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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 17, 2007

Tuxego owner wants customers dressed to the nines

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Instead of dressing up a sales pitch, Anthony Commisso says Tuxego simply wants to dress up its customers.

Customer service, not profit, is what makes the difference in "the formalwear experience," said Commisso who owns and operates the stores.

"My marketing has never been about prices. It’s always been about making my customers happy," Commisso said.

The newly remodeled Tuxego, in Westmere Plaza at 1811 Western Ave., opened its doors in late February and has quickly caught on. It is Commisso’s first expansion from his flagship store in Latham.

But, he says, it won’t be his last.

"We love the site here in Guilderland. The exposure on the side of Western Avenue is great and we’re also right next to Angela’s Bridal, which is nice," said Commisso. "This is the first of many planned expansions in the Capital District"We are looking for anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur and we are willing to work with them."

Commisso said a comfortable, pressure-free atmosphere is what makes the difference with his formal clothing line.

"We want to make sure the couple, when they leave, are comfortable, confident, and, above all else, happy," Commisso said. "We want to paint a wedding portrait that they will love, not just now, but 70 years from now."

But wedding parties are not the only ones likely to seek Commisso’s special touch this time of year; prom night also brings out the area’s best-dressed.

"We work by appointment for weddings and the reason we do that is because we really want to get to know the bride and groom," said Commisso. "But we also make sure that our prom kids get the attention they need to make their big night a very special event."

Grant Eidelbus uses his 35 years of men’s clothing experience to manage Guilderland Tuxego. Commisso said they run the stores like small-town shops, but have the advantage of being able to price like their big box store counterparts.

The secret to his success, says Commisso, is staying out of the malls.

"When you have a wedding party, usually the father of the groom comes in to get the tuxes," said Commisso. "He would be carrying about a half-dozen of tuxedos around. Now, would you want to have to do that through mall levels and parking lots" Here you can pull right up to the door."

The other part of the secret is simple honesty, he says.

"We give them candid advice every time," Commisso said. "I always joke with people that I’m the most obnoxious, straightforward guy you’ll ever meet. People always like that, and usually say, ‘That’s what I want to hear.’"

Growing up in the area, Commisso has a particular soft spot for Guilderland.

"I’m a local boy," he told The Enterprise. "I grew up on Delee Ave., right off of Palma Boulevard"I know this town."

Commisso said that the new Guilderland Tuxego will not only provide convenience and selection, but will abide by his company’s motto to his customers: "Look great, feel comfortable, and be confident in formalwear."

For retired town workers
One more chance to get old benefits

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — It’s the last call for town workers.

Retiring employees only have one more chance to receive Medicare reimbursement coverage before the town abandons its long-standing practice, according to the unanimous town board vote Tuesday night. The cutoff date will be extended to Aug. 1 2007.

The original cutoff date was on Jan. 1, 2007.

The town was contacted by several current and retired employees last week after The Enterprise ran a front-page story, "Cuts Sting: Guilderland scales back retirement benefits."

"If there are employees who want to retire and still get these benefits, a solution can be reached," Supervisor Kenneth Runion told The Enterprise Friday, the day after the story was published. He added, "You can count on one hand the number of employees ready to retire"and count on the other hand the number of employees who are close to 20 years of service."

In the effort to give "a handful" of employees the option to get Medicare reimbursements, the town has amended the current employee handbook, according to Runion, as a "good gesture" by the board.

However, the 2007 Medicare reimbursement rates will be capped, even for those currently retired.

The current reimbursement rate is $93.50 per month, or $1,120 annually.

Councilman David Bosworth, who is also the town’s Democratic chair and Albany County’s Democratic co-chair, called reimbursement cuts, "A cost-cutting measure"for the town."

According to the supervisor, Guilderland is currently spending a total of $1.4 million in insurance costs for its employees. Out of that number, approximately $272,000 is spent on retirement health insurance, Runion said.

The information about the reimbursement changes was included in a new employee handbook. Runion told The Enterprise workers had to sign an acknowledgment form when they received the manuals, and that the town has a list on file.

"One of the reasons why we updated the handbook was that the insurance companies were asking to have updated manuals and to have the employees sign for them," Runion said at the meeting. "So we’re now in compliance."

Runion said yesterday that, although the Medicare reimbursements do increase, they do not fluctuate and increase dramatically like insurance premium costs, which are often linked to ever-rising prescription drug cost.

