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Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, January 5, 2006

Six town officials sworn in

By Matt Cook

KNOX — The town appointed and swore in officers at its reorganizational meeting Sunday morning.

A vote to appoint Amy Pokorny to replace Deb Nelson on the zoning board was postponed by the recommendation of Councilwoman Patricia Gage, who suggested the town board interview the others who had applied. Supervisor Michael Hammond and the board agreed.

The town board also agreed to review the composition of the planning board and conservation advisory council at the regular January meeting.

The town’s officials, boards, committees, and designations for 2005 are:

Supervisor: Michael Hammond;

Town Board: Joseph Best, Dennis Decker, Patricia Gage, and Nicholas Viscio;

Highway Superintendent: Gary Salisbury;

Town Clerk: Kimberly Swain;

Town Attorney: John Dorfman;

Receiver of Taxes: Delia Palombo;

Town Justice: Linda Quay and Jean Gagnon;

Deputy Supervisor: Nicholas Viscio;

Registrar of Vital Statistics: Helen Quay;

Deputy Registrar of Vital Statistics: Deborah Liddle;

Deputy Tax Collector: Donna Ostrander;

Town Historian: Frieda Saddlemire;

Emergency Preparedness Coordinator: Dennis Decker;

Building/ Sanitary Inspector and Zoning Administrator: Robert Delaney;

Assistant Building Inspector: Daniel Sherman;

Animal Control Officer: John Norray;

Parks Superintendent: Louis Saddlemire;

Youth Director: Dennis Decker;

Court Clerk: Deborah Liddle;

Court Officer: John McGivern;

Deputy Highway Superintendent: Loren Shafer Jr.;

Bookkeeper: Catherine Steverson;

Auditor: Beryl Grant;

Transfer Station Attendants: William Salisbury, John Oliver, and Richard Dexter;

Zoning Board of Appeals: Earl Barcomb (chair), Kenneth Kirik, Robert Edwards, Larry Wilson, Robert Simpson, and David Holley;

Planning Board: Robert Price (chair), Dennis Colliton, Michael Scott, William Bellerjeau, Daniel Driscoll, Robert Gwinn, and Jennifer Thorne;

Board of Assessment Review: Timothy Frederick (chair), Gerald Irwin, Robert Whipple, Val Pulliam, and Howard Zimmer;

Youth Committee: Charles Conklin, Grace Cunningham, Dennis Decker (ex-officio), Jean Forti, Rich Matlock, Brett Pulliam, Ed Schmidt, Sue VonHaugg, and Janet Viscio; and

Conservation Advisory Council: Rick Wilson, Hank Donnelly, Stephanie Baron, Betty Ketcham, Patricia Irwin (chair), Nicholas Viscio (ex-officio).

Board debates
How to preserve Westerlo’s rural character"

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

WESTERLO — The town board here wants to develop a right-to-farm law and, at its lawyer’s suggestion, may consider a moratorium on developments.

Tuesday, the board set a workshop for Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the law and the moratorium.

Last month, Councilman Edward Rash gave town board members his proposal for zoning changes.

"This is not to prohibit anything," he told the board Tuesday night. "We can always give a variance."

The town board eliminated Westerlo’s planning board over a decade ago and so it acts as a planning board.

"With development coming in as fast as it is," Rash said, it is important to make some changes right away.

"Right now, we’re a little too lax and a little too easy," he said.

Westerlo is the fastest-growing of the Hilltowns; it is closest to the Catskills, where New York City residents have often vacationed.

Rash’s proposal, which he said he has worked on for over 10 months, learning from zoning in nearby towns, calls for changes in minimum lot size, from three to five acres for a single-family home, and from five to seven acres for a two-family home. Rash also proposes that subdivision not exceed 10 units.

Five acres, Rash said, is "not a lot to ask." Originally, he said, the town required five acres and then lowered it to three. "Most of the small lots have been utilized," he said.

Councilman R. Gregory Zeh said that, while he agreed it was important to preserve Westerlo’s rural heritage, he didn’t support Rash’s stopgap approach.

