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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 8, 2007

Elderly on the move

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Voorheesville school buses, usually reserved for children, will be picking up elderly residents at their homes to transport them to social functions, starting this month.

The town of New Scotland was awarded a $5,000 Health, Maintenance, Socialization, and Recreation Grant in December from Albany County, said Susan Kidder, the senior liaison for the town, who applied for the grant.

Kidder said that she, along with a group of volunteers, called around to the churches, the American Legion, the historical society, fire companies, the village, and the Boy Scouts in New Scotland in order to put together a list of upcoming events.

Hundreds of things are on the list, Kidder said. "We tried to do events only in the town of New Scotland," she said.

The town will use the grant money to rent buses and drivers from the Voorheesville School District, which was approved by the school board at its December meeting. The bus rental fee is $1.06 per mile, and $22.50 per hour for the driver, Kidder told The Enterprise.

Kidder is referring to the program as "The Yellow Bus," and she says it is a great chance for seniors to get to community events without having to drive themselves, or find a driver.

The $5,000, Kidder said, is about a third of what the town applied for. To compensate, she cut back on some of the services. She had originally hoped to offer one trip to a grocery store and three to four social events per month, but is now offering one or two social events per month, she said.

"We will accept donations," she added.

The events are based on the needs and requests of the seniors, Kidder said, adding that the interest in the grocery trip was minimal.

"I’m truly hoping people will utilize this," she said. "We have a lot of seniors calling and asking for transportation."

The town simply can’t afford a transportation department. "We have no money for that type of thing," she said.

"We do need some sort of transportation for our seniors," Kidder explained, adding that the agreement with the school district is a great start.

"The buses won’t sit idle," she said.

Seniors interested in learning more about the program, or an event being offered, can call Kidder at town hall at 439-9038, she said. She is asking interested seniors to leave a message including the names, addresses, and phone numbers of those interested, what event they are interested in, the number of people interested, and if someone is needed to help them to and from the bus.

Upcoming events in February include the Voorheesville American Legion Post Steak Roast on Feb. 18, at a cost of $15 per person; and a fish fry at the New Salem firehouse on Feb. 23, at a cost of $7 per person. And, on March 24, the bus will transport interested seniors to the Capital District Garden and Flower Show at Hudson Valley Community College, which will cost $7 per person.

In April, there will be another fish fry at the New Salem firehouse on April 6, at a cost of $7 per person; and the Clarkesville Community Reformed Church roast beef supper will be held on April 7, the cost has not yet been determined. The Jerusalem Reformed Church in Feura Bush will have a ham dinner on May 5, at a cost of $8.50 per person; and the Memorial Parade in Voorheesville will be held on May 26. The last scheduled event will be held on June 26, it will be a farmers market at the First United Methodist Church in Delmar.

Billboards publicizing the program have been made through donations from local businesses and Voorheesville students and will be posted in each of the town’s five hamlets, Kidder said.

Kidder said the yellow bus program will be a great opportunity for New Scotland seniors to show the need for a transportation system within the town.

Bad health" Reader leaves for ‘medical reasons’

By Rachel Dutil

VOORHEESVILLE – Tenured music teacher Charles Reader has resigned "for various medical reasons," according to an agreement signed by Reader; Superintendent Linda Langevin; and Kathy Fiero, president of the Voorheesville Teachers’ Association.

The agreement, dated Jan. 19, 2007, was in sharp contrast to a Dec. 21 letter Langevin wrote to Reader, placing him on administrative leave. The letter cites a pending investigation "into a new allegation that you have engaged in inappropriate conduct with a student of the District."

The Enterprise obtained both documents from the school district last Friday after filing Freedom of Information Law requests on Jan. 3 and Jan. 29.

Last week, before the newspaper had documents indicating alleged misconduct, school board president David Gibson told The Enterprise that Reader "had sick time that he’s using; it’s not like we’re giving him a half-year off."

Langevin had said Reader was on paid leave until June 30.

Reader’s total salary for the 2006-07 school year is $54,831.90, with a bi-weekly salary of $2,108.92.

The agreement also says that the district will write a "neutral" reference for Reader if he seeks employment elsewhere.