Several retired and current workers in town were not aware of the new changes until contacted by The Enterprise.

The town did hold public workshops when revamping the employee handbooks last year, said Runion, but that only "maybe a few" residents attended them. As for employees not knowing about the changes, Runion said that they signed for their new handbooks and "should have been aware."

"I don’t think everybody reads every section of the handbook," he said. "Unfortunately, a lot of times, people will only read the sections that affect them at that time"Some of them may not have been looking at retirement."

As a result, Runion said he has received "some calls" from retirees who were confused about what was happening to their benefits. He also said that one-half dozen or fewer employees are close enough to retirement to make the new deadline, but "that only one employee has decided to take advantage of the extension so far."

"Many of our retirees no longer live in the area and have already received their current reimbursements, so we didn’t immediately send out notifications," he said, adding that, if the retirement reimbursements were cut completely, the town would have notified people earlier.

However, some retirees last week said they still would have liked to have been notified earlier.

Other business

In other business, the town board unanimously:

— Listened to a presentation on the amount of storm-water management program and made a motion to sign and file the annual report;

—Appointed Jennifer Czerwonka as a full-time paramedic from the Albany County Civil Service list, effective May 6;

— Approved a change in status of Cory Nichols from acting paramedic supervisor to permanent paramedic supervisor, effective May 4;

— Authorized the supervisor to sign a contract with the Capital District Transportation Committee for the linkage study of the Railroad Avenue Corridor. The study cost $25,000 to complete with Guilderland allocating $1,250 for the project and both Albany County and the town of Colonie allocating $2,500 each. The remaining amount is being paid for by a grant from the Capital District Transportation Committee. According to Donald Csaposs, the town’s grant writer and economic development chairman, the study "should be wrapped up by the end of the year; and

— Approved three proposed settlements recommended by the town’s assessor.

Floor and tub business gets OK

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — A flooring and tub-replacement business will be able to operate in densely-populated Western McKownville, near the Albany city line.

Revoking and annulling all special-use permits on the property, at 1434 Western Ave., the town’s zoning board upheld the its non-conforming use for the new occupants.

After two previous public hearings, the zoning board on May 2 made the decision-only vote. Owner Kent Hansen had made the request for interpretation of the law. Chairman Peter Barber recused himself from the vote "because of a matter" in which he said he is involved with Hanson’s lawyer, Matthew Clyne.

Board member Charles Klaer chaired the vote.

The 6-0 vote allows Hansen Flooring LLC and Sparkling John’s Tub Replacement to operate a showroom, warehouse, office, storage space, and wholesale and retail business on the 10,080-square-foot property.

The reasoning for allowing the use, according to Klaer, is because the property’s previous occupants were similar businesses. They sold heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning equipment and electrical fixtures, as well conduit and heating elements, "well prior to the enactment of the current zoning laws," Klaer said.

"The board finds they are substantially the same in nature," said Klaer as he explained the decision, defining the businesses as "rehab and repair construction" companies.

The area is zoned Business Non-Retail Professional, which includes dentist and law offices, but not retail business. However, under the property’s pre-existing non-conforming use status, similar businesses can lawfully operate on the property, according to the town’s code.

The property owner’s, and its leasing tenants, have to, among other things: maintain all fences along its borders; only operate between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. during weekdays and 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays; submit a garbage and snow-removal plan; and submit an ingress and egress plan "which does not involve the honking of cars."

The board said it has the right to revisit the decision if any regulation is not in compliance and also discussed the possibility of not allowing left-hand turns from the property onto "busy Western Avenue."

Other business

In other business, the zoning board unanimously:

— Amended a special-use permit for Michelle Muia to add 783 square feet of new space to her business, Hamilton House Antiques, on 2261 Western Ave.;

— Granted an area variance for Dr. Edward Becker, a veterinarian, to build an "accessory structure" at 2 Rocking Horse Ln., with walls that are taller than 15 feet;

— Tabled an area variance request of Anna and Paolo Califano to build two storage shed units and a pool on the side yard of their 22 Brookview Ave. home;

— Granted a special-use permit and an area variance to Connie Below to build an 890-square-foot in-law apartment inside of her single-family home at 31 North Bridge St. The maximum size of an in-law apartment allowed by code is 750 square feet;

— Approved a special-use permit for Teresa Carciobolo to build an apartment inside of a one-family unit at 1 Ardsley Rd.; and

— Approved an area variance for Jasmin Cummings to build an above-ground pool at her 44 Fliegel Ave. home.

