Tonia Shoumatoff

The Old Drovers Inn, once a landmark watering hole for travelers and gourmets, is making a comeback.

A construction firm called Structure Works, started by Jim Muncey, purchased the inn at auction after years of neglect.  A renovation which honors its history and architectural detail took almost two years to complete.  Every detail has been given loving attention. 

It is now open to the public as a bed and breakfast, and for private functions,  weddings and dinner parties.  It is not open as a restaurant.

The inn was once a stop for drovers herding cattle to market as early as 1750.  Later, it became a favorite stop for the Berkshire bound.  The tap room was noted for its generous martini.  It was admitted to the prestigious Relais & Chateaux in 1988.  The Federal Room, the current dining room, has murals (recently restored), executed by Edward Paine in 1941, with scenes of the schoolhouse in Millerton, Hyde Park’s Roosevelt mansion, the turrets of West Point and scenes of Old Drovers Inn itself.  

1003 The Federal Room

June 23, 2015.  Conflicts with the Amenia gun club, disagreements over bonding for Silo Ridge and a statement to the planning board expressing concerns about the review process by a member of the Planning Board created an air of uncertainty at the last scheduled planning board meeting before the decision for the Silo Ridge Project has to be made on July 9.  The board has not voted on most of the issues that have to be decided. 

One of the bright moments at the meeting was an application from the proprietors of Monte’s for a health food store with fresh juices and salads in one of the buildings that they own near the restaurant.  The group wants to focus on business coming from tourists using the Rail Trail. 

Complex, difficult, dangerous; this is how the Ukraine appears to the two speakers at the Hotchkiss Library on Sunday, June 14.

The speakers were Joseph Baxter and Sergei Kambalov.  Kambalov, a Russian born in Riga, Estonia, served in the Russian diplomatic corps and in the U.N. He has met Putin and has connections with Russian diplomats. Baxter is president of the United Nations Association of Connecticut and Director of the Intercultural Institute who has travelled extensively in Russia.   

They spoke from slightly differing viewpoints but were in agreement that diplomacy must be the tool to reach an accommodation to this difficult problem.

June 6- The Amenia Fish and Game Club (AFGC), a small shooting club with around 90 members, has been around since 1946.   Now their future is in jeopardy. One of their members, Tony Cutolo, spoke at the final public hearing on the Silo Ridge development, saying he felt they are being pushed out. 

“Silo Ridge wants to get rid of all our outdoor ranges, and we don’t have the money to fight them.”  He also complained about construction vehicles travelling too close, around thirty feet, to their existing outdoor hand-gun range. “We are lucky we have qualified shooters, but those vehicles are directly behind and above our targets.”

The other issue is that houses are planned near the range, 200 feet away to be exact.  The club members know that the rules are that you have to be 500 feet away from an inhabited building.  But that rule has an exemption for gun clubs. 

Delbar Shahbaz, an Iranian artist-in-residence at the Wassaic Project, says that her generation of Iranian women are caught in the in-between - “neither here nor there, neither traditional nor modern.” 

934 The Pregnant Carpet, an installation, "Heaven beneath her feet."

An installation exhibited at Pasadena’s Art College of Design is called “In Between.”  Sculptures of chickens with women’s faces are viewed through a door of the gallery that is semi-blocked by bricks. Her website says, “From the outside looking in, we catch glimpses of communing, of subjects gathering together in attempts to jump free – but they are mere chickens. They are literally and symbolically blocked from learning how to fly, let alone stepping off and flying out of their coop.”

It is rare that one gets five-months’ lead time to evaluate political candidates in a small local election.  But in Amenia three candidates are already in the ring:  Victoria Perotti, the incumbent, Mike DeLango, Town Board member, and Bill Flood, a former Supervisor.

We spoke to Michael Chambelin, Republican Committee Chair, to find out who they are endorsing. 

“The committee does not endorse any candidate until after the primary.  All three are well-qualified, but in the interest of unity and friendliness we cannot comment.  However, we believe that Amenia needs someone who is a good leader and who can focus on business development.”

922 Victoria Perotti

Curious as to the nature of a realtively new business in Amenia, this reporter wandered into the Black Eagle Currency and Coin store to investigate.  

“I mostly deal in American coins and currency,” explained Derek Hartley, the proprietor, who has been interested in coins since he was ten years old and discovered a valuable wheat penny.

He proceeded to relate the story of the 1792 half-dime (spelt disme) which were reputed to have been made from silver donated by Martha Washington from the Washington household.  Only 10% of the coins, or 250 of the original issue of 1,500-2,000, are still in existence and one of them was sold in 2013 for $1.4 million. 

Mr. Hartley does not expect to find one anytime soon.  But he did have a woman come into the shop in Amenia to appraise some gold coins.  He told her they were worth $6,000 and that he wanted to buy them.  But she never came back.

“You must have the bird in your heart before you can find it in the bush.”

                         John Burroughs

May 10- The faces of ten adorable-looking frogs—some of which, presumed to be extinct, have not been seen since 1914—adorn a “Wanted Alive” poster. The frogs are the stars of an international campaign spearheaded by Dr. Robin Moore, a Scottish photographer and expert on amphibians. The missing frogs were native to a broad range of habitats in countries including Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Israel, Turkmenistan, Venezuela, and numerous African countries.  

Moore began his hunt for the lost frogs in 2010. “In Search of Lost Frogs,”his book about his campaign, was published in 2014. Moore presented his passionate pursuit and defense of these critically endangered species on May 1 at the Cary Institute. 

Moore cited the Global Amphibian Assessment, a survey of amphibians that concludes that half of all amphibians are facing extinction.  

The Planning Board of Amenia opened and closed the final public hearing for the Silo Ridge Field Club development on Tuesday, May 5, at the Amenia Town Hall.  The planning board has 62 days to grant waivers, approve the master plan, and come up with a findings statement.  It is widely expected that the board will give the developer everything it asked for and adopt a findings statement prepared by the developer.  The real question is whether the board’s approval will be challenged in a lawsuit. 

A number of supporters spoke about the jobs that would be provided by Silo Ridge, including realtor Elise Harney and Ron Hicks, speaking for County Executive, Marc Molinaro, who said he thought the development is “thoughtful and well thought-out.”

Cricket Valley Energy would have started construction on their gas-fired power plant this year were it not for an eleventh hour requirement by the NYS ISO to install a second transmission line.  

The NYISO is requiring CVE to construct a second transmission line within the existing Consolidated Edison right-of-way between the approved facility and Pleasant Valley, and to re-conductor an existing line from Dover to Connecticut which has entailed a long-drawn out permitting process, along with public hearings and unexpected additional expenses related to a new environmental review called an Article IV. 

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