region has been evident. I remarked to them that there is an economic death and rebirth process going on. People are starting new ventures such as WIOX radio in Roxbury, the book village in Hobart, and various food producing/direct food marketing ventures springing up in Delaware County. The Voicefest is clearly one of the most positive of these new developments not only from and artistic but also from an economic standpoint. The Watershed Post article on Voicefest this week mentions several interviews with businesspeople in Phoenicia that point out how the event has a strong economic impact on the town and region.

One report at the town meeting that did not make the editing cut was on the Town of Shandaken Ambulance Service. This is one of the most vital services provided to residents of the area. Here is a picture of Richard Muellerleile, Captain/Administrator of the Town of Shandaken Ambulance Service, as he presented his report last Monday.

The Shandaken Town Museum is another reviving venture that can have a good social as well as economic benefit for the area. The museum has been closed much of the time in recent years, and at best is has been open on a part time basis. It is good that the town is now putting resources into staffing the museum, increasing hours, and improving the exhibitions. I know first hand that there is great interest in the museum from the visitors who pass through the Catskills. We have a constant flow of people coming into our book store in Pine Hill asking where the museum is located, and when it is open. They are disappointed that the museum has such limited hours. People are fascinated with the history and culture of the Catskills, and looking for places they can go to learn more. Studies have shown that learning about the history of the region is a strong motivation for at least 20 percent of the people coming to the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. I know that I find the regional history to be fascinating.