Whistle blowers can call hotline to report school fraud

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Anyone aware of fraud or abuse in the school district now has a number to call: 1-888-208-3103.

"At long last, the system is live," said school board President Richard Weisz at last week’s board meeting.

Would-be whistle blowers can speak anonymously about their complaints; the calls will not be recorded, said Weisz, who also chairs the board’s audit committee, which sponsored the project.

EthicsPoint operates the hotline and also can be reached on-line at www.ethicspoint.com, which is linked to the district’s website.

Reports of calls do not go to school administrators, Weisz stressed. Rather they go to the audit committee, which is made up of three school board members and two community members.

"There’s no recording of the person’s voice," said board member Colleen O’Connell, who also serves on the audit committee. "You can call Christmas Day at noon and get a human being."

"Hopefully, no one will need it," said Weisz of the hotline.

The state comptroller’s office has recently completed its field work at Guilderland and results are expected in a few months, Weisz said. After fraud was discovered in some Long Island school districts, the state comptroller’s office began auditing all of the public school districts in the state.

Other business

In other business at recent meetings, the board:

— Heard from Weisz that 24 people met the May 1 deadline in applying to be Guilderland’s next superintendent. The current superintendent, Gregory Aidala, announced he will retire in the fall.

The school board met on May 9 to review the applications with its BOCES consultants "to begin the process of winnowing down the field of candidates," said Weisz.

Interview teams will be formed so that staff and community members can participate in the process, he said;

— Heard from Peter Golden, who chairs the board’s business practices committee, that a title search, estimated to cost $500, is being done on the historic cobblestone schoolhouse in Guilderland Center.

The committee also discussed third-party administration of the district’s workers’ compensation program and it discussed installing air-conditioning in the two Farnsworth Middle School classrooms next to the library. The work will be bid out at an estimated cost of $30,000 to $40,000, Golden said;

— Heard from Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders that Don Albright, the town of Guilderland’s fire inspector, completed the state-required annual inspection of the district’s buildings.

"There were no areas of non-compliance," said Sanders;

— Voted, 7 to 1, to hire, after the budget passes, a career and technology supervisor for the newly-created post.

Board member Hy Dubowsky cast the sole dissenting vote; he said the hiring should be delayed so the new superintendent could have a say;

— Reviewed policies on conditional appointments and interscholastic athletics;

— Heard congratulations from Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Nancy Andress for students who participated in the State History Day at Cooperstown on April 27.

Ninth-graders Katie Wells, Sohee Rho, and Casey Gerety won the National Archives Award for Best Use of Primary Sources and the Women’s History Award for best project on women’s history for their documentary on Rose Schneiderman, a labor reformer.

Zagreb Mukerjee’s winning historical paper from last year was chosen to be published in the New York State Historical Association’s academic journal. Mukerjee wrote on Ghandi’s early years in South Africa and the impact they had on his life’s work.

Eighth-graders Abby Levy, Kyra Malamood, and Megan Malamood, made a documentary on the Girls Professional All-American Baseball League that took third place in their category and also won the National Arachives Award for Best Use of Primary Sources.

Other Farnsworth Middle School students who competed in the state finals were: Lian Henderson, with a junior individual exhibit on the atom bomb; Bobby Ruggles, with a junior individual performance on Benedict Arnold; Rosamaria Cirelli, Jennifer Robbiano, Alessandra Cerio, and Francesca Cerio, with a junior group exhibit on Apollo 13;

— Heard that the Guilderland High School Math League Team, coached by Ed Meskutovecz, finished first in the region, with the highest score in a four-county area. The team tied for ninth in the state in a field of 180 high schools, the best overall finish for Guilderland.

The team was made up of ninth-graders Jean Kang, Lily Li, Sohee Rho, Ben Laraway, and Cassie Lin.

also, 10th-graders Yipu Wang, Elizabeth Simon, Yiyi Chu, Jessica Chu, Zagreb Mukerjee, Alex Metzger, and Erich Reimer.

