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Hilltowns Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 23, 2005

Knox workers get raises

By Matt Cook

KNOX—Knox town workers are getting a pay raise.

At its monthly meeting last Tuesday, the Knox Town Board voted unanimously to allow Supervisor Michael Hammond to sign a new three-year contract with town employees.

"It’s a good contract for the workers and a good contract for the town taxpayers," said Councilman Joseph Best, who, with Councilman Nicholas Viscio, negotiated the contract.

Employees will get an immediate 50-cent raise, retroactive to January 1. That’s a 3.5 percent increase over the previous contract, the town board said. Salaries will increase 10 cents in each of the next two years.

For the first time, town employees will contribute to their health-insurance policies. This year, workers will pay 10 percent of their policies; they will then pay three 3 more in each of the next two years of the contract.

"It’s been a long road because there were some tough issues in there with insurance, but we can do it," Viscio said.

Also under the contract, town employees with more then 20 years on the job will receive a vacation extension.

Other business:

In other business at the June 14 meeting, the Knox Town Board:

—Authorized Hammond to petition the Albany County Highway Department to extend the 45-mile-per-hour speed limit on Bozenkill Road (Route 253) past where it currently ends at Bell Road.

Hammond said he received complaints from residents who live in the Bozenkill area. Route 253 climbs into Knox out of Altamont and Guilderland.

"It’s a real roller-coaster ride," Viscio said;

—Passed a resolution for the town to complete a pre-application for a state grant for municipal waste reduction and recycling products. Hammond hopes the grant will pay for half the cost of the recent purchase of a truck for the town’s transfer station.

In order to get the grant, Hammond said, the truck needs to be used for recycling at least half of the time. Highway superintendent Gary Salisbury said it was; and

—Considered a request from the Knox Youth Committee for an overnight trip to Washington, D.C. next spring. Councilwoman Patricia Gage asked what the town would be liable for on such a trip.

The town board asked for more specific details, including the ratio of chaperones to youth.

Remembering an overnight ski trip he once chaperoned, Hammond said, "You don’t sleep that night. I’ll tell you that right now."

After 40 years at BKW: The Clappers are ready to ride into the sunset — together

By Maggie Gordon

BERNE — Gordon "Gordy" Clapper regularly drives the Berne-Knox-Westerlo late bus — always with his wife, Sharon, in the front seat of the bus.

"They’re inseparable," said Alan Zuk, the district’s transportation supervisor. "They do everything together."

"In this day in age, for kids to have a long-term married couple who clearly enjoy being together — I think they are very good role models for the community. It’s really nice for kids to see that some people actually like each other and stick around," said Terry Schinnerer, another bus driver who has known the couple since 1987, when Mr. Clapper started driving for BKW.

His wife began working for the district four years earlier in the elementary school cafeteria.

Now, with a combined 40 years of service for the district, the Clappers are retiring at the end of the school year.

The Clappers are "great ambassadors for the school," said Zuk.

"I just think being together is my most wonderful memory of Gordy and I," Sharon said. "We’ve always done things together and I’ve always enjoyed doing things together. We don’t ever do anything separately — we don’t want to."

Schinnerer said that Mrs. Clapper would join her husband on every basketball bus trip.

"He loved basketball and would take every trip he could get," Schinnerer said. "The next day after the game, he would sit in the bus garage and analyze the game with a couple of other bus drivers. Basketball was a big deal for him.

"I remember when the girls’ basketball team was doing so great; he somehow knew the stats of the other teams before the game. He would do his homework and research and know what kind of team they were up against."

"They bring a lot to the community," Zuk said.

"If there were kids in need, or drivers in need, they were always there to help," Schinnerer said. "We’ve done two benefit garage sales, and they donated a ton of items... When Connie Cook’s house burned down, Gordy and Sharon were extremely generous in donating houseware and anything to be helpful.

"One of the most amazing things, I think, about Gordy was when one of our drivers got cancer and was going through chemotherapy and lost her hair, Gordy shaved his head in support of her. It was such a wonderful thing to do," Schinnerer said.

Schinnerer was touched by his support for his co-worker as well as his integrity and his devotion to his wife, she said.

