Regarding the December 11, 2018, school vote…

As the author of the Letter to the Editor published in December 2018, I was pleased to read that “Resident formally challenges RVSD Dec. 11 bond vote” (in the Feb. 1, 2019 issue of BSP). I totally agree with Troy Dunn asking “What legal procedure did the RVCSD employ to ensure the voters casting ballots on Dec. 11, 2018 were qualified voters?”

This is the key issue as there was NO identification whatsoever and NO way to link any “poll registration” signature to a “ballot.”

The affidavit signed by Debra Barbiani, district clerk of the Rondout Valley Board of Education and Dr. Joseph Morgan, the new superintendent of schools at Rondout Valley, contains false statements, and this is beyond disturbing. For a NEW superintendent to tell us, district voters who did vote here for years, that this vote was “substantially the same process that has been used over the last 13 years” is simply adding insult to injury!

The explanation of having used in the past both rolls and “poll registration” is forced and convoluted. Troy Dunn is right stating that “the rolls were used in the past 13 years” and the proofs he provided from people who prepared the rolls are more than believable. I can personally confirm that they are right. With two spellings of my last name and two addresses for a number of years, I do recall specific instances when my identity and residency were checked against the rolls before I was allowed to vote.

To claim that “people were often taken aback by the need to show identification” is absurd and outrageous; comparing the school votes with political elections makes no sense — we are identified via past signatures on the rolls for political elections!

All voters I’ve talked to after last December’s school vote were shocked by the lack of rolls and lack of identification exactly because it was the first time when we experienced that!

The fact that for the December 11, 2018 vote the Rondout Valley had “rolls” provided (according to Ulster County Board of Elections commissioner Tom Turco) but did NOT use them makes us even more suspicious. My feeling is that this was planned this way to make sure the vote would pass. I mentioned in my first letter the “determination” to pass this project as it was, with no plan B.

Finding “hard to believe that 43 people” would have been not qualified voters, Superintendent Morgan insults our intelligence. He completely ignores the not so far-fetched scenario where ANY number of ballots were replaced, as needed.

An investigation to discover if all 1,327 voters were qualified will bring some peace of mind and end suspicions.

The answers provided so far by RVCSD are unacceptable; their statements are most disturbing.

Manuela Michailescu
Kerhonkson

As published in the February 15, 2019 issue of Blue Stone Press (page 14)

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2018 in pictures…

The Blue Stone Press pictorial A year in pictures, looking back on 2018 included three of my photos featuring moments from our town’s events and activities…


Summer program field trip to the Museum Village in Monroe, NY…


Memorial Day Parade…


Community Center dedication to Harold Lipton…

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Outrageous voting for School District capital budget proposal

Manuela Michailescu

As published in the Shawangunk Journal, January 3, 2019, page 2

To the Editor:

The School District seemed determined to pass this approximately 62 million budget no matter what (no plan B was presented except “we’ll put the project back up for another vote,” an answer given during the Q&A meeting on November 8, 2018).

I’ve learned of Board of Elections people not being aware of this vote, unusually scheduled in the middle of the holiday season, on December 11. The School District did its best to bury – under the many details of needed repairs – the most important information, regarding the “stadium,” that “new artificial turf football field with lights” to “host events” and “generate revenue.”

After 17 years of voting in the area, I cannot recall any instance when there were NO LISTS of voters’ names and addresses, and NO IDENTIFICATION was required of those coming to vote. In other words, anybody willing was able to vote, and to be included in the total number of 1,327 voters. The result was 685-Yes and 642-No.

In less than 12 hours after the vote closed I’ve heard that the 62 million Capital Project passed! Who checked 1,327 ballots in the middle of the night? How were the voters matched with the addresses? How was the validity of the votes checked? Who supervised the counting of ballots?

As NO CONNECTION can be made between the sheet of paper considered “ballot” and the voter, how can we be sure that “No” votes were not replaced with “Yes” votes?

Shame on the RVCSD for making a mockery of the voting.

Manuela Michailescu
Kerhonkson

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Disquieting vote for the school district’s capital budget proposal

Manuela Michailescu

As published in Blue Stone Press, December 21, 2018 issue, page 15

To the Editor:

Thanks to the coverage in Blue Stone Press – November 16, 2018 issue, page 12, “RV school district hosts public Q&A for capital budget proposal” – it became clear to those who could not attend that public meeting held on November 8, that:
— there was no hard copy of the proposal available upon request before that meeting;
— there was no itemization in the proposal (readily available at that time);
— the school district seemed determined to pass this budget no matter what (no plan B was presented and the answer to the question regarding the proposal not passing was “we’ll put the project back up for another vote”).

