Archaic truancy laws hinder officials

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After voting to declare a student habitually truant at their Apr. 27 meeting for the first time in recent memory, the WCSD #1 Board of Trustees heard on May 11 from their attorney, Don Hansen, that the 1907 state statute on the issue actually contributes to the process of dealing with truants being a muddled one.

With the board having found the student habitually truant in April, the matter was then turned over to the Weston County Attorney’s office for possible action, but Hansen explained that the way forward on such matters is not entirely clear. That’s because, Hansen stated, County Attorney William Curley believes it may be necessary for the district to appoint a dedicated attendance or truancy officer in order to conform to the letter of the 1907 law, and because of the latter development of the juvenile court system.

“At the time those laws were passed there was no such thing as juvenile court,” Hansen told the board, “There was no such thing as educational neglect. There was no such thing as a child need of supervision. None of that existed.”

Yard birds

Upton gets to comment on chickens

The Upton Town Council voted on May 10 to draft a proposed ordinance on maintaining chickens within city limits and to consider the matter over a potential three readings.

The vote came in response to a presentation by resident Katie Norman, who had also appeared at the council’s April meeting to discuss the matter. Norman is proposing that the city allow up to six hens per residence with a prohibition on roosters. Chicken owners, Norman suggested, would have to pay a $50 initial fee to support the change in city ordinance and an annual per-hen fee of five dollars. Hens woulds have to be kept in a fully enclosed, predator-proof enclosure, she stated, and no butchering would be allowed within city limits.

Norman tried to anticipate a number of the council’s possible concerns, saying that while chicken feces has the potential to smell, unlike that of cats and dogs it can be composted for gardening purposes.

City approves rate increases

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For years the City of Newcastle has battled the task of balancing the enterprise accounts for water, sewer and garbage, and this week the city council acknowledged that a rate increase for each account is required in order to not only balance those budgets but to provide enough funds for future projects.

City Clerk Charita Brunner and City Engineer Bob Hartley worked together after a budget work session held earlier this month to determine the rate increases that would be required to cover the shortfalls for each account. The amount of increase needed to balance the budget in each account over the long term varied considerably.

“We would recommend a five percent raise in the water fund, which would increase that revenue to $39,751, covering the shortfall by over $5,000. The sewer fund, that is the one that hurts…In order to cover the shortfall and allow for a little bit to cover projects, we recommend a 70 percent increase. Then the garbage fund at a 10 percent raise,” declared Brunner.

Newcastle grad helps to revive long defunct literary journal

Former News Letter Journal contributor and 2012 Newcastle graduate Palak Patel was fresh off of a launch party for the Vassar Review, the literary journal she’s working to revive along with friend and fellow Vassar student Alex Raz, when she spoke recently with the NLJ.

Patel, who is graduating this May from the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., liberal arts college, said the notion that the journal, which petered out in 1993 due to lack of student interest, might be revived was actually that of Raz.

“It was originally his idea. It’s a project that he’s been working on for the past three years. Because we’re seniors, we’re graduating this year, and if it doesn’t happen this year it’s not going to happen. He needed some help and he asked me,” she explained.

Sample’s Special Speech

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Year after year, Newcastle students in the graduating class select a special person to speak at their graduation ceremony. The selection usually involves a person who holds a special place in the hearts of those graduating, and this year the class of 2016 reserved the special honor for Bette Sample.

“I was thrilled when the kids asked me to speak at the graduation. It is such a great honor! It is something that has never happened to me before, and I will remember this for the rest of my life,” Sample smiled.

The selection was one that came quite easily to Newcastle’s graduating class. The students had a few options, but Sample stuck out above the rest.

“She was chosen because our class actually knew who she was and we felt that, being she was with us when we were little, she would still have that connection with us as we grew older. She just really cares a lot about everyone. She hasn’t taught us since we were in first grade, but she still takes the time and effort to remember who we are and ask how we’re doing and what our plans are. I just think that’s really important, because sometimes you lose touch with an old teacher, but that never happened with Mrs. Sample, so it’s really special,” Senior Class President Megan Logan professed.

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