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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 28, 2006

2006 in review
Plans for continued growth in Guilderland

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — The town has grown according to plan in 2006.

Although several public hearings were held throughout the year and some spot-zoning changes were granted, Guilderland has abided by its comprehensive plans as the expanding suburban town continues to cope with growth.

A massive $100 million development project named Glass Works Village is being proposed for a 52-acre wooded plot along Route 20 and Winding Brook Drive, and, further down the road, local developer Jeff Thomas has proposed construction of a large 72-unit senior housing project at the old Bavarian Chalet.

Town Historian Alice Begley worked with developers on the name Glass Works Village in honor of Guilderland’s glass-making history. Thomas donated roughly 4,000 square feet of his proposed project to the town for a community senior citizen center, in exchange for the town board re-zoning the area for the project.

As the town moves forward, Supervisor Kenneth Runion said, "new urbanism" designs of mixed-use residential and commercial projects like Glass Works appear to be the "future trend" when it comes to development in the area.

The concept of new urbanism created a "village-like" atmosphere where there is less dependence on automobiles and more walkable communities mixed with green space and development.

The town also saw its share of high-profile legal cases this year which garnered local, statewide, and even national attention. A Chinese scientist living in Westmere was charged by the federal government with international arms trading, but the government later withdrew the charges; illegal immigrants were detained from a pallet company in the Northeastern Industrial Park during a nationwide raid; Hashim Burnell was tried and re-tried for the shooting death of Todd Pianowski and found guilty before being sentenced to life in prison without parole; and three University at Albany freshmen football players were arrested for an alleged gang rape that took place on-campus — an incident which school administrators described as "unacceptable."

Also, Guilderland was at the center of a city-versus-suburbs struggle when it came to state and county Democratic representation.

Assemblyman John McEneny and New Scotland Democratic Chair Connie Burns challenged Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings and Albany city Treasurer Betty Barnette to state Democratic committee seats; McEneny and Barnette won and will help pick New York’s Democratic candidate for president in 2008.

Guilderland councilman and Democratic chair, David Bosworth, ran against the county legislator’s majority leader, Frank Commisso, for Albany County’s Democratic chair; Bosworth lost but the state’s Supreme Court ruled last week that the election is illegal and a new election must now take place.

After two years in court, Republican Lee Carman won the contested county legislature race of 2004 against incumbent Gene Messercola for the Fort Hunter district in a 510-to-508 vote. A federal court judge ruled that the final two absentee ballots being contested should be opened, and they were both in favor of Carman.

In town news, changes in Albany County’s Civil Service practices frightened some workers about losing their jobs in January, but only one worker from the assessors’ office actually lost her job due to new testing requirements. Supervisor Runion said all of the town’s workers have now passed all requirements and no more jobs will be lost.

The Pine Bush Preserve, which is bordered by the Rapp Road landfill, was also in the news this year as the city of Albany attempted to expand the dump into land that had previously been dedicated to the preserve. The landfill will be filled to capacity in three to eight years; another landfill site in Coeymans was halted due to federally protected wetlands.

The Rapp Road landfill was fined this summer by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation for litter violations and obnoxious odors coming from decomposing waste.

"We’re currently bringing our trailers there, but we have looked at other alternatives and will continue to look at other alternatives," Runion said about bringing municipal trash to the Rapp Road landfill. "We all have to be good stewards of the land whether it’s a transfer station or landfill, you still have to do it in an environmentally sensitive way."

Guilderland was the only municipality that pays to dump at the landfill which opposed expanding into the Pine Bush preserve.

Developing Guilderland

The Glass Works Village proposal will include 345 condominiums with 195,000 square-feet of retail and commercial space, a village green, a nature preserve, and three parks on 57 acres off of Winding Brook Drive and Western Avenue.

"It’s the largest project this present town board has seen," Runion told The Enterprise. "Only Crossgates was bigger," he said of the town’s dominant mall that draws shoppers from throughout the Northeast.

In comparison, the first phase of Crossgates Mall’s construction in the 1980’s was an $80 million project and the second phase of mall’s expansion was a $100 million project, according to Runion.

