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Regional Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 22, 2007

Ghosts stay with doctor who was On Call in Hell

By Saranac Hale Spencer

Richard Jadick came home from the war in Iraq to a Bronze Star, with a combat V for valor. He thinks of those he served with in Fallujah every day.

In his book recounting that battle, On Call in Hell, Jadick, who grew up in Slingerlands, recalls Gunnery Sergeant Ryan Shane, a 250-pound Marine who turned in his cramped airplane seat on the flight to Iraq to say, "Sir, so you’re our new battalion surgeon. God, that’s the one job I wouldn’t want to have with the place we’re going." Shane would end up with his insides scrambled, facing a long recovery, after he was shot trying to bring a fellow Marine to safety in the midst of street fighting.

The Marine that Shane risked his life to save would die. Sergeant Lonny Wells, father of five, died in the ambulance Jadick was using to cart the wounded from the battlefield to his aid station.

"Lonny Wells was the first Marine to die in my arms, or die in my care. Not the last, but the first," Jadick says in his book.

Since he’s been back in the States, a day hasn’t passed when he hasn’t thought about the decisions he made there, Jadick said in an interview while he was in the area on a tour to promote his book.

There are some things you can’t change, though, he said. Soldiers will get wounded and some of them will die in a war. "The reality is, you are there and you can’t influence that piece of the pie," said Jadick. All a doctor can do is try to help those he can.

When asked about being a Marine who has taken the Hippocratic oath – First do no harm – Jadick said that as a soldier, "I understand the mission is to destroy the enemy." Although he treated wounded Iraqis in his aid station alongside American soldiers, he said. "I never wanted to be judge and jury on an insurgent," he said. He squared it with himself and the soldiers in his unit by arguing that, if the insurgents want to die for their cause, keeping them alive is punishment enough.

The major insurgent stronghold in the city was a mosque and cultural center toward the middle of Fallujah, an idea that confounds Jadick. Using a religious center as a base for military operations is difficult to believe, he said.

"I really don’t think God gets involved in what happens here," he said, referring to the war. "I think it really hurts Him."

Jadick doesn’t consider himself a religious man, but he recalled finding a prayer card on a dying Marine. He wouldn’t call it divine intervention, Jadick said, "But it was a conversation."

The November, 2004 battle, considered the most fierce combat fighting for American troops since Vietnam, has stayed with him. "Nobody comes back from situations like that without some ghosts," Jadick said, but it was important to him to be part of something bigger.

He wouldn’t comment on his views on the war, but he said that it was his loyalty to the Marine Corps and his fellow soldiers that inspired him.

"All I did was support," he said of his role in the battle. "There are heroes out there," he said of the soldiers serving in Iraq. "There are heroes every day."

He attributes his own fame to his position as a surgeon. "You can’t not like a guy who tries to save guys," he said. He received the Bronze Star for going above and beyond his duties, though.

It is rare that a surgeon is honored with the award with a V for valor. He was cited for saving lives by bringing medical care to the center of the battle.

"It was a sacrifice, it was a risk," he said of his service and the attention it has brought. "I think people identify with that."

Residents talk trash, is lawsuit against city next"

By Saranac Hale Spencer

COLONIE — Several hundred neighbors of the Rapp Road landfill came last week to hear about the possibility of filing a class action lawsuit against the city of Albany.

Save the Pine Bush, an advocacy group that works to preserve the ecologically rare pitch pine barrens, held a meeting at the Colonie Family Recreation Center where they discussed the city of Albany’s proposed expansion of its landfill and the smell that comes from the dump.

Peter Henner, lawyer to Save the Pine Bush, detailed the legal options available to people who are affected by the landfill. He took questions from residents at the meeting and distributed a questionnaire so that he could get an idea of the likelihood for a successful suit.

"We support the Save the Pine Bush 100 percent," said Frank Leak, the mayor of the village of Colonie, at the start of the meeting. He and village residents are fed up with the smells from the landfill, he said, adding that from the City of Albany, "We keep getting the same old bull-crap: It’s gonna go away."

Over the next couple of weeks, the city anticipates that there will be a noticeable improvement in the smell from the dump, said Bob VanAmburgh, from Mayor Gerald Jennings’s office. The city has contracted with Clough Harbour & Associates, an engineering firm, to deal with the smells, he said, although he didn’t know the details of what will be done to mitigate the smell.

"I’ll believe it when I see it," said Lynn Jackson, of Save the Pine Bush. The city has been saying it will address the problem for years, she said.

The problem with the landfill is that the city has a financial incentive to bring in more garbage since it makes a profit, said Jackson. Ultimately, the goal is to get the city to reduce the amount of garbage going into the landfill and increase the amount of recycling, she said.

The city takes in about $11 million annually from landfill users, which is roughly 7-percent of the city’s budget. The landfill is used by a consortium of municipalities, including the towns of Guilderland, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, Westerlo, Rensselaerville, and the villages of Voorheesville and Altamont, as well as private haulers.

