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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 12, 2007

Man in mini-van crashes twice, flips

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — After hitting two cars Tuesday in two different crashes on Route 155, a minivan flipped and slid over 300 feet, landing on its roof, according police.

Alfred Busold of East Greenbush was driving north on Route 155 last Tuesday morning in a 2005 Chrysler minivan when, near Nott Road, he struck a 2008 Pontiac sedan driven by Jane Christiansen of Voorheesville, according to Lieutenant Daniel McNally of the Guilderland Police. Busold continued north and rear-ended a 1996 Toyota sedan near Heritage Road, driven by Carolynn Nemeth, also of Voorheesville.

Busold then lost control of his vehicle, police said.

"His car flipped over on it’s side and then he slid," said McNally.

Guilderland Police said they received 911 calls about the accidents, responding at about 11:59 a.m.

The cause of the accidents and the mental and physical state of Busold is still under investigation, McNally said. Guilderland Police are asking anyone who witnessed the accident to call 356-1501.

Police say Busold was removed from his minivan by Westmere and Guilderland fire departments and transported by the Western Turnpike Rescue Squad to Albany Medical Center Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Blood was taken from Busold at the Hospital, McNally said, and police will be looking to see if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or whether there are medical reasons that may have contributed to the accidents. Busold has since been released from the hospital.

"All three cars were severely damaged"but there were only minor injuries," McNally said. Christiansen and Nemeth were treated at the scene for their injuries, he added.

Guilderland Police said the accident scene was spread out over a half-mile radius and caused numerous traffic delays in the area.

Two young kids go on wild, fun ride

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Last Friday, 7-year-old and a 5-year-old took their driving test early.

Guilderland Police said the two young boys took the keys to the family’s minivan around 9 p.m. on Friday after their grandmother and mother had gone to sleep for the evening.

Sergeant Adam Meyers said the two boys then got into the van and backed out of their home on Fort Hunter Road, crashing into a neighbor’s fence before hitting the open road. The 7-year-old took the wheel while his younger brother enjoyed the ride from the front passenger seat, according to police reports.

Police received several calls, reporting two boys driving a car and hitting mailboxes.

"They drove from there along Rosedale Way and across West Lydius Street, striking several mailboxes along the route," Meyers told The Enterprise. A cluster of mailboxes were destroyed during the pursuit, he added.

The boys’ names are not being released due to their age, Meyers said.

"The 7-year old then turned around and almost struck a police cruiser"We continued to follow him, then he stopped and we blocked him in with the police cars, and he put the vehicle in park," said Meyers.

No one was hurt during the incident and there was no damage to police vehicles, but police say that the minivan the boys hijacked has been totaled.

Meyers said he had never seen this type of incident in his years on the Guilderland Police force.

"We don’t foresee any criminal charges," Meyers said, but added that the case is still under investigation by the Guilderland Police and the Department of Child Protective Services.

Leggiero sentenced for bilking the state

By Jarrett Carroll

ALBANY — After being convicted of bilking the state out of $1.2 million, Guilderland resident James Leggiero was sentenced in Albany County Court last week.

Leggiero pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny in April, a class B felony, and his sentencing was delayed several times while he was out of jail on $50,000 bail.

He was sentenced by Judge Thomas A. Breslin in county court on Monday, July 2.

Breslin sentenced Leggiero to three-and-one-third to 10 years in state prison and he has to make full restitution of the stolen money. According to the plea agreement he took from the state Attorney General’s office, Leggiero can never work for New York State or any other public agency again.

The Attorney General’s Office said an asset forfeiture lawsuit has been filed against Leggiero, which has seized his bank accounts, five Corvettes, and some of his properties. The assets will be used to reimburse the state. A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, Lee Park, told The Enterprise that the stolen money was used to finance the Leggerio’s "lavish lifestyle."

Park said the money stolen totaled $1,232,072, and that Leggiero used the money to buy high-end sports cars and more than one home.

"We are pleased with the outcome," Park said when Leggiero was convicted. "He’s going to state prison and he’s paying back what he stole."

Leggiero started a bogus company in 1998 called Very Important Properties (VIP), according to the attorney general’s office. Park said Leggiero abused his position as a senior auditor at the state’s Office of Mental Health to approve approximately 80 vouchers for VIP, a company that was supposedly checking sites for group homes.

Over the course of nearly a decade, Laggiero took the vouchers that ranged from hundreds of dollars to nearly $100,000 and placed them into a checking account linked to the fake VIP company, Park said. He then used the used the funds in that business account for personal expenses.

Leggiero and his wife, Kathleen, share a home at 135 Kennewyck Ct. in Guilderland and have two young sons. Kathleen Leggiero, who was not implicated in the crime, also works for the New York State Office of Mental Health. She was put on paid administrative leave during the state’s investigation of her husband.

She has now returned to her $77,000-a-year job, but has been moved within the office.

"She has been reassigned to a new department with new responsibilities," said the Office of Mental Health’s public information officer, Jill Daniels.

"She’s back to work," Daniels told The Enterprise yesterday.

The state is using the couple’s assets to pay back restitution, but, according to Leggiero’s attorney, Steven Coffey, Kathleen Leggiero has done no wrong and should not be penalized on her share of the family’s assets.