Atlantic Pacific Properties, Platform Reality Group, and DRA of Troy, are proposing the Glass Works Village.

The proposal came in May less than a week after a workshop was held at the Guilderland firehouse, giving residents a chance to participate in the planning for the future of a strip along Route 20.

The workshop defined the "Guilderland Hamlet" as stretching between routes 155 and 146 along Western Avenue, and surrounding areas south to the Normanskill and north to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

"I think that’s the trend"It’s part of the smart growth advocated by the state in the late ’90’s," said Runion, calling these types of development, "walkable communities."

Construction plans for Glass Works call for 200,000 tons of material to be excavated from the 52-acre wooded plot, and a draft environmental review has been given to the town by developers, which will be reviewed by town board members for compliance before being made available to the public in January.

The Guilderland Hamlet plan is also well underway with many ideas for the stretch of Western Avenue between routes 155 and 146.

The plan suggests installing sidewalks along sections of Western Avenue, Route 146, Winding Brook Drive, and Willow Street.

The preliminary plan also calls for a number of biking and hiking trails that would connect the parks with neighborhoods and surrounding areas. A footpath along the Normanskill would connect Nott Road Park to Tawasentha Park.

Jeff Thomas’s senior housing project at 5060 Western Ave. was given a conditional re-zone — but only for seniors over the age of 55. In addition, Thomas had to donate a minimum of 4,000 square feet to the town for a community center as well as install sidewalks along the road.

The re-zone changed the 13-acre site of the old Bavarian Chalet restaurant from Local Business to Multiple Residence. This will allow for denser development.

According to the developers, the average housing price in Guilderland is around $267,000 and, they said, Thomas’s senior housing units would likely be priced at around $220,000.

Runion said he considers the project, called Mill Hollow, to be affordable housing for seniors.

The project calls for 86 units, along with a pond, greenspace, and possibly a putting green. The senior homes will be 1,200-square-foot two-bedroom condominiums, stacked above one another. More than 80 will have garages.

The Western Avenue entrance to the senior-housing project off of Route 20 will be rerouted to Frenchs Mill Road, Thomas said.

In November the planning board approved the site plan review for Mill Hollow.

"It’s a great design," said Thomas. "It has a village feel."

He hopes to begin construction in 2007, he said.

Thomas, who is the founder and head of WeatherGuard Roofing, has three separate senior housing projects in the works, including the Western Avenue project. The other two are in the Hilltowns and just outside of Altamont.

Runion told The Enterprise last week that senior housing projects are becoming more frequent as an aging baby-boomer population begins to retire and people begin moving out of their larger homes in search of more manageable living spaces.

He added that he likes Thomas’s plans and believes many more projects likes Thomas’s will be proposed in the near future.


Some spot zoning also took place in town in 2006.

The re-zones changed 2026 and 2028 Western Ave., where a new Italian restaurant is opening, from Local Business to Business Non-Retail Professional (BN-RP). The areas within the Normanskill Flood Plain, near Church Road, were also re-zoned from RO-40, a residential zone with a minimum size of 40,000 square feet, to RA-3, a zone which is meant to promote low-impact development patterns to conserve natural resources.

The re-zones will limit future commercial development at the Western Avenue locations and increase the minimum lot size from one to three acres for development in the flood plain.

During public hearings, neighbors called for the re-zoning along Western Avenue because they said it was affecting their quality of life and they believed it was being over developed. Landowners affected by the flood plain complained to the board that the re-zone would affect the commercial and residential price of their land because of the development constants involved.

After all of the public discussions were finished, the town board re-zoned the areas.

Some small-business owners banded together in February to fight what they described as an "anti-business" government in Guilderland.

James Ryer, president of Techniconsults Corporation in Cosmos Plaza at 1800 Western Ave., said he was threatened with citations and a court appearance over a small sandwich-board sign he put up in front of his computer store.

In response, he founded a group called the Coalition for Guilderland Small Businesses, which had monthly meetings to discuss various topics.

The town does not allow sandwich-board signs or any signs not approved by the zoning board.

