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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 28, 2005

Water rates raised in two districts

By Holly Grosch

NEW SCOTLAND — The town board has increased water rates 17 to 38 percent for the Clarksville and Font Grove Road water districts.

"We passed it with the intention of the new rate going into effect immediately," Councilman Richard Reilly told The Enterprise of the board’s July 13 vote.

He said the board wanted the new rate to apply to the next billing cycle. Supervisor Ed Clark asked the town’s attorney to look into it, to see if it were possible.

The potential problem, Reilly said, is that some of the water to be billed in the next cycle has already been consumed, so the town may not be able to apply the new rate retroactively.

"Then we might have a real budget issue," Reilly said. And to make up for the lack of needed revenue, the board may have to have another vote later on to increase the rate again, he said.

The town raises water rates from time to time, because rates are initially based on estimates. Water rates have increased in the past because the neighboring town of Bethlehem is raising its rate, and Bethlehem supplies water to a number of New Scotland water districts.

Clark said it’s hard to estimate rates for the Font Grove Water District because it has only 17 people, and if one person reduces his water usage, it greatly affects the total revenue of the whole district.

There are a lot of factors in determining the water rate, including operation costs. Reilly mentioned the unpredicable cost of electricity as another reason why the town now needs more revenue from water users.

Town Attorney Michael Mackey told The Enterprise that the state’s comptroller issued an opinion in 1980 for Village Law, that rate increases could not be applied retro-actively; the same principle can be applied for the town, he said.

In response to Mackey’s findings, Clark told The Enterprise that, right now, he doesn’t think the board will have to vote on another rate increase, and that the new rate, he hopes, will be enough.

While the increase starts right away, users won’t get billed until the next six months, Clark said.

Water bills are sent out twice a year, he said. Readings on the water meter in the Font Grove Water District were taken July 20, and for Clarksville, the next water meter reading will be Aug 20, Clark said.

These readings will show how many gallons of water were used over the last six months. For this summer’s bill, the old rate will apply. However, any water used after July 20 in Font Grove and after Aug. 20 in Clarkville will be charged at the new rate. So, the new increase will be seen in the bill mailed in the winter.

The rates

Each user in the Font Grove Water District has to pay for a minimum of 5,000 gallons, which will now cost $125, an increase of $25. Then, for every 1,000 gallons used beyond that, residents will be charged $11 per 1,000 gallons, instead of the old rate of $8.

The Clarksville Water District has a 15,000 gallon minimum, which used to cost $52.50, but now costs $63.75.

Clarksville has a tiered billing system for the larger users.

Each 1,000 gallons over 15,000 costs $4.25, up from $3.50 per 1,000.

After using 60,000 gallons up to 120,000, the new rate is $4.50, up from $3.85.

Kaiser and Amsler plan to swap land

By Holly Grosch

NEW SCOTLAND — Joseph Kaiser, the owner of New Scotland Auto, and Howard Amsler, the owner of Blackbird Prime Properties, want to swap land with each other.

Amsler owns the trailer park off of New Scotland Road (Route 85) set back from the road, behind the commercial businesses on the street. One such business is Kaiser’s auto repair and auto sales shop at 1958 New Scotland Road across the street from Stonewell Shopping Center, at the junction of routes 85 and 85A. The two men’s properties touch each other.

The arrangement is for Kaiser to get a .63-acre strip of land from Amsler’s back 33.1 acres, to extend his car business behind his building. In return, Kaiser is to give a .12-acre side strip of his 1/2 acre to Amsler.

Tuesday night, the zoning board approved a variance that will allow the land swap, granting Kaiser 24 feet of relief from the required minimum lot width; Kaiser’s new lot will be 116 feet wide at the building line.

Zoning board Chairman Ronnie Von Ronnie said that this property will now go before the planning board for site-plan review.

Both property owners told The Enterprise that there are no definitive plans yet for what they want to do with their new land, but they both had some ideas.

Von Ronnie told The Enterprise Wednesday that he believes Amsler would ultimately, although not for awhile, like to create another entrance to his mobile-home park.

Amsler told The Enterprise after the meeting that the arrangement creates the opportunity for many things, including more growth to the mobile-home park. He also said that it creates some nice space for a cul-de-sac.

