Once again, Dear Smallwoodian and Dear Mongaupian, we have reached the antipode of the Sullivan year. Where oh where has golden June gone, now? Days are short, nights bitter. Snowflakes fly at any …
Once again, Dear Smallwoodian and Dear Mongaupian, we have reached the antipode of the Sullivan year. Where oh where has golden June gone, now? Days are short, nights bitter. Snowflakes fly at any hour. Emerging tonight onto the wooden deck outside “Annie’s Ruff Cut” down 17B in Cochecton, I stepped out into the parking lot. Nary a dog bothered to bark in the distance; far too cold to raise one’s snout for that. Ahead the snow- and ice-glazed vehicles, surrounded by blue snow fields and a darkling forest. Wicked Winter has truly arrived.
In my last column I reported on a recent interview I had with Bethel Town Supervisor Dan Sturm. Sturm talks frankly about the antipodal nature of Sullivan prosperity. We boom and flourish with millions of visitors during peak season but, come these winter months, half the restaurants are about to close or have already closed. Many locals, so Sturm, have trouble covering rent, paying for utilities, feeding their children. (It is quite possible here in Sullivan to be shown several $7.5M country estates up for sale but drive over the next hill and find several ramshackle hovels). Sturm points out that the Bethel Local Development Corporation (BLDC), of which he is Chair, has a program called “Citizens Energy Assistance Program” (CEAP). CEAP helps Bethel residents pay their heating costs. CEAP is funded entirely through tax-deductible donations from Bethel residents and others concerned about the welfare of Bethel inhabitants during the dark and frigid months. Applications can be found on the BLDC website and in Town Hall and are easy to fill out. CEAP has been working to help those needing help with heating bills since 2008. The amount of assistance will be capped according to the number of eligible applicants; if successful, an applicant may be eligible for a one time assistance payment of up to $150. If you or someone you know is concerned about their ability to pay for their heating bills this winter, please reach out to Dan Sturm at (845) 583-4350 ext. 102.
Sturm reports that the Town of Bethel is initiating two major construction projects in 2023, even while ensuring municipal taxes grow below the NYS 2% property tax cap. The first project is construction of a new Highway Department Garage (similar to a similar ‘Barn’ in Liberty). Currently, Bethel Highway Department has to leave much of its heavy machinery outside, exposed to the harsh elements. This fact significantly impacts the Department’s ability to respond to wintry conditions when sand and salt are often needed at very short notice. Staff has no adequate indoor space to prepare for deployments. The second big project this year will be the upgrade of Bethel Town Hall, a pre-Woodstock era relic that has no space for meetings and no space, really—so Sturm—for administering an at-times flourishing but also at-times economically-struggling town. After groundbreaking in spring 2023, Town Hall staff will move over to Duggan School. ~ Reader, may you bustle and flourish through another Happy Holidays, and do keep warm!
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