Runion said letting businesses use these types of signs to advertise a sale or event would turn Western Avenue into a "landscape of signs" and signs would get bigger and bigger and quickly become out of control.

Ryer maintained that the town’s zoning laws were too restrictive on small businesses simply trying to make a living.

As for the town’ zoning board, while most votes are unanimous, several controversial cases saw rare split votes during the year. Among the most noteworthy decisions:

— A 4-to-3 vote denied the Across the Street Pub a special-use permit to build a deck;

— A 6-to-1 vote approved three variances for an Italian restaurant to be built at 2026 Western Avenue;

— A unanimous decision denied Insurance Auto Auctions to store and sell total-loss vehicles out of the Northeastern Industrial Park, determining it would be a junkyard;

— A unanimous decision granted a special-use permit for Gordon Development to be a self-storage facility off of Wagner Road in Guilderland Center;

— A unanimous decision amended the special-use permit of McDonald’s on Western Avenue to have a 24-hour drive through; and

— A 5-to-1 vote reinstated the building permit of David and Loretta Cox after they were erroneously granted the permit and were issued a stop-work order on construction after they had already torn a part of their Frenchs Hollow Road home for an addition.

Railroad Avenue, which borders the city of Albany, was designated as an Empire Zone by New York State this year. The industrial area will now have access to state subsidies to entice businesses to come back to the area.

The road, which is already zoned industrial, has many closed buildings, abandoned after the trains stopped running through.

High-profile immigration cases

A national raid in April conducted by the Department of Homeland Security saw the arrest of nine Capital Region managers, five of whom worked at the Northeastern Industrial Park in Guilderland.

The nine were all arrested in connection with knowingly hiring illegal immigrants to work in the area.

The 14-month investigation by the Department of Homeland Security began in Guilderland after workers at the industrial park were seen ripping up their W-2 tax forms, according to a government affidavit.

According to authorities, IFCO Systems North America, a German-based pallet-service company, was raided in sites across the country because the company hired thousands of illegal immigrants.

A score of the illegal immigrants working at the industrial park’s IFCO plant at the time lived in two separate houses in Guilderland — one on Western Avenue and the other on Route 155.

"We want to get back working, that’s why we’re here," a 23-year-old man from Honduras told The Enterprise, through a translator. "Our families back home depend on our money."

IFCO took $50 directly from the men’s paychecks each week to pay for the homes they were living in. They made 30 cents for each wooden pallet they rebuilt and five men lived on each floor of the two-family house on Route 155.

The nine managers of IFCO employees were charged with "conspiring to transport, harbor, encourage and induce illegal aliens to reside in the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain." The charges carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each alien, according to a statement released by the Department of Homeland Security.

The immigrants said they heard about the Guilderland jobs in Texas when they crossed the border and that they were asked if they had proper documentation, but were told that, if they did not, they would still be hired.

The homes where the men used to live are currently up for sale.

In another immigration-related story, Jun Wang, 36, was accused in March of "conspiring to defraud the United States" by selling military munitions to China. The government considered him a danger to the community.

A microbiologist who grew up in China, Wang was shipping palm-sized reference systems made by Crossbow Technology Inc. to China. The devices were described by the government during the first detention hearings as a weapons-grade system.
They were determined later not to be weapons grade, but, rather, were used in aviation research. Wang said at the time he was sending them to his brother in China because they were cheaper to buy in the United States than in China.

Wang was taken into custody at his home on March 17 by federal and state agents.

"I heard a loud banging at the front door"My wife went downstairs first, and then people rushed into my bedroom," Wang told The Enterprise. "They pointed a gun at me and told me to turn around"I was in my underwear."

Wang said he wasn’t allowed to get dressed and wasn’t told why he being arrested for several hours, he said.

His lawyer, Kevin Luibrand, said the government "destroyed a good portion of his life."

Wang was then held at several county jails before being sent to the Batavia Federal Detention Center, near Buffalo. He was held in government custody for nearly a month before he was allowed to go home.

Losing his job shortly after being indicted on federal charges, Wang’s employer said he was fired because of "misusing his computer at work" by looking at ESPN, a sports network, during working hours.