Kaiser said that he plans to move the cars that he is working on into a back parking lot and leave only the cars that are for sale out in front of the building.

He is allowed currently, based on the old site plan, to have 19 cars parked out in front. Kaiser said he has owned the property for three years.

Cynthia Elliott, a land surveyor, spoke at this and last month’s zoning board public meeting on behalf of her client, Kaiser.

She had said at a previous zoning board meeting that Kaiser’s lot is a pre-existing non-conforming lot, but, by acquiring the land behind his shop, the lot-size would meet code. She also said this would allow him to build an extension onto his building if he wanted.

One reason Kaiser’s side strip of land is appealing to him, Amsler said, is because it brings him closer to the planned public sewer lines.

Keith Menia of Vollmer Associates, the town’s engineering firm, had said at last month’s zoning board meeting that, while Kaiser’s property is part of the Heldervale sewer extension number four, the new back portion would not be. The mobile-home park was purposely left out of the area of the extension, because the town cannot support all those properties, Menia said.

Kaiser’s current private septic system is located on the land that he wants to give to Blackbird Prime Properties. The agreement, Elliott said, is that Kaiser can use his septic system until municipal hook-up is allowed, or until Kaiser puts in a new private septic system. This way, Kaiser is retaining his rights for sewer-system maintenance, Elliott said.

Additionally, Elliott said, no road can be built until that sewer is abandoned.

Elliott pointed out that, without the land swap, Amsler could take down the trees that serve as a buffer to the neighboring house to put a roadway in, but, by exchanging the parcels, he has space to build a road and still leave the vegetation.

Elliot said at the last meeting that there would be a common driveway after a new sewer is put in.

Von Ronnie said that, if the piece of land does become a road, it gives both properties a place to enter and exit. He added on Wednesday it would allow Amsler to access his back lot from Route 85 and Kaiser could use the common driveway to move his cars from his front parking lot to a newly-created rear lot.

Zoning board attorney Louis Neri questioned and clarified the language of Elliott’s proposed legal agreement between the land owners. He said, after a new septic system is built on Kaiser’s property, the right to enter Amsler’s property to maintain that septic will be gone but the egress and ingress will still be in effect.

After many tries
Voss named to planning board

By Holly Grosch

NEW SCOTLAND — Chuck Voss, a professional planner, has finally secured a regular seat on the town’s planning board. He was appointed by a unanimous bipartisan vote.

Voss has served on the Residents’ Planning Advisory Committee; he had been nominated numerous times by Supervisor Ed Clark and continually supported by Councilwoman Andrea Gleason — both serving as Republicans — for a planning board seat, but he hadn’t received votes from the other three Democratic board members — until now.

He had been assigned as an alternate in April.

Michael Cavanaugh, a long-time zoning board member and recently-appointed planning board member resigned this month from public office.

He told The Enterprise that he just had too many time conflicts because he has been traveling regularly for work into New York City and Long Island for a project that "has no end in sight," Cavanaugh said, adding that he anticipates it going on for another year.

After being on the zoning board of appeals for 10 years and only missing one meeting, and then being on the planning board for six months and missing three meetings, Cavanaugh said, "It’s embarrassing."

"Unfortunately it was too much," Cavanaugh said of his schedule. He said he’ll miss being at the monthly meeting.

After the board accepted Cavanaugh’s letter of resignation, Councilwoman Deborah Baron said that she thought one of the points of establishing alternates this spring was for situations such as these, so that an alternate planning board member, who already knows what’s going on, can step up into the position when a vacancy is created.

She said that she would like to appoint Voss.

Councilman Richard Reilly said that he was comfortable with that appointment as well, adding that he felt Voss was qualified.

Voss had previously lost the planning board spot to Cavanaugh in a 3-to-2 vote last September, along party lines.

This spring, the board passed a local law to allow for alternates. In April, at the time of appointing the alternates, there was also a vacancy on the planning board.

Gleason and Clark had wanted to appoint Voss as the permanent planning board member. But Reilly, with the support of the other two Democrats, said he wanted to appoint Kevin Kroencke as the permanent member, and Voss as the alternate. Clark agreed to this arrangement, with a final 4-1 vote.

Reilly had told The Enterprise in April that people have "legitimately had concerns of having him [Voss] as a planning board member." Reilly was not willing to elaborate more on what those concerns were but he had said, Voss serving as an alternate creates an opportunity for everyone to gain "a sense of what he will bring to the board...and for him to alleviate concerns they have."