"Don’t put on a Band-Aid," he said. "We should do the job once and do it right....I don’t see any crisis today."

Zeh advocated the town create a comprehensive land-use plan, involving citizens in public hearings. He said later in the discussion that, in addition to lot size, a master plan could address "spotty commercial locations throughout the town."

"The writing is on the wall," returned Rash. He said his proposal was not in lieu of a comprehensive plan, but would protect Westerlo while one was being developed, which could take a year or more.

"A lot of building could go up in that time," said Rash.

Town Attorney Aline Galgay then interjected her views; she dominated the meeting’s hour-long discussion.

"I deal a lot with Rensselaerville, Berne, Knox," she said, stating that Rensselaerville spent many years developing its plan which includes five-, 10-, and 15-acre zoning.

"To do comprehensive planning and not have land use get out of control, you enact a moratorium," she said.

"It doesn’t mean people can’t build houses," she said, stating a moratorium would "just stop major developments."

"Moratorium" is like a dirty word, Rash said. "I didn’t take this job to dictate to people."

Galgay went on to say that the town currently has "a very comprehensive zoning law" and a separate document of subdivision regulations created in 1977, prior to the zoning law.

"It would be great to have them all immersed in one document," she said. Planners consider the moratorium an effective tool, Galgay said. "It has the connotation of a dictatorship but it’s not," she said.

Late in the discussion, Zeh said that a subdivision of 161 acres in the northwest corner of town for 14 new homes, called Emerald Meadows, would not be stopped by a moratorium because the application was already in. Galgay disagreed, stating, "Case law says you can withhold making a decision."

"You put a moratorium on the whole town, you’ll have people standing on the roof," said Supervisor Richard Rapp.

Zeh advocated explaining to people what a moratorium is, setting a time frame, and sticking to it.

"We don’t know how long it will take," said Rash.

"You can always extend your moratorium," said Galgay. She added, "I can write it however you want."

"I’d really like to get the ball rolling," said Rash, bringing up his proposal for the right-to-farm law.

Right-to-farm legislation doesn’t have anything to do with zoning changes, Galgay said.

Such legislation is meant to protect farmers from nuisance suits — for such things as farm smells or noises — filed by encroaching suburbanites.

"Recently, we had a situation with a newly-built house in town that came close to litigation with a farmer....They didn’t like the smell-of-manure kind of thing," said Galgay.

Zeh pressed to schedule a workshop for the board to create a right-to-farm bill, and one was set for Jan. 17.

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Heard from Rapp that he is in the process of getting a new compensation insurance carrier before March 1;

— Discussed a proposal that would allow highway-department workers to receive compensatory time instead of overtime pay.

It was proposed that a worker could accumulate no more than 80 hours of comp time, that it could not be carried over into the next fiscal year, and that workers would be paid for their comp time in cash if they ended their employment with the town.

"Financially, it could be very detrimental to the town," said Galgay. She also said, "I will check into it and see what our options are."

Zeh noted that workers can’t accumulate more than 30 days of vacation time, but some town employees in the gallery said most town workers aren’t subject to the new policy but are "grandfathered in" under "the old book," with no limit on vacation accumulation.

"You could go bankrupt in one year...I think we have some bigger issues we need to deal with," said Galgay;

— Heard from Rapp that some of the town’s street lights are not working and he won’t pay the bill until they’re fixed.

"We’ve called and called and called," he said;

— Heard from Ken Drumm, who headed the committee that has worked to have a public water district, with 86 taps, established in the hamlet: "It’s almost over," he said.

All the grant recipients have been hooked up, said Drumm.

The old northside and southside systems have been turned off, he said, and only two issues remain to be addressed — finalizing the billing method, and naming a water supervisor.

"All the major issues have been resolved and we have releases," Galgay reported;

— Heard a complaint from a citizen about refuse like old tires and deer carcasses being strewn along rural roads in town.

