Heroin is in the Hilltowns, says sheriff’s investigator

The Enterprise — H. Rose Schneider
Heroin in the Hilltowns: Albany County Sheriff's Investigator Amy Kowalski and Ed Fox of Catholic Charities tell the audience at a Knox town board meeting that the two programs will host an event on heroin and addiction prevention in Voorheesville in September.

KNOX — Albany County Sheriff’s Investigator Amy Kowalski, who serves as a Community Liaison Officer, spoke alongside Catholic Charities representative Ed Fox at Tuesday’s town board meeting about bringing more awareness the use of heroin in the Hilltowns. Kowalski, who later spoke at other Hilltown meetings, said the Sheriff’s Office would be having a meeting to discuss this at Clayton A. Bouton High School in Voorheesville on Sept. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The assembly will include training on administering Naloxone, known by its brand name Narcan. The drug reverses the effects of an overdose. Fox said he offers training through Catholic Charities. He also spoke of the organization’s Project Safe Point, which offers sterile needle and other services to prevent the spread of diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV as the heroin epidemic continues.

Kowalski, who previously was a patrol deputy for the Sheriff’s office, said that the Hilltowns are not well known for heroin use, but that she has seen many overdoses occur.

“You have direct route into the back end of Schenectady,” she said, where drugs like heroin may come from.

Hanley, who works at Schalmont High School in Rotterdam, said six graduates of the school have died from drug overdoses over the last four years — mostly from fentanyl, he said.

“It’s here,” he added.

Knox resident Dennis Cyr said from the gallery that he has been pushing for a program like this for some time, but asked if there was a way to move it to Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s school campus rather than in Voorheesville.

Kowalski said that the Sheriff’s office had considered holding it at the Clarksville station, but said it was too small of a venue. She said she would look into holding it at BKW. Fox also said he can offer training seminars on administering Naloxone at BKW.

Lefkaditis said he would jointly email Kowalski and BKW Superintendent Timothy Mundell about presenting at the school.

The presentation, said Kowalski, would discuss ways to stop addiction before it starts, such as noticing the signs of opioid use.

“We can’t arrest our way out of it,” she said, of the opioid epidemic.

Other business

Additionally, the board:

— Scheduled a meeting on Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss updating the town’s comprehensive plan;

— Heard from Pokorny that she had met with the highway department and had drafted requirements to upgrade facilities in town under a capital project;

— Discussed paying for a rabies vaccination for dog control officer Lou Saddlemire, and the possibility of grants covering the cost;

— Heard from Pokorny that the town would qualify for an additional $30,000 of state grant money along with the $100,000 Clean Energy Communities grant the town is applying for to cover a project that saves the town energy or cuts back on greenhouse gas emissions — a project must be submitted by Sept. 12;

— Appointed Richard Loucks Assistant Building Inspector, who now must begin training for certification with the state; and

— Heard from Ray Hand about creating a lending library in the town hall basement, in addition to a lending-library box built by Hanley’s son Liam as an Eagle Scout project.

 

More Hilltowns News

  • A state audit has revealed that Knox Town Clerk Traci Schanz failed to deposit more than 300 fee collections within the legally required timeframes and made reporting errors that left the town with an unremitted cash balance of more than $3,000, according to a report from the Office of the New York State Comptroller. Schanz said she is grateful for what she learned from the audit and new procedures have been put in place.

  • Berne’s town attorney Javid Afzali informed the town board at its July 22 meeting that the controversial Switzkill Farm property may have been acquired illegally because the 2014 town board did not allow for a permissive referendum following the purchase authorization. Then-supervisor Kevin Crosier tells The Enterprise that no referendum was required.

  • The Berne Town Board has spent more than $15,000 on investigations according to documents received by The Enterprise through a Freedom of Information Law request. All the investigations appear to have been of Democratic town board members. One recently led to a censure by partisan vote; the others were unsubstantiated.

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.