Most residents were not aware of this vote, unusually scheduled for December 11, in the middle of the holiday season. The school district did its best to burry in its mailer, under the many details of needed repairs, the most important information, regarding the “stadium” – a new artificial turf multi-purpose field lighted for night games, hosting events and generating revenue.

And now about the real problem…

After 17 years of voting in the area, I cannot recall any instance when there were NO LISTS of voters’ names and addresses, and NO IDENTIFICATION of those coming to vote. I definitely remember that I was identified in the past when voting at the school; I had to present a photo ID or proof of residency, and the signature was also matched with the one on record.

Now, it looked like anybody was able to vote and be included in the total number of 1,327 voters. The result was very close, 685-Yes and 642-No.

How was the validity of the votes checked? How were the voters’ names matched with the addresses declared? Answers are needed because, even if the Board of Education adopted a legal voting alternative, it did not feel right to me and many of those who voted!

The opportunity for fraud is obvious as NO CONNECTION can be made between a sheet of paper considered “ballot” and the voter; how can voters be sure that “No” votes were not replaced with “Yes” votes?

In my opinion, RVCSD made a mockery of the voting and lost people’s trust in the school voting process.

Manuela Michailescu
Kerhonkson

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Rochester’s Great Summer Program

Letter to Editor published in Blue Stone Press, September 1, 2017.

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Thanks to Blue Stone Press, which – in the August 4 and 18 issues – published photos capturing moments from our program, the readers had a glimpse at the richness of Rochester’s summer program this year.

I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again… It’s hard to find the appropriate superlatives for our summer program; the town’s Recreation/Youth Department creates a well-structured, balanced, diverse, full of fun affordable program that keeps improving each and every year!

Being a counselor for all 21 field trips (3 weekly for the duration of the program) I better understood the planning effort this summer program required and the challenges – mainly caused by the unpredictable weather – we had to face.

Going to water parks, beaches, pools and fun centers, walking in Albany and across the Rosendale Trestle, visiting museums, the Planetarium and the Ellenville Library, picking blueberries and corn, rides and petting animals at a local farm and at the Ulster County Fair, bowling, hiking, skyrides, ice and roller skating – everything included offered so much enjoyment.

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We’ve been fortunate to have again the exceptional MaryAnne Gates, our long-time summer program expert, at the helm of our 2017 program; I find it almost impossible to describe in words what I believe she deserves as appreciation for coordinating this program…

I feel that the exciting weeks of the summer program can make a difference in children’s lives; in return, the kids enrich our lives. It’s such a rare, challenging but mutually rewarding experience; we hope we can continue to do this for years to come!

Manuela Michailescu

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UCAT Ulster-Poughkeepsie Link needs improvement…

Manuela Michailescu

During the years I avoided writing letters to editor when experiencing problems as a user of this helpful bus connection (Rosendale to Metro-North in Poughkeepsie), hoping that they would be solved.

Once I missed about four Metro-North trains because of a dispatcher’s inability to tell other bus drivers to stop in Rosendale when the regular bus driver was witness in a police investigation.

Once the bus driver did not stop in the place marked “BUS PARKING” but… far away, at the Trailways stop, to talk to another bus driver! He left Rosendale without picking me up, despite the fact that I was in the Park & Ride 12 minutes early!

The LINK schedule found online in April 2016 was from… April 2011. As a result, I got on a bus not going to Rosendale, but only to New Paltz’s “FREE Park & Ride, Next to New Paltz Auto Center.” Well… that Park & Ride was closed and it’s “Private Property” since January 2015! And the Auto Center does not exist either…

The UCAT director responded to my email complaint: “My apologies for the lack of communication. We were aware the park & ride was closed and have changed the next schedule, due out October 1st, which will read Stewarts Northbound and Stewarts Southbound.”

I have the new printed LINK schedule for October 2016 – March 31, 2017. NO CHANGE was made regarding the New Paltz Park & Ride!

The situations described show lack of respect for the riders; the lack of proper communication is unacceptable and may affect in a negative way the Ulster County tourism.

