History of the Pine Hill Community Center
Celebrating its 18th year, the Pine Hill Community Center is a unique gathering place for people in the Central Catskills. We are still living up to our mission of responding to community needs, "Celebrating what we have, responding to what we need, together." The Center offers an ever increasing roster of activities to an expanding community. From Delhi to Phoenicia, it is the only true Community Center in a 50 mile range.
The Pine Hill Community Center was founded in 2000 when a group of local residents, concerned about the lack of opportunities for young people, banded together to create a community space.
Florence and Bernie Hamling offered the use of the former Zircar Products building on Main Street. The Hamlings made a major contribution to the costs of renovation and fund raising effort in the community added more. The Center opened on December 2, 2000 with a pending application for non-profit status. Laurie Baratta, the Vice President of the Center and its defacto first Director, stated, "This is a community center. You can use this space for meetings or for gatherings. We want people to make it what they want it to be." This founding principle continues to this day.
Very quickly, the Center began offering workshops ranging from archery to watercolor classes to woodworking, with activities for everyone from toddlers to seniors. Open Mic nights and house concerts, seasonal parties, movies and nature walks proved popular.
In June of 2002, James Krueger became the Executive Director of the Center. A singer songwriter with a special interest in children's programming, James quickly added programming and expanded communications with the wider community.
James and Laurie Baratta, with the help of Eve Smith, secured a $9,000 grant to gather oral histories of local residents. The project, "I Remember When ... Children and Elders Explore Catskill Life and Lore," engaged a group of elementary school students from the Phoenicia school. The project culminated in a community potluck and presentation. A recording of the interviews was made and distributed as part of the project.
Music, Dancing, potluck dinners, arts classes of all kinds, and lectures ranging from wildlife topics to financial well-being continued throughout 2002. A new partnership with the Big Indian Native American Cultural Center brought native american lore, crafts, and gatherings to the Center.
In 2004, the Oral History Project continued, this time with adolescents from Margaretville and Onteora schools. The project included a bus tour of Rte. 28 in which elders shared their memories with the participating youth.
In 2005, the Catskill Community Radio streamed a variety of programs and was the original home of the now legendary Catskill Cabaradio, the Community Center's signature quarterly event.
In 2007, Ulster Savings Bank pledged $2,500 toward the purchase of computers for public use. Today, the public computer lab boasts 4 state of the art Apple computers donated to the Center by Techserve of New York City.
In July of 2009, Florence and Bernie Hamling, who had been leasing the building to the Center for $1 a year, donated the building to the Center. In July of 2009, the entire community celebrated the gift with a free dinner.
In August 2011, just before the flood caused by Hurricane Irene devastated the surrounding area, Ann Epner became the new Executive Director of the Community Center as James Krueger moved on to pursue other interests. Pine Hill did not lose electricity, cell phone service, or internet connectivity and so became an ark for residents needing services from the basic to the more essential.
In 2011 PHCC received a grant from Enerpath, through NYSG, to install energy efficient lighting. Additionally, new lightweight, stackable, and comfortable seating for events was funded by Ulster County Community Bank and by the A. Lindsay and Olive B. O'Connor Foundation.
The Center has also introduced a number of successful children's programs such as Kid Stuff that brought over 30 local artists, musicians, and naturalists to do workshops with local children; We are in our third summer of Kool Kamp for Kool Kids, a free day-camp offering games, arts & crafts, and outdoor fun for children ages 6-12; and Super Saturdays, afternoon fun for children and their families.
The Center freshened up their Arts and Crafts room with new display cases and furniture. A redesigned Thrift Shop, now full of carefully curated and sensibly priced items, are eagerly sought after. Both efforts have benefited from generous donations and from the continued hard work of dedicated volunteers.
Todd Spire was Executive Director in 2015. And in January of 2017 Moe Lemire assumed the role of Executive Director. As an avid hiker and outdoorsman Moe looks forward to bringing outdoor activities to the center and continue Pine Hill Community Center's growth. PHCC looks forward to bringing continued growth and opportunities to both the Center and the surrounding Catskill community.
Pine Hill Community Center Board of Directors
Jim Nevin, President
New media artist and software entrepreneur, Jim has been involved in the Pine Hill community for over 25 years. At age 16 Jim went to Bombay (Mumbai), India as a foreign exchange student, joining a Hindu family with whom he still keeps close contact. The experience led him to focus on Asian history at Yale University and later journey overland by Land Rover from London, England to Katmandu, Nepal and back, visiting the remoter regions of Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Nepal and the former Yugoslavia. Jim continued his journey in New York City where, as an aspiring writer, he worked in jobs as diverse as waiter, bartender, book salesman, journalist, teacher, inventor and software engineer. In 1989 Jim came with his wife Nancy Rosenthal to Pine Hill to resume writing "The Ferris Reels," a work which has evolved into a new form of live, electronic narrative he calls a "realto." Combining live-video, blue-screen and computer-generated scenery, Jim's goal is a portable, electronic story-telling theater that travels "to the people." Jim brings this passion for diversity, creativity and community-involvement to the Board of the Pine Hill Community Center.
Jan Jaffe, Vice President
Jan is a member of the Catskill Heritage Alliance, on the board of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and a card carrying member of the Morgan library in Pine Hill. She is passionate about strong local economies in the Catskill, the potential of our hamlets' Main Streets and the ability to hike trails to forever wild mountaintops. Her favorite hikes are the Hemlock trail off Bonnieview Ave. in Pine Hill and the Hunter Mountain jeep trail off of Spruceton Valley Road.
