2016: The Year in Review

Memorable news in Philipstown and Beacon from the past 366 days  

By Michael Turton


11 More than 400 parents gather after a canceled Beacon Board of Education meeting to call for the dismissal of Superintendent Barbara Walkley. She resigns on Jan. 21, becoming the third superintendent since 2006 to last less than 18 months in the job.

19 Longtime Philipstown and Cold Spring historian Donald MacDonald dies at age 90.

Donald MacDonald (file photo by Michael Turton)

29 Peter Gross resigns as executive director of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater after 18 months. The organization’s annual summer festival at Croton Point is canceled to focus on the $850,000 restoration of the sloop.

29 Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents Philipstown and Beacon in the U.S. House of Representatives, expresses regret over his vote to tighten restrictions on Syrian refugees entering the U.S.


11 The Butterfield project returns to the Cold Spring Planning Board after the developer asks to move the proposed senior center from the new construction to the existing Lahey Pavilion.

12 A secure prescription medication return box is installed at Philipstown Town Hall.

Town Board members surround new drug drop-off box. From l-r: Bob Flaherty, John Van Tassel, Mike Leonard, Richard Shea and Nancy Montgomery (File photo by K.E. Foley)

16 Beacon residents petition the city to rezone seven properties in an effort to deter a 70-unit development.


8 Haldane High School Principal Brian Alm announces he is leaving for a new job after nine years at the school.

11 Libby Pataki resigns as head of the Putnam County Vistior’s Bureau after a Journal News investigation shows she had created a second nonprofit agency that paid her a salary without oversight by a functioning board, an apparent violation of state law.

12 Rayvon Grey of Beacon High School, now a freshman at LSU, sets a state indoor record and becomes the first long jumper in the nation to clear 26 feet since 1989; he leaps 26 feet ¼ inch. On June 10, Grey breaks the state outdoor record with a leap of 25-feet, 4¾ inches, breaking a mark set in 1965.

Grey making a jump at a February meet (photo courtesy ny.milesplit.com)

12 After an unexpected run to the Class C title game, the Haldane boys’ basketball team finishes second in the state.

15 Lynn Miller and Steve Voloto win seats on the Cold Spring Village Board, and voters pass a referendum moving village elections to November.

Steve Voloto and Lynn Miller just after the vote count was announced. (Photo by M. Turton)

18 The state upgrades the Beacon School District to “good standing” based on improving test scores and graduation rates.


1 The Paper becomes The Highlands Current, reflecting broader coverage of the area.

16 The Philipstown Little League opens its season with 134 players, a 14 percent increase over 2015.

Getting ready for the first game of the season (file photo by M. Turton)

18 A year after a devastating fire at their Parrott Street home in Cold Spring, construction begins on a new modular home for the Santos family.

20 After 10 years of planning, Cold Spring’s Main Street improvement project gets underway when workers begin marking broken sidewalk concrete.


3 The Putnam County Legislature approves a $25,000-per-month, 15-year lease for a senior center at Butterfield to be named for Fox News chief and Garrison resident Roger Ailes, who pledged $500,000 to the project.

6 The Desmond-Fish Library in Garrison presents its annual Hamilton Fish Award to novelist Salman Rushdie at a dinner at the Roundhouse in Beacon.

Trustee Danielle Pack McCarthy (Photo by M. Turton)

16 Nelsonville Trustee Danielle Pack McCarthy charges that fellow Trustee Thomas Robertson harassed and attempted to intimidate her. She also criticizes Mayor Tom Corless for not responding to her concerns.

17 Voters elect challengers Meredith Heuer, Michael Rutkoske and Anthony Tseng to the Beacon School Board.

Peter Carucci (file photo by A. Rooney)

Peter Carucci (file photo by A. Rooney)

17 The Haldane Board of Education appoints Peter Carucci, formerly an assistant principal in Tuckahoe, as principal of Haldane High School.

28 James Cannon, a longtime athletic booster and member of the Garrison School Board, dies.

28-30 More than 3,000 hikers trek up Breakneck Ridge over the Memorial Day weekend.


4 Three hundred guests attend an open house to honor Andy Chmar, who is retiring after 12 years as head of the Hudson Highlands Land Trust.

Sculptor Jon Reichert with the remains of The Yawner. (Photo by B. Cronin)

5 The Yawner, a sculpture in the Beacon 3D public exhibit, is vandalized.

6-7 Cold Spring shops are hit by rash of burglaries. A second series of break-ins occurs in July.

Cold Spring installs its first parking meter, at the municipal lot on Fair Street.

Roger Ailes, second from left, confers with developer Paul Guillaro at a Cold Spring Planning Board meeting in June. Douglas Cunningham is in the foreground. (File photo by M. Turton)

10 The Cold Spring Planning Board and Butterfield developer Paul Guillaro reach a compromise on his request to move the proposed senior center to Lahey Pavilion.


9 Police officers rescue an owl caught in a soccer net at Beacon High School. On July 12, Beacon firefighters rescue 50 cats from a burning home.