When asked about the profits that the city realizes from the landfill, VanAmburgh first noted that several other municipalities depend on the dump to get rid of their waste, they pay a tipping fee to the city to do so. "Yes, there is money that the city receives," he said. "It is a very, very lucrative money stream."

"The city has to reduce, reuse, and recycle," said Henner during an interview on Tuesday. A lawsuit would show Albany the real cost of the landfill, he said, meaning that the cost includes the effect it has on people’s lives. He hopes a suit might also show the city the error of its ways, he said, adding that the dump isn’t good for the public and it isn’t good for the city’s purse.

The cost of a lawsuit can be steep, said Henry DeCotis, the village of Colonie’s lawyer. Getting the necessary scientific evidence that a person’s damages were caused by something like a landfill is expensive, he said.

"Our strategy has been to be a vociferous opponent in the public hearing process," he said. He also suggested using a political strategy, like writing letters to state representatives to get a bill passed.

When asked about other routes that citizens who oppose the landfill could take, Henner mentioned approaching the state legislature, but said that it is unlikely to be successful. Bringing a lawsuit against the city is a good route, he said. Henner only gets paid if he wins a settlement for his clients, he said, and this case is strong enough to merit his time.

Richard Lippes, a lawyer who has worked with Henner in the past, will be working on this case, too. An authority on citizen suits, Henner said, Lippes’s first big case was in the 1970’s, representing the residents of Love Canal when toxic contamination left by Hooker Chemical was found around their homes in Western New York. The two lawyers have worked on many cases together over the last two decades, Henner said.

Of how long it would take to put together a suit, Henner said, that "depends on factors that I can’t evaluate," including how many people come forward and how similar their complaints are. The latter would determine whether it would be handled as a class-action suit or individually, he said.

Although he hasn’t looked into legal action before, Steve Garry, who lives and works next to the landfill, said that he’d consider being part of a class action. The eight-acre parcel that his family has been on for decades on Lincoln Avenue is split diagonally between the town of Guilderland and the village of Colonie, he said. He lives there and runs a self-storage business that’s only about 80 percent full; most other self-storage businesses in the area maintain 100 percent occupancy, he said. "The only thing I can figure is people don’t want to store their things where it stinks," he said. The affect that the landfill has had on local businesses is one of the things that Henner is trying to gauge before bringing the suit, he said.

"We’re certainly serious about our opposition," said DeCotis when asked if the village of Colonie would consider a lawsuit. "Hiring a law firm is evidence we take it seriously."

The village has hired Young, Sommer, Ward, Ritzenberg, Baker, & Moore LLC, an environmental law firm, DeCotis said.

"We’ll fight, we’ll sue, we’ll do whatever we need to do," said Leak.

Artwork on display: Eberles ship comes in as they tour the world with no plans of docking

By Rachel Dutil

Don and Ann Eberle’s love of boats has taken them around the world. The New Scotland couple, celebrating 51 years of marriage in June, have cruised their way around the globe, and in doing so, they have visited some 42 countries.

This spring, they will board a ship in Rome that will cruise to New York City, with stops in Croatia, Greece, Morocco, and Spain.

They are sharing their passion for the American Steamboat by lending their support and some of their collection for a special exhibit at the Albany Institute of History and Art.

This exhibit will be composed entirely of institute pieces, with the exception of three models loaned by the Eberles, said Ruth Greene-McNally, research curator for the project.

"The objects belong to the public," she said. "We facilitate interpretive access, so the public can enjoy their own heritage."

Mr. Eberle’s admiration of boats – steamboats in particular – was well known around the office where he worked as a financial advisor. "Everybody in the office got exposed to this steamboat stuff," Mr. Eberle told The Enterprise with a friendly smile.

Mr. Eberle retired from Capital Financial Planning in October. Todd Slingerland, the principal managing partner with the company, wanted to honor Eberle’s 35 years in the field.

Slingerland established two grant funds, honoring Eberle, and his wife, Ann. One grant will support the New Scotland Historical Society, and the other will partially underwrite the steamboat exhibit at the institute.

"It’s a fitting tribute to the Eberles," Slingerland said. The gain to the company, he said, "is in honoring a very important part of our firm."

The steamboat exhibit will open on March 24 and run through the end of the year. An opening reception will be held on Sunday, March 25, at 2 p.m.

"It’s hard to know Don and not know that he loves steamships and cruising," Slingerland said of his former colleague. "I certainly didn’t have an appreciation for steamboats until I met the Eberles."

The exhibit – Full Steam Ahead: Robert Fulton and the Age of Steamboats – will correspond with the 200th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s maiden voyage in 1807 from New York City to Albany, said Greene-McNally.

"Don is an expert on the history of steamboats," she said of Mr. Eberle.

The institute will borrow two steamboat models from the Eberles’ "marvelous collection" for the exhibit – the Robert Fulton and the Washington Irving, as well as a toy model of the Syracuse, Greene-McNally told The Enterprise. "I would be borrowing more if we had more gallery space."

Fondness for boats

"We’ve both had an interest in boats most of our lives," said Mrs. Eberle.

