Columbia County activist, art dealer and musician Peter Jung shares this remarkable story of a bald eagle rescue along the Hudson River, on the foulest weather day of the year:
On the way back from Albany Monday evening, I came upon a wounded bald eagle in the ditch along Route 9J south of Schodack Landing.
The bird seemed to be struggling with an injured wing. It was nearly dark, and the eagle then jumped off a steep ledge at the River’s edge and disappeared. I marked the spot and arranged to meet two DEC staffers on Tuesday, along the high bluffs.
I was 90% sure that we wouldn’t find anything upon returning to the spot on the ledge that I’d marked. But after standing there for a few minutes, we spotted the big bird in a tree about 50 feet below us.
Our presence caused the eagle to jump out of the tree and have a very awkward landing. Then it began to scramble down the bank toward the railroad tracks.
There was no way for the three of us to descend over the cliff, but fortunately we had two vehicles and three cell phones, so one person stayed up on the ledge to keep track of the bird while the other two of us drove off north and south to try and find a point of river access.
I located a spot where we could make the descent, but it was half a mile south of the eagle’s location. After scrambling down the bank, we had a long walk north along the tracks in 30 mph winds with freezing rain hitting us in the face and trains passing at frightening speeds. Pretty soon I was frozen stiff, and wondering if we might perish and end up in an unfortunate local newspaper obituary (not my preferred way to go).
By the time we caught up with the eagle it was perched on the railroad tracks, and we were concerned that it would be struck by a train. After we managed to scare it off the tracks, it took refuge in a nearby pond. Eagles don’t swim well, but the bird managed to climb up on a dead tree and there it sat for about 10 minutes. Finally, it moved off the tree back onto dry land; but every time we approached it would get back in the water.
After a few trips back-and-forth across the pond, the bird was so tired that we were able to throw a coat over it.
When you turn an eagle on its back and cover its head, it becomes completely submissive, so it didn’t struggle anymore. Eagles have really serious talons, and I was amazed to see them up close.
We then had to march back the half-mile along the tracks and climb up a steep muddy 100-ft. bank to our vehicles. One of the DEC folks carried the wrapped-up bird on his lap while the other drove. I came home, threw all my clothes into the washer, took a bath, and got under the covers to thaw out.
The DEC folks called to report that the eagle was delivered to a vet in the Albany area who works with them on injured raptors. They did an X-ray, and apparently there are no broken bones—just flesh wounds—so the prognosis for recovery is good. The eagle will probably get released back into the same area in a couple of months or so; I hope to be there for that event. The bird had bands on both legs, so they have a complete history on the eagle. The State knows most of these birds (and where they live) extremely well.
The entire time, I was so focused on the rescue that I forgot I had a cell phone in my pocket capable of shooting photos, and even some video... But the weather was so nasty it's not clear if the results would have been worthwhile. This was the worst day of the year to get involved with something like this. Once the bird is stabilized I plan to go up for a visit, and will take some photos.
PETER JUNG Hudson
NOTE: For more info from the New York State Department of Conservation on bald eagles, click here.
Carole Clark, who organized and taught the popular Kids in the Kitchen class at the Hudson Youth Center until it was unceremoniously cancelled early this year, has shared the following submitted yesterday to the Register-Star.
To the Editor:
Your concern as stated in your editorial for the children at the HYC is warranted. The city’s policy for hiring and firing of department employees needs revamping. The city needs to establish clear and fair practices for hiring. The city’s Charter grants the power to hire and fire staff to the mayor’s appointed Commissioner of Youth, not to the Youth Director as you erroneously imply. Clearly this needs to change. Why would the city want to give a volunteer the power and responsibility of hiring staff for its youth center when it has a qualified, full time youth director professionally equipped to make these decisions?
Not only should a strict background check be included in a new hiring policy as you suggest, but jobs should be advertised as fair employment opportunities for all qualified applicants. The criterion for jobs that involve working with children should include appropriate education, knowledge, aptitude, enthusiasm and experience in the field.
While you acknowledge the “wonderful programs” that were offered at the center, you suggest that the person who created and supported them should resign. Because they were funded by a foundation, not by the city, Youth Department head Trudy Beicht was able to bring in competent, trained professionals to design and teach these specialized programs. The youth center “house staff” has been hired by the Youth Commissioner, not by the youth center director, Ms. Beicht.
Ms. Beicht’s understanding of contemporary thought about the value and importance of high quality afterschool activity inspired her to initiate specialized programs. Evidence shows that the expanded learning time offered by these kinds of enriched activities support children’s healthy and creative development. The children at the center were hungry for the classes and many signed up for more than two different programs. There were children on waiting lists that had not yet had the opportunity to participate when the Youth Commissioner canceled the programs. Although his reason was that he wanted to provide new activities, in fact, no new programs have been offered since.
While the center provides a safe place for children when their parents and guardians are at work, the children want and need activities that improve engagement, motivation, learning and achievement. Ms. Beicht’s programs offered opportunities and resources that the schools and families don’t.