Ann Epner, Secretary
Ann has had a home in the Catskills for over 20 years. She worked for The Roxbury Arts Group for many of those years, serving in a variety of positions, including Project Manager, Program Director; and Community Arts Funding Director and Volunteer Coordinator. She has played an active role in Writers in the Mountains , served on the (then) Margaretville Chamber of Commerce and has been an enthusiastic volunteer in a number of community activities. Before relocating to the Catskills, Ann was a Senior Vice President at Alan R. Liss, a scientific, technical and medical journals publisher, taught adult literacy and developed jobs readiness programs at CAMBA in Brooklyn and Common Ground in Manhattan, and has published interviews in The Catskill Guide and The New York Women's Business Newsletter. She produces two programs for WIOX Community radio. She is a past Director of the PHCC.
Michael Boyer, Treasurer
Michael Boyer's family roots in Pine Hill go back to the 1920's. Michael has been teaching pottery in New York City for several decades at Greenwich House Pottery as well as at two divisions of City University. He maintains a large organic garden in Pine Hill.
Florence Hamling graduated from Onteora School District in 1964 and attended BOCES in New Paltz for cosmetology. She owned and operated a beauty shop in Boiceville for 12 years and in Pine Hill for 15 years. In 1991 she married Bernie Hamling. Florence and Bernie bought a beautiful farm in Fleischmann's in 1999 where she cares for abused and neglected animals, 42 of them at the latest count! Long standing and generous friends to Pine Hill, Florence and Bernie provided their 287 Main Street building to house the Pine Hill Community Center for $1 a year when it began in 2000. At the end of 2008 they outright gifted the building and grounds at 287-289 Main Street to the organization. Florence has a deep affection for the people and places of the Catskill Mountains.
Pauline Vos attended the Cooper Union, the Art Students' League and The New School. She graduated from Cooper Union in 1946. In New York City she worked as a graphic artist and illustrator, and upon retirement moved to her home in Highmount. She has served on the Community Center Board for ten years, and now resides in Pine Hill.
Harriet is a resident of Fleischmanns where she has lived since 2003. For 32 years Harriett had a career in Administrative Management for an international law firm in New York City. She has served 2 terms as a Village Trustee in Fleischmanns, is a Skene Memorial Library Trustee, volunteers at the Belleayre Music Festival, for Roxbury Arts Group and for Village and stream clean up efforts. Harriet is now the deputy mayor of Fleischmanns. Her interests are painting, reading and tap dancing, and she is passionate about honesty in government and environmental efforts.
Karen is a Halcott resident by way of five years in the Pine Hill during the heyday of the Pine Hill Street Fair. With a day job in river restoration and watershed protection, other pursuits include advancing the causes of farm marketing, land conservation and community gardening for food security. Karen and Jim Rauter helped pioneer Pine Hill's first youth hostel in the 1980s.
Mary lou Stapleton
Marylou is a Native living in Big Indian her whole life, her family has been in the area for over 200 years. Her passion is to help her community and her neighbors, she has done volunteer work her entire life. She is also very involved in the lives of her children and grandchildren. Marylou is a life member of the Big Indian Oliverea Fire Department ladies Auxilary, she is an active member helping with fund raisers and disaster events such as the hurricane Irene disaster. Her family are founding members of the Big Indian Park which is celebrating 35 years in 2015, as well as a member of the Shandaken Parks. She and her husband are founders of the Big Indian Native American Cultural Center, Inc, a non-profit that strives to share Native American Culture. She is on the board of the Shandaken Historical Museum and the Margaretville Hospital Ladies Auxilary and the Memorial Methodist Women Church of Shandaken. She is also a member of the Castkill Mountain Classic Car Club, 2015 will be its 30th car show. She and her husband are both retired and enjoying their lives with family and friends in these beautiful Catskill Mountains.
Berns became a full time resident to the Catskills in 2011. She works as a freelance producer and spends her free time trying to keep her bees alive.
Susan has lived in the area for many years. Her children were Onteora grads and she currently has two grandsons in the Onteora district. She retired from Stamford Central School where she taught English and Special Education modified courses. Not one to stay too relaxed she continues to teach home instruction for Onteora high school/middle school on a part time basis. She has been active on the board during the rebuilding of the Phoenicia Library, volunteers cooking for the Meals on Wheels program out of Woodstock and is the treasurer of her grandsons' AYSO soccer program (Shandaken, Woodstock and Olive). She had travelled a bit in both Southeast Asia and South America over the years, but now seems a bit more rooted in her garden and the Catskill Mountain great outdoors… and Scrabble at the Pine Hill Community Center!!
Pine Hill Community Center Staff
Moe Lemire is native of Massachusetts who moved full time to the Catskill in January of 2016. He has had family ties in Platte Clove for 20 years. He is an avid hiker and outdoorsman who I've recently did a successful Thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. This is a continuous foot path that runs from Georgia to Maine and is 2189 miles long. He took on the position of Executive Director in January of 2017.
Francesca Warnes, Program Coordinator
Francesca lives in Shandaken NY and is the mother of two boys. She is an artist who loves to design jewelry. She runs two programs at the PHCC, Super Saturday and Kool Kamp for Kool Kids. She is a past PTA President and has taught a jewelry class at Phoenicia Elementary School and is also a volunteer at her church. She's always loved working with and creating art with children and she can't think of a better place than the Pine Hill Community Center.
Funding for the Pine Hill Community Center
We have benefitted from foundation and corporate support. But most of what happens at the Center is the result of donations of time, talent and money from people who call the Central Catskills home. Your support allows us to grow and continue bringing our community wonderful programs!
- The Messinger Family Fund
- A Private Anonymous Family Foundation
- The Schaedle Family
- Bernie and Florence Hamling
- WIOX Community Radio