"Our rural roads are turning into landfills," he said.

"How do you patrol it" How do you stop it"" asked Rapp.

The three-dollars-per-tire fee charged by the town just covers the costs of disposing of them, said Rapp, rejecting the idea that lower fees or a period of no fees would stem the illegal dumping.

"The sad thing is, people just don’t care," he said, adding he would notify the State Police and Albany County Sheriff’s Department;

— Heard that a 100-foot tower has been approved, to be built by Nextel on property owned by the Westerlo Volunteer Fire Company.

It is to be finished by spring, and Galgay said the fire company would get revenue from it.

Thomas Diederich, district chief with the fire company, said that the company won’t "derive financial benefit...for quite a while."

"Nextel will put it in," he said. "The hope is there will be additional tenants." Any money gotten from those tenants would be used for fire-company expenses, including unfunded mandates, he said.

Another fire department member said the company was housed in a 1936 building and had 28-year-old trucks.

In Berne
Crosier praises volunteers, pledges preservation of "rural way of life"

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

BERNE — Over 50 people squeezed into the turn-of-the-last-century meeting room of the Berne Town Hall on Sunday afternoon to witness the change in government at the start of the new year.

Beneath the pressed-tin ceiling, in front of a portrait of George Washington, those elected in November took their oaths of office.

Despite vocal opposition in the fall election, Supervisor Kevin Crosier, a Democrat running on the Republican ticket, retained his post. He won 54 percent of the vote against Democratic Councilman James Hamilton.

The rest of the board members are Democrats. In a four-way race for two council seats, incumbent Joseph Golden got the most votes by far, followed by newcomer Wayne Emory.

The others who assumed office on Jan. 1 were all incumbent Democrats who ran unopposed — Town Clerk Pat Favreau, Highway Superintendent Raymond Storm, Assessor Robert Motschmann IV, and Tax Collector Gerald O’Malley.

After waxing eloquent on the "dusting of white snow" that greeted the new year in the Helderbergs, "a truly beautiful place to be," Crosier launched into a long list of thank-yous.

Crosier, who works for the city of Albany as a firefighter, said that volunteers "make Berne a truly great place to live."

"While we sleep, they’re at work," he said of the volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers.

He also praised the volunteers who, for four years, have put on the town’s Heritage Days, and he lauded the Friends of the Library, a group that formed "to help us build a new library."

"In Berne, everything’s uphill," quipped the supervisor, calling the highway department workers who clear and fix the roads "our unsung heroes."

He singled out Superintendent Storm for praise, to which Storm, from the gallery, quickly responded, "That’s what we get paid for."

Crosier went on to thank the town board, the clerks, and the town hall staff.

He particularly praised Favreau, whom, he said, "puts in countless hours." She has been the town’s clerk for a quarter of a century.

Crosier revealed that, when Favreau comes to Town Hall to work extra hours on Sunday, she parks her car behind the post office. "So there’s a tip if you’re really looking for a hunting license on Sunday," he said.

"Many opportunities lie ahead for us," said Crosier, shifting from words of praise to setting goals for his four-year term ahead.

He praised Joel Willsey for redesigning the town’s transfer station and Ken Weaver for rebuilding the compactor, and he said of the town hall, "This building is 150 years old; it used to be an inn."

Berne, he said, is in "desperate need" of a new town hall and library.

Crosier went on to say he would work on preserving the town’s "rich natural resources" and on keeping its "rural way of life."

Crosier concluded his speech by thanking William Conboy, town attorney for 25 years, who administered the oaths of office Sunday.

"Your guidance has kept the town of Berne on the right track," said Crosier. "I’ve learned a lot from you about town government."

Family members then took turns holding a large red-covered Bible while the oaths were administered. Some office-holders were welcomed with kisses, others with the flash of a camera — all with applause.

"Bills are out," announced O’Malley, the tax collector, when his turn came. "My Christmas cards to everyone."

After the oaths were administered, Favreau read a proclamation honoring Mark Huth, her next-door neighbor, and a councilman who chose not to seek reelection.