The couple’s 29,000-square-foot Kennewyck Circle home is assessed by the town of Guilderland at $431,300. Kathleen Leggiero is legally entitled to half of those assets, according to Coffey.

Coffey has defended Mrs. Leggiero’s interests.

"She’s got title to those assets, too," Coffey said after Leggiero’s conviction. "She’s got an interest in these assets superior to the state’s."

Kathleen Leggiero could not be reached for comment.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo recently cited Leggiero’s case in a release as being part of a series of recent actions by his office to "fight corruption and ethical break-downs in New York State government."

Cuomo’s office has created a confidential hotline for people to report questionable activities or any wrongdoings in state offices. The number is 1-800-428-9072.

Elblom charged for robbing area banks

by Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — The man caught robbing banks in Albany and Guilderland was formally charged by the Guilderland Police.

Mark W. Ekblom is being charged with third-degree robbery, a felony, and petit larceny, a misdemeanor, according to his arrest report.

Ekblom, 37, of 117 South Pearl St., apartment number one, Albany, was arrested by Guilderland Police on June 23, after he was picked up by Albany Police following two bank robberies within 24 hours of each other, say Guilderland Police.

He first robbed the HSCB Bank on South Pearl Street in Albany and then the Trustco Bank in Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland, police say. His arrest report lists him as being 6 feet, 1 inch tall, and weighing 300 pounds and says he works as a laborer.

Both robberies were similar, Guilderland Police told The Enterprise. When robbing the Trustco Bank, he walked in at 11:45 on a Saturday morning and handed a teller a note that read, "This is a robbery. Fill one envelope now," according to the arrest report. He got away on foot with $820 in cash from the bank in Stuyvesant Plaza off of Western Avenue and was later arrested in Albany, say police.

He was remanded to Albany County’s jail, the report says.

Water in on the way to West End

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — After decades of lobbying by water-strapped residents of the rural west-end of town, a $7 million municipal water project is officially underway.

Tuesday night, the town board voted for Water District Extension 73, residents applauded, and one man said, "We’ve waited 40 years for this."

Construction, slated to begin in the spring of 2008, is to be completed within two years.

Supervisor Kenneth Runion told residents at Tuesday night’s meeting that, if the project runs smoothly, they could possibly have running municipal water before the two-year construction mark.

The extensions will bring water to the rural west end of Guilderland where many residents have private wells and frequently experience water shortages and poor water quality. A small group of residents in support of the project attended the meeting. At previous public hearings, only a couple of residents objected, saying they shouldn’t have to pay for municipal water if they did not want it.

Most of the residents in the area overwhelmingly support the extension.

Delaware Engineering began surveying the area for the water extensions in the fall of 2005, according to the engineering firm’s senior project manager, Mary Beth Bianconi.

Bianconi spoke at the meeting on behalf of Delaware Engineering and called the project a "significant group of extensions." The extensions will help to increase the overall quality of the town’s water, according to Runion, due to "looping the lines."

Looped lines are less likely to stagnate or build-up harmful chemicals. Currently, the town flushes its water lines annually, which results in a period of brown water for residents.

A very small area of wetlands will be disturbed, Bianconi said, and a disturbance permit has been filed with the state. With proper construction procedures and restoration methods, the wetland disturbance will only be temporary, because the water lines are to be buried, Bianconi concluded.

Birchwood Archaeology, a New York State-certified archaeology firm, conducted a required study of the affected areas.

To begin the project, the town board:

— Approved a negative declaration in conclusion of the State’s Environmental Quality Review Act, meaning board members found that the project will not have a significant impact on the environment;

— Established Water District Extension Number 73, subject to permissive referendum;

— Submitted an application for a water supply permit to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation;

— Approved a bond resolution not to exceed $7,375,600, beginning in 2008 to fund the water extension; and

— Approved an engineering agreement with Delaware Engineering.

Councilman David Bosworth asked Bianconi to hold an informational meeting next spring to "bring people up to speed" on the project, to which she agreed.

Residents riled over Schoolhouse Road reconstruction

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Summer is here and so are the construction projects.

At its last meeting of the summer, the town board listened to complaints about the construction projects going on at Schoolhouse Road, and awarded a bid for three sidewalk construction and intersection improvement projects.

The next town board meeting will take place on Sept. 4.

At the beginning of Tuesday night’s meeting, three residents from Birch Drive complained about problems with the ongoing construction projects on Schoolhouse Road.

The Albany County Department of Public Works is scheduled to complete the project by June 30, 2008, according to department spokesman, William Anslow.

Anslow said that portions of the road are currently under "full-depth reconstruction," and the project will include new sidewalks, a round-about, and a re-alignment of the Russell Road intersection.

Depending on weather and utility availability, Anslow said, the project could possibly be finished earlier than expected. However, Anslow said, storms like the one on Monday slow down the process because it ties up the availability of utility companies and county workers.

One resident argued they were not properly notified and the other two complained of dangerous conditions left behind by workers.

Councilman David Bosworth said that every resident in the area should have received two postcards notifying them in detail of the project, but said he personally visited the site the night before and there were "some problems."

Another resident told board members that drainage covers were left open, open pits were left unmarked, and various construction equipment was left out for extended periods of time.