As a result Wang lost his working visa and faced deportation.

In April, Wang was home, after the government acknowledged its mistake, and a federal judge eased the bond restrictions that were originally placed on him.

The Wangs live on a residential street not far from Crossgates Mall, and have a baby daughter. They both said they love America and that they did not want to be deported.

When asked, after he was home, about the whole incident, Wang responded by saying, "My mood is up and down. Sometimes I say, ‘Why did this happen"’ Then I look at my baby and say, ‘Wow! At least I have her in my life.’"

Guilty verdict

A trial this year revealed the little-seen world of small-time drug dealers in suburban Guilderland. One former Guilderland High School student, Hashim Burnell, was found guilty of murdering another, Todd Pianowski.

After a mistrial in May due to newly admitted fingerprint evidence by State Police nearly a year after the crime, Burnell was found guilty in September of killing Pianowski on May 5, 2005, and robbing his girlfriend, Lauren Parker, at gunpoint.

It took the jury 11 hours to deliberate over the course of two days and he was sentenced in November by Albany County Judge Steven W. Herrick.

Burnell, 21, got the maximum sentence of life in prison without parole for shooting Todd Pianowski to death in his Guilderland apartment. He was also sentenced to serve another consecutive 25 years for robbing Parker.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Bruce Lennard, who depicted Burnell as a desperate drug dealer who needed cash in a hurry and saw Pianowski, whom he knew through various drug deals, as an easy target. Paul Edwards, the lawyer appointed to defend Burnell, said his client was simply the wrong man, and that he had no motive because his father gave him money and he lived with a girlfriend who also had financial backing from her parents.

The Burnell and Pianowski families expressed frustration and emotion throughout the lengthy ordeal.

At the sentencing, Pianowski’s parents describing their son as a loving, caring man who was just beginning to embark upon life and that he was robbed of his future and taken away from them. The Pianowski’s thanked the court as well as the Guilderland Police and the State Police for their work on the investigation.

Parker told Burnell that she hated him. Describing him as "a monster," Parker stated she hoped Burnell would die in jail alone; she wept as she spoke about how much she missed Pianowski.

Brunell’s family said he didn’t kill Pianowski and blamed the Guilderland Police for a poor investigation and using teenagers as drug informants instead of taking drugs off the streets.

The Burnells vowed to appeal the verdict.

Suburban shift

Guilderland Democrats are beginning to make a name for themselves on the county level.

Councilman David Bosworth challenged Frank Commisso, who is an Albany ward leader and business manager of Albany’s Port Authority, for the leadership of the county’s Democratic party.

Bosworth lost to Commisso in a 253 to 219 "standing vote" at the Polish Community Center in Albany. Proxies, which are essentially absentee ballots, were not accepted.

Betty Barnette was the former county chair, who took over after Mike Burns died, and she ran the party election in September.

The challenge for the chair was the first in the more than 80-year history of the county’s party. It is usually an appointed position. An apparent urban-verses-suburban rift has begun between Albany city Democrats and Albany County suburban and rural Democrats.

There have been claims of inequality and uncooperative participation from party members on both sides of the argument.

With over 600 people at the Polish Community Center in Albany, Barnette who decided to step down as chairperson, had committee members stand to vote rather than taking a roll-call or weighted vote.

A roll-call vote, where members individually walk to the front of the room and announce their choice, was asked for, but, in accordance with the county’s bylaws, one-third of committee members had to vote on its use. The measure was defeated by a handful of votes and Barnette called for a vote where members stand for their favored candidate.

Some party members called the procedure "undemocratic," recommending legal action, or calling for a re-vote.

A weighted vote uses the last gubernatorial or legislative election numbers of enrolled Democratic votes for the Democratic candidate.

Last Thursday, New York State Supreme Court Justice, Thomas McNamara, ruled that the county election was invalid and that a weighted vote has to be used in accordance with the county’s bylaws.

McNamara, a Republican from Saratoga, took the case after two previous judges recused themselves.

