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Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, November 2, 2006

Geldner in R’ville, Guilz in Berne, Hilltown justices running unopposed

By Tyler Schuling

HILLTOWNS — Two town justices are running unopposed Nov. 7 in an off year for local elections.

Victoria H. Geldner is running unopposed for Rensselaerville town justice on the Democratic and Conservative tickets. Berne long-time town justice Richard M. Guilz Sr. is running unopposed on the Democratic ticket for Berne town justice.

Guilz has been a Berne town justice for 22 years.

For two years, he did not serve as one of the two town justices, but was appointed.

A Berne resident since 1971, Guilz, a Democrat, has a high school diploma and a two-year degree from technical school for computer programming.

Guilz is married, has two children, both of whom are living in Berne. He retired in 2001 from Colony Liquor and Wine Distributors in Kingston (Ulster County), after working as office manager for the company for 32 years.

Guilz, a life member of the East Berne Volunteer Fire Company, has been with the fire department for 32 years.

His career as town justice, he said, started in 1982, when the Democratic party chair, who knew of Guilz’s interest in being a councilman, offered him a place to run as a town justice.

Each year, Guilz said, he spends three days retraining and testing.

"In a small town, the populous feels much more comfortable having town justices, as opposed to going to the county or another town, because we know what’s going on in our town," he said.

Job at risk for highway deputy
"Job at risk until deputy super passes test

By Tyler Schuling

RENSSELAERVILLE — Residents here are blaming the town supervisor, Jost Nickelsberg, for something over which he has no control — replacing the highway deputy superintendent.

A petition signed by 244 residents says, "Our supervisor has an issue with all of our present town employees, and especially the highway department. His proposed budget includes the elimination of some town employees’ positions. The supervisor also is trying to replace our deputy’s position, who has been a dedicated employee of our town for 20 years, with someone outside of our town."

In February, the month after Nickelsberg took office, Albany County, which oversees Civil Service appointments, announced an open-competitive exam to fill the position of the town’s deputy superintendent for highways, a post currently held by Earl "David" Potter. Highway Superintendent G. Jon Chase told The Enterprise he first became aware of the Civil Service exam in June, four months later.

At a special meeting, held one week after the petition was brought to the board, Nickelsberg read a letter from the town’s attorney, William Ryan.

"Because the information contained in the petition is erroneous, I thought it would be appropriate to clarify the facts for you," wrote Ryan.

The Albany County Department of Civil Service oversees and enforces the New York State Civil Service Law, and the position of the deputy superintendent is currently classified as competitive under the law.

Following the county’s announcement, Ryan sent a memorandum to the town board, stating that Potter was required to take the Civil Service exam or he would lose his job.

Potter failed to take the exam, but the last open-competitive exam yielded a list of only two qualified individuals from which the town must hire — short of the three required for an eligible list of candidates.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify the misconception that the town supervisor has any control over the appointment of the deputy superintendent of highways. He does not"it is the highway superintendent who appoints the deputy," Ryan’s letter says.

Albany County will be ordering another exam, and Potter must take the exam if he wishes to keep his position. Potter did not return a call from The Enterprise.

Kerri Battle, director of communications for Albany County, said, "We have no evidence [Potter] refused to take the exam."
Potter, she said, will take the exam early 2007.

Two highway workers plan to retire"

Nickelsberg, who ran on a tax-reducing platform, prepared the town’s tentative $2.24 million budget, and has been under fire from some residents; one of the controversial changes proposed in the budget is to cut a full-time highway-department worker.

Many Rensselaerville residents have complained about the condition of town roads this year, and the supervisor has been at odds with the highway superintendent, questioning the costs and competence of the department.

Councilman Gary Chase, a Democrat, son of the highway superintendent, made a motion at the Oct. 16 town board meeting to not lay off a highway employee. The vote was inconclusive.

His motion was supported by the other Democrat on the board and opposed by two of the three Republicans. The third Republican, Councilman J. Robert Lansing, was called on to decide the split vote. Lansing voted no. Councilman Chase, and members of standing-room-only crowd, questioned whether Lansing knew what he had voted on. Jeering residents, frustrated and fed up, began filing out of the hall.