Manuela Michailescu
Kerhonkson

Blue Stone Press, January 20, 2017 (page 14)

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Halloween in Rochester: A magical evening

Manuela Michailescu

Reading the beautiful article “Rochester ‘Queen of Halloween’ to step down” in the October 7, 2016 issue of Blue Stone Press brought tears to my eyes and regrets that we haven’t participated to all Halloween events in our years of living here.

I respect the passion and energy the “Queen of Halloween” – Carol Dennin, Director of our town’s Recreation Department – put into creating and coordinating the annual Halloween Scarefest for the last 18 years.

Carol’s Grand Finale at Kelder’s Farm corn maze was themed “Field of Screams” and constituted an outstanding Halloween event; it was scary but also eerie, mysterious, a superb combination of amazing scenery, good sound and excellent lighting, diversity of costumes, with the enthusiasm and creativity of the participants.

With great weather just two days after snow and rain, the evening of October 29 was a magical experience, a mix of hard work, excitement and determination to create something unforgettable.

It was fascinating to see how seriously the players prepared their roles – from the 5-year old boy to the 71-year old senior, all paying attention to the details of make-up, costumes, masks, and props to be used. I felt happy and challenged trying to capture with my camera their creations and the many special moments; you can view the photographs on the Facebook page “Town of Rochester Youth & Community Center.”

Checking with the “Queen of Halloween” who the dedicated participants were during the years, she started by mentioning her current Recreation Department team, Rita Harkins and Ashley Sweeney and also – in the recent past – Valerie Weaver and Shaye Davis. Then, she continued, “The original cast and crew were Kris, Mark, Justin and Alison Zimmerman, Buddy Hornbeck, Jessica, Neil, Charlotte and Nick Knapp, Jilyn, Angela and Bradley Fries, Kim (Murto), Gabby and RJ Thompkins, John Tackett and those that joined us over the years were Donna Waddell, Jason and Devin Wells, Annie Challener, John, Jamie, Zach and Reilly Waddell, Kate and Jared Gundberg, Tony, Brayden and Sienna Sergio, Jimmy Dennin, Debbie Snyder and family, MaryAnne Gates, Elaine, Devon and Emily Sammuels, Manuela Michailescu and Jon Dogar-Marinesco, Adam, Lolly, Debbie, Adam and Tucker Chase, Elaine Sheehan, Lexi and Cassandra Woinoski, Kayla Vedder, Kelly Carron and her family.” Overwhelmed with emotion and sense of responsibility for the printed words, Carol Dennin added: “I apologize if I have missed anyone and let’s not forget that there have been various groups involved over the years such as the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4H and the Kerhonkson/Accord Chamber of Commerce, etc.” Congratulations and thanks to all!

Carol Dennin’s legacy is very rich and I’m sure the new staff would carry on this great tradition. It’s time now to say to Carol: We all love and admire you! Thanks for the wonderful memories.

Manuela Michailescu
Town of Rochester Youth Commission

Blue Stone Press, November 4, 2016 (pages 14-15)

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Rochester’s outstanding Summer Program deserves recognition!

Letter to Editor published in Shawangunk Journal, September 10, 2015 under the title Summer Program deserves recognition!

Manuela Michailescu

I find it outrageous that those attending Rochester’s Town Board meeting on September 3rd – including two reporters – did not hear a word about our outstanding summer program because Councilwoman Cindy Fornino, Town Board Liaison to the Youth Commission for the past year, had “nothing to report!”

Personally, year after year I had trouble finding the appropriate superlatives to describe our excellent program. This summer 70 children participated (16 of them benefiting from Oremus Foundation scholarships) and August 21, the last day of the program, marked a uniquely emotional moment – the conclusion of fifteen wonderful years of having MaryAnne Gates as program director. That day some kids had tears in their eyes because the perfectly organized, superbly diverse, lovely program was ending.

I totally agree with what our Youth and Recreation Dept. Director Carol Dennin said: MaryAnne is “definitely one in a million!” I had the privilege to see her work with the children only for the last 4-5 summers, but she was our director for 15 years – one third of her entire life! – and I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for her, knowing firsthand what sacrifices are made when one dedicates the summers of her life to bringing joy to the children! Probably this was written with MaryAnne in mind: “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time, because when you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.”

After fifteen years, she definitely would miss the kids and we would miss her; thankfully, we have her legacy, what she helped create in Rochester – a world of love, friendship, and positivity… She has passed the baton to Dyani Fitzpatrick, who already started to plan next summer’s program!

The strongest feeling I had – as participant to the summer program – is that we’re enriching the lives of children and they’re enriching ours! I treasure the joy and happiness brought by adorable kids calling my name, holding my hand, sharing a hug, pointing out things they discovered on our field trips.

