I am totally apprehensive about a few people controlling our future

To the Editor:

“Cart before the horse?” Wrong way, guys! In my opinion, our town leaders in Westerlo have to re-evaluate their procedures and lack of communication with the public and amongst themselves, establish an ethics policy, and be more transparent. For those of you, town of Westerlo residents, I feel you should be aware of certain occurrences.

A few issues that I believe should be addressed begin with my friend’s take on “Westerlo’s back-door policy.” When ex-Supervisor Richard Rapp resigned, which was long overdue (because I believe in term limits), he previously had appointed Mr. William Bichteman as deputy supervisor. This was done with the full knowledge that Mr. Bichteman had lost a councilman’s seat that was decided by the votes of our community.

Next step, Mr. Bichteman was to advance to temporary supervisor, until an election in November, where it would be a win or a loss. The refilling of this supervisor seat did not occur by a council vote. I believe this occurred due to a polling tie, something like a pre-vote.

In my opinion, this was a big slip-up on the “back-door policy.” In my mind, for this to be a successful endeavor, this vote should have taken place before the official resignation of Mr. Rapp. Then success, on this pursuit,  would have been determined by the extra vote.

It gets a bit confusing, and a bit comical! Mr. Bichteman is currently a person with limited authority, like a deputy supervisor but with more administrative duties. Is his title temporary supervisor or acting supervisor or interim supervisor?

The November election could change this — for or against him. This newest position came with certain rights or privileges.

The next step, in the sequence of events, I laughed and thought it was a big joke. So now he, Mr. Bichteman, turns around and appoints ex-Supervisor Rapp as one of his co-deputy supervisors to take the helm of this (my opinion) Titanic ship, if it becomes necessary. Sort of a role-reversal situation that exemplifies, in my mind, a mockery of town government that just hasn’t begun — but continues — with how many players?

I start to get lost in this maze, in reference to titles, etc. The Westerlo’s voice of voters was, in my opinion, once again ignored! As far as I know, Mr. Bichteman still holds the position of water board chairman (referring to the town’s water district).

Next issue, the renaming of the town hall to be called the Richard H. Rapp Municipal Building instead of the Westerlo Town Hall. Guess who introduced this plan? A committee was formed and selected, basically signed, sealed, and delivered, with no advertising for applicants.

What happened to your own town rule or policy? Fortunately, no town funds are permitted to be used for this. So now it’s fundraisers or donations or whatever. The day has been picked, the time has been selected, but were you the voters, or I, included in this?

If I understood correctly, two county officials have committed to donating funds, but the dollar amount has not yet been disclosed. To me, the name Westerlo (on the town hall) signifies all citizens who previously served our community throughout the many years and all those who will continue to, and that is not just supervisors.

I am thoroughly satisfied with the current name of Westerlo Town Hall. Are they going to change the name of the town next? Why was the public not presented with the opportunity to vote on this?

So now the political cycle continues. Near the end of the town board meeting on May 21, our current superintendent of highways stated that he would like to continue toward gathering information on the purchase of three new trucks, which are badly needed.

A polite delay-type response to him was my interpretation. My big question is: Do either one of our candidates (or write-in candidate), potentially our next supervisor, believe in shared services with our town and the county?

Where would that position our entire highway department? Obsolete? Jobless? It appears the relationship between county and town is increasing?

Will we, the taxpayers, witness losing control over the road service we currently receive from our Westerlo Highway Department? This is, in my opinion, one of the main backbones of our community.

Plus the workers go above and beyond in performing a vast amount of work. So voters, people, stay alert. I detect a web spinning.

Someone once said to me that the plan for Westerlo could be the  next dumping ground or site for the state. I laughed it away at the time, but could this individual be correct? If we start losing control as a community, by putting all our trust in a few individuals, just try to visualize our fate.

In case no one noticed, or was informed, the highway department building has just recently been donning new trusses for its badly needed roof. Since this topic was not listed under old business and not listed under new business on the agenda, newly erected trusses and their cost made me curious.

So how much? Answer was unknown. Give me a break, guys! That answer is hard to swallow. Once again, the voters who voted this project down are now kept in the dark, totally uninformed again. Why?

Finally, the subject of solar farms. I believe in sun, wind, and water. Renewable energy can be extremely advantageous, providing it adheres to stringent guidelines that will always safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of our community, in its entirety.

I totally “disagree”  that solar farms should be plastered all over our landscape like unsightly billboards or standing out like white elephants. In my opinion, the town of Westerlo did not give the public enough information to be knowledgeable of this major project. I believe, as I stated, “The cart was put before the horse.”

The “revised” town comprehensive plan (how the residents want their community) is only getting started. This should have been first or a moratorium (delay) put into place until all the facts, figures, etc. were completely evaluated.

Where was the advertising, literature, community surveys, feedback etc., before the undertaking? The battery storage units for these solar farms, safety, and total environmental impact are all topics on thir own.

Some planning board members are now going for training. Why wasn’t this done first? These solar companies, from anywhere in our country, are basically getting control over our beautiful farmland, vistas with the black and white cows, majestic mountains and trees, that only God can grow and, I believe, our community.

I am totally apprehensive about a few people controlling our future and how our environment and rural living can be affected. Redesign your system, council people. Incorporate better regulations and don’t push the buck off to any particular person or department.

It is your duty and responsibility to uphold; you are our elected officials. Why did you not request the interim town attorney to be present at the public hearing for solar energy? Don’t you think it’s time to give our town some large print press coverage in the newspaper for all to see?

In conclusion, I believe I am currently witnessing a political chess game, at all levels — connect the dots, people. The so-called donations given to the towns by solar companies appear to me to be an unfavorable procedure. Where is Westerlo’s ethic committee?

Do you want only a handful of people controlling your home, investment interests, and environmental impact of your town? Stay alert, get informed, become active, attend these meetings — it is your future, your tax dollars, and your destiny!

Anita Marrone


The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.