"For me," he said, "it’s something kids shouldn’t be going near."

Runion told The Enterprise yesterday that he spoke with Michael Francini, commissioner of the county’s department of public works, and relayed the residents’ concerns and sent him photographs of the complaints.

"This is the first we’ve heard of any complaints," Runion said. "There’s quite a bit of work that needs to be done"and we’re going to send the county a copy of our meeting."

One resident asked the board, "How do you tell a six-year-old who’s been inside all winter that they can’t ride their bike outside""

New sidewalks

The board approved three sidewalk projects which will include new sidewalks and intersection improvements on Carman Road; at1450 Western Ave. and the intersection of Parkwood and McKown Road; and at McKown Road and Woodscape Drive.

The town is using grants from the Capital District Transportation Committee and the Assembly John McEneny Multi-Modal Grant to help fund the projects. The bid was awarded to Callahan Industries, Inc., in the amount of $469,951.61, which was the lowest bid out of three. The highest bid came in at $541,164.60.

"We did the bidding and expect the work to begin immediately, last through the summer, and be finished in the fall," Runion said.

Other business

In other business, the board unanimously:

— Authorized the town to bring a lawsuit against the owner of 4379 Western Turnpike for violating various town codes. Runion said the last known owner of the property is Robert Hunt and that the building was damaged by fire several years ago and has since been abandoned.

Hunt’s home, where he created and sold various types statues, burned down in 2004. The Enterprise wrote extensively on Hunt’s plight when he was denied coverage from his insurance company. Hunt described the situation as "a total loss."

Zoning board attorney Janet Thayer wrote a letter to the town board asking for authority to bring the lawsuit on the town’s behalf after "several years" of trying to contact the property’s owner.

The violations include the storage of commercial equipment without a permit; having several unlicensed vehicles, including a camper, on the property; the accumulation of various debris and garbage; and containing a building that possesses a "significant health risk";

— Authorized a warrant adjustment at 100 Arthurs Place. There was an error in the town’s billing process, Runion said, which resulted in a bill of $406.78 for water usage when the actual bill should have been $70;

— Awarded a bid to New England Organics for a three-year contract to transport and dispose of the Nott Road Treatment Plant sludge. New England Organics currently hauls the sludge away, but was only awarded a yearly contract. The new long-term contract will save the town $2 per ton of sludge, according to Runion;

— Approved an out-of-district water connection from the Town of Rotterdam to a home at 733 Countyline Road;

— Authorized the bidding for site work and abutment construction for the Tawasentha Park foot bridge across the Normanskill; and

— Announced that the town clerk is now accepting applications for poll workers in the up coming primary and general elections. Training with new electronic voting machines will take place in August, said Town Clerk Rosemary Centi, and poll workers are paid $200 a day for general elections.

Board enthused over $27M plan to upgrade schools

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND - The school board is largely supportive of a $27 million proposal to renovate the district's five elementary schools, improve technology and safety, and build a new district office.

A committee, working with Collins & Scoville Architects, that had studied the matter for months, paring down plans from $38 million, presented its report to the board on Tuesday night.

"We freely admit it's a large number," said Superintendent Gregory Aidala, adding that, if voters approve the proposal, it would mean an annual tax increase of $38 for the average Guilderland homeowner.

The facilities committee was formed because the district is eligible for $1.78 million in EXCEL (Expanding our Children's Education and Learning) Aid, a one-time offer from the state that must be used by next year. Eligible projects include those related to education technology, health and safety, accessibility, and energy.

"Obviously we've gone beyond the $1.78 million," said Aidala.

Board member Hy Dubowsky praised the plan for following the board's priority of improving technology education. "It doesn't happen cheap," he said. "It's very well thought out."

"I know roof repair...is not sexy," said board President Richard Weisz. "I just hope the community understands we have to fix the buildings..."

He went on to say, "The 800-pound gorilla in the room is we're anticipating a 10-percent drop in enrollment...I can see some people saying, 'Why are we spending so much"'"

Aidala responded, "Our elementary buildings need to be renovated...There will still be significant numbers of students."

If the public approves the project in the fall, it could be completed by September of 2010, said Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders.

Guilderland gets about 64 percent in state building aid, which would cover about $16.2 million, said Sanders; another $1.78 million would come from EXCEL Aid; and $600,000 would come from the district's capital reserve.

The remainder would come from tax levy and Sanders estimated a Guilderland resident with a $180,000 home, the town average, would pay $38 a year, or just over 21 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

The project would be funded with money borrowed for 15 years, said Sanders, and debt service will amount to about $650,000 over the life of the bond. In 2010, he said, the district's debt service will be reduced by about $650,000 and then the following year by about $450,000 as earlier debts are retired.

"This is a very good time with expiring debt coming up," said Sanders.

The committee's full report is posted on the district's website: www.guilderlandschools.org.

"It's a written document anyone can look at and ask questions," said Aidala.

Weisz encouraged community members to contact board members or e-mail the superintendent with questions about the project, and he urged residents to come to the board's Sept. 11 meeting with their comments.

If the board adopts the proposal in September, it can be put to public vote in November, said Aidala.


