CHEERS: To the family of Kevin Andryshak Jr. for sharing their pain and inspiring others. Kevin took his own life in July and in August the family held a memorial service to spread their message. “No parent should ever have to do what I’m doing right now and speak at their child’s memorial fundraiser,” Kevin Andryshak Sr. told the crowd. He was blunt about what caused his son’s death. “Drugs infected Kevin’s life. They made him weak,” he said. “Those of you who want to legalize drugs in America, feel my pain. Feel my anger.” The family had a simple message. “I want people to share how they feel,” Andryshak said. Sean Gerow, of a nonprofit that offers a broad range of services for people in the Hudson Valley with mental illness or disabilities, had some advice. “Most people want to live. Most people want to talk about it. The sad thing is, no one asks,” Gerow said.
CHEERS: To Middletown City officials for exploring ways to open more trails for walking, biking and hiking, as well as cross-country skiing in winter. Pathways travel through the city’s watershed grounds, lending access to three major reservoirs: Highland, Monhagen and Shawangunk and officials are thinking about hooking them into the 15-mile Heritage Trail. Mayor Joe DeStefano said he has floated ideas for how to use the area for about 20 years, but the trick has been creating a plan everyone agrees on. The trails are clearly carved out, though rocky and overgrown in spots. They’re punctuated by a couple of dilapidated log-cabin foundations and century-old rock walls that date back to when the area was used as farmland. The city may seek grant funding to restore some of those features into historical landmarks.
CHEERS: To Aquanetta Wright, better known as “Ferry Godmother,” for launching the “Newburgh Jazz Series,” free waterfront concerts that drew residents and visitors to shows by professional musicians, a summer treat that 12 years later has grown to include not just jazz but also pop, rock and doowop, Broadway tunes and Jewish folk music. With support from Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Kaplan Family Foundation, Shapiro’s Furniture Barn and other local businesses and organizations, the shows have remained free.
JEERS: To a judge and prosecutor in Sullivan County for holding one of their own to a lower standard when they should have been demanding more. Yermia “Jeremy” Solomon of Woodridge, a former Monticello police officer, had been charged with third-degree rape, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child and official misconduct, both misdemeanors. But Sullivan County District Attorney James Farrell recommended three years of probation and Sullivan County Court Judge Michael McGuire agreed. Solomon has left the force, was fined $1,500 and will be on probation for three years while there will be an order of protection between Solomon and the minor for eight years. Others receive much harsher sentences for the same crimes, and the order of protection shows the severity of this one. Prosecutors and judges should be holding those in law enforcement to a higher standard, not giving them a break.