Also, 11th-graders Nan Shan, Wangzhong Sheng, Yifan Chen, Hyeon Soh, Michael Katt, Meera Chappidi, Oxana Popova, Stephen Travers, and Devang Bhoiwala.

And, finally, 12th-graders Bobby Dygert, Jack Qian, Beth Schaffer, Miles Malerba, Laura Kim, Erin Craig, Audrey Belostotsky, Luke Ackerman, Peter Zhu, Laura Santacrose, Jie Lee, Stephen Lyons, and Shera Sonenberg;

— Heard that Dave Septer, a fourth-grader at Westmere Elementary School, was invited to share his project on landfills and recycling at Albany’s Tulip Festival;

— Heard congratulations for Beth Schaffer, recently named one of 141 outstanding high school seniors as 2007 Presidential Scholars. She was one of four from New York State and will be honored in June in Washington, D.C.;

— Learned that students who learn English as a second language will celebrate their accomplishments in an Extravaganza on May 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Farnsworth Middle School;

— Heard that Gloria Towle-Hilt, a Farnswoth social studies teacher leader, will be honored May 17 with the Capital Distict Council for the Social Studies Distinguished Service Award;

— Heard that Al Fiero, a middle-school science teacher, and three students attended a youth service fair at The College of Saint Rose where Farnsworth was awarded a $750 National and Global Youth Service mini-grant to fund activities during Earth Week that had taken place at the farm at Farnsworth. Over 200 students worked at the garden in front of the school;

— Learned that the Middle School Student Art Show will be May 14 to June 5 at the Farnsworth gallery;

— Heard that Deborah Drumm, Westmere Elementary School Principal, was honored by the Capital District Association for Women in Administration as the Administrator of the Year;

— Learned that James Dillon, Lynnwood Elementary principal, has been selected as one of three Principals of the Year by the Capital Area School Development Association; and

— Learned that Saiprasad Naidu and Rosamaria Cirelli, Farnsworth students, were invited to attend the Tech Valley Summer Camp.

Teacher Towle-Hilt comes in first
Guilderland voters pass school and library budgets by wide margins

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Voters here said "yes" on Tuesday to school and library budgets and they passed school propositions for buses, a land purchase, and a capital reserve fund.

In a five-way race for three school-board seats, voters also elected the two candidates who were backed by the teachers’ union. Retiring social-studies teacher Gloria Towle-Hilt received the most votes followed by her running mate, incumbent Colleen O’Connell, a mother and a lawyer.

Barbara Fraterrigo, who has been on the board for 10 years, came in third. She and her running mates, Carolyn Kelly, a mother and an auditor, and John Fraher, an accountant and father, were endorsed by Guilderland Parents Advocate which said, "This next election will be the pivotal point for progress."

The GPA, initially made up of parents whose children struggled to read and who challenged the district’s reading curriculum, has endorsed candidates since 2004; four of them, including Fraterrigo, now serve on the nine-member school board. If Kelly or Fraher had won, the GPA-endorsed candidates would have had a majority on the board.

After several parents complained to the school board this year that the district had failed to teach their children to read and some school board members demanded answers, the president of the teachers’ union, Chris Claus, told the board that response "sent a chilling message of distrust and has provoked fear in teachers and staff." Claus said the board seemed willing to substitute its judgment of an academic program for that of its professional staff.

The polls closed Tuesday at 9 p.m. and a score of people — school board members, candidates with their families and supporters, and school staff — waited in the hot Guilderland Elementary School gym for election results from the five polling places to be tallied. The air was heavy and the mood was tense as thunder boomed outside.

"This year, people are voting more on the board of election than the budget," commented Superintendent Gregory Aidala during the long wait.

Moments after the results were announced at 10:40, Aidala told The Enterprise, "I view the outcome of the election as support for the school district and programs we have — not only the board election but the successful passage of the budget."

The $82 million budget passed handily in all five elementary-school polling places. Overall, 64 percent — 2,011 to 1,136 — voted yes.

"We’re very pleased with the overwhelming support," said Aidala, noting it was the highest percentage passing vote during his six-year tenure as superintendent. He will be retiring in the fall.

"The projected tax increase of under two-and-a-half percent made it appealing," said Aidala. "And it provides for some good initiatives," he said, citing a program that will start foreign-language study in the elementary schools and the added emphasis on technology instruction. Both of those were school-board priorities this year.