Huth "always served to preserve and greatly enhance the character of our town," said Favreau.

The proclamation noted his role in helping establish the town’s first sewer district, and praised his "community commitment," ranging from Boy Scouts to church to the volunteer fire company.

The proclamation noted his "quiet firmness" and "deep integrity" and called him "a wonderful friend and neighbor."

It also lauded his wife and children for supporting Huth and wished him well as he now pursues fishing and carpentry, and is able to spend more time with his grandchildren and his dog, Buddy.

The applause for Huth was loud and long.

Another proclamation also recognized Douglas Fraser for 20 years of service to the town’s conservation board.

Favreau said Fraser is retiring and moving away. "He’s unable to be here today," she said, "because he’s in Trinidad."

The board then sped through a list of uncontested appointments, all made by unanimous vote.

Crosier adjourned the meeting at 1:35 p.m., just a half-hour after it began.

"Happy New Year," said the supervisor.

"We can go now"" asked seven-year-old Cameron Fine plaintively from the front row.

"You can go now," reassured the supervisor.


Appointments and designations made by the Berne Town Board on New Year’s Day included:

— The Altamont Enterprise as the official newspaper;

— The Guilderland branch of Citizens Bank as the official depository;

— Joseph Golden as deputy supervisor;

— Kevin Crosier as director of emergency management;

— Patricia Favreau as marriage officer;

— William Conboy as legal counsel;

— Peter Schaming as building administrator and code-enforcement officer;

— Paul Jeffers as zoning administrator and code-enforcement officer;

— Jeff Villeneuve as dog-control officer;

— Brian Crawford as chairman of assessors;

— Anita Clayton as deputy town clerk;

— Andrea Cornwell as bookkeeper;

— Patricia Boice as court and highway clerk;

— Jacqueline Murray as secretary for the planning and zoning boards;

— Jane O’Shea as youth recreation director;

— Kevin Kemmet as solid-waste coordinator;

— Ralph Miller as historian;

— Willard Schanz as constable;

— Howard Stalker as town-hall custodian;

— Chair John Crosier, Mildred Johansson, Gerard Chartier, Michael Vincent, and Dan Burns to the planning board;

— Chair Peter Vance, James Fallon, John Carsten, Werner Knopp and Terry Adams to the zoning board;

— Chair Terry Schwendeman, Kathy Moore, Harold Lendrum, Patricia Kusler, and Dwight Brown to the conservation board;

— Chair Charles Turner, Marie Flagler, David Smith, Emily Wright, and George Christian to the assessment review board;

— Albert Raymond, Alan Zuk, Kathy Hill-Brown, Phil Place, and Jennifer Merrill-Fuller to the youth council; and

— Chair Jim O’Shea, Avis O’Malley, Joan Mullen, Marsha Descartes, Mary Kinnard, Helen Lounsbury, and Mary Alice Molgard as library trustees.

In Westerlo
New date for planning board meetings, new pay plan for zoners

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

WESTERLO — When there was no Bible on hand at Town Hall New Year’s morning, Andrea Zeh said she had one in the car. It belonged to her daughter, Theresa, who will turn three in February.

Theresa’s father, Councilman R. Gregory Zeh, made history in Westerlo by running on both the Republican and Democratic lines in November’s election. Democrats outnumber Republicans n Westerlo, three to one.

Zeh, an accountant, had been appointed to the town board in 2005 to replace the late Clifton Richardson, the first Republican on the board in seven decades. Both parties then claimed Zeh as their own.

While a handful of people waited for officials to arrive Sunday morning, Theresa and her mother paged through the Precious Moments Bible, with Theresa aptly identifying each picture.

Longtime town clerk, Gertrude Smith, offered everyone Christmas cookies to eat.

Anthony Cardona, presiding justice of the Appellate Division, Third Department, swept into the room with vigor. He discussed snowplowing and fishing with the locals, and, despite, years of presiding over swearing-in ceremonies, expressed enthusiasm for the duty.