This year I chaperoned these kids: Adrianna, Angela, Beatrice, Cameron, Chris, Elsa, Josh, Kaila, Lacey, Nick, Niomi, Ryley and Savannah. I thank them all for the special moments spent together. I’ve tried to capture their journey with my camera and the pictures can be seen on “Town of Rochester Youth & Community Center” Facebook page.

Learning about how shocked I was to hear that Councilwoman Fornino had “nothing to report” after seven weeks of a fantastic summer program, MaryAnne Gates, the program director for 15 years, replied: “It’s ok. We know how well the program did and will do. We are the ones that matter. The children are the ones that matter… Those people having nothing to report have never been there to witness the greatness of the program and all the people that helped run it. We know what a great job we did to make a difference in all of those children’s lives. BECAUSE WE CARE.” And, as MaryAnne also said in a recent Q & A piece: “Caring is sharing and sharing is love.”

Manuela Michailescu
Kerhonkson

Remember? A picture is worth a thousand words…

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Thank you, MaryAnne!

Manuela Michailescu

The last day of Rochester’s summer program on August 21 marked a uniquely emotional moment – the conclusion of 15 wonderful years of having MaryAnne Gates as its program director. That day some kids had tears in their eyes because the excellent, lovely, perfectly organized, superbly diverse program was ending.

Manuela Michailescu

I totally agree with what our Youth and Recreation Dept. Director Carol Dennin said: MaryAnne is “definitely one in a million!” I had the privilege to see her work with the children only for the last 4-5 summers, but she was our director for 15 years – one third of her entire life! – and I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for her, knowing firsthand what sacrifices are made when one dedicates the summers of her life to bringing joy to the children! Probably this was written with MaryAnne in mind: “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time, because when you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.”

Manuela Michailescu

After 15 years, she definitely would miss the kids and we would miss her; thankfully, we have her legacy, what she helped create in Rochester – a world of love, friendship, and positivity… She has passed the baton to Dyani Fitzpatrick, who already started to plan for next year!

Manuela Michailescu

The strongest feeling I had – as participant to the summer program – is that we’re enriching the lives of children and they’re enriching ours! I treasure the joy and happiness brought by adorable kids calling my name, holding my hand, sharing a hug, pointing out things they discovered on our field trips.

Manuela Michailescu

This year I chaperoned these kids: Adrianna, Angela, Beatrice, Cameron, Chris, Elsa, Josh, Kaila, Lacey, Nick, Niomi, Ryley and Savannah. I thank them all for the special moments spent together. I’ve tried to capture their journey with my camera and the pictures can be seen on “Town of Rochester Youth & Community Center” Facebook page.

Manuela Michailescu

Congratulations and thanks to all the people behind the summer program. This summer 70 children participated in the program (including 16 children who benefited from Oremus Foundation scholarships). It’s too little to say “thank you” and “we’ll miss you” to MaryAnne Gates… The best way to show our appreciation is to live by MaryAnne’s words: “Caring is sharing and sharing is love.”

Manuela Michailescu
Town of Rochester Youth Commission member

As published in Blue Stone Press, September 4, 2015, page 15.

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In loving memory of Cynthia LuAnn Stokes

Manuela Michailescu

Less than seven years ago, the Rochester Town Board was faced with a serious problem – as our town’s assessors kept resigning after only a few months on the job.

Then a sweet, wonderful lady – Cynthia Stokes – applied for the assessor’s position. Cindy had the inner strength and the professional guts to take up a tremendously difficult task, best described later by my fellow Councilwoman Lynn Archer: “You don’t fix 20 years in one year, but Cindy has got a good handle on it now… “

Only one year and a half on the job, Cindy was praised because “the property revaluation was ‘a little ahead of schedule’ with the completion of residential property inspection, and that commercial property inspection had begun.”

Despite huge personal challenges, Cindy became an accomplished professional recognized the way she fully deserved.

I saw and hugged her last on February 13; she was so focused on a deadline that she didn’t even attend the Valentine’s Day luncheon at the Recreation Center. Six days later I was shocked to learn she unexpectedly passed away. It’s hard to accept that I would never see her wonderful smiling eyes, admire her courage, dedication, professionalism, determination, and kindness. It’s way too little to say I would always miss Cindy, she was beyond special; we lost a real treasure, and it hurts a lot.

Manuela Michailescu

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