The neutral recommendation would not be unfair to another school district, Langevin told The Enterprise.

The allegation of "inappropriate conduct" was not of a criminal nature, Langevin said. She would not comment on whether she believed the allegation was false.

Reader could not be reached for comment.

The agreement was put together by the school district’s lawyer, along with Reader’s New York State United Teachers attorney, Langevin told The Enterprise. She had a meeting with Reader, and, "It was what he wanted to do," she said of his decision to resign.

Reader, who has taught music with the Voorheesville school district since the start of the 1997-98 school year, "was an excellent teacher, well liked by his students," Fiero told The Enterprise last week.

Reader also led the school band and was the manager of the Performing Arts Center, Langevin said.

"He created a lot of enthusiasm for students to participate in the band," Fiero said last week.

The school board unanimously accepted Reader’s resignation at a budget meeting on Jan. 22.

The circumstances surrounding the allegation about Reader and his resignation, Langevin said, are "different" than with Robert Crandall, a tenured physical education teacher and coach.

Four charges of misconduct and inappropriate behavior were substantiated in October against Crandall, after more than two years of paid suspension, while the state-required hearing process dragged on. The hearing officer ruled that dismissal was not appropriate, and instead suspended Crandall without pay for 60 days. He is now back at work in the high school – writing curriculum rather than teaching.

School Board Vice President C. James Coffin couldn’t recall any specific tenured teachers who resigned during his 17 years on the board, but said, "We’ve had other resignations."

Coffin was not aware of the inappropriate conduct allegation, he said. The resignation "was his choice," Coffin said. "Life goes on. We’ll fill the vacancy and move on."

The agreement

Fiero told The Enterprise that it is her job "to look out for my members’ best interest." When she signed the agreement between Reader and the district, Fiero said that she had Reader’s best interest in mind.

"I think it was best for him," she said of Reader’s decision to leave the Voorheesville district.

"He has a great passion for music and is a well-liked teacher. I expect that he will continue to teach – just not at Voorheesville," Fiero said last week.

"For various medical reasons Charles Reader will be unable to resume his teaching duties with the School District for the remainder of the 2006-2007 school year," the statement begins.

The resignation becomes effective June 30, 2007; Reader will be on paid leave through that date, the document says. He will not be permitted to show up for work or to be present on school grounds, unless he receives prior written permission from the superintendent, it says.

By signing the statement, Reader also agreed to not contact any students of the district "in any manner" between the date of the signed agreement and his effective resignation date.

"This period of paid leave shall be designated as a leave under the Family Medical Leave Act," the agreement says. The district will provide Reader with health insurance benefits through the end of August.

The school district and Reader agreed, "to seal Charles Reader’s personnel file, except upon his reapplication for employment to the District, to respond to a claim, suit or other action commenced by Charles Reader, or as otherwise required by law," the document reads. And, "both parties agree that this matter shall remain strictly confidential to the extent provided by law," it says.

Langevin told The Enterprise that she thinks the agreement was the best option for both Reader and the district under the circumstances. "It was agreed that this was in everyone’s best interest," she said.

"He was a good teacher when he was here," she added.

To finish out the school year, some part-time music teachers have extended their hours, and retired music teacher Lydia Tobler has agreed to teach in reader’s place, Langevin told The Enterprise last week. A new teacher will be hired for the start of next school year, she said.

"It’s nothing cataclysmic," Coffin said. "We’ll find someone else."

Development looms on the southwestern horizon

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Development has been a steady pressure for the northeast corner of town, and may now be looming on the horizon for the southwestern part of town as well.

Peter Schaming lives on Gulf Hill Road in Berne, bordering the town of New Scotland. He has submitted an application to the town for a subdivision of a 90-acre land-locked parcel in New Scotland owned by Katherine Barber.

The subdivision would create two lots – one 35 acres and the other 55 acres.

Schaming hopes to purchase the 35-acre piece, and combine it with the 5.6 acres that he currently owns and lives on, creating a buffer between his property and a possible development on Barber’s land.

Barber owns about 320 acres among four parcels in New Scotland.