The Eberles’ 200-year-old New Scotland farmhouse is home not only to them, but to an impressive collection of souvenirs from their travels; a variety of model steamboats; and historic paintings. A mural illustrates Hudson River Day Line steamboats carrying passengers and cattle, or being pushed by tugboats, while a waterfall cascades from the second floor to the downstairs hallway.

Mr. Eberle’s interest in boats began when he was about five or six years old, he said. That was when he began riding on the Hudson River Day Liners.

From 1863 to 1948, the boats, powered by steam, carried passengers from Albany to New York City.

A boat left Albany at 9:20 a.m. and would arrive in New York at 6:15 p.m., he said. He would often get off at Hudson, he remembered. The boat docked there at 1 p.m. and the northbound boat to Albany arrived at 2:30 p.m., he said.

In Hudson, "Young kids would dive into the river for coins," Mr. Eberle said. "If they had a good day, they may have made eight cents."

By the time that Mr. Eberle was 9 or 10, he was able to ride the Day Liner by himself, he proudly recalled.

"I was enamoured with watching the engines go," he said, explaining that the engine room was open to the public.

He also enjoyed watching the bow "slicing through the water," and, he would "watch the world go by" from the stern of the boat, he said.

The second deck of the Day Liners generally had green carpeting, with wicker furniture situated throughout and palm plants in the center, he said. The trim work was done in gold leaf, he added.

In the forward part of the boat was a bandstand that was sunk into the floor about 12 inches, Mr. Eberle recalled vividly. The music could be heard from the main floor, and the second and third decks, he said.

An opening on the third deck allowed passengers to look down on the musicians while listening to the music, he said.

On Sundays, when the boat was teeming with Sunday-school kids, the children would stand on the third deck and throw pennies down and hit the drum, Mr. Eberle said. "The drummer would say, ‘Boys, save them for Sunday school.’"

Family ties

The connection that Mrs. Eberle has with boats dates back to her great-great-grandfather, Jeremiah J. Austin.

Austin owned a group of towboats. He towed barges that came through the Erie Canal, she said.

One of the boats that Austin built, the Syracuse, is the subject of a large painting by James Bard. Bard and his brother, John – the Bard Brothers – painted many portraits of large boats, each one painted from right to left, so that the name of the boat would read from left to right. The painting hangs on the wall of the Eberles’ living room.

They acquired it from Mrs. Eberle’s grandfather in 1969. It was then that the couple realized their common interest in boats.
Mrs. Eberle wonders if her respect and fondness for boats could be a trait she inherited from Austin.

Her grandfather, Hoyt Austin, was also a boatman, she said. He managed the Horicon Showboat, an entertainment boat that ran on Lake George during the Depression, she said.

The Eberles now share their mutual enthusiasm for boats by taking cruises to various parts of the world. "It’s like being in a magic box, because every day when you wake up, you’re in a different place," Mrs. Eberle said of traveling on a boat around the world.

The couple also enjoy spending time on Lake George, where they keep their 1958 wooden Lyman boat. Their two sons both have boats, and all their grandchildren are growing up boating, said Mrs. Eberle.

She and her husband are active members in the Hudson Valley chapter of the Steamship Historical Society of America. Mr. Eberle – "the longest standing president in the history of the society" – has served 18 years on the board, and six years as national president of the society, said his wife.

"We’ve accumulated so much information because of our involvement in the society," said Mr. Eberle.

Full Steam Ahead

"Robert Fulton was a brilliant entrepreneur," Greene-McNally told The Enterprise. He was able to put the first steamboat into regular service, and, "It changed the way we live," she said.

The steamboat era was spurred by a need for better transportation and intertwined with developments and advancements to steam engines, Greene-McNally said. President George Washington urged inventors and men of science to develop an engine that ran off steam, she said.

At that time, she said, "Roads were scarcely more than trails."

"It created a lifestyle that lasted 150 years, and there’s no trace of it now," she said.

Greene-McNally admitted that, when she first began work on the project about six months ago, she "knew nothing about steamboats, and just basic information on Fulton."

But that is how her job works, she said, and part of what is exciting about it.

She enjoys "putting all the pieces together to put the story together that’s been sitting there all along," she said. "Just to see the objects, it’s a treat, and a real honor," she added.

The research for this project, "is really involved," but is connected with a project that will celebrate the 400th anniversary of navigation on the Hudson River in 2009, Greene-McNally said.

Greene-McNally says she expects that the exhibit will have "tremendous public appeal."

"One reason this exhibition is so important – it’s putting that era in a place where we can examine it," she said.

Slingerland said that he wanted to sponsor "something worthwhile" and to open people’s eyes about local history.

"It’s a double-edged sword," he said. The exhibit is an apt way of honoring the Eberles, but will also "be able to bring some attention to this important part of our history."

The Hudson River has been known as the Rhine of America, Mr. Eberle said. "I agree that it is just beautiful."

"Albany was a big hub of commerce," Mrs. Eberle said. "I think its great that people will be learning about this era of steamboats."

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