"If Chuck does a good job, and there’s a vacancy, I don’t see why there will be a problem," Reilly had said of moving him up.

This week, Reilly told The Enterprise that he had talked with the chairman of the planning board, Robert Stapf, who said Voss was doing a good job, and, Reilly said, "That was good enough for me."

"It’s hard to articulate in an article one single concern," Reilly said, but he said he spoke with Stapf who told him that Voss has brought "no agenda of any kind to the board."

Reilly told the town board that, while he is in support of appointing Voss, he doesn’t necessarily want to establish a rule or precedent that an alternate is guaranteed to move into a vacancy.

Gleason said that, while she wasn’t in favor of creating alternates to begin with, now that the town has them, the town board should use them to the best of its ability.

With Voss’s appointment, the town now has a vacancy for planning board alternate.

Councilman Scott Houghtaling commented that the board had done a lot of interviewing this spring for the vacancy and for alternate positions on the zoning and planning board, and, after choosing three people, he said he didn’t see any of the remaining applicants jumping out at him as perfect for the now-vacant alternate spot.

Councilwoman Baron agreed.

Clark said that the board is now accepting new applications.

Other business

In other business, the town board:

— Appointed Peter Barber as the town’s code violation prosecutor;

— Agreed to write a letter to Albany County in support of reducing the speed limit on Route 308 to 45 miles per hour; and

— Decided that before the town begins interviewing applicants for animal-control officers, the board has to define the program. Highway Superintendent Darrell Duncan recommended that a few board members meet with Kevin Schenmeyer, the sole remaining animal-control officer, to hash out what duties animal control will perform. Schenmeyer has been keeping a log of his activity, which showed that some calls could be handled over the phone, Duncan said.

Enticing volunteers
Big bucks for benefits

By Holly Grosch

How much are you willing to pay your volunteer firefighters and ambulance service workers"

New Scotland residents will have to decide in a referendum vote this fall if they want to give each active volunteer $700 a year in retirement benefits, through the Length of Service Award Program, LOSAP; local residents’ tax dollars pay for it.

LOSAP was authorized by state law on Sept. 1, 1989. The purpose of the program is to serve as incentive to keep members, recruit members, and to promote active members.

At age 62, members receive a lump sum based on their years of service. If the new incentive passes, a 40-year active member at age 62, for example, would receive $28,000.

"This program has been very beneficial to our community in retaining active volunteers. Active is the key," said Mark Wilson, president of the Onesquethaw Volunteer Fire Company.

Participants gain service points in a variety of ways, such as going to meetings, training, being on call, or holding elected positions.

In order for a member to be eligible to receive the annual benefits, he or she must garner 50 points. Without at least 50 points, volunteers get zero dollars, Wilson said.

State law lays out specifically what volunteers can receive points for, setting maximums, and leaving some room for individual department discretion.

For example, the state law says that firefighters can receive a maximum of five points for teaching a fire-prevention class. Members can also earn one point for participating in inspections.

The Onesquesthaw point system was adopted by the company’s board of directors, the chief, and assistant chief on Dec. 7, 1994. At Onesquesthaw Volunteer Fire Company, the chief gets 25 points, for holding his post, the president gets 25 points, and a member of the board gets 10.

A firefighter can get one point for being in a parade, up to 20 points for participating in drills, up to 25 points for training courses, up to 20 points for emergency response.


Each year, all the members’ dollars are invested as a group, Wilson said; then, when a members turns 62, he receives in one lump sum all the money that he earned over the years of service.

The law reads, "All program assets shall be held in trust for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits."

New Scotland Supervisor Ed Clark, said that the town collects the taxes and then puts the money into the designated fund that the individual fire companies have established for the program.

All of the departments have hired their own consulting companies to disperse and invest the funds, Clark said.

The state maximum that was allowed to be awarded was $480; this is the amount that the town of New Scotland has been giving.

This year the state legislature raised the maximum amount of benefits to $700, and Onesquethaw fire department’s engineering officer, Jeff Houck, said that the department came to the New Scotland Town Board, asking for the increase.