The weighted vote is now based on Elliot Spitzer’s 2006 gubernatorial election, and the new numbers, according to Colonie committee member Dick Barrett, favor the suburban Democrats of Albany County 2 to 1 verses the city Democrats.

2006 in Altamont
Comprehensive plan, new water source, SOP for police and Sunoco arrives

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALTAMONT — This year saw the creation of an updated comprehensive plan for the village, the near completion of a new water source, some changes in the police department, and a tough transition for a village landmark.

The village board began 2006 by hiring a planner and ended the year receiving a copy of the final comprehensive plan, now awaiting approval. Chaired by Trustee Dean Whalen, the committee surveyed village residents and business owners through mailings and meetings to gauge community needs and desires.

Some parts of the plan might not be possible, Whalen said, when asked how much of the plan he expected would be implemented. He added, " We have to look at at least 50 percent of the things in the next couple of years." Zoning, the business district, and the noise ordinance are things that are important to act on soon, he said.

The gray water pilot project is one item that Whalen identified as probably being cost prohibitive. The idea behind the project is to connect a pipe system to buildings in the village to collect "gray" water — washing water rather than sewage — to be used elsewhere rather than treating it like waste water.

Also listed in the green-initiatives section of the plan is support for geothermal systems in municipal buildings, an idea that Whalen thinks might be more feasible. Geothermal heating and cooling is a method that involves drilling into the earth, to reach a depth that remains a constant 55 degrees, and running water through the system so that the stable 55-degree temperature is transferred to the water.

In the winter, setting the thermostat at 65 degrees would require only energy enough to heat the water 10 degrees, rather than, like a traditional system, heating air that comes in at 20 degrees to 65, he said, as an example, and cooling is almost free.

Of the 44-page plan with 71 pages of appendices, Whalen said, "It has a lot of broad-stroke references and reminders and dreams."


Altamont made headway on its two-part plan for improving water availability in the village this year. The first phase of the project, getting the recently-purchased Brandle Road well connected to the municipal system, is nearly completed. The second part involves replacing parts of the water-distribution system, some of which are over a century old.

To help pay for the $2.5 million project and ease the burden on taxpayers, the village board and Mayor James Gaughan proposed a fee of $2,500 per unit for each new residential unit hooking into the new Brandle Road water system. The board voted to implement the fee at the village board meeting in March.

The village closed on the Brandle Road property on April 25, after reaching a settlement with Michael and Nancy Trumpler. The year before, in April of 2005, the Trumplers filed papers in Albany County Supreme Court, seeking to get out of a contract to sell their land to the village and asking for a judge to rule on its validity. The Trumplers objected to Altamont’s plans to give water to developer Jeff Thomas, for a senior housing project outside the village. The amount of water available to the village’s own residents is insufficient, the Trumplers argued, and their intent had been for the water to go to the village.

Thomas has proposed a 72-unit senior-housing complex, also on Brandle Road, to draw water from the village.

The Trumplers didn’t sue for any money. In the April settlement, the village paid $225,000 to the Trumplers for five acres for the well, plus 32 adjacent acres to be preserved for Michael Trumpler’s lifetime.

In August, the village asked for easements from property owners along Brandle Road so that the pipe line could connect the well to the water system; it offered to waive the hook-up fee as an incentive to gain easements. Mayor Gaughan said that the village would go ahead with its plan regardless of whether it got waivers from all the residents; it would cut into the roadway in front of the properties that didn’t grant an easement. He began having monthly meetings with the village’s engineer and Thomas this summer "to keep him apprised of where we are, so we can move in lockstep," he said.

Workers began laying the pipe to connect the well this month and Mayor Gaughan expects that the project will be completed by mid-February.


A harassment complaint started the year for the Altamont Police Department.

Colin Abele, a clerk at Ketchum’s lodged a complaint that officer Joshua M. Davenport harassed him at his job in the convenience store and threatened to write him tickets for speeding violations he hadn’t committed.

After looking into the complaint, Altamont’s public safety commissioner, Anthony Salerno, said, "Some things have been substantiated" They have been addressed," although he declined to say what was substantiated and how it was addressed. Davenport was suspended for a week and was then reinstated.