Guilderland’s success in passing its budget was part of a statewide trend; 95.5 percent of the budgets passed on Tuesday, setting a record, according to the New York State School Boards Association. The average since 1969 is 82.5 percent. Last year, 88.8 percent were approved on the initial vote in the state’s 637 districts.


The Guilderland proposition to spend $835,000 on 11 new school buses and a maintenance truck also passed easily at all five polling places with a total of 2,011 votes in favor and 1,093 opposed, meaning 65 percent supported the measure.

Voters also approved — 2,081 to 1,077 — a proposition to set up a $600,000 capital reserve fund for renovations to the district’s elementary schools. The measure passed by wide margins at all five schools, garnering support from 66 percent of the voters overall.

Finally, voters passed, by a slightly less favorable margin, a proposition to pay $175,000 for eight-tenths of an acre of land on Route 20 in front of Guilderland Elementary School.

Again, the measure passed at all five polling places, with 58 percent overall voting yes.

The land belongs to the YMCA, which built a recreational facility across Route 20 from the school and bought the land in order to re-configure the school driveway so it would line up with YMCA entrance road, a planning requirement so that only one traffic light would be needed. According to the town assessor’s office, the land, made up of two parcels, is assessed at $149,600.

"You don’t get many opportunities to purchase land contiguous to a school," said Aidala after the successful vote was announced. "It provides protection forever."

Money for both the land purchase and the capital reserve fund is to come from the district’s surplus fund balance.

School-board race

"Certainly it was a contentious election," Aidala said of the school-board race. Noting the many letters to the editor published in The Enterprise and the issues around endorsement and leafleting, Aidala said, "You couldn’t sit back and say there wasn’t a school-board election."

The Guilderland Teachers’ Association, for the first time this year, offered money to the candidates it backed. Towle-Hilt accepted the $500 while O’Connell turned it down. Each of the five candidates said they purchased 100 campaign signs, which cost $400 to $500. They also printed flyers.

Fraterrigo, Kelly, and Fraher planned to hand out flyers after school events but were stopped by Aidala who ended the practice. He said last week, "We have to maintain the appearance of not permitting partisan activities on school grounds."

Fraterrigo said last week that the practice was well established in Guilderland and had served the district well; the ban, she said, was "a total infringement of freedom of speech rights."

Candidates were allowed to hand out literature on election day as long as they were at least 100 feet from polling places.

"It has been divisive," Aidala said Tuesday night of the election. "Now that the results are in, they’ve got to get back on track with teamwork. We want to look to the future, not dwell on the past."

Asked if he thought the contentious campaign would be an impediment to board progress, Aidala said, "Time will tell. The selection of a new superintendent could unify the board."

School board member Hy Dubowsky said of the election, "The level of debate has changed."

School board election results

The results reported here are unofficial; they were announced Tuesday night by Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders, based on tallies from each of the five polling places.

Gloria Towle-Hilt received 23 percent of the votes, garnering 2,046 in all for her first-place win.

She came in first at Altamont, Lynnwood, and Pine Bush; second at Westmere; and fourth at Guilderland.

She described an epiphany in the voting booth.

"I got up, went to church, then went to vote," she said of her morning. "I got in the booth and there’s my name. I never thought about that. I stood there, looking at my name and realized this is what I had been teaching about all these years," said the long-time Farnsworth Middle School social-studies teacher. "I thought, ‘This is what it’s all about — ordinary people, doing something for your community.’"

She went on about her first run for school board, "I feel so humbled that so many people did so much for me."

Asked what she thought of the teachers’ union-supported candidates besting the GPA-supported candidates, Towle-Hilt said, "What it shows is there is a good solid relationship between the teachers, the school board, and the community. The attempt to label me ‘the teacher’," she said of references that she would have a conflict of interest serving on the board, "people were trying to make that an issue, that I would have preconceived notions. That was very unfair."

She went on, "The Guilderland Teachers’ Association and the district have worked hard to build community...I have always felt a strong relationship between parents and teachers. People can disagree and work together. I’m teaching right now how our Constitution is a matter of compromise."

Colleen O’Connell got 22 percent of the votes, receiving 1,987 votes to come in second.

She came in first at Westmere; second at Altamont, Pine Bush, and Lynnwood; and fifth at Guilderland.

"I think the election results show you can take the high road and still win an election," said O’Connell, who will now serve a second three-year term.