Under the current 2005 program, if a volunteer has served for five years, earning 50 points each year, when he turns 62, he will receive $2,400. If he were in the company for 20 years, remaining active and earning the required points, then at age 62, he would receive $9,600.

Then, if a member remains with the volunteer company past the age of 62, each year after that in which he earns the required 50 points, he will receive an additional payment for that year, on that year, with no waiting period.

Board support

The New Scotland Town Board unanimously passed a resolution this month to allow for the public referendum to be held on increasing the benefits from the current $480 to $700.

"Emergency services are needed and we don’t want to be left without them," Clark said.

"Volunteerism is something that can be supported and we want to use every tool we can," he said.

Being a volunteer firefighter or ambulance-service volunteer is a "tremendous demand on their time," Clark said adding that the town wants to make it worth their while to join.

Since the LOSAP program "has worked well in the past in keeping people involved," it is something that the town continues to support, Clark said.

If voters, in a referendum, pass the town board’s resolution, it will mean $220 more for each active member will come from town taxpayers. In 2004, Onesquethaw had 61 people who qualified, Wilson said. The town’s other fire department, based in New Salem, last year had 28 qualifying members, Clark said.

So, if the same number qualify next year, that will mean $19,580 more for a total of $62,300 just for Onesquethaw and New Salem.

The Onesquethaw Company, serves the hamlets of Clarksville, Unionville, and Feura Bush. It also provides ambulance service to the southern side of New Scotland.

The New Salem Fire Department responds to fire emergencies in the other half of town, that surrounds the village of Voorheesville.

The Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service Inc. provides basic life support services to the village and the New Salem Fire District area.

Voorheesville Area Ambulance’s LOSAP costs are shared between the village and the town.

The town’s referendum states that 57 percent will be paid by the town and 43 percent by the village.

The village’s fire department has opted not to request a benefit increase, Steven’s said, because they want to renovate the fire house with a 1.2 million dollar project, which will already be a large increase in the village tax, Stevens said.

Voorheesville Ambulance, Inc. along with the other two town volunteer services are requesting the raise in benefits.


State law says that to institute or raise the benefits, a mandatory referendum has to be held.

The New Scotland Town Board set the town’s referendums — to be held in each of the districts, New Salem, Onesquethaw, and Voorheesville — for Sept. 27, from noon to 9 p.m.

The village doesn’t have to hold its referendum for the ambulance service at the same time, but Jack Stevens said that he hopes to schedule the village’s referendum in mid- September as well.

For the town, three separate referendums, one for each district, will require a "yes" or "no" vote from residents to increase annual benefits from $480 to $700 a year, starting Dec. 31, 2005.

This means the increase may pass in some districts, but not others.

In New Salem the current cost is approximately $29,000, and the referendum states that the amended program for the next year will cost approximately $26,600.

The Onesquethaw program costs $44,300 this year and the estimated new cost will be $44,100.

Looking at the wording on the referendum the overall cost appears to be decreasing. However, in actuality, an increase from $480 to $700, will obviously increase the cost the program annually.

Supervisor Clark explained that, when New Scotland first started participating in the LOSAP program in 1995, the town also chose to include a five-year buyback, so that the town paid volunteers for five years of, previous service.

Rather than having to pay those five years in one lump sum, the town has been paying it in increments, so the overall cost of the program, reflected in the 2005 number also includes money for the buyback.

New Scotland will be finished with paying off the buy back at the end of this year, so then the estimated 2006 number reflects just the cost of the program with the $220 per-member increase.


Municipalities and volunteer departments don’t have to give notice to any state-level agency once they have started a program. The only oversight is that towns are required to report the financial activity of the program to the state comptroller’s office.

The National Volunteer Fire Council, says that there are 500 LOSAP programs in operation in the state, and over a quarter of a billion dollars are invested in the program by local governments.

Guilderland’s supervisor, Kenneth Runion, said that he believes each of Guilderland’s fire districts participate in the LOSAP program, but that it is left up to the control of each volunteer department.

Jim Schanz, of the Guilderland Fire Department, explained why Guilderland is different than New Scotland.

In Guilderland, each fire department is its own independent taxing agency, he said. Each fire department has a board of fire commissioners, with five members, who set the tax levy, Schanz said.

Guilderland firefighters currently receive $480 in benefits if they have garnered the 50 points, Schanz said.