On Sept. 22, after having been suspended for a second time, Davenport wrote a letter of resignation that said: "I release the Village of Altamont and any and all of its employees from any claim or claims against them which I may have had."

In March, Terri Gockley made a complaint to the village board about Salerno. A single mother of two and a teacher at Guilderland High School, Gockley claimed that Salerno was responsible for "excessive and bullying treatment" of her and her son.

Her major concern was over Salerno’s conduct during his arrest of her 18 year old son at an under-age drinking party. She also mentioned several other instances of more minor harassment of her son by the village’s commissioner of public safety.

A committee concluded that "the conduct of the commissioner was proper," according to Mayor James Gaughan. He and Trustee Kerry Dineen were the only members of the committee. The village board accepted a resolution to that effect.

Salerno presented the board with a Standard Operating Procedures guide this year, which he created from "disks" that were part of a national set of guidelines, he said. Although Altamont doesn’t have a sergeant, lieutenant, or investigator, the duties assigned to those positions are laid out in detail in the manual and referred to regularly throughout it. Salerno said that the village should prepare for growth.

The board adopted the procedures in a split vote; Trustee Harvey Vlahos, who raised some concerns about the manual, was the only dissenter.

Ketchum’s changes hands

The convenience store and gas station that served as a village hang-out stirred controversy this summer when long-time owners Sarah and Thomas Ketchum sold their store to a Connecticut-based company.

Altamont Petroleum, which bought the store in July, is a special-purpose entity created by GRGH at the request of its mortgaging bank, American Community Bank, according to Matthew Sgambettera, the company’s lawyer. Altamont Petroleum was created "specifically for this particular station," he said. Though this is the only station that Altamont Petroleum owns, GRGH owns 22 gas stations in New York, as well as stations in New Hampshire, Maine, and Connecticut.

Originally, GRGH had David Singh, a 20-year employee of the company, acting as the manager of the store, but, "The community just didn’t want him," said 10-year Ketchum’s employee, Stacy Deligan, in August.

"Honestly, I think it was a little bit of people being prejudiced and a lot of the way Dave was with customers," said Michael Dingman of why he thought Singh left and GRGH offered Dingman oversight of the store, he took the reigns of the 10-year lease officially on Oct. 1.

Cousins stabbed in knife fight at mall

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Two cousins were taken to the hospital after a knife fight in Crossgates Mall on Christmas, according to Guilderland Police.

Police responded to a report of a stabbing outside of the Café Court entrance at the mall around 10 p.m. on Dec. 25.

Officers arrived to find a 20-year old male from Albany who had a stab wound to his leg and a laceration to his hand, and a 16-year-old male from Syracuse who had a laceration to his back, according to the police report.

The two are cousins, police say, and were transported to Albany Medical Center Hospital where they were treated for non-life threatening wounds.

No arrests have been made yet and the investigation is ongoing, said Sergeant Gary W. Lee of the Guilderland Police; police have not released the names of the cousins. He added that those involved with investigation have been "very cooperative."

When police arrived, the 20-year-old male was bleeding heavily from the puncture wound to his leg, Lee said.

The attacks were not gang-related, said Lee, but the result of a verbal fight between two women before the men’s assaults occurred.

"A half hour before the incident, two women were yelling at each other and they then called some family members to the mall," Lee told The Enterprise yesterday.

The police are looking to press second-degree assault charges but are unsure of the number of people who were actually involved in the fight, said Lee.

When people began to arrive at the mall, following calls from the two women, Lee said, that’s when things got out of control.

"It wasn’t a gang-related incident in the sense of Bloods and Cripts. It was gang-related by definition of involving more than just two people fighting," Lee said. "After they called some people in to the mall, the situation simply exploded."

People on both sides of the fight confronted each other and began to physically fight by the vestibule next to the Café Court doors, police said.

No weapons were found at the scene and the investigation is continuing, according to police.

Shirt gives away parolee for stealing truck

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — A distinctive sweatshirt led to a second arrest for a parolee who walked away from a drug treatment program and then stole a truck before going to Crossgates Mall and stealing a store’s cash deposit, Guilderland Police say.