"They just look so cute together. He takes her out to eat all the time because she cooks all day , so he doesn’t make her cook at home," Schinnerer said.

Many people in the community can identify Gordy by his "big, booming voice," she said.

"He had a hearing aid for a while, and he just recently got another... The second hearing aid helped him actually hear himself and now he speaks very softly," Schinnerer said. "It’s so hard for us to get used to, because he used to be so loud."

Schinnerer said Mr. Clapper is very popular with the kids, as is his wife. "I talked to some of my kids and they remember her smile," she said. "They all just felt like they had a grandma in the cafeteria for them."

"The good things"

The Clappers will be married for 42 years this November. They met on the west coast.

"He was in the service and they were in Fort Louis, Washington and he and a friend happened to come into town one night," said Mrs. Clapper, who is from Olympia, Wash. "I happened to be spending the night with a friend and she needed work done on her car. Gordy was a mechanic in the service and she asked him and his buddy if he would fix her car."

The Clappers have three children, and five grandchildren. "I love being a grandpa," Mr. Clapper said. "I can spoil them. It’s hard to spoil your own children."

His wife agrees that being a grandmother is a lot easier than being a mother. "We’re long distance grandparents," she said. Their children live in Buffalo, Connecticut, and Hawaii. "We really do spoil them. We don’t have to deal with the problems of children. We can deal with the good things and the happy times. If they act up, we can hand them over and say, ‘Okay, it’s your turn.’"

Working at the school, the couple gets to deal with the good things and happy times of children other than their own on a daily basis.

Mr. Clapper drove the Westerlo Elementary School bus route for 10 years. "One of my greatest memories is watching the kids grow up, leave second grade, and go to the big school," he said. "For 10 years, I watched kindergartners come and every year I had new kids, a new route."

What Mr. Clapper will miss the most is seeing the little kids coming to school on the first day and getting to know them, he said. "The little kids are always the most fun, because it’s all new to them," he said.

"It’s fun to watch the children grow and mature from kindergarten to fifth grade," Mrs. Clapper said. "That’s what I see — the different stages as they mature."

She agreed with her husband that she will miss the little kids most of all. "I’m going to miss the wonderment of those first few days of kindergarten," she said. "I always just am awed by the kids. Some come in and it’s like they’re afraid to move, afraid to look at you. They’re not used to being away from home in such a big surrounding.

"First-graders are very worldly after spending a year in kindergarten. They think, ‘I know where my room is; I know how to do this; I did it last year.’ Each year it becomes old stuff to them, and it’s interesting to watch them," she said.

Mrs. Clapper said her best memories from working at the school are "the funny things the kids come along with — the unexpected things."

Several years ago, a child needed to charge his lunch. "He had quite a few charges, and we were told we really shouldn’t let him charge any more, so we had to get our manager," Mrs. Clapper said. "As soon as he saw her walk through the door, he put his hand to his head and said, ‘Oh no, she gives me a fever.’"

What next"

The couple plan to move south after retiring in June.

"They’re planning on moving, and Gordy and Sharon are planing on donating most of the items for us to have a sale to benefit kids," Schinnerer said.

Right now the Clappers are not positive, but they are "99.9 percent sure," Mrs. Clapper said, that they are moving to Tennessee.

"We would like to be in a little warmer climate without it being really hot," she said. "We don’t want to go to Florida. Tennessee is also a little less expensive than New York, and we can still travel from there. Plus, Tennessee doesn’t get the snow. I understand they do get ice, but it doesn’t last long."

They are choosing to retire because, Mr. Clapper said, "I’m at an age where I need to find other things to do. I’m almost 64 and Sharon and I would like to travel a little and, in order to be able to do that we need to retire."

"Basically we felt we’ve worked enough years," said Mrs. Clapper, who is 62. "We want to enjoy life for a few years because we do have our health. We’re getting to an age that you never know, and we want to have an enjoyable time together."

"They will be sorely missed," Zuk said. "Both of them."

"I think what I would miss about Gordy would be the way he is always willing to go out of his way to help... He’s always just been extremely helpful — everybody will miss that about him," Schinnerer said.

"He gave work his all," Zuk said.

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