The committee recommends a total of $17.4 million in renovations at the high school and at the five elementary schools:

- Westmere, built in 1953, and last renovated in 1991;

- Altamont, built in 1953 and last renovated in 1990;

- Guilderland, built in 1956 and last renovated in 1991;

- Lynnwood, built in 1966, and last renovated in 1991; and

- Pine Bush, built in 1994.

The high school went through a $24 million renovation project in the late 1990s and the middle school was renovated and expanded for $20 million in the early 2000s.

William Goergen, a retired architect who lives in Westmere and who served on the committee, showed the board a series of pictures highlighting problems in the buildings.

There are to be improvements to parking and driveways, and to sidewalks and lighting at a cost of $879,500.

"This will help minimize conflicts between buses, cars, and pedestrians," said Goergen.

Roofs will be replaced, windows rehabbed, and chimneys repaired at a cost of $5.4 million.

"The song 'Raindrops are Falling on My Head' should never apply to interior spaces," said Goergen as he showed a picture of a leaking ceiling, followed by a picture of soaked computers being dried out; the computers were salvaged, he said.

Inside the buildings, classroom doors will be replaced and so will worn floor tiles as classrooms are renovated, at a cost of $1.5 million.

Goergen showed a picture of a typical classroom door which he said was not fire-rated and in violation of building codes; he also said the hardware was not handicapped accessible.

Antiquated heating systems will be replaced, ventilation improved, and building controls consolidated at a cost of $6.2 million.

A pipe was pictured with a sign that declared "Danger: Asbestos." Goergen said of the supply pipe to outdated fin-tube radiation, "It's costly and potentially dangerous."

Telephone and public address systems as well as fire-alarm systems will be replaced and wiring and electrical panels will be upgraded at a cost of $3.2 million.

"The technology is almost 20 years old and limited in capability...and availability," said Goergen as he showed a picture of a telephone with a push-button system.

Roof drains will be replaced and so will a water heater and sewage lift station at Altamont Elementary for a cost of $91,200.

Technology and security

Upgrades across the district in technology and in safety and security are slated at $5.7 million.

Cabling in all seven school buildings is to be upgraded and there will be dedicated wiring and power distributions. Each classroom will have a projector and there will be 10 "smart boards" in each elementary school and 20 each in the middle school and high school.

Each school will have a video distribution system and mobile carts for video editing and podcasts. Each school will also have added laptop carts, and, at the high school, components will be put in place for a pre-engineering program.

"We have to show the community we have a curriculum that uses this stuff," said Weisz.

He said of the smart boards, for example, "I'm willing to be persuaded but I'd like to see the curriculum piece that goes with it."

Smart boards, also known as whiteboards as opposed to blackboards, allow students to see and work a computer on a huge screen by the touch of a pen or finger, as if using a mouse, so teachers can create lessons that allow students to participate.

Elizabeth Taylor McNamara, a Guilderland High School graduate and now the senior education consultant with Core BTS Inc., said, "A lot of the money for technology has to do with infrastructure."

It makes sense to install the infrastructure while the ceilings are open to repair leaks, McNamara said. To install it afterwards, she said, would be three times as costly.

She also said that, as part of her work with the committee, she visited each school and found some excellent technology programs in place.

"You have a barrier right now...in elementary schools," she said, "with too few network access points....Teachers said they're constrained right now."

The proposed project will update and increase network access points, said McNamara.

"Until you make it easier for teachers to get to that projector," she said, the curriculum won't move forward. "It has to be fairly seamless to get to the stuff."

She also said that the renovation of the technical education area in the high school was very important to the committee. "The space itself needed major upgrades," she said. "No matter what program you select, that arena will be ready to house it."

Board member Barbara Fraterrigo asked what will happen to students who learned in the old woodworking or automotive shops; she speculated they would go to BOCES programs.

Nowadays, responded Aidala, "It's like repairing your car...It's all computer generated. Our auto mechanics are computer literate." Some Guilderland students might attend BOCES programs, he said, "but we're going to do as much as we can in-house."

For added school safety, cabling and power will be installed to support security upgrades including additional security cameras - four each at the elementary schools, 16 at the middle school, and 48 at the high school.

Monitoring and recording devices will be installed at each school along with up to five more swipe-card door access systems.

Fraterrigo asked about having a single entrance at each elementary school, as the middle school and high school have, to improve security. Sanders responded that the elementary schools would have to have additions built, which would be costly.

New district offices

Relocating the district office to the high school is slated at $3.9 million.

The current district office building, located near the middle school, off of Route 155, was built a half-century ago as a clubhouse for the golf course on which the middle school was built.

Last January, a state-required evaluation of the condition of the district's buildings found only the district office had unsatisfactory ratings. Six categories were rated unsatisfactory - drainage; electrical; foundation; roof; ventilation equipment; and heat, ventilation, and air-conditioning control system.

"The electrical system is obsolete," Aidala told the board at Tuesday's meeting. "We go through periodic outages."

He also said, "We've been quite creative with that building...We added a second floor...and a trailer."

Still, he said, work space is limited and there's a lack of space for conferences, records' storage, and for auditors and others who must work at the office temporarily.

While district-office needs were brought up early on in the discussion for the middle-school project, they were not included in the end for fear the project might be voted down.

