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Letters to the Editor - The Millerton News - 6-24-21

‘This Is A Cemetery’

In light of the vandalism that took place recently at the Irondale Cemetery, I thought I would share this poem that has long graced the desk of my office, at Valentine Monument Works. It was shared with me by my father, Richard Valentine, who was the longtime funeral director and owner of the Valentine Funeral Home in Millerton before retiring a number of years ago. 

I don’t know who wrote the poem, but that does not make its words any less significant. 

“Lives are commemorated — deaths are recorded — families are reunited — memories are made tangible — and love is undisguised. This is a cemetery.

“Communities accord respect, families bestow reverence, historians seek information and our heritage is thereby enriched.

“Testimonies of devotion, pride and remembrance are carved in stone to pay warm tribute to accomplishments and to the life — not death — of a loved one. The cemetery is homeland for family memorials that are a sustaining source of comfort to the living.

“A cemetery is a history of people — a perpetual record of yesterday and a sanctuary of peace and quiet today. A cemetery exists because every life is worth loving and remembering — always.”

— By anonymous

Bruce Valentine

Millerton

 

Pine Plains BOE stands by its decisions

As our school year comes to a close, I would like to acknowledge my fellow board members and the dedication they put into their roles throughout the pandemic. The past 18 months have been incredibly difficult. We had to make countless decisions on behalf of the district, keeping in mind staff and student safety while also abiding by the ever-changing state regulations.  We had no historical evidence to which we could refer. There is nothing written by either NYSED or NYSSBA about managing a school district during a pandemic. 

The seven of us volunteered hours to research the latest information available, ensuring we were abiding by the latest state mandates. I would like to stress we are volunteers — volunteers who have stepped up because we believe in giving back to our community and want to see our students reach their full potential.  

While not everyone agrees with the decisions we’ve made this year, the PPCSD Board of Education stands by those decisions as well as those of our superintendent, Dr. Martin Handler. By law, we must follow the mandates set forth by the state. If we do not, the Board of Regents will remove us as a board, as well as Dr. Handler from the superintendency. Additionally, the district will be fined thousands of dollars — money that belongs to the taxpayers, and to whom we have a fiduciary responsibility. When we were elected, we each took an oath to abide by both state and federal laws. We will uphold that oath.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my fellow board members for their many years of service. Some of us have served as long as eight years together. In that time, we’ve made great strides, including: 

• Our district went from being in the bottom three districts in the county academically, to being within the top third.

• Our district is one of few in the state who is debt-free, and we have the second lowest tax rate in Dutchess County.

• We have forged solid relationships with each of the district’s unions.  

• We are a team. We don’t always agree, but each member brings insights and experience to the table that helps make decisions.  

I want to extend the board’s appreciation to Dr. Handler and his administration, who worked tirelessly to manage our district during the pandemic. 

We would also like to thank our teachers and staff for being flexible in their classrooms so our students could learn as much as possible. Additionally, we appreciate the level of care they took in checking on students’ mental health. Their dedication was commendable.  

Thank you to our students for holding your heads high and making the best of this challenging year — especially our seniors who lost so much. 

Finally, thank you to the community for respecting our decisions, recognizing the challenges we faced, and for understanding that we were doing the best we could. 

I’m proud to be a member of the Pine Plains Board of Education.

Anne K. Arent

Vice-President, Board of Education, Pine Plains Central School District

Stanford

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