"It’s great; it’s fun," he said.

Cardona emerged from the supervisor’s office in a black judge’s robe to officiate. In addition to Zeh, two others put their hands on the Precious Moments Bible to state their oath of office.

Councilman Ed Rash, an incumbent Democrat, had come in second to Zeh in a three-way race for two board seats. And long-time judge, Alan Bauder, another incumbent Democrat, had run unopposed for his post.

"This town’s a wonderful place because of people like you, running it, day in and day out," said Cardona.

Appointments and designations

The small group dispersed after the ceremony on Sunday and the rest of the New Year’s duties were handled by the town board at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday.

The board changed the date for planning board meetings. (The town board serves as the planning board in Westerlo.)

Town Attorney Aline Galgay advised the board that a new ruling meant that town planning boards can no longer make decisions contingent on approval from the Albany County Planning Board.

Since the county board meets on the third Thursday of each month, it was decided the Westerlo board will meet on the fourth Tuesday, to come after the county meetings.

The town board’s regular meeting date will remain on the first Tuesday of every month but November, when it will be on the Wednesday following elections.

The board then discussed pay schedules at length, because of a concern raised by Zeh. He said workers, including appointed board members, should be paid only if they attend meetings.

The state looks at it as a "no show," said Galgay, if absenteeism exceeds 20 percent.

"I’ve never deducted for anyone if they missed a town-board meeting," said Supervisor Richard Rapp.

"It it’s substantial, three or four months at a time, it becomes blatant," said Galgay.

Clerk Smith pointed out that work on boards, such as the zoning board, involves more than just attending meetings; it includes such tasks as site review.

"If they’re missing a quarter of a year, we shouldn’t be paying them," said Zeh.

"Suppose you’re sick and can’t come to three or four meetings"" asked Councilman Robert Snyder.

"You’re still an employee not performing the service for which you’re paid," said Galgay.

Councilman Rash asked who would check and monitor attendance.

Ultimately, at Zeh’s suggestion, the board agreed the members of the zoning board will be paid quarterly. The chair of that board earns $4,500 a year; the four other members earn $2,500 each.

As for tracking attendance, Zeh said, "I would rely on the chairperson of that board to provide us with some kind of report."

The zoning administrator, who earns $6,000 a year, will also be paid quarterly.

Other appointments and designations made by the board include:

— The Altamont Enterprise and The Greenville Press as newspapers;

— The National Bank of Coxsackie as depository;

— Gertrude Smith as registrar of vital statistics;

— Kathleen Spinnato as both deputy registrar and deputy town clerk;

— Edwin Lawson as code-enforcement officer;

— Bruce Bunzey as deputy code-enforcement officer;

— F. Eugene McGrath as zoning administrator;

— Florence Derry as court clerk;

— Edward Rash as deputy supervisor;

— Aline Galgay as town attorney;

— Robert Duchow as town historian;

— Jody Ostrander as dog-control officer;

— William Scott III as assistant dog-control officer;

— Sheila McGrath as zoning-board clerk;

— Kimberly Slingerland as planning-board clerk;

— Claire Marshall as assessor’s clerk;

— Mary Jane Snyder-Araldi as youth-council coordinator;

— Dawn Belarge, Eugene Coogan, and Suzanne Rash as members of the board of assessment review; and

— Ogden Saddlemire, Virginia Mangold, Gerald Woodruff, Wilfred VanIderstine, and Chair Gail Snyder as members of the zoning board.

Moratorium gives Rensselaerville citizens time to speak

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

RENSSELAERVILLE — Town Hall was packed on New Year’s Day as the town board’s two Democrats differed sharply with the three Republicans on several key appointments for 2006.

The town now has new legal counsel, a new constable, and a new planning- and zoning-board secretary; the post of clerk for the highway superintendent has been abolished.

"One of the things I campaigned on was no conflicts of interest with anyone in the government," the new Republican supervisor, Jost Nickelsberg, told The Enterprise after the meeting. He also said he was trying to encourage involvement in the government from a broader base in town.

