A look back at 2019

Posted 12/23/19

The year in marijuana in New YorkGov. Andrew Cuomo wanted the legislature to legalize the recreational use of marijuana as part of the budget process in 2019. But, in March, he indicated that it …

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A look back at 2019

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The year in marijuana in New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted the legislature to legalize the recreational use of marijuana as part of the budget process in 2019. But, in March, he indicated that it wasn’t likely, and he was correct: The legislation was never introduced.

In a press conference on March 11, Cuomo said, “Now the PTAs start to call and say, ‘Well how do we make sure children aren’t going to get it?’ and, ‘It’s not going to be sold near a school,’ and, ‘You have to make sure you can’t have a straw purchaser. Can’t be like the old days where Jesse McKinley was underage and sent an 18-year-old to buy beer and then he walked down the block and he gave it to him. How do we stop that with marijuana?” Lawmakers hope the details might be worked out in 2020.

The year in marijuana in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman completed his statewide cannabis tour in June. Afterward he recommended decriminalization of cannabis, automatic expungement of low-level charges of marijuana possession and the full legalization of recreational use of marijuana by adults.

Fetterman travelled to all 67 counties for the tour—he made a stop in Honesdale—and drew 10,300 attendees in total. More than 44,000 people submitted comments to Gov. Tom Wolf’s Office online, and, of the people who participated, more than 65 percent approve of legalization for recreational use.

But the Republican majorities in the House and Senate are opposed to legalization and will probably block movement on the issue next year.

Sullivan declines to share sales tax revenue

After towns and villages requested that Sullivan County share either sales-tax revenue or casino impact fees with the other municipalities, Sullivan County Legislative Chair Luis Alvarez responded by sending a letter to town and village attorneys in March essentially saying the county won’t share the revenue.

In the letter, Alvarez laid out a long list of expenses that prevent the county from sharing. But new legislators that will be sworn in January have supported the idea of sharing county sales tax with other municipalities; that is what happens in 46 of the 57 counties outside New York City.

Measles in Sullivan County

The Sullivan County Public Health Department put out an alert in March 14 that two positive cases of measles have been identified in the county. At a time there were wide-spread cases in Brooklyn and Rockland County.
Ultimately there were 19 confirmed cases in the county, and Albany commended Sullivan Public Health for the way they responded to the outbreak.

Hankins Pond Dam

The Wayne Commissioners fought for and ultimately saved the Hankins Pond Dam. The combination of an online petition drive hosted on the county website and signatures collected at the commissioners’ Wayne County Fair booth collected close to 1,000 signatures.

Twenty-six feet in height at its center, it impounded a 90-acre pond, where Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Comission operated a fish hatchery. Several years ago, DEP declared it and several other old Wayne dams as high-hazard structures to be removed. A small breach was cut in 1969 to allow a Lackawaxen River tributary to pass through. In October, the county and state reached a deal to save the dam

Transgender bathrooms in Honesdale

A 15-year-old student at the high school filed a complaint against Honesdale High School, saying she felt “violated” by seeing a student of the opposite sex changing in the women’s locker room early in the school year.

Wayne Highlands School District Superintendent Gregory Frigoletto said at the time the district is being guided by the ruling in the Joel Doe v. Boyertown Area School District (BASH), in which a federal district court and an appeals court did not order Boyertown (PA) District to change its policy allowing transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Eldred bullying

The bullying lawsuit brought by Anthony Motta Jr. and his family against Eldred Central School District was settled out of court in November 2019. An earlier verdict ruled that the district had to pay the family $1 million, but it was thrown out on a technicality.

The terms of the settlement prohibited Motta Jr. and his family from disclosing the amount, but the family’s attorney Jean Pau Le Du of the Rubino Lawfirm of Yonkers “It was a considerable amount. It was clear the school district didn’t want to have another trial.”

Year of dueling Woodstocks

Two Woodstock 50th anniversary celebrations were planned. One was attempted by Michael Lang, one of the producers of the original 1969 Woodstock event, but the Japanese firm, Dentsu Aegis Network, which had been playing a large role in financing the event, pulled out of the project, scheduled for August 16 to 18. Lang said at the time, “Although our financial partner is withdrawing, we will of course be continuing with the planning of the festival and intend to bring on new partners.” But the event fell through at three separate venues and eventually Lang and his partners threw in the towel.

The events in and around Bethel Woods Center for the arts continued throughout the season and were deemed a success by those involved with managing safety and traffic.

Year of the dove

As part of the county’s Woodstock 50th commemoration, 50 fiberglass doves began to appear throughout the county. The doves are each five feet high, one foot wide and seven feet long, and they were all painted by local artists. According to a press release from Sullivan County Visitors Association, “Artists were instructed to use the 1960s color palette; famed artist Peter Max as inspiration; and to create design that was indicative of the community’s character creating a narrative that is uniquely Sullivan Catskills.”

Boxing returned to the Catskills

Energy was a tad slow to build one June night at the Resorts World Catskills Epicenter, but by the time “Action” Anthony Laureano cornered Dieumerci Nzau in the ring in the first of three eight-round bouts, the crowd was surging with each jab. The previous four-round bout, between crowd-favorite Robert Duran Jr. out of Florida and North Carolina’s Jermaine Corley, was a catalyst for that enthusiasm. Onlookers rose to their feet to see Corley systematically wear down previously undefeated Duran and win by unanimous decision.
That momentum was exactly what Resorts World and Star Boxing, the night’s sponsor, were looking for.

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