Rescuing an owl from a soccer net in Beacon (Photos courtesy of the Beacon PBA)

13 The New York State Supreme Court overrules Cold Spring Village Justice Thomas Costello, who had refused to seal a case involving restaurant owner Ray DiFrancesco when assault charges against him were dropped.

15 The U.S. Coast Guard says it will consider a plan for 10 anchorage spots, including between Beacon and Newburgh, for oil barges along the Hudson River.

21 After several allegations of sexual harassment, Roger Ailes resigns from Fox News. Putnam County officials say the agreement to name the senior center for him remains in place.


1 Nearly every ticket for four free performances of Our Town, starring local residents and organized by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival for Labor Day weekend, is snapped up within an hour.

Antoinette Robinson of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Company in a scene with Megan Shea of Cold Spring in Our Town. (Photo by Ashley Garrett/HVSF)

1 The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct rules that Philipstown Town Justice Alan Steiner acted improperly in three incidents. Steiner says he will step down Sept. 20.

3 After the Putnam County legislature sets aside an agreement to accept a $500,000 donation from Roger and Elizabeth Ailes for a senior center in Cold Spring, the couple withdraws the pledge, saying “it is clear for political reasons” the funding “is not welcome.”

7 A second Beacon 3D sculpture, SHE, is vandalized.

16 The Hudson Valley Renegades host the NY-Penn League All-Star Game.

19 Mazie Johnson, a Beacon resident for 80 years, dies two weeks before her 107th birthday.

21 Cold Spring gallery owner Marina Yashina dies of a brain tumor.

22 A man is shot dead in Beacon, the first homicide in the city since 2010.


1 Haldane opens an alternative high school, the Haldane Academy, at the St. Basil campus in Garrison.

6 Having lost the Ailes donation, the Putnam County Legislature approves an $800,000 bond to pay for the proposed Cold Spring senior center.

17 The Haldane boys’ cross-country team wins a 20-school meet in Queensbury.

The new building under construction at Magazzino (Photo by Marco Anelli)

19 Giorgio Spanu and Nancy Olnick announce they will open a 20,000-square-foot art space in 2017 in Garrison devoted to the Italian avante garde movement Arte Povera.

23 The U.S. Justice Department ends its years-long oversight of the Beacon Police Department.

26 Kristan Flynn and Craig Wolf are appointed to fill two vacant seats on the Beacon School Board.

28 The Cold Spring VFW and American Legion posts sponsor a trip for nine veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the capital’s war monuments.

29 Ed Trimble retires from the Cold Spring Highway Department after 38 years.


3 The City of Beacon sells a 3.14-acre property adjacent to city hall to developer Ken Kearney to build approximately 70 affordable housing units.

6 The Philipstown Town Board says it will consider an ordinance requiring the safe storage of guns.

7 The Beacon Historical Society announces it will move from the Howland Cultural Center to larger quarters at the former rectory of St. Andrew’s church.

7 Haldane is one of  54 public high schools in the U.S. recognized with National Blue Ribbon honors by the U.S. Department of Education.

The women of the Garrison Art Center: Julia Famularo, Dolores Strebel, Carinda Swann, Katie Schmidt Feder and Becky Gordon (Photo provided)

21 The Garrison Art Center names Katie Schmidt Feder as director, succeeding Carinda Swann, who is retiring.

25 The Hop, a popular Beacon bar, closes without explanation.

28 The Garrison Volunteer Ambulance Corp responds to two heroin overdoses on the same day; both men are saved by the antidote Narcan.

28 The Cold Spring Fire Company says it will forgo its annual fundraising after receiving a large bequest.


3 Residents of Indian Brook Road in Garrison ask the Philipstown Town Board to consider closing Indian Brook Falls because social media brings so many visitors.

Indian Brook Falls (Photo by Marty Kavell)

5 Haldane wins its first Section 1 Class D football title in five years, then advances to the state final four for the first time before losing on Nov. 12 to Cambridge.

7 The Beacon School Board rejects a request by the fire department to sell 1.75 acres near Sargent Elementary School for a consolidated city firehouse.

8 Camille Linson defeats Faye Thorpe for a seat as one of Philipstown’s two town justices.

14 Planners consider changing the route for the Cold Spring portion of the proposed Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail from Fair Street to Dockside Park.

15 Beacon names Tony Pena as its third poet laureate.

21 New York’s highest court rules the state can require Indian Point’s nuclear reactors to pass environmental review. Entergy, the plant’s owner, had argued they were exempt.


5 The Beacon City Council passes a law requiring gun owners to secure their guns when not in use.

Construction at the Butterfield redevelopment project (photo by M. Turton)

5 Butterfield developer Paul Guillaro files notice that he plans to sue Cold Spring for $2.5 million, claiming village officials intentionally delayed the project.

6 Putnam County legislators create an online registry of residents convicted of animal abuse.

13 In the Garrison Fire District’s first election, voters select Nat Prentice, Stan Freilich, David Brower, Linda Lomonaco and Sandra Bohl as commissioners.

13 Elizabeth Ailes, owner of The Putnam County News & Recorder, sells the weekly to its editor, Douglas Cunningham. The paper’s historic Main Street building also goes on the market.

20 Longtime Garrison resident and journalist Catherine Portman-Laux dies at age 89.

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