Tuesday's proposal calls for moving the offices to the high school in Guilderland Center. A two-story classroom addition would be added to the school at a cost of $2.9 million. Current school space would be renovated for office use at a cost of $890,000 and another $101,000 would be spent on renovating shared conference room space.

Aidala said the committee also considered building the new offices behind Guilderland Elementary School but it was thought to be disruptive to the existing flow of traffic in the building. Also, he said, the high school has more parking and four additional administrators to help out.

Board member Colleen O'Connell, who served on the facilities committee, asked architect Dan Woodside, with Collins & Scoville, if the "so-called caddie shack" could be made into "a Cadillac of district offices."

Woodside said it might be brought "up to a Chevrolet," adding it had "major structural issues." He pointed out that the building was originally used for 16 staff members and is now used by 26.

Woodside also said that the new district offices will be built in renovated high-school space to get 100 percent of the district's allotment of state building aid. "That's why we're putting classrooms on," he said.

Aidala said that renovating the existing offices would cost about $780,000 but the district would get no state aid.

Extending the automotive metaphors, Aidala said, "If you buy an old car, you can put money in it." He named various components that could be repaired for a price. "But you'll still have a car that is 10 years old," said the superintendent. "Something else could go wrong."

He called building the new offices "a long-term solution."

Referring to the school district's annual budget, Dubowsky said, "We have an $80 million-plus operation running out of a double-wide."

"I think the district office right now is unacceptable," said Weisz.

Guilderland School Board
Weisz, Dornbush at helm again

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — For the first time in recent years, the school board chose its leaders in uncontested votes.

President Richard Weisz and Vice President John Dornbush were re-elected to their posts for another year by all seven members present at Monday’s meeting.

"One could say no one else wanted the job," said Weisz when asked after the meeting for his thoughts on the uncontested election. In a more serious tone, he continued, "I feel complimented by the board members. They bought into my ideas."

Weisz, a lawyer, said that, in his first year as president, he was proudest of having the board set priorities for the administration to follow and of "streamlining meetings so there is more time for substantive work."

Last year, at Weisz’s urging, board members set two priorities — to improve technology education and to start foreign language instruction at the elementary-school level. The administration incorporated both priorities into the $82 million budget, which was passed handily by voters in May.

Meetings, during Weisz’s tenure as president, have been "streamlined" in two ways. First, much of the discussion takes place in committee meetings; the chairs then report to the board. The committees have fewer board members than a quorum and so are not subject to the state’s Open Meetings Law. Second, the board votes at its open session on what Weisz terms a "consent agenda" so that individual items are not verbally listed.

Asked about his plans for the upcoming year, Weisz said, "We have challenges with the facilities report coming in; the budget is always an issue; and we’re hiring a new superintendent."

He plans to continue with the board’s setting priorities and with the meeting format, which allows for "more substantive discussion," Weisz said.

Asked about serving with Dornbush as vice president, Weisz said, "He’s a sweetheart."

Dornbush, who lives in Altamont and works at the University at Albany in financial aid, was not at Monday’s meeting. He was out of town this week and could not be reached for comment.

Monday’s session was cut short by the dark. A violent storm just before the meeting had knocked out electricity. The re-organizational session was filmed for public-access television, Channel 16, by students holding battery-operated cameras.

The board proceeded with the re-organizational part of its meeting as twilight fell, dimming the room, but agreed to postpone its regular meeting until Tuesday evening.


The board appointed for 2007-08:

— Linda Livingston as district clerk at a stipend of $5,238;

— Joy Pierle as treasurer at a stipend of $3,508 and Livingston as deputy treasure at no additional pay;

— Norma Henness as tax collector for the towns of Knox and New Scotland for $925;

— Joseph Ferrandino as an internal claims auditor for $15.45 per hour;

— Josephine Polsinelli to conduct bank reconciliations for $13 per hour;

— John Bevilacqua as consulting school physician at an annual rate of $3,000;

— Schoolhouse Road Pediatric Associates and Capital Care Pediatrics as school physicians for state-mandated exams of students; Access Health Systems for sports physicals; and Occupational Medical Services and First Stop Medical Care and Access Health System for employee physicals;

— Dorfman-Robbie, an accounting firm, for the annual audit, for which $19,1000 has been budgeted;

— Questar III BOCES as an internal auditor to asses risk and report on internal controls for $9,750;

— Neil Sanders for asbestos management and as purchasing agent. His authority is $10,000 for purchases and $20,000 for public works contracts;

— Susan Tangorre as American Disabilities Act coordinator, as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act coordinator, as records access officer, as administrator of Civil Service Law, and as Title IX compliance officer;

— Wayne Bertrand as coordinator for the automated external defibrillator program;

— Sally Dague as records management officer;

— Stephen Hadden as compliance officer for Section 504;

— Girvin & Ferlazzo as general legal counsel for the annual retainer of $35,000;

The Altamont Enterprise and The Daily Gazette as official newspapers;

— First Niagara Commercial Bank as the official bank depository;

— Colleen O’Connell to serve as the voting delegate to the New York State School Boards Association meeting, with Barbara Fraterrigo as the alternate;

— Hy Dubowsky as the legislative liaison to the NYSSBA;

— Cathy Barber, Dornbush, Denise Eisele, and Fraterrigo to the policy committee;

— Dubowsky, Eisele, O’Connell, and Gloria Towle-Hilt to the communication committee;

— Barber, Dubowsky, Peter Golden, and Towle-Hilt to the business practices committee;

— Golden, O’Connell, and Weisz to the audit committee along with citizen members Steven Kozlowski and Jeffrey Pitkin; and

— Eisele to be a liaison to Altamont Elementary, O’Connell to Guilderland Elementary, Barber to Lynnwood Elementary, Dornbush to Pine Bush Elementary, Towle-Hilt to Westmere Elementary, Dubowsky and Fraterrigo to Farnsworth Middle School, and O’Connell and Golden to Guilderland High School.