She plans to combine the parcels, along with adjacent parcels owned by other members of her family into one large piece, and then sell it to a developer, Schaming said.

He doesn’t believe that any offers have been made, but he has been in contact with Barber, and her intentions are to sell the land to a developer as one large property, he told The Enterprise.

Barber, who lives in Washington State, could not be reached for comment.

Schaming said Barber’s family owns around 600 acres between the towns of Berne and New Scotland. The land was purchased by Barber’s grandfather during the Depression, he said.

The 90-acre parcel which Schaming wants to subdivide is assessed at $116,700. It is classified as abandoned agricultural land, meaning that, at one time, the property was used for farming, said Julie Nooney, the town’s assessor.

Schaming hopes to plant a small orchard on the land he wants to buy, and leave the rest of the land undeveloped woodland, he said.

The planning board passed along a favorable recommendation to the zoning board; a public hearing is scheduled for the zoning board’s Feb. 27 meeting.

Other business

In other business, at recent planning and zoning board meetings:

– The boards heard an application for a three-lot subdivision proposed by Karen Spinelli for her property located on Krum Kill Road. One of the lots would contain a pre-existing barn, which is not allowed.

The property lies within the residential conservation (R2) and medium-density residential (MDR) districts, where a secondary structure – which the barn is considered to be – is not permitted without a primary structure. Spinelli plans to restore the barn and transform it into a residential dwelling.

The planning board passed a favorable recommendation for the application on to the zoning board, which will hold a public hearing at its Feb. 27 meeting;

– The boards heard an application submitted by Stephen and Rada Jones for an area variance to subdivide their property on Indian Fields Road into four lots. The property falls in the residential agricultural (RA) district, where a minimum front setback of 70 feet on a state road is required.

One lot would have a pre-existing dwelling with a front setback of 66 feet, and another lot would have a pre-existing accessory structure with a front setback of 50 feet.

The planning board passed along a favorable recommendation to the zoning board, but asked that the Joneses provide a more detailed map at the Feb. 27 meeting, when a public hearing is also scheduled;

– The zoning board adjourned a public hearing for two variance applications submitted by Sterling Lawrence on behalf of the First Assembly Church of God located on Krum Kill Road, in a medium-density residential (MDR) district. One variance would allow a detached sign, and the other would allow the sign to be illuminated. The zoning allows for not more than two signs with a total sign area of not more than 12 square feet each, and does not allow signs to be illuminated.

The board recommended that Lawrence get a photo-metrics analysis to determine the amount of illumination the sign would generate, and bring it to the board for the Feb. 27 meeting;

– The planning board heard an application for a two-lot subdivision submitted by David Moreau for his 33.8-acre property on Youmans Road. The property is located within a commercial district, and therefore, subdivision applications must go before the planning board.

Moreau was told by the town’s engineer, Keith Menia, that he would need to file an ammended master plan for his property with the county, since he has subdivided his property numerous times since the storm-water management regulations were stiffened in 2003.

It was also recommended that Moreau request a storm-water management report from his engineer, because a stream on his property is a tributary of a classified stream. The board also requested that Moreau be sure he is in compliance with regulations set by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, and authorized Vollmer Associates, the town’s engineering firm, to issue an estimate of engineering costs, so that an escrow can be set up with the town;

– The planning board granted a special-use permit to John Jeffers, owner of J.J. Maddens on New Scotland Road. The permit allows Jeffers to illuminate a detached sign. The sign, located in front of his restaurant, will be lit by two 100-watt bulbs shining from behind, and two 300-watt bulbs shining from the front. The board added the stipulation that the 300-watt bulbs be elevated to the bottom of the sign to minimize glare onto the roadway.

Board chairman Robert Stapf noted that he would like to be able to have a beer at J.J. Maddens "without feeling guilty." Jeffers performed a dance for the board, before exiting town hall, in appreciation of being granted the permit; and

– The planning board adjourned until next month a public hearing on a pond proposed by Frank DelGallo and James Bradshaw for their property on Ryder Lane. Neighbors had some concerns, and the board asked that the applicants provide a grading plan, and an erosion-sediment plan. They also requested that the applicants check with the DEC as to when is the best time of year for digging the pond.

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