Schanz said that his department is in the process of researching and considering increasing the benefits to the state-allowed $700.

He said, if the board of commissioners decided, it does want to increase the benefit, it does not have to get approved by the town board. The board of commissioners can pass its own resolution, make a proposal to the residents, and then hold a referendum for the mandatory voter approval.

The Guilderland Fire Department would most likely hold this referendum at the regular fire department elections in December, Schanz said, if the board decides it’s something it would like to do.

None of the Hilltowns — Rensselaerville, Knox, Westerlo, or Berne — participate in LOSAP, although Westerlo’s supervisor Richard Rapp said that he just heard about the program this year and that the town board is considering it. But, he emphasized, "just thinking" about it because of concerns it would be too expensive. Rapp said he thinks it might be put on the town board’s agenda in September.

Berne Supervisor Kevin Crosier said Berne doesn’t participate in LOSAP because of the cost. Crosier works professionally as a paid firefighter in Albany.

In Berne, both the fire and ambulance companies want it, Crosier said, but it would cost well over a $100,000. Berne residents would see about "a 20-percent increase in property taxes," Crioser said adding, It’s too much.

Also, he said, he read the comptroller’s 2001 report on LOSAP, "and they’re in doubt if it even is working," Crosier said.

"I don’t think it’s doing a good job," Crosier said; LOSAP is just throwing a lot of money at a program that’s not fixing anything, he said.

He does believe the volunteers should be rewarded, Crosier said, but perhaps in another way.

Comptroller’s report

The state comptroller’s office investigated two things in 2001: how effective the program has been in the recruitment and retention of volunteers; and whether the program’s assets are being managed effectively.

The report reviewed 34 local governments, and came to the conclusion that, generally, LOSAP helped with retention but only five of the 34 sponsors thought the program was helpful with recruitment.

Also, the comptroller recommended for better investment, that different fire districts pool their dollars for investment, so they could eliminate overhead costs of financial consultants and have more money to invest.

The comptroller’s report said that state-wide, while volunteer enrollment initially spiked with the start of benefit award programs, it then decreased.

Local effect

The Enterprise gathered statistics for New Scotland’s districts.

According to Wilson, Onesquethaw, at the start of New Scotland’s program in 1995, had 60 members, of whom 38 garnered 50 points or more. Then, in 1997, 43 members earned enough points to receive benefits, and, in 2004, Onesquethaw had 72 members with 61 earning 50 points or more.

So, over the course of the program for this district, active membership has indeed increased from 38, to 43 to 61 people — meaning an increase of 60 percent.

Craig Shufelt of the New Salem Volunteer Fire Department said that their number of members from 1995 till now has stayed about 52 and, through the years, about 35 people have regularly garnered enough points to receive benefits.

He said that New Salem has been gaining new members, but it balances out because others are turning 62 and getting out, so overall the membership numbers has stayed the same, he said.

But, Shufelt said, he has seen LOSAP benefit the New Salem Fire District in other ways.

"We work more as a team than we would have," he said. Now, rather than just a few members doing a lot of the work, all the members are going to more meetings and more training, and members have an incentive to continue going to drills rather than just doing one or two, he said.

The New Salem Fire Department is "more proficient," Shufelt said, so LOSAP has helped.

The Voorheesville Volunteer Fire Department, although not asking for benefit increases, since it is requesting village tax dollars to pay for firehouse renovations, it has participated in LOSAP and will continue to participate at the old rate.

The president of the Voorheesville Fire Department, Richard Berger, said that, when he joined in 1969, there used to be a waiting list to get in.

Over the last 10 years of the LOSAP program, Voorheesville’s Fire Department has had about 45 to 55 members, primarily staying around 50, Berger said.

The village fire department "has fortunately done very well with membership," Berger said. "We haven’t really felt the shortage like other departments have," he said of the trend across the state.

In 1997, thirty-eight Voorheesville firefighters garnered 50 points or more. In 2003, 39 members earned enough points. In 1998 and 1999, thirty-six members received benefits, and in 2000 and 2001, forty-two members received benefits.

Berger said he thinks that LOSAP is working for members at all stages of life. It’s a good incentive for the younger members to become active, he said, and he believes the older members remain a little more active because of the benefit incentive as well.

Also, he said, the members who have been very active all along, and at age 62, receive the accumulated benefits, but are motivated to remain active because of the additional yearly pay-out after age 62.