He is particularly looking for community involvement, Nickelsberg said, as a building moratorium goes into effect this month so the town can develop a comprehensive plan for its future.

The two Democrats on the board — newly-elected Sherri Pine and six-year Councilman Gary Chase — had some concerns about the reorganizational meeting.

"I was kind of blind-sided," said Chase, indicating he hadn’t been told ahead of time what the Republican appointments would be.

"We had nothing to say," Chase told The Enterprise of the changes made by the GOP board members. "These people put in a lot of their own time without getting paid," he said of those who were not reappointed to their posts, "and now they’re getting thrown out on the street. I don’t like that."

One of the people who lost her part-time job was his mother, Joyce Chase, who worked as a clerk for his father, highway Superintendent G. Jon Chase.

Pine was concerned about a closed meeting the three Republican board members had in the supervisor’s office before the public meeting began on New Year’s Day. She stood right outside the door and wasn’t invited in, she said, calling it an illegal meeting.

The state’s Open Meetings Law doesn’t allow a board majority — in this case, three members — to meet in an unannounced session, but Nickelsberg had not yet taken office so, technically, only two board members were meeting.

"That’s not how you run government," said Pine. "Mr. Nickelsberg is new" but she pointed out the other two — Myra Dorman and J. Robert Lansing — had been town supervisors before.

"There was a lot of political play right off the bat," said Chase. "I think it’s going to be a long road...I’m going to try to fight to keep the taxes down. There are a lot of rumors about big ideas that will cost a lot of money."

More than 40 people watched, some of them standing in the hall because all the seats were filled, as Nickelsberg took the oath of office.

A Republican who has worked for 35 years as a securities and investment banker and lived in Rensselaerville for 11 years, Nickelsberg won his first-ever race for public office this fall. He won with 58 percent of the vote against Democrat David Bryan, formerly a supervisor, attempting a comeback.

Highway Superintendent Chase took the oath next; he had edged out Republican challenger Stephen Wood. Chase had come under fire during the campaign for near silence on the work of the highway department.

Lansing was sworn in next as a councilman. A Republican with a long history of service to the town, he had stepped down as supervisor and received the most votes in a four-way race for two council seats.

Pine was sworn in after Lansing. She won the other council seat, besting a Democratic incumbent and a Republican challenger to win her first public office.

Long-time town clerk Kathleen Hallenbeck was also sworn in.

"These are the people who will make our town go from this point on and I believe they deserve a hand," said Judge Victor La Plante after the oaths were administered. Applause filled the room.

New legal counsel

The pace was quick, without discussion, as the board worked through its list of appointments for 2006.

While most appointments were unanimous, votes were split along party lines for appointing new legal counsel, appointing Brian O’Keefe constable, abolishing the position of clerk for the highway superintendent, and for appointing Cathleen Bobrick as planning-and zoning-board secretary.

In those cases, Nickelsberg would read the motion; it would be quickly seconded by Dorman; and then Pine and Chase would vote against the motion while the Republican majority carried the vote.

Nickelsberg, who opened the meeting by announcing microphones at the dais will allow people to hear the board’s deliberations, told The Enterprise afterwards that the changes are to insure open government without even an appearance of conflicts of interest.

"We did a-thousand-plus hours worth of research as to who the players are and need to be relative to management and government," he said.

Joseph Catalano, who lives in Rensselaerville, had been the town attorney. That post was abolished Sunday along with deputy town attorney. In its place, a position of attorney to the town was created, so a non-resident appointment could be made.

The Albany law firm of Tabner, Ryan, and Keniry was appointed.

"We wanted to have someone in the position of attorney for the town who will not be doing business with people in the town," said Nickelsberg. "They won’t be on both sides of an issue," he said of the newly-hired firm.

Asked if Catalano had had such conflicts, Nickelsberg said there "could be" a conflict with someone representing Rensselaerville residents, for example, before the zoning or planing boards, but that, with an outside firm, he said, "We know they’ll come to every issue as representing only the town."

