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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, September 20, 2007
Guilty is Krajewski plea, but with no jail time
By Saranac Hale Spencer
VOORHEESVILLE John Krajewski wont go to jail, but he will be supervised for the next three years, following his guilty plea in Albany County court last Friday.
The 26-year-old Voorheesville native pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child after admitting to sleeping in the same bed with and kissing a 14-year-old girl for whom he babysat.
When he was charged last February with three counts of second-degree rape, a felony; two counts of committing a second-degree criminal act, also a felony; and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, his lawyer, Christopher Rutnik, said that his client wouldnt take a plea bargain. Krajewski wanted a trial, Rutnik said, so he could exonerate himself.
After coaching the victims basketball team at St. Matthews church in the village, Krajewski became friends with her family, babysitting often, the girls father said. The Enterprise is withholding the name and identity of the victim.
On Jan. 23, 2006, State Police arrested Krajewski and the Voorheesville School District fired him from his job as a teachers aide in the elementary school. Linda Langevin, the schools superintendent, said at the time that it was a coincidence that Krajewski was fired from his job on the same night that he was arrested; he didnt have the proper certification to be a teaching assistant, she said.
"Obviously this conviction and this offense is going to preclude certain occupations, teaching is one of them" Rutnik said yesterday when asked if Krajewski would pursue a career in elementary education. He also said that Krajewski has no plans to coach basketball with minors in the future. Right now, Krajewski is working at a local bar and grill while he gets his life back on track, Rutnik said.
Going through the criminal justice system was hard on him and his family, said Rutnik. He had no prior offenses and hes glad that its behind him, his lawyer said.
Initially, the girls family would only consider offering a plea bargain if it included time in a state prison, her father said. The first plea bargain offered by the district attorneys office did include a term in state prison, Rutnik said, but Krajewski wouldnt accept.
Shannon Sarfoh, the assistant district attorney handling the case for the girl, would not comment on any prior plea offers. She did say that the family was heavily involved in making the decision not to go to trial, a choice based largely on the effect a trial could have on the girl, who has been doing very well since her family moved to South Carolina, Sarfoh said.
"She was subjected to great ridicule in the small community of Voorheesville," Sarfoh said in a statement at Krajewski’s sentencing. "She has made great progress since leaving this community."
Thats what was most important to the girls parents, Sarfoh said. So, considering the circumstances, Sarfoh is satisfied with the plea deal to which Krajewski agreed.
"I had no desire to leave where I was. We started a whole new life" it’s not easy," said the girl’s father. "She couldn’t function here," he said of Voorheesville.
He said other students at school were nasty to her after the allegations were made public, particularly members of the basketball team that Krajewski volunteered with at the high school. Krajewski had been a high school basketball star when he was a student at Clayton A. Bouton.
Back in February, Rutnik said of his client, "He does not want to plead to anything that he did not do." Yesterday, Rutnik said that he had abided by that statement.
"The conduct to which he pled was he slept in the same bed and kissed her on the forehead," said Rutnik. "He recognizes he made a bad choice there."
Three years of probation is a reasonable punishment for the charge of endangering the welfare of a child, Rutnik said. But Krajewski has suffered consequences beyond that, like losing his affiliation with the school and damaging his reputation.
"Unfortunately, that’s a flaw in the criminal justice system," he said. "You can’t get your reputation back after it’s been tarnished."
Dems and GOP get nod
By Rachel Dutil
NEW SCOTLAND Both Republicans and Democrats will be represented on the Conservative Party line in the towns November general election.
Candidates who had been endorsed by the party secured spots on the Conservative Party line, according to unofficial results reported to The Enterprise by Democratic candidate for town supervisor, Thomas Dolin, from the board of elections counts on Wednesday afternoon.
Dolin lost his write-in campaign to Republican candidate Douglas LaGrange, who received 45 votes to Dolins 31.
"It was a challenge to wage a write-in campaign," Dolin said, adding that he is thankful to those who supported him. "I feel confident that I can build upon their support and be successful in November," he said.
"It’s a nice showing," LaGrange told The Enterprise yesterday. At least with the supervisor’s race, when "true Conservatives" head to the polls in November, they will be voting for someone that represents them, LaGrange said.
"It’s sadly amusing" the politics of the primary," he said, referring to the Conservative Party’s large enrollment of family members of Democrats.
In 2005, The Enterprise reported that more than half of the signers of a petition requesting the opportunity to ballot for town council and supervisor for the Conservative Party primary, were relatives of candidates running on the Democratic ticket or relatives of individuals already serving an elected position in town as a Democrat.
The general election is coming, LaGrange said. "There’s a good month for people to see who the candidates are and what they’re running on."
"This doesn’t mean a lot," said LaGrange. "It’s what we say and do and show before the general election" that matters.
The Republican slate is running on a platform emphasizing economic development, planning for the future, and making Town Hall more accessible to the public, LaGrange told The Enterprise earlier.
The towns Democratic Party chairman, L. Michael Mackey, told The Enterprise earlier that the Democratic candidates are committed to seeing that the town gets development that fits in with the existing character. The candidates "really want to encourage light industrial and commercial development," he said, adding that this type of expansion tends to ease taxes.
According to figures provided by the Albany County Board of Elections, New Scotland is divided roughly into thirds 35 percent of registered voters are enrolled as Democrats, 29 percent are enrolled as Republicans, and nearly 36 percent of voters are not enrolled in a party. Less than 1 percent of New Scotland voters are enrolled in one of the small parties.
Because more than one-third of New Scotland voters have no large-party affiliation, the small parties are an important factor in the outcome of an election.
A total of 18 or 19 absentee ballots for the Conservative Party will be counted in the next week, and could have a significant impact on the results, Dolin said. Three or four Conservative ballots are being challenged, due to extraneous markings, and could possibly go to court, he added.
"There were some close races," Dolin said.
In the race for two open seats on the town board, Deborah Baron, a Democrat, Charles Voss, a Republican, and Gary Schultz, an enrolled Conservative running on the Republican ticket, were all endorsed by the Conservative Party.
The unofficial count shows Baron received 46 votes, Schultz had 39, Voss had 35, and Democratic candidate Richard Reilly, who was waging a write-in campaign, had 28 votes. If those numbers hold, after the absentee ballots are counted, Baron and Schultz will appear on the Conservative line in the Nov. 6 election.
Diane Deschenes, a Democrat seeking re-election as town clerk, secured the Conservative Party line in her race with 65 votes to Republican candidate Penny Barones 16.
In the race for two town justice positions, four candidates vied for both the Conservative and the Independence Party lines.
The two Republican candidates are incumbent Margaret Adkins, and newcomer John Keenan III. Brendan OShea and incumbent David Wukitsch will be running for judge as Democrats.
The town board appointed Wukitsch in May after Dolins late-March resignation to make a run at supervisor.
Candidates running for judge collect signatures and submit a petition; they dont need the permission of the party, and therefore, the names of all the candidates appeared on the primary election ballots.
In the Conservative Party primary, Adkins received 42 votes, Wukitsch and OShea each garnered 39 votes, and Keenan had 35.
In the Independence Party Primary, Wukitsch received 42 votes, OShea had 33, Adkins had 24, and Keenan had 10.
Signs, signs everywhere cause controversy in New Scotland
By Rachel Dutil
NEW SCOTLAND Littering the local landscape with campaign signs during election season is a "time-tested phenomenon," says L. Michael Mackey, New Scotland’s Democratic Party chairman.
The campaign signs of New Scotland Democratic candidates prompted Douglas LaGrange, a Republican running for supervisor, to write a letter to The Enterprise editor this week. LaGrange said he was frustrated by the "deception" of the Democrats citing their lawn signs that use unearned titles and party lines.
In his letter, LaGrange refers to Mackey as "seemingly the Rove-type architect of his party’s slate and campaign in our upcoming election."
As the Democratic chairman, Mackey said it is his responsibility to oversee and manage the campaign. His personal philosophy as to how campaigns should be run, he said, is that "both sides should stay above the temptation to personally attack the opponent."
Both sides should engage in "rational discussions" regarding the qualifications of the candidates and the issues concerning the town, Mackey told The Enterprise.
"I believe Rove’s signature would be to personally attack or Swift Boat his political opposition. I’ve never done that, and I never would do that," Mackey said. He added that if it becomes a requirement of his position, he will resign.
The signs for the Democratic candidates were ordered from the same company, and printed using the same template, said Brendan OShea, who is running for town justice.
O’Shea’s campaign signs had read "Elect Judge Brendan O’Shea," though he is not currently a judge. The Republican candidates for judge, John Keenan and incumbent Margaret Adkins, each called O’Shea to inform him that his signs were misleading.
"They could not have been nicer," O’Shea said of Adkins and Keenan.
"Mr. O’Shea immediately went out and covered it up," Adkins told The Enterprise. O’Shea took all of his signs and painted over the word "judge" before replacing them, he said.
Similarly, LaGrange points out that signs for his opponent in the race for town supervisor, Democrat Thomas Dolin, read, "Elect Supervisor Tom Dolin."
LaGrange says that this is "unethical" and "misleading to the public."
"He’s not claiming to be the supervisor, it’s just the style of the sign," Mackey said of Dolin’s signs. "He’s not deceiving anyone."
When The Enterprise spoke to Dolin this week regarding his signs, he said it was the first he had heard of any complaints. "If it needs some clarification, I’ll do it," Dolin said.
"I’ll take full responsibility for the way they’re presented," Dolin said. "I’m trying to address the issues, not fool the people," he said.
Dolin said that he is a "strong advocate of avoiding sign pollution" and has tried to be sensitive to the public.
The village of Voorheesville has a sign law that stipulates that campaign signs cannot be put up more than 30 days prior to a primary or general election, Dolin said. The town does not have a law, but, the Democratic and Republican parties have reached an understanding to try to be sensitive to the public and not place signs in town more than 30 days before an election, he said.
The Democrats planned to take their signs down on Wednesday, following the primary election, and would put them back up on Oct. 8 30 days before the November general election, said Dolin.
"Before we put them up again, I will take these comments into consideration," Dolin said. "I’ll try to be objective and, if it needs correcting, I’ll do it," he said.
Signs for Democrat Deborah Baron, who is seeking re-election to the town board, read "Democrat, Independence, and Conservative" though the signs were put up before Tuesday’s Conservative Party primary election, LaGrange said.
"Let’s keep it on a level playing field," LaGrange told The Enterprise.
Baron was designated by the Conservative Party, is running with their support, and included it on her sign, Mackey said.
"I was interviewed and given the endorsement of the Conservative Party," Baron told The Enterprise this week. Republican candidate Chuck Voss, and Conservative Gary Shultz, who is running on the Republican line, were later endorsed by the Conservatives as well.
Therefore, on Tuesdays Conservative Party ballot, three names Baron, Voss, and Schultz appeared, along with one opportunity to ballot for Democrat Richard Reilly, as candidates for town board. There are only two open seats, so only two candidates will get the Conservative line in Novembers election.
Unofficial results reported on by Dolin from the board of election counts on Wednesday afternoon showed Baron securing the Conservative line with 46 votes.
Baron said that she did what she thought was OK, and was told by an attorney that it wasn’t a problem to include "Conservative" on her signs. If she had thought it was going to be problematic, she said, "I would have covered it up."
"Two years ago, a factually flawed letter was mailed, by the Democrat slate, to a large segment of town," said LaGrange in his letter to the editor.
The letter LaGrange is referring to was dated Nov. 2, 2005 the day after a unanimous planning-board decision to not rezone the area where a large development was proposed. LaGrange was, at the time, a member of the planning board running for a seat on the town board.
The town had been presented with a petition signed by 170 residents who thought the area should be two-acre zoning.
The letter was signed by the three Democratic candidates and mailed the week prior to the general election. The candidates promised that, if elected, they would scale back the proposed density for the development.
"We, again, find ourselves before another election and here they go again only sooner," LaGrange says in his letter, referring to the Democrats’ campaign signs.
Every fall, the signs come out on both sides, Mackey said, indicating his uncertainty on the effectiveness of the signs in the outcome of the campaign. "We’re all blessed with having these signs up," he added.
A study conducted by Barometrics Research on the effectiveness of campaigning tactics in Ontario, Canada found that each lawn sign in a poll added .68 percent to the partys vote in the poll. The study compared results from Canadas federal election in 2000 to results from the 2004 election.
"I think it’s tempting in the heat of an election, to sometimes make mountains out of molehills," Mackey said.
"I really think it’s important that all of the candidates on both sides really try to keep their focus on discussing their qualifications and focus on issues," said Mackey. The public doesn’t want to hear about personal attacks, he said, "It’s unnecessary."
New basketball court to become parks ice rink in winter
By Rachel Dutil
NEW SCOTLAND Moving the basketball court from the back of Swift Road Park to the front would be a mistake, says Peter Baltis, a resident of Swift Road. The highway superintendent says otherwise.
"The park is wonderful," Baltis told the town board last week, adding that he and his wife walk their dog there twice every day, and feel lucky to have it so close to home.
He asked that the board reconsider the decision to move the court.
The basketball court is currently located in the rear of the park, he said, and it is rarely used. When it is used, though, it is very noisy when the ball hits the backboard, he said.
Having the court in the front of the park would not only increase the noise in the area, said Baltis, it would also be a safety concern. The basketball, which doesnt always stay on the court, he said, might roll into the street, and children would run into the road to retrieve it.
The new court would be located "50 feet or more from the road," responded Darrell Duncan, the town’s highway superintendent, through The Enterprise. The area is in a depression, he said, adding that the ball rolling into the road should not be