Barker has modern ideas to further knowledge of Altamont’s past

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Shining a light on local history: Dan Barker, Altamont’s new historian, wearing white gloves, displays a Dietz lantern once used by the fire department. It is among the many artifacts in the village museum and archives, housed in Village Hall.

ALTAMONT — The board of trustees at its monthly meeting named Altamont resident Daniel Barker the village’s new historian. The village’s previous curator, Marijo Dougherty, died in February 2018.

“I’m fully invested in the village,” Barker said. “My wife and I bought a house here just under two years ago.”

Dougherty had organized the rich collection of artifacts left to the village by the late Roger Keenholts, longtime Altamont historian. And, from those collections, she created a series of exhibitions to inform the village of its history.

Barker would like to record oral histories of villagers and scan archival documents, making both available on the village’s website.

Barker grew up in Altamont, graduated from the State University of New York College at Oneonta in 2004, moved to Boston for eight years, and returned home to attend the University at Albany, where he earned his master’s degree in archive and records management in 2013.

He and his wife, Katie, have two children. “I’m looking forward to raising them here,” Barker said. “Because I am very fond my childhood memories of the village. …”

He currently works as a librarian at the Albany Public Library.

“One thing that I’m really interested in with the new job,” Barker told The Enterprise, “is getting some of the folks who have lived there for their whole lives … I would like to get their verbal histories of the village recorded.”

Barker said he’d like to set up an oral history exhibit or make the recordings available on the village’s website. After Dougherty’s death, the Altamont Free Library, in her memory, was to start of series of podcasts to record oral histories of the village. Dougherty’s was the first interview.

As an intern at the New York State Museum, Barker said that he spent nine months transferring the reel-to-reel recordings of a 1950s radio show called The Schenectady Traveler. The show’s host would travel all around the region and interview everyday people, Barker said, “I think it would be really nice if we had this same sort of thing for people who lived in the village.”

In addition, he said, “They’re planning on overhauling the village’s website.” Along with that, Barker said, he would like to scan the documents in the village archives and make them available for anyone who is searching the web. “I want to make access as easy as possible,” he said.

By his own admission, Barker said, these are large complex projects that will talk a lot of time to complete, but he’s excited to get started. “I have a lot of work ahead of me,” he said.

Other business

In other business, the board of trustees:

— Set a public hearing for budget adoption for April 2, at 7 p.m; also set the village’s annual organizational meeting for April 2;

— Accepted the resignation of Kelly Best, administrative assistant and secretary to the planning and zoning boards;

— Heard from Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy about the state of the county. With a budget of $711 million, McCoy said, the county’s budget is double that of the combined budgets of all of the cities, towns, and villages in Albany County.

McCoy also said that Altamont would be receiving about $622,000 in sales-tax revenue from the county, up from about $586,000 the previous year;

— Authorized Mayor Kerry Dineen to sign license and service agreement with CivicCMS for website services for $3,000; and

— Changed the date of a budget workshop from Tuesday, March 19, to Wednesday, March 20, at 6 p.m.

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