Asked why this particular outside firm was chosen, Nickelsberg said he was impressed with work Tabner, Ryan, and Keniry had done for other towns, such as Colonie and with work done by senior partner Jack Tabner. Bill Ryan, he said, will be the "point person" from the firm working with Rensselaerville.

Both Pine and Chase told The Enterprise after the meeting that they favored keeping Catalano as town attorney.

"He lives in town and specializes in town law," said Pine, citing Catalano’s many years of experience.

"A few years back, when the Republicans took over, they hired a law firm and things got messed up," said Chase. "When I got in office, the Democrats took back over and reappointed Joe Catalano. He’s done a great job.

"You should always try to have somebody in the town...It keeps money in the town and they know more about the town."

Chase said that the deputy attorney, Jon Kosich, had also been knowledgeable, and handled work for the zoning and planning boards.

The attorney’s salary was set at $22,000; the deputy attorney’s salary had been set at $9,100.

Master planning

Cathleen Bobrick was named as the new planning- and zoning-board secretary.

"We’re about to go into a moratorium and come to grips with a master plan," said Nickelsberg. "Cathleen is very qualified to help us...She’ll be very busy."

He said his goal is to get all 1,600 Rensselaerville residents involved in the planning process. He listed some questions citizens may answer: "Do you want pocket parks" Do you favor agribusiness" Do you want an industrial park""

Referring to the town’s comprehensive land-use plan developed in the late 1990’s, Nickelsberg said, "Basically, we have five-acre zoning in town."

The building moratorium, beginning this month, will last six months, and can be extended, said Nickelsberg. Meetings will be held in all five of Rensselaerville's hamlets where citizens will be asked, "What is your vision""

Nickelsberg said, "The most important thing is what the people want. The taxpayers are the shareholders of the town. "People will voice their opinions and we’ll ultimately get a consensus," he said.

Bobrick will replace Carlotta Morris, who was not planning to step down from her post as secretary, Nickelsberg said.

"She’s been a part of local government for a number of years and done an exceptional job," he said of Morris. "This is a way for us to broaden participation."

Nickelsberg said he met Bobrick "on the campaign trail" and she had been active in the Rensselaerville library.

Pine said it wasn’t right to displace workers who were doing their jobs, like Morris. "We know they can do the job," she said.

Chase said he doesn’t make appointments based on party enrollment. He cited appointments to the planning board and zoning board — members who were not Democrats — and said he supported them because they were recommended by the chairs of those boards.

The planning board secretary’s salary was set at $12,320 or $11.85 an hour.

No highway clerk

The Republican majority on the town board eliminated the post of clerk to the highway superintendent.

This had been filled by Joan Chase, the wife of the highway superintendent and the mother of the councilman.

Councilman Chase called the cut "a political stab in the back."

His grandfather had been highway superintendent for 30 years before his father was elected to the post, Councilman Chase said, and his grandmother had worked as his grandfather’s clerk.

"That job used to pay about $20,000," he said. "They took that job away from my dad and said he could do it on his own."

Then, since his mother helped his father with paperwork, Chase said, "A couple of years ago, they set it up so she got $10 an hour, up to $3,000. There’s a ton of paperwork you have to file for funding for roads. She was putting in millions of hours and getting paid $3,000...It’s not a conflict."

Asked why the post was eliminated, Nickelsberg told The Enterprise, "The number-one reason is cost savings. The other is a potential conflict of interest."

He went on, "There are certain rules in the state about family members being part of the government. We want to present as few conflicts as possible...

"She’s a wonderful person," he said of Mrs. Chase, "but I ran on the position there would be no conflicts or perceptions of conflicts of interest."

He also said that the highway superintendent will be able to get clerical help from other staff members. "We have some exceptionally good people in the town office...We thought we’d make it more streamlined," he said.

New constable

In another split vote, Brian O’Keefe was appointed constable.