She went on, "Gloria and I emphasized and asked our supporters to highlight our qualities and experiences. We refused to engage in a negative campaign, denigrating our opponents."

Asked about assertions that she had showed blind trust in the administration while the GPA said it was endorsing candidates who listened to the community, O’Connell said, "I’ve listened to the GPA for the last three years and we’ve implemented some of their requests like early screening in kindergarten."

She continued, "I think some people define listening as doing exactly what they want. I did listen patiently and reflect on the information and then decide on a course of action."

Asked what her goals are for the upcoming term, O’Connell said, "Concentrating on getting the best superintendent possible and, frankly, trying to repair some of the damage that has been done....

"Three school-board members campaigned against me," she said, referring to Fraterrigo, Dubowsky, and Peter Golden. "Those are relationships that need to be worked on."

She concluded, "Related to rebuilding, I’d like to try to conduct ourselves in a civil manner."

Barbara Fraterrigo got 19 percent of the votes, garnering 1,716 to come in third.

She came in first at Guilderland, third at Altamont and Lynnwood, and fourth Pine Bush and Westmere.

"I’m just delighted I was re-elected," said Fraterrigo on election night. "I appreciate people giving me another opportunity to serve."

During the campaign, Fraterrigo said, "I think the board really does have a role in responding to parents’ complaints"Over the years, I’ve been identified as a listener"I’ve heard from so many people, particularly in special ed. areas, to look at the reading program."

Asked Tuesday night if she was disappointed that her running mates had lost, Fraterrigo said, "Certainly you like to see people with the same philosophy as yourself" in office. She went on about Kelly, "Carolyn will be a strong candidate in the future."

Asked if she thought the campaign had caused divisiveness, Fraterrigo said, "I hope not...We’re capable of working together for the good of the kids."

She suggested The Enterprise take a picture of all three winning candidates together.

Carolyn Kelly received 18 percent of the vote, getting 1,605 in all, to come in fourth.

She came in third at Guilderland and Pine Bush, fourth at Altamont and Lynnwood, and fifth at Westmere.

Kelly, making her first run for the board, had done a wide range of volunteer work for children and said she wanted to put that and her experience as an auditor to work for the school district.

"I think the reading program still needs to be addressed," Kelly said during her campaign. "I don’t think the teachers should have been overly upset with the board asking for more information."

Kelly said yesterday, "I was absolutely thrilled 1,605 people voted for me and supported me"And I’m thrilled that Barbara Fraterrigo will be on the board again. She’s a wonderful advocate for our kids."

Kelly, who had filled out and returned a candidate’s questionnaire for the Guilderland Teachers’ Association but was not endorsed by the union, said, "It’s unfortunate postcards went out from the GTA on Saturday, supporting their chosen candidates. That’s a huge expense; it obviously worked."

When asked if she would run again, Kelly said, "We’ll have to see what next year brings. This was a lot of work on my part"I don’t know if any parent can work past that type of machine," she said, referring to the teachers’ union.

She concluded, "I’ll continue to volunteer as I always have."

John Fraher got 17 percent of the vote, totaling 1,549 votes, to finish last.

He came in second at Guilderland; third at Westmere; and fifth at Altamont, Lynnwood, and Pine Bush.

Fraher, a certified public accountant, said he decided to run after hearing a lot of talk in his Westmere neighborhood "about the rising cost of the budget and if we are spending our money prudently."

Fraher did not return a call on Wednesday for comment on the election.

Referring to the school board, Fraher said during his campaign, "I believe a board of directors should be allowed to review anything...I have a concern when management doesn’t allow a board to look at information. Then who really has the governing role, who really has the authority to make changes""


The Guilderland Public Library’s $2.6 million budget passed, 1,912 to 1,053.

The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value is estimated at 90 cents, up 4 cents from this year.

Two incumbent trustees were on the ballot to fill three seats on the 11-member library board. Carroll Valachovic received 1,792 votes and Douglas Morrissey garnered 1,783 votes.

Valachovic came in third in a four-way race last year, and so earned a one-year spot on the board. A certified public accountant who works at a local accounting firm, Valachovic is a Guilderland native.

Morrissey was appointed to the board several months ago when a trustee resigned. The director of school counseling at Canajoharie High School, he has lived in Guilderland for three years.

