MINERVA If you attended the regular meeting of the Minerva Town Board on Thursday, Feb. 21, you would have benefited from two special presentations as well as the important information that came out of the regular Board meeting transactions. The meeting began when Mike Carr, Executive Director of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, gave an excellent Power Point presentation regarding the recent purchase by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of over 161,000 acres of land from Finch Pruyn & Co. Inc. Carr said that most of the land acquired by TNC in June 2007 is located in five towns in Essex and Hamilton Counties: Minerva, North Hudson, Newcomb, Indian Lake, and Long Lake. The Board learned that of the 11,649 acres of land purchased within the Town of Minerva, about 4,500 acres will remain in a working forest capacity with the remainder to be transferred to New York State as Forest Preserve land. Carr explained that the primary reason TNC was interested in this extensive collection of parcels is to preserve the ecological integrity of the land. He went on to say that allowing compatible uses (e.g. logging, preserving recreational uses, maintaining real property tax payments, and developing new public recreational opportunities also played a large part in the decision to go ahead with the land transaction with Finch Pruyn. The Nature Conservancy has been working closely with Adirondack town officials in order to allow the land transaction to progress smoothly, according to Carr. For instance, the Town of Newcomb will benefit by having its current golf course expand by a couple hundred acres, the building of a new boarding house for international exchange students, and the development of affordable housing on newly acquired lands. Both Minerva and North Hudson will experience new connector snowmobile trail development, and both Indian Lake and Long Lake will work with TNC on affordable housing locations. All of these development projects must go through the necessary permit reviews. At the end of the presentation, Carr opened things up for questions from the Board and public in attendance. He thanked the Minerva Town Board for inviting him to speak and said that hes enjoyed meeting with Supervisor Mike McSweeney to discuss the land purchase. The second presentation was from Rodney Boula, the Administrator/CEO of Elizabethtown Community Hospital. He spoke about new construction at the hospital that will add about 11,000 square feet to the structure. Included will be a new emergency room, more clinic space, and a Veterans Administration clinic. In addition, cardiac rehabilitation space will be added, the pharmacy department will be relocated, and a chemotherapy room will be upgraded. Boula also mentioned that new physician positions would be added to hospital staffing. He expressed excitement about the expansion with its greater focus on post-stroke and other rehabilitation services. The regular meeting commenced with a comment from Chris Jones, a landowner in town who expressed his unhappiness about the lack of maintenance of the Towns skating rink and cross-country ski trails. Councilman Dave LaBar responded by stating that the Towns Parks and Recreation Committee has been working on the problem, and has submitted improvement suggestions to the Board for its consideration. Town resident Fran Paradis also stated that shes heard from people who were disappointed with the Towns winter recreation facility maintenance, and added that the Town needs to work to coordinate volunteers. Following the resignations of one member each from the Minerva Youth Commission and Town Planning Board, letters of interest were received from several Town residents concerning the positions. The Board acted to appoint Ricale Howe as a voting member and Charles Barber as non-voting member of the Youth Commission. James Palmer was appointed secretary to the Town of Minerva Planning Board. As part of the Highway Department report, Superintendent Bruce McGinn told the Board that the Department will be going over budget for sand and salt supplies due to the seasons wintry weather. McGinn said its been a tough time for everybody: Its what they call an old-fashioned winter, but with more ice than usual. He stated that all fire hydrants have been cleared of snow. His office has also received calls from some Town residents asking that their roads be plowed first; according to McGinn, the highway department uses a regular schedule to clear roads and will continue to follow this schedule. In other business, a computer recycling company will be establishing a location at the Town of Minerva transfer station for a discarded computer drop-off point. In regard to the recent reception of a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to deal with a nuisance wildlife problem in town, McSweeney will respond with a letter to the federal agency. The first 2008 Minerva Day planning meeting will be held during the regular Town of Minerva Parks and Recreation meeting on March 19th at 7 p.m., at the Town Hall, according to Councilwoman Betty LeMay. There will be a special presentation by the diving contractor that worked on the Minerva Lake European water milfoil problem this past summer/fall. The presentation is open to the public and will take place at the Minerva Town Hall on Friday, March 7 at 7 p.m., according to councilman LaBar.