"He didn’t even know what he was voting on," one yelled from the crowd.

Chase persisted.

"We did not adjourn this meeting," Chase yelled.

Chase restated his motion, and Lansing voted in favor.

Whether the motion passed, and whether it was legal, no one knows.

Nickelsberg told The Enterprise this week that the board recently discovered that highway worker Ralph Marsh plans on retiring Jan. 4 this coming year, and that Martin Lloyd, another highway worker, also plans on retiring in July.

Highway Superintendent Chase, when asked about Martin and Marsh retiring from the department, told The Enterprise he had no knowledge of their intentions. Marsh did not return a call from The Enterprise.

"We won’t lay anybody off," Nickelsberg told The Enterprise.

Nickelsberg added that the board still needs to vote on whether or not to lay off the worker, but, he said, "That’s where everybody was last I knew, and that is what it looks like is going to happen." He called the recent decision to not lay off a worker a "gain for everybody."

"There’ll be about a $38,000 reduction in the budget this coming year if we don’t re-appoint anyone once they both retire," he said.

Chase told The Enterprise that, if the board did not re-appoint, should workers in his department retire, roads would not get plowed, and fire calls and buses would be delayed. Chase added that the department, which has 10 workers and the highway superintendent, used to have 12 employees, plus the highway superintendent.

Jersey’s brings home-cooking to Hilltowns

By Tyler Schuling

EAST BERNE — On June 4, Wright’s Delights became Jersey’s, named after a beloved pit bull. Dan Marshall, owner of the dog and the restaurant, said he got into the business because he wanted to provide the community with a place for good food.

"We make normal home-cooking — stuff your grandma or your mom would make," Marshall said.

He believes that most think of Jersey’s solely as an ice-cream store, but, he said, he’s trying to change that. In addition to providing home-cooking, Marshall said, he’s planning on trying more ethnic food nights at the take-out and dine-in restaurant.

The restaurant recently had a Mexican night.

"That was fun," he said. "We’re going to try an ethnic night now and then — Polish, Italian, Vietnamese."

Jersey’s, he said, is also a great place for stories, and many of his customers are locals. Marshall uses a lot of local sources for his ingredients and knows many of his clients.

"There are a lot of hard-working, local people who come in," he said.

Marshall, who lives on Cole Hill Road, grew up in Stillwater (Saratoga County), and moved to Berne in 2001. During the day, he works as an engineer for Industrial Process Design. Between his day job, and running the restaurant, he said, he puts in more than 100 hours a week.

"That’s Wanda, too," he said.

Wanda Williams, who runs the store with Marshall, said she works two other jobs — one as a waitress, the other as a full-time analyst at a power plant.

Marshall said that, throughout his life, he has been involved in the restaurant business "on and off." "Altogether, it’s been probably six years," he said.

Since opening Jersey’s in June, Marshall said, he’s seen a wide spectrum of clients.

"Primarily, we see families. There might be a couple of kids who come in and split an order of fries. Sometimes it’s an older couple. It’s not one specific age range," he said.

As a restaurant-owner, Marshall said, he does all jobs.

His duties, he said, range from cooking in the back, to helping in the front of the restaurant. He also washes dishes and does much of the cooking.

When Marshall and Williams are both in the restaurant, sharing duties, Marshall said, Williams helps customers in the front, and he likes to be in the back, cooking.

"I like making pizza," Marshall said.

A few weeks before he began running the business on his own, he said, the former owners, the Wrights, trained him in the well-established restaurant.

Marshall said he’d like to make a few changes.

One of his goals, he said, is to turn the restaurant’s pavilion — which provides overhead shelter to customers during summer months — into a dining room. Marshall also said that, during the winter, he’s going to make some major menu changes.

Jersey’s has daily lunch and dinner and home-made soup specials.

Jersey’s menu items include: non-alcoholic beverages, rib dinners, wraps, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, chicken tenders, chicken wings, and Hershey’s ice cream, shakes, and sundaes.

Menu items range in price from $2.99, for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, to $33.24 for a 24-cut supreme pizza.


Jersey’s, located at 83 Main St. in East Berne, is open from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday; from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday; and from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. The restaurant is closed Mondays.

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