Nancy Streeter launched a write-in campaign to secure the third seat with 83 votes. Robert Ruth garnered 10 write-in votes and seven others got one or two write-in votes apiece.

Streeter, a retired teacher and school administrator, enjoys using the Guilderland Public Library. "I’ve been an educator all my life," Streeter said on election night as she waited for votes to be tallied. "I love libraries and thought I could use my experience to give back to the community."

At Cesaré and Lili: A T for everyone’s taste

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — No matter whether shoppers’ styles are edgy or classic, young or mature, boutique Cesare and Lili caters to all.

Owner Regina Caridi opened her second clothing boutique last weekend in the Price Chopper plaza. She opened her first store in Rhinebeck five years ago, and the shop does very well, she said.

"A lot of customers came down from Albany and Saratoga to the Rhinebeck store," Caridi said.

Caridi is a Catskill resident whose son attended the Albany Academy. She was familiar with the area, particularly since she patronizes Ania’s salon next door to Cesare and Lili. After a visit to Ania’s, Caridi saw a rental sign in the shop next door, and her second store was born.

The location has been good for business, she said, and she’s been open for one week, with only word-of-mouth advertising. "It’s a busy little spot," she said, noting that she and Ania’s share customers, and that the Price Chopper has a lot of traffic.

She opened her first store in Rhinebeck after working as a court reporter for 20 years.

"I wanted to do something different. I loved to shop. I decided to open a store," Caridi said. "We have a little bit of everything."

Caridi’s 25-year-old daughter gets her clothes at Cesare` and Lili, and so does Caridi herself. Caridi said that the boutique offers a mix of prices, styles, and sizes. Jeans run from size 0 to size 14. T-shirts cost between $18 and $148.

"It’s a mix of tastes. One minute, I like very classic things, and one minute I like to be edgy, and I like to mix them both," Caridi said. She described the store as a mother-daughter shop with something for everyone.

"I really love it," she said.

"You meet the best women," Caridi said about her customers. She said court reporting was boring and did not offer opportunities to meet others. In the shops, Caridi can meet and chat with her customers.

"It’s nice to like what you do. I like to help people put things together," she said. "I like it."

Black car alarms girl

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

ALTAMONT — A fifth-grade girl was alarmed waiting for the school bus Friday morning.

At about 7:35 a.m., she was standing in front of her house on Route 146, outside of the village, when a man in a small black car stopped, rolled down his window, and looked at her, according to Peter Brabant, Altamont Elementary School principal.

The man drove away and she ran into her house and told her parents, said Brabant.

When he learned of the incident about a half-hour later, he informed the district superintendent, Gregory Aidala, who said "an abundance of caution" was appropriate, said Brabant.

The Guilderland and Altamont police are both investigating the incident.

Altamont’s public safety commissioner, Anthony Salerno, said, since it happened outside the village limit, the Guilderland Police are the lead agency. "We’re trying to develop any leads," said Salerno on Monday. "We don’t have any at this point. We’re taking it very seriously," he said.

Officer Carl Duda with the Youth Services Division of the Guilderland Police said on Tuesday, "I’m not trying to put the community into a panic. There was no attempted abduction."

He said more officers are patrolling the area. "I’m putting it down as a suspicious occurrence," he said, meaning no crime was committed.

"We canvassed the neighborhood and spoke with the school-bus driver," said Duda. The police learned there was heavy traffic on Route 146 at the time of the incident and surmised that may be why the car slowed down, said Duda. Also, it was a warm morning and the driver may have rolled down his window to cool off, he said.

"There was no conversation, no gesture, no threats," said Duda.

On Friday, Brabant sent a letter home to the parents of Altamont Elementary School students, describing the incident and urging, "Please use this opportunity to review with you child your safety rules. Please make a note to remind your child that adults should never ask a child for directions or other questions. Children should never approach a strange car or truck."

Parents of kindergartners wait with their children for the school bus, Brabant said. Older children on a busy road like Route 146 generally wait in front of their homes, he said, rather than walking to clustered bus stops.

Brabant said Monday that he hadn’t received any phone calls about the incident. On Monday morning, he went by the place where the incident occurred, he said, and noticed police officers were also parked there.

"Altamont is a safe community," said Brabant. "But we all know bad things can happen anyplace. It’s a good thing to remind our children about safety rules."

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