CHEERS: To the Village of Liberty for taking advantage of a state program that could revive the heart of the community by resurrecting the deteriorating Liberty Theater. Built in 1924, the theater has been vacant for five to 10 years, according to Russell Reeves, Town of Liberty councilman and president of the Greater Liberty Chamber of Commerce. The state’s Restore New York Communities Initiative recently awarded $1 million for rehabilitation of the theater as part of about $11 million to 10 municipalities in the Mid-Hudson Region for revitalization projects. Bruce Davidson, deputy supervisor for the Town of Liberty, has owned the theater since August. He plans to develop the property in three phases with the storefronts first, offices second and the theater third. With a total budget between $1.8 and $2 million, the state’s grant was crucial to making this project possible, Davidson said. The theater will be used as a venue for music, movies and live performances. It will take between 18 and 24 months to finish the rehabilitation, according to Davidson.
CHEERS: To Orange County for the choice of a new commissioner of health. Dr. Irina Gelman comes to the county with impressive credentials. She received her Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine in 2010 and completed her residency at Coney Island Hospital in 2014. She earned her Master's of Public Health in 2012 from Nova Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Lauderdale. Currently, she is working on her Ph.D at Walden University. With a concentration on community health, Gelman’s dissertation will focus on telehealth initiatives in rural areas. Just as important is her personal story. An immigrant from Moldova in Eastern Europe, she came to the United States with her family when she was 9. And even more important for someone who will be communicating with the diverse county population, she is fluent in Spanish, Russian and Yiddish.
JEERS: To Orange County lawmakers for defying logic and making us pay. The leaders of the two parties in the Legislature get extra money on top of their regular salaries. Because they are doing party work, it would be nice for the parties to pay that bill but traditionally the taxpayers have been stuck with it. Now, county legislators seem to have agreed that the leader of the third party, Michael Amo of the Independence Party, deserves a bonus as well. Amo also happens to be the only member of that party in the Legislature so they want to pay him for meeting with himself. They justify this with talk of the hours he has to spend gathering information, but isn’t that what he and they get paid the $29,811 base salary for anyway? The only reason they are doing this is because they can. If they like Amo so much and worry about all the work he has to do, they could put an end to their party caucuses where they do public business in private and let us all listen in. Or they could take more money from taxpayers. That’s always easier, so that’s what they plan to do.