The post had been filled by David Chase.

Asked why the change was made, Nickelsberg told The Enterprise, "Brian O’Keefe is a major in the Army Reserve...He’s an exceptional guy who just got back from 14 months in Iraq. He’s an American hero."

O’Keefe works for National Grid, formerly called Niagara Mohawk, and wants to be involved in local government, Nickelsberg said. "The more we can get from younger people, the more we’re enhanced," he said.

Asked if the decision was partisan, that is replacing a Democrat with a Republican, Nickelsberg said, "I don’t know what party Brian belongs to. He’s very, very qualified. I’m looking to broaden the participatory level in the government...These are basically volunteers.

"David Chase is also the fire chief for Medusa," Nickelsberg went on. "He’s doing very serious, solid work, giving his time to the town. We all appreciate that very much."

Pine objected to David Chase’s dismissal. She told The Enterprise, "The judges picked David many years ago. He knows how both of the judges react; he knows their body language and could react right away to help them."

She also said, "The constable should be the judges’ pick."

The constable post pays $1,300 a year.

New deputy super

Alden Pierce was unanimously appointed as deputy supervisor.

Both Chase and Pine said the deputy supervisor is the supervisor’s pick.

Often deputy supervisors merely fill in when a supervisor is absent, but Nickelsberg has a larger role in mind for Pierce, who does not hold an elected office in town.

He described Pierce as his friend, who has a Ph.D.

"He’s been involved in industry for three-plus decades in the environmental part of corporate America," Nickelsberg said. "His job was to figure out how corporations were good citizens of the community. He's good at land-use and zoning issues. He’s an executive who’s good at interpersonal relationships.

"He’s ready and fit to take on a number of projects...He’s totally qualified to do anything I can do. I’ve been in the Wall Street investment banking world for 35 years...Our backgrounds are similar."

Nickelsberg said that Pierce and his wife, Cheryl, are active in community affairs.

Nickelsberg concluded, "When your government’s got great people, it makes everything better."

The deputy supervisor is not paid.


Other appointments made by the Rensselaerville Town Board on New Year’s Day include:

— Harry Prussner as town veterinarian;

— Brian Wood and David Chase as civil-defense coordinators;

— Gerald Wood as civil-defense officer;

— Earl David Potter as deputy highway superintendent;

— Delwin Shaver Jr. as water treatment officer and as deputy sewage treatment officer;

— Doug Story to a five-year term on the water-sewer committee.

Other members are Richard Platel through 2006, Bill Bensen through 2007, Jack Long through 2008, and William McChesney through 2009;

— Brenda Wood as the supervisor’s clerk;

— Rachel Chase as an assessor’s clerk;

— Cheryl Tefft-Baitsholts as dog-control officer;

— Jon Whitbeck as refuse and recycling officer;

— Arthur McCulloch and Ronald Bates as substitute refuse and recycling officers;

— Irene Olson as historian;

— Martin Lloyd and Anthony Donato as election-machine custodians;

— Rich Amedure to a seven-year term as planning board member.

Other members are David Potter through 2006, Kenneth Storms through 2007, Timothy Lippert through 2008, Larry Bryan through 2009, Allyn Wright through 2010, and Muriel Frasher through 2011;

— Allyn Wright as chair of the planning board;

— Mark Overbaugh as building and zoning officer;

— James Bashwinger to a five-year term on the zoning board.

Other members are William Whitbeck through 2006, James Watkins through 2007, Alfred Stetner through 2008, and Kenneth McCulloch through 2009;

— William Whitbeck as chair of the zoning board;

— Kathleen Hallenbeck as registrar of vital statistics;

— Deidre Andrus as deputy town clerk, collector, and registrar;

— Gail La Plante and Lynette Terell as court clerks;

— Deidre Andrus as records inventory clerk;

— Ronald Bates and Gerald Winans as senior employees; and

— Lamont as engineer for the town;

— The Greenville Press as newspaper; and

— First Niagara as depository.

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