Kachadurian named interim principal of GHS

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Harry Kachadurian will serve as Guilderland High School’s principal until a permanent principal takes over in November. He started work on Wednesday.

Kachadurian wants to see the new school year off to a smooth start. "Nothing’s broken there; I’m just going to be the caretaker," he told The Enterprise. "You’ll be able to find me. I’ll be in the hallways and able to communicate."

After 20 months as Guilderland’s principal, Michael Piccirillo is leaving this month for an administrative post at Saratoga Springs City Schools.

Piccirillo was the second short-term principal at Guilderland High School with an interim principal in between. When John Whipple retired in 2003, after 14 years as principal, he was replaced by Ismael Villafane.

Villafane left after two years to return to Texas where he had spent decades as an educator. Frank Tedesco, a retired administrator who spent three decades in education, filled in at Guilderland after Villafane announced he was leaving in June of 2005 until Piccirillo started working just after Thanksgiving that year.

Kachadurian has been an educator for 36 years. He majored in health and physical education at the State University of New York College at Brockport and got his first job, teaching health, at Chatham. He worked there for 15 years and coached varsity football all those years as well as some track and baseball.

He met a young math teacher at Chatham, Gregory Aidala, who later became Guilderland’s superintendent.

Kachadurian called Aidala a "straight shooter," and went on, "That’s what I am; I tell you the truth and move on."

Aidala recommended Kachadurian for the interim post after interviewing three other candidates, he said.

The school board appointed Kachadurian Monday night, without naming or discussing him, as part of a consent-agenda vote that included many different appointments. The board had discussed the appointment in executive session at its last meeting. Kachadurian will be paid $450 a day, Aidala told The Enterprise.

"He’s an experienced principal coming from a similar type of school district," Aidala said on Tuesday, "and certainly is well-versed in being principal of a large suburban high school."

Kachadurian began working for the South Colonie School District in 1984, first as a health teacher and track and football coach. He became associate principal of Colonie High School in 1991 after earning a master’s degree in administration and policy studies at the University at Albany.

"My wife’s a saint," he said, recalling the busy time in his life when he was teaching, coaching, and pursuing a graduate degree; his wife took the lead in raising their two young children, now grown. Their son is now a high-school English teacher and their daughter and her husband live in Orlando, Fla. and both work for Disney. "We adore the grandchildren, two little boys," said Kachadurian of his daughter’s sons.

In 1996, Kachadurian became building principal of Colonie High, retiring in 2005.

"I thoroughly enjoy high-school culture, staff, and certainly the students. They’re just at a great time in their lives with such opportunities, although they don’t always realize it," he said with a chuckle.

Asked about his goals for his three-and-a-half months at Guilderland, Kachadurian said, "It’s important the school year gets off to a smooth start and everyone does what they do best. Guilderland has a great academic reputation."

This is the first time Kachadurian has interrupted his two years of retirement to fill in as an administrator. "I’m doing it because I know Greg Aidala and I know the district," he said, noting he was familiar with Guilderland from his coaching days. He stressed that, while athletics is an important part of education, so are music and the arts.

Kachadurian and his wife like to say of retirement, "Every day is Saturday." Kachadurian went on, "Now I’ll have Mondays."

Aidala himself is retiring in the fall. "Assuming all goes well with selection of the new supervisor," he said, "we want to move fast enough to have the new supervisor in place for the second round of interviews" for principal.

"Ideally," he concluded, "we’ll have a new high school principal by Nov. 1 or before."

With Fresh Air Fund
City meets country and kids have fun

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — Tom and Ginny Woods have welcomed a child — the same child — from New York City into their home for the last eight summers.

Asked why they participate in the Fresh Air program every year, Tom Woods said, "We get Shaina back. The kids love to play with her."

Shaina Masso, 13, feels the same connection to the Woods family. The Woodses have four children, ages 19, 17, 13, and 11.

"It’s really fun," Shaina said. Her mother signed her up as soon as she turned 6, the minimum age for children in the Fresh Air Fund program. The not-for-profit program matches children from the five boroughs in New York City with families who live in the country and suburbs of 13 states and Canada. The children receive free vacations of one to two weeks.

The first year, Shaina stayed with the Woods for a week. This year, she is staying for a month. Homesickness was a problem, once.

"I was 6 years old. I was scared".Now, it’s nothing," Shaina said.

She and one of her summer sisters are taking tennis lessons this week, for the second year in a row. The rest of the time, the family hangs around the house, or sometimes goes out to eat, Shaina said.