The Hudson Youth Center should be directed and staffed by professionals who are child oriented, whose decisions for the Center reflect only the needs of the children not his/her own personal interests. The children at the Center have demonstrated that they want new learning experiences and relationships with qualified, respectful adults. Their eagerness to discover new interests and aptitudes should be an important factor in decision making on the part of those individuals or groups who are instrumental in determining policy for the center.
The Center can and should be more than a child care service featuring knock hockey, pool, foosball and computer games. Trudy Beicht has attempted to improve this situation and provide what the children of Hudson deserve. Yet it was her inspired programming that the city targeted and canceled.
The opportunity to establish fun, learning opportunities beyond the traditional school hours is nationally recognized as a mandate for afterschool youth centers. Why is it that only Trudy Beicht and the successful afterschool administrators at the Hudson City School District are cognizant of this guideline? Those supervising Ms. Beicht should be aware of the evidenced based practices utilized nationally in afterschool programs. Incorporating this knowledge in an effort to restructure the policy making at the Youth Center will allow Trudy Beicht to do her work unimpeded.
A man with Columbia County ties was charged last month with “defrauding banks, other financial institutions, retailers, hospitals, and universities out of $50 million” by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the Special Inspector for the TARP program.
Robert Egan, 64, the President of Mount Vernon Money Center (or “MVMC”) was indicted along with his CEO Bernard McGarry, 50, on charges of conspiracy to commit bank and wire
fraud, plus six separate counts of bank fraud.
Though identified in the indictment as a resident of Bedford Corners in
Westchester County, public records also show Egan with a Columbia
County phone number, as well as owning an estimated half-dozen or more parcels in the Town
of Livingston. He is also identified in some financial press reports as the owner of The Egan Group, a security firm.
The authorities’ press release states that the two men were soliciting and
collecting “hundreds of millions of dollars from MVMC’s clients on the false representations that they
would not commingle clients’ funds or use the funds for purposes other
than those specified in the various contracts between MVMC and its clients.” The Feds argue that Egan and McGarry instead used clients’ cash “to fund tens of millions of dollars in operating losses in MVMC’s businesses, to repay outstanding client obligations, and to enrich themselves at their clients’ expense. ... [T]he cumulative total cash balances represented on the vault inventory reports for all of MVMC’s ATM clients falsely inflated the actual cash held in MVMC’s vaults by tens of millions of dollars.”
The indictment [PDF] alleges that the men engaged in a scheme known as a “playing the float,” in which banks and other clients thought their company was holding and replenishing cash in over 5,000 ATMs via an armored car service, while also providing payroll services to hospitals, schools, and other institutions. If, for example, $70-$75 million were being held for clients in February of this year, in truth only “approximately $20 to $25 million in cash” was said to be on hand. That cash would be “floated” around as needed to help cover for the missing millions, according to the charges.
The “float” apparently came to the attention of officers of Webster Bank, which operated about 160 ATMs that were stocked by Egan’s company, in late January, when they realized they were about $12 million short and the bank notified Federal investigators. Egan is further alleged to have admitted the scheme in a phone conversation apparently tapped and recorded by the FBI.
The pair face up to 30 years in jail and massive
fines if convicted. The Feds urge anyone who believes they may have been the victim of this alleged fraud to contact contact the Victim Witness Coordinator at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Wendy Olsen-Clancy, at (866) 874-8900.
UPDATED: After noticing ATMs consistently out of order at Xtra Marts around the area, I asked a cashier what the deal was. He told this story, said to be from someone who services the machines:
“The guy who owns the ATM company stole, like, 50 million bucks. They caught him, but they’re calling back all the cash ’til they sort it out.”
“The guy” was said to be in his mid-60s... However, another (more authoritative) source has since told this site that the theft may have involved the owner/operator of an armored car company servicing the machines taking cash—not the ATMcompany itself. This second source also indicates that the alleged perpetrator has a house and other business ties to Columbia County.
These being second and third-hand stories—which have yet to make it into the area press—they should be treated strictly as rumors whose details require verification. Or maybe someone would rather the word didn’t get into print.
UPDATE #2: The Connecticut and Delaware business press carried a story in February which matches up with some of the particulars of the above, which if it is the same alleged crime would suggest that this went well beyond Xtra Mart machines.
Though the national economy remains stagnant, people seem to keep betting on Hudson... Here are just a few recent pieces of local business news:
Whitney and Steve Spooner have reopened
their terrific (unnamed) shop at the corner of 1st and Warren on
Thursdays through Saturdays;
Terenchin Fine Art is moving any minute now from Catskill to the 500 block of Warren Street;
The former Rowles Studio building in the 400 block has apparently sold, so longtime Hudson dealers Kathy Pakay and Ben Wilson are likewise moving on up from there to the 500 block;
Hudson Supermarket’s café in the 300 block has transitioned from Indian to fresh, delicious Latin and South American cuisine;
Two photography studios are opening on Warren, one in the 500 block and one on the corner of Warren and Park Place;
Master gardener Olenka Bachinsky (the mother of Swoon co-owner Nina) has opened a hothouse plant-and-furnishings shop in the former America Retold/Count Turkoffsky space just off Warren on 4th Street, adjoining Face Stockholm.