Robin Shufelt, of the Voorheesville Ambulance Service said that on average the service has 22 people earning enough points. While she is not entirely convinced that LOSAP helps their recruitment, it definitely keeps existing members more active, she said.

There is always turnout at training, she said. She is hopeful that the increase to $700 will entice and bring in some new members.

The town’s ambulance services began being eligible for the LOSAP program in 2000, Shufelt said.

In 2000, Voorheesville Ambulance Service had 37 members; in 2001, it had 34 members; in 2002, it had 40 members; in 2003 it had 45 members; and in 2004, it had 49 members.

This member count, however, also includes associate members who have been a part of the ambulance service for at least 10 years and have opted to become semi-retired, Shufelt said. These associate members are not eligible for service award benefits, she said.

Also, the member count includes veteran members, who have been in the squad for 20 years, some of whom chose to remain active and others who chose not be active but simply remain a member in good standing, she explained.

From 2000 to 2004, the number of members who earned enough points to receive benefits go chronologically in this order: 19, 26, 25, 23, and 19 members.

Shufelt said she believes LOSAP gets people to stay with the service for a longer period of time.

Wilson of Onesquethaw said his department has active members in their 70’s and one in his 80’s, who is still earning over 50 points, he earned his 45-year pin this year, Wilson said.

Onesquethaw has many members who are actually receiving their pay-out now, and receiving yearly checks since they are past the age of 62. The Onesquethaw Company has 16 members of retirement age, Wilson said.

"There is a spot for everyone to do something," Wilson said. He said one of the elder members, for example, has volunteered to write the thank-you letters to donors, Wilson said.

Since Onesquethaw is both a fire and ambulance service, Wilson explained that members are not able to collect benefits twice.

Members points are tracked for ambulance service and fire service, but once members reach 50 points, say as fire fighters, they would then qualify to receive their $700 in retirement benefits; but then not be able to collect another $700 as an ambulance member.

Robin Shufelt said the ambulance service in Voorheesville is run a little differently than the fire departments.

"We sign up for the time and hours to be on call," she said. This way, the service always knows it has two or three or four people ready to go out on a call, she said.

But, she said, individuals can’t get all of their points just in on-call hours; they can only get up to 30 points for on-call hours. The rest of the 50 points must be earned through meetings, drills, training sessions, and fund-raisers, she said.

Also, by state regulation, Shufelt said, "If you get 50 points by June, you still have to continue doing hours and going to meetings." A member has to be in good standing to receive the benefit dollars at the end of the year. She went on, members can’t just quit or slack off and not participate mid-year because they have already earned all their points, she said.

Total cost

So, based on the numbers of recent years supplied by representatives of each district, next year, the town can anticipate New Salem having 35 people receiving benefits; Onesquethaw, 61 people; and Voorheesville Ambulance, 19. At $700 a piece, this would mean an estimated annual total cost to taxpayers of $80,500, keeping in mind that the village ambulance service will be paid for in part by New Scotland residents and by village residents.

Village residents, will be paying 43 percent of the $13,300 for the ambulance service retirement benefits. Since the Voorheesville Fire Department has not requested a benefit increase, its 36 members who have qualified would still get the current $480, meaning $17,280.

Combining the village’s and town’s anticipated LOSAP cost, if the increase is approved by voters, this brings the total expense for 2007 to $97,780.

Going Out: for farm history
New Scotland was raised from farmers’ seeds

By Holly Grosch

NEW SCOTLAND — After completing a series of exhibits on each of the town’s hamlets, the New Scotland Historical Society Museum has opened up "Working the Land," an exhibit on agriculture.

"Agriculture is why the town is here," said Marion Parmenter the museum committee chair, as she turned the inside corner of the Wyman Osterhout Community Center and entered the display area

She, along with other historical society volunteers, lead tours through the museum in New Salem every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and by appointment. Parmenter pointed at artifacts, and pictures as she told the stories and dates that go along with them.

The exhibit follows 300 years of farming in New Scotland, starting with the earliest European settlers, Parmenter said, the self-sustaining pioneer, who set the roots of the first community, and concluding with the commercial producers of today.