"I look forward to everything," she said.

Woods said that the children, now teens, do "what they do normally" during Shaina’s visits. Their family likes athletic activities in the summer, he said. Shaina learned to swim at lessons in Voorheesville, Woods said, and now she is on the swim team for her school.

"We don’t do anything different that we normally do with the children," Woods said. They recently made a trip to the Great Escape for a birthday party. The family also went to see Nickelback perform at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The Woodses’ son, the youngest of the family, and their eldest daughter wanted to see them, so the whole family went along.

"We’re tremendously busy," Woods said.

His family loves having Shaina visit, he said.

"It’s great. We have a big old house in the country and, generally, have a lot of kids running around — our own and their friends. It’s no inconvenience. She’s fun to have around," Woods said.

"My wife grew up in New York City," he said. They decided to participate in the Fresh Air Fund program long ago "just to offer our home in the country to a kid who hadn’t been out of the city before," he said.

Shaina and the Woods teens keep in touch all year by e-mail or instant messaging, Woods said. He said that Shaina is a member of the family.

"She likes to be here," he said.

"My mom did Fresh Air Fund as a kid until she was 16 or 17," Shaina said. Her mother is still in contact with her Fresh Air family, too, she said.

"A lot of families should do this because it’s a good experience for both the family and the child," Shaina said.

Planners approve 4 lots on McKown Road and a compromise on Pine Bush property

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — Against neighbors’ wishes, the planning board last week approved a proposal to create four lots on 1.13 acres on McKown Road. The board also approved a compromise on property slated by the Albany Pine Bush commission for full-protection status.

Bill Strassburg’s proposal for property on McKown Road had been continued in February when the board and Strassburg’s engineer learned of a possible oil spill from a nearby defunct gas station.

Planning board Chairman Stephen Feeney said last week that, although he had been unable to contact a state Department of Environmental Conservation project manager, he believed that the gas tanks were "still an issue," with "volatile materials" in the ground. He said that the spill was migrating east, away from Strassburg’s property.

Drainage issues also delayed approval in February. The plan that engineer Zareh Altounian presented last week eliminated ponding on the property, Feeney said. According the planning board, the town’s highway superintendent, Todd Gifford, favors an underground system over proposed swales.

"It’s not typical to have a swale" in a neighborhood like this, Feeney said.

Town-designated-engineer Nadine Medina of Barton and Loguidice said that results of soil borings to test the water table level would determine whether or not a swale would work on the property.

Residents in the audience laughed loudly when Altounian said that no neighbors had water back-up issues. Resident Henry Tedeschi said that many basements near the proposed subdivision now flood.

"They can’t exacerbate it," Feeney said, and he added that he hoped the proposal would make the flooding troubles better.

Neighbors concerned about ditches full of standing water, both currently and even more so after development of the proposed subdivision, told the board that development was not an "acceptable solution."

"The neighbors know we’re going to look at this very carefully," said board member Thomas Robert.

Pine Bush compromise

The planning board approved an application from Black Creek Associates for a two-lot subdivision of about 35 acres on Lydius Street. The Albany Pine Bush Commission had recommended that the property be given full-protection status, but the lot is zoned for residential use and has a house on it.

Black Creek Associates representative Paul Sciocchotti said that five or six acres around the house will be cut from the 35 acres.

"We are the contract vendees to purchase this property," Sciocchotti said. He said that he is under contract to buy the entire parcel, to sell the house parcel, and to sell the other parcel to the Albany Pine Bush. He said that milkweed and not lupine, the plant crucial to the survival of the endangered Karner blue butterfly, was found on the site.

"There are no intentions whatsoever to subdivide this five- or six-acre parcel," Sciocchotti said. The house has an existing driveway, but the house will not be resold intact.

"You can’t really live in it," he said. "We’re not buying it to hold it. We may make a single-family or larger single family, but there are no plans at this point."

Neil Gifford, of the APB, said that the commission’s goal to acquire 4,610 acres has been realized by 3,000 acres. The purchase of the 30 acres on Lydius Street "does represent a reasonable compromise," he said.

He requested that the board require notification on the deed to future buyers of the remaining five acres that the Albany Pine Bush uses fire management. He also requested that future buyers protect dunes on the property and refrain from introducing invasive species.

Gifford said that there are 44 other species of concern in the pine bush besides the Karner blue butterfly.

"It seems like a nice deal," Feeney said.

Other business

In other business, the planning board recently:

— Approved a request by James Brust to subdivide 15 acres on Route 146 into two lots. Brust wants to sell an existing house on one acre, and keep the remaining 14.3 acres. The board said that Brust must show the septic field on his map, and keep it 10 feet from the property line when the land is surveyed;

— Approved an application by Brian Jackson to divide 8.9 acres on Ostrander Road into two parcels;

— Approved a request by Dan Santabarbara to divide 6.5 acres off Curry Road into two lots. The board recommended that he hire an engineer to do a traffic study; and

— Approved a request by Maple Leaf Daycare owner John Moran and his wife, Linda, to turn a second-story storage area into an office break room. No children would be allowed in the new area, he said.

Over $6K owed
Village shuts off Fisher’s water again

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALTAMONT — Alice Fisher’s water is off again at her Gun Club Road home.