Robert T. Rivera, 46, of 74 Ferry St., first floor, Troy, was arrested on Friday, Dec. 22, for third-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree grand larceny, both felonies, and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor, according to a release from the police.

Police say that a person matching Rivera’s description, wearing an Averill Park Softball hooded sweatshirt, was spotted on Dec. 22 in the Capitol Lodge parking lot on Western Avenue, where a 2005 Dodge pickup truck was reported stolen.

Later that day, Guilderland Police received a call from a store in the mall that Rivera was in their custody after he had stolen the store’s cash deposit, the release says. After police took Rivera into custody, they say he admitted to stealing the deposit and he was taken to the Guilderland Police station for further investigation.

Once at the station, Rivera then admitted that he used stolen money to buy the North Face jacket he was wearing, and, when Rivera took off the coat, police say they discovered that he was wearing an Averill Park Softball hooded sweatshirt, described by a witness at Capitol Lodge.

Police discovered keys to the 2005 Dodge pickup truck in Rivera’s possession and he admitted to police that he stole the truck earlier that day, and that he used money from the truck’s glove compartment to buy the coat, according to the release.

Rivera was arraigned by a Guilderland Town Judge John Bailey who remanded him to Albany County’s jail without bail, police say.

The release also says that Rivera in on parole for a drug offense until 2009.

Altamont election
Marshall pegged as running mate

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALTAMONT — Two seats on the village board are up for grabs come March, and long-time incumbent William Aylward is not only running for re-election — he has chosen a running mate who is new to politics.

Trustee Harvey Vlahos holds the other seat. He did not return calls this week. Vlahos, who runs a marketing communications firm and operates Altamont Manor, waged an unsuccessful run for mayor in a four-way race two years ago but returned to his seat as trustee. He has often been at odds with other board members.

Mayor James Gaughan paired Aylward with Chris Marshall to run together on the Concerned Citizens ticket, Aylward said. "He let the both of us know that we might be approachable to each other," Marshall said.

Aylward, who is currently an Albany County Legislator as well as a village trustee, has held elected posts since he was elected as mayor of Altamont in 1971. A retired Guilderland social studies teacher, he’s served as Guilderland’s supervisor, Altamont’s mayor, and trustee. While village candidates do not run on traditional party lines, Aylward was elected to the legislature and as Guilderland’s supervisor on the Democratic ticket.

If elected, Marshall would be the first person to serve on the board from the suburban Kushaqua development. She would represent the interests of the whole village, she said, not just the developments, but "being from there might add a different viewpoint," she said. One of the things she would most like to see is the developments being better incorporated into village life, which could be something as simple as adding sidewalks, she said.

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Marshall moved to the Albany area when she got a job in the state Civil Service Division. She’s lived in Altamont for the last 20 years.

"I have a great affection for the village," she said of why she’s running, adding, "I’m excited about the direction that the mayor is moving in."

Mayor Gaughan was elected with Trustee Kerry Dineen, both newcomers to politics, in 2005 on the Altamont First slate. Vlahos, who had been a trustee since 2003, ran for mayor with architect Dean Whalen for trustee.

Both Aylward and Marshall cited the comprehensive plan as the biggest issue for the upcoming year. Trustee Vlahos served on the committee that drafted the plan.

Conserving natural resources topped Marshall’s list of the most important things in the plan; she thought that bringing a supermarket and fast-food chains to the village were on the more far-fetched end of recommendations from the plan.

Aylward named recreation opportunities as the most important aspect of the comprehensive plan, also saying that development and zoning were important. One of the less likely suggestions in the plan that Aylward named was the gray water system, which would connect a pipe system to buildings in the village to collect "gray" water — washing water rather than sewage — to be used elsewhere rather than treating it like waste water.

The two candidates will start collecting signatures on Jan. 2, the first day that they are allowed to do so. They must collect 50 names and have the petitions submitted by the week of Feb. 6 to 13, according to Jean LaCrosse, the village clerk.

The only other village office up for election on March 20 is village judge, a seat currently held by Rebecca Morse-Hout.

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