The exhibit hits home for Parmenter who is the daughter of a previous New Scotland Diary farmer. Parmenter looked up at a framed poster-advertisement hanging on the wall dated 1914. It announced a huge auction to be held at William Trauax’s farm to sell all of his farming equipment and live-stock.

He was obviously going out of the farming business, Parmenter said.

The timing of the auction is puzzling looking back now as an historian, Parmenter said. Traux had just built a huge barn in 1912, she said, which gives the opposite impression of wanting to change careers.

Truax didn’t sell the land and house until 1920, she said, but did end up moving to Delmar, although his reasoning remains a mystery, she said.

Mrs. Parmenter’s father a Badgley, later owned Truax’s farm. Parmenter now lives in the old Traux farmhouse with her husband, Robert, the town historian.

When she came in front of a surge milking machine used prominently in the 1940’s, on display in the middle of the museum floor, Parmenter recalled the milking procedure from her childhood. She explained and gestured with her hands how the milk was taken in pails and then hung on a hook to be weighed. She said that’s how they used to keep track of how much milk was produced by each cow and it was recorded in a book.

Laws in the 1950’s made it hard for her father and other small dairy producers; cow manure, for example, had to be taken out of the barns continuously on conveyer belts, she said. These types of upgrades where just too expensive, Parmenter said.

Dairy was the most populous kind of farming in New Scotland, Parameter said, simply because it made the most money.

Indian Ladder Farms used to produce its own milk, as did Udell’s Dairy, Youmans, and Severson’s, which was where Salem Hills is now, Parmenter said listing a few. Some of the farms had their own dairies, for pasteurizing, while other small-time farmers sent the milk in cans to local dairies to be pasteurized, she said.

Laid out on a tiered shelf at the museum are a variety of glass milk bottles with the name of a dairy company or a New Scotland Farm on it.


What most stands out in this agricultural exhibit are all the artifacts. Two of the more eye-catching artifacts are wooden tools, made in the early 1800’s before metal products became readily available, Parmenter said. Hanging high up on the wall is a wooded-pronged pitchfork, and a grain shovel with the bucket completely dug out of wood.

Machines with cranks stand in corners, like a potato-slicer from the early 1990’s, which was used to chop up potatoes for feed.

Glass cases hold tools, like a sheep poke, and rat and rabbit traps.

The barn shed, in the backyard of the community center, houses the larger artifacts, including a chick brooder warmed by a coal stove, and a wooden egg incubator, heated by a kerosene lamp attachment.


The LaGrange brothers’ dairy farm provides a lot of the modern pictures of mass dairy-farming today. The Van Wie farm in Clarksville is another still vivacious dairy business.

There are two Century Farms in New Scotland, recognized by the state for being farmed by the same family for at least a century. Both are dairy farms: The LaGrange farm in Feura Bush, and The Slingerland farm on Delaware Turnpike in Unionville.

The Slingerland farm received its Century Farm certificate in 1969. It stopped dairy farming about 15 years ago, Mrs. Parmenter said, although hay is still on the property now, she added.

While dairy farms dominated New Scotland, there were also a couple of chicken farms, a few beef cattle farms, and some crop farms also, including wheat, corn, and oats, Parmenter said.

A major beef cattle farm is the Tommells on Stove Pipe Road, Parmenter said.

Hops was a cash crop in the 19th Century, in Clarksville, which farmers used to supplement their income, Parmenter said. The flower was hand-picked and dried to prevent bacterial action when brewing. One historic hops barn is still standing in Onesequethaw, she said.

Also part of the exhibit is a half-an-hour film made in Madison County called, "When Hop was King."

The historical society has planted hop and flax next to the gardens outside the museum, to show what the flowering crops looks like.

Besides farming, the exhibit also touches on crafts and trades that are needed in a farming society, including blacksmiths, and farriers, who professionally shoe horses.

Farriery was a major industry in the early 1890’s and farriers were still regularly coming onto farms in the 1940’s to shoe horses, Parmenter said. But once tractors were readily bought by farmers in the 1950’s, the farrier industry became slim, she said.

Residents have now until at least April to look at the antique tools, learn about New Scotland’s agricultural history and to play a ‘guess what this was used for game’ which the society put together with a number code and answers behind flaps. A few of the objects have stumped the historical society and the old Sears catalogues; the hope is that some old-time farmers will visit and be able to help supply some answers.

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