Esslie-Frenia Law June 2023 Leaderboard

One hurt when tractor trailer rolls, blocks both eastbound lanes



Tractor trailer carrying salt rolls over on Berkshire Spur. Photo from Columbia County Fire-Rescue Incidents Facebook page

CANAAN—Columbia County 911 dispatched Canaan and Red Rock firefighters along with Chatham Rescue to a tractor trailer rollover accident with injuries at milepost 21.4 of the eastbound lane on the Berkshire Spur, December 14 at 3:13 p.m.

Though it was initially thought someone was trapped in the vehicle, units arriving on the scene found no entrapment.

According to the website, Canaan firefighters responded with 3440 and 3432. Red Rock responded with one engine. Additional crews stood by in both fire companies’ fire houses awaiting guidance.

Chatham Rescue responded with two ambulances to treat individuals involved. State Police from Troop T responded and assisted. Crews arrived on scene and found a tractor trailer carrying salt had rolled over onto its side and was blocking both lanes of traffic. A Life Net helicopter was placed on standby, but was not needed. One individual was taken by Chatham Rescue to Albany Medical Center. 3432 and Red Rock units were secured from the scene. 3440 stayed on scene to assist other agencies and with fire suppression if needed. The cause of the accident is still pending investigation. Firefighters were back in service at 7:02 p.m.

County judges say good-bye to the bench

Pictured is the courthouse staff with Judge Nichols and Judge Koweek in the center. Photo contributed

CASTLETON—Judges Jonathan D. Nichols and Richard M. Koweek were recognized for their years of judicial service to the residents of Columbia County at a celebration held at Birch Hill, December 1.

Judge Nichols has presided over county, family, surrogate, and treatment courts, and also served as an acting supreme court justice, having first been appointed by Governor George Pataki in 2003 and subsequently elected in 2003.

Judge Koweek first served on the bench in City of Hudson Court from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently presided over county, family and surrogate courts, and also served as an acting supreme court justice, having first been elected in 2012.

Both judges will retire December 31. In attendance at the celebration were about 175 people consisting of current and former courthouse staff, judicial colleagues from the 3rd Judicial District and elsewhere, administrative staff from the Office of Court Administration, members of the Columbia County Bar Association and surrounding legal communities, staff from various Columbia County agencies, family and friends of the respective judges.

A Christmas tree fire can ruin your holiday spirit

GHENT—Although Christmas tree fires may not be common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be extremely serious and cause a lot of damage. Fires involving fresh Christmas trees tend to be more common than artificial tree fires. That’s in part because fresh Christmas trees dry out over time, making them more flammable the longer they’re in the home; a dried-out Christmas tree will burn much more quickly than a well-watered one. Fire departments responded to an annual average of 160 home structure fires caused by Christmas trees between 2016 and 2020, resulting in 2 civilian deaths, 11 civilian injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage.

With New York State leading the nation in home fire deaths according to the U.S. Fire Administration, the Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) urges residents to stay vigilant and hydrate all natural Christmas trees. Also to take the extra steps needed when decorating and properly using seasonal and holiday candles, menorah candles, decorative lighting and electric cords to ensure your “winter wonderland” doesn’t turn into a devastating house fire.

FASNY recommends the following tips:

*For a fresh tree, cut 2 inches (5 cm) from the base of the trunk before placing it in the stand. Add water daily to keep the tree well hydrated

*Trees should be placed at least 3 feet away from any heat source, such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, or lights

*Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit, such as a door or window

*Ensure that decorative lights are in good working order and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Also, the latest statistics from NFPA on Christmas tree fires in US homes include these key findings, reflecting annual averages between 2016 and 2020:

*Christmas tree fires are more common between 3 p.m. and midnight, accounting for one-half of associated fires. Another 26% of fires occurred between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

*Electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in more than one-third (34%) of Christmas tree fires

*In one-fifth (20%) of Christmas tree fires, some type of heat source was placed too close to the tree. For more information, visit 

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