Sullivan County Democrat
O n l i n e  E d i t i o n National Award-winning, Family-run Newspaper
  NEWS ARCHIVES Established 1891 Callicoon, New York  
home  |  archives

Partnership suggestion:
DV a gas institute?

By Dan Hust
LAKE HUNTINGTON — June 29, 2010 — Sullivan West officials are pondering a “gas institute” idea put forth for the closed Delaware Valley campus in Callicoon.
At last week’s school board meeting, board member Noel van Swol said Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development President Tim McCausland tossed out the idea at the May meeting of SW’s Facilities Needs Committee.
It would involve attracting academic, environmental and industrial interests to the facility to create a non-partisan, research-focused institute similar to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
Located along Route 97 in the upper Delaware River valley, the school sits in sight of Pennsylvania, where drilling has already begun.
Reached yesterday, McCausland said the idea is conceptual only, and he has not talked with industrial, academic or environmental representatives about it.
“It’s just a brainstorm, not really a proposal,” he explained. “It wouldn’t be pro or against – just an institution that studies these things.”
“I vigorously support this initiative,” said van Swol, who is a co-founder of the Sullivan-Delaware Property Owners Association, a group of area landowners seeking gas drilling leases.
Though leasing and drilling are at a near-standstill in New York thanks to ongoing rewrites of the rules, van Swol felt the district should explore DV’s potential in this regard “given the fact that we’re sitting on a fortune, and it’s only a matter of time before everything is worked out.”
The board and administration did not discuss it further or take action last week, and Supt. Ken Hilton told the Democrat yesterday that the current focus is on selling the Narrowsburg campus.
Nevertheless, he added, “I don’t foresee us holding on to either of those buildings much longer.”
Currently costing SW close to half a million dollars per year (when debt payments, utilities and maintenance are factored in), the 57-year-old DV campus was closed five years ago in a cost-cutting move.
Hilton is of the mind that DV, like Narrowsburg, will never be used as a school again, but, unlike Narrowsburg, DV is not yet up for sale – in part because van Swol and Hilton believe its 68 acres could be lucrative drilling sites.
“It may have some real value to the community as a natural gas investment,” said Hilton. “I don’t know.”
The district has so far rejected lease offers, and Hilton said he’s gotten correspondence from some district residents opposed to such leasing.
The next move, however, is up to SW, according to McCausland.
“I’d like to help with it [the gas institute], but I don’t have the time,” he said. “If they want to go down that road, I’d be happy to help.”
Hilton indicated that may be in the district’s future.
“It’s an interesting concept,” he acknowledged. “But I’m not quite sure how we, the school district, should promote such a thing.”
In other business
A $1,133 donation is being made to the Pennies for Peace program, which helps build and operate schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
That’s 113,300 pennies in all.
Appropriately enough, some of the money was raised as part of Cindy Humleker’s sixth grade class’ reading of Pennies for Peace co-founder Greg Mortenson’s book, “Three Cups of Tea.”
“This will pay for two teachers to teach an entire year in Pakistan,” said a proud Humleker to the board last week.
Van Swol was credited by Hilton for bringing the program to the district’s attention, and it will be the focus of a reading program at SW this summer.
“I just hope this catches on like wildfire this summer,” said Hilton.
“You’re going to change lives in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” affirmed an equally pleased van Swol.
Later in the board meeting, the board unanimously (minus absent member Ken Cohen) approved giving Hilton a three percent raise.
Having not gotten one the year prior, Hilton will now see his salary increase to about $160,000 a year, effective July 1.

top of page  |  home  |  archives