When the widow’s access to village water was shut off in December, Fisher and several of her children were homeless until June, when Helderberg Community Safe Haven offered to step in and foot the bill; she owed the village over $6,000 for three years of water and sewer fees.

On June 8, the village had returned water service to Fisher’s house with the understanding that Safe Haven would pay the outstanding bill by June 22, Mayor James Gaughan said at Altamont’s July 3 village board meeting. After a month correspondence between Gaughan and Richard Umholtz, president of Safe Haven, water flow to the Fisher home was cut on July 9, Gaughan said.

"He didn’t get paid is the point" I have no problem with what the mayor did," Umholtz said this week. "It’s not just a matter of paying the bill and moving back in," he said of the family’s situation.

Currently, the Fishers are living in one of the two apartments that Safe Haven maintains in the Helderbergs for temporary use by families who have lost their homes. In the month that the Fishers have been living there, Robert Fisher, Alice Fisher’s 17-year-old son, has been arrested twice for menacing behavior.

"We have done what we are capable of doing and it’s time for other agencies to step up," Dr. Margery Smith, vice president of Safe Haven, said this week. Umholtz agreed that several agencies will need to come together to work out the situation, but he still hopes to pay the water bill by means of an unidentified source. According to Smith, Safe Haven does not have the money to foot the bill itself.

The overdue bill began accumulating in April of 2004, according to the village. In response to a Freedom of Information Law request, village Clerk Jean La Crosse wrote "Ms. Alice Fisher has been in long-term arrears currently accumulating to an amount in excess of $6,000 which includes water and sewer rent in addition to penalties." Fisher now owes a total of $6,811 to Altamont, about $676 of which are penalties.

The village has spent a total of $1,754 in legal costs since Fisher’s water situation entered the courts last winter, La Crosse said. Guy Roemer, the village’s attorney, is paid an annual salary of $7,782, she said, and the lawyer who has been handling the case for the village, James Roemer, who is the brother of the village attorney, is paid $175 per hour.

"The linchpin around all of this is paying the outstanding debt," Gaughan said of Fisher’s water situation. "It really always has been."

Safe Haven seeks funds

By Saranac Hale Spencer

HILLTOWNS — When a Hilltown family was turned out of their home, it used to be that they’d have to go to Albany to find help. Ten years ago, Reverend Donald Lyon, pastor of the Baptist church in Wetserlo, recognized the problem and founded Safe Haven, which now keeps two apartments in the Helderbergs.

Recently, though, income to Safe Haven has slowed. The organization has been waiting to receive a $10,000 state grant for four months, said Kelsey Maslowsky, director of Safe Haven. "It’s kind of like our bread and butter," she said of the money that the group gets roughly every one-and-a-half years. But, she said, "Because of all the red tape, we don’t have it in our hands."

The non-profit organization relies on donations in addition to grants to pay for its expenses. It employs two part-time staffers and pays about $1,000 a month for the apartments that it keeps, said Dr. Margery Smith, vice president of Safe Haven’s board of directors. Often, families who use the apartments pay a few hundred dollars towards rent, she said.

The purpose of the organization is to give temporary housing to local residents while they find a permanent place to live, said Smith. "We try to keep it to two months because of turnover," Smith said, referring to the demand for temporary housing in the area. Both apartments are usually filled, she said.

Keeping families in the community is especially important for children, who can stay in the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District while their families get back on their feet, said Richard Umholtz, Safe Haven’s board president.

Safe Haven hasn’t been getting as many grants as it usually does, Smith said. According to Umholtz, Safe Haven is in no danger of going broke. "We’re paying our bills," he said.

When asked how likely it is that the organization will fail, Smith answered, "I’d hate to say. It depends."


Donations to Safe Haven may be sent to Post Office Box 553, Altamont, NY 12009.

Seinberg and Son
Computers run in the family

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALTAMONT — Michael Seinberg is making a name for the third generation of computer men in his family with Seinberg and Son Macintosh Consultants, LLC.

He created the business in 1996, and merged it with another computer consulting company in 2005, he said.

"As they say, I don’t play well with others, in a corporate environment," he said of re-founding the business again this spring so that he could be on his own.

When he first started the business, he was working for a printing company and helping people with their computers on the side, then he realized that he could be working on computers full time, he said.

"I ended up in the business because I learned so much over the years," he said.

Raised by a father who worked for IBM, Seinberg got his first computer in 1977; the local paper in Binghamton did a story on the family and their new gadget, he remembered.

Seinberg is hoping that his own son, Tucker, will be an artist, he said. "Tucker’s interest in computers right now is limited to playing games and using them for school," he said of his young son.

It’s a stressful job, Seinberg said of helping people in their hour of computer need, as six months of their work disappears before their eyes. "I spend half my time talking people off ledges," he joked.

Most of his clients "have a business orientation," he said; they include graphic artists, photographers, state agencies, and private companies. Seinberg charges $50 per hour for his Apple computer services. "I know my way around PCs, but it’s not an area I’d be comfortable saying I’m an expert in," he said, adding that a friend of his works on PCs and the two often refer customers to each other.

"You can’t be all things to all people," he said with a shrug.

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