Dutchess County News Roundup—11/12

Fueled by Marist outbreak, Dutchess COVID-19 cases climb

Reporting 343 active cases of the novel coronavirus—a roughly 79 percent increase over the past nine days—Dutchess County is experiencing its largest surge of the virus since the pandemic first gripped New York in the spring. Of those 343 cases, 86 were student cases reported by Marist College—this is the school’s second outbreak of over 30 cases this semester. Marist planned to lift its current “pause” of campus life until at least Wednesday, but later extended the lockdown until Friday, Nov. 13. County Health Commissioner Dr. Anil Vaidian said that besides another 30-patient outbreak at a Fishkill rehabilitation center, the new cases do not appear to be tied to any specific cluster and that this sort of increase can be expected during cold weather months. These numbers appear in step with the state, which, despite having one of the nation’s lowest infection rates, saw over 18,000 new cases reported last week, the highest number since early May.

As mail-in ballots are unsealed, Dutchess expected to lean blue

While several local races have already been called, others results are just now being finalized as the county works to count roughly 30,000 mail-in ballots which were not unsealed until Election Day. After the ballots cast  in-person both early and on Election Day were counted last week, Dutchess County skewed narrowly towards Donald Trump, who led Joe Biden by just 1.6 points. Given that registered Democrats are expected to outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1 in the remaining votes, final tallies should be expected to tilt to the left of where they stood on Election Night. Final results will be telling of the evolving political landscape in the mid-Hudson, where Dutchess County trends both more liberally than neighboring Putnam and more conservatively than Ulster. Dutchess has not voted for the GOP nominee for president since 2004, but in each cycle since 2008, when Barack Obama won the county by over 8 points, the Democratic nominee has seen a margin smaller than the last. 

Man experiencing mental health crisis charged in stabbing of Poughkeepsie police officer

City of Poughkeepsie police and members of the Mobile Crisis Intervention Team responded to a call from an apartment at 25 Smith Street for a man experiencing a mental health crisis on Saturday evening. When officers entered the residence, they attempted to subdue the man, Jalil Smith, with a taser, and a struggle between Smith and the officers ensued. One officer was taken to MidHudson Regional Hospital after being stabbed in the neck by a screwdriver and has since been released. Smith was charged with attempted murder in the first degree and is being held in custody pending his arraignment.

Poughkeepsie mayor at odds with Common Council over Poughkeepsie Landing lawsuit

Joseph Bonura, Jr. and his companies, Poughkeepsie Waterfront Development and JM Development Group, are suing the City of Poughkeepsie over a plan to redevelop a vacant 13-acre industrial site on the Hudson River—called Hudson Landing—that has been in the works for nearly two decades. The lawsuit came after the council’s recent decision to give Bonura 45 days to take action before rescinding their 2009 approvals for the site plan. While David Gordon, a special counsel for the Common Council, lamented the lack of action taken since the property was prepared for development seven years ago, Mayor Rob Rolison applauded the Bonura family’s investments in the city and called the continuation of the project “important”. Rolison blamed the leadership of Poughkeepsie’s Common Council and Industrial Development Agency for impeding the Hudson Landing project. Bonura’s $20 million project was originally intended to create new retail and office space, however, his latest plans have abandoned the proposed office space in favor of 50 new apartments. 

Despite big gains, Hudson Valley’s labor market still has a long way to go

September’s employment data is in, and it shows that the unemployment rate in the Hudson Valley—which includes Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Ulster, Sullivan and Westchester counties—at 6.5 percent, a significant drop from 10.4 percent in August. While the number of unemployed workers dropped from 120,500 to 71,900 in that same period of time, the size of the region’s labor force is still down by 40,800 jobs from September of 2019. With an unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, the City of Newburgh lagged behind other major labor markets such as Poughkeepsie, Kingston and Beacon. Maureen Halahan, CEO of a regional economic development agency, said that despite continued fears concerning the coronavirus pandemic, the Hudson Valley’s economy is stabilizing and “There’s still a tremendous amount of need for employees.”

Halted Hudson River dredging project will continue

After being halted last year by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for lacking a “Water Supply Protection Plan,” which outlines how the safety of the water that the City and Town of Poughkeepsie draw from the Hudson will be maintained, Central Hudson’s Poughkeepsie dredging project will continue. Spanning from Victor C. Waryas Park, near Poughkeepsie Station, to the north of Walkway Over the Hudson, the dredging will remove a layer of coal tar from the riverbed that was discharged from a manufactured gas plant located on the shore of the Hudson.

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