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From Hillary to ‘Alice,’ 2017 was a wild and crazy year

December 30, 2017 12:50 am

The year began with the inauguration of a president who bragged about groping women and ended with women bringing down of powerful men across many industries with accusations of sexual assault and harassment. In 2017 what went around came around.

Despite the pounding we took from politics and unethical politicians, the lunatic fringe of the media and the general decomposition of civility that hung in the air like a lair of smog, we survived and we look ahead with anticipation of a better year to come. We do this hoping it can’t get much worse in 2018.

In Greene and Columbia counties, 2017 was underscored by a series of shootings in Hudson, including a fatality, that marred an otherwise brilliant summer. In April, a barge carrying 65,000 barrels of crude oil ran aground in fog near the Historic Catskill Point.

It was a year when Bill and Hillary Clinton stopped in Hudson for a bite to eat at Grazin’ and “Alice” star Linda Lavin visited Claverack to announce she was opening a new restaurant. Mother Nature struck with a vengeance in mid-March with a blizzard that dumped more than 20 inches of snow on the area in 36 hours.

There were tragedies both new and revisited. The man held responsible for the death of Halle Schmidt was sentenced, as was the poacher who shot and nearly killed a state Department of Environmental Conservation officer. And law enforcement in Columbia and Greene counties gathered to mourn the death of Greene County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Haverly.

U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, spent most of his first year in Congress feuding with protesting constituents and a critical press. Legislator Gene Hatton, of Athens, and Catskill Town Councilman Robert Antonelli, two veteran elected officials, died in 2017.

The Greene County Legislature wrestled with a proposal to build a new county jail. The Hudson Common Council created more voter-equitable ward boundaries in a historic redistricting project. A Cairo pig farmer with no political experience named Jason Watts not only won a seat on the town board while the incumbent who filed a civil suit against him chose not to run for a new term.

There were a few gleams of gold amid the shadows. The much-anticipated Catskill Walking Loop was connected, at last, with the opening of the restored Black Bridge. Lumberyard officially settled in Catskill. Hudson received a $10 million jackpot to restore and develop the city’s waterfront and, many hoped, deliver affordable housing to the city. And FilmColumbia bounced back from an embarrassing controversy to premier a genuine masterpiece, “The Florida Project.”

We say goodbye to 2017 with few regrets and we look forward to 2018, optimistic that this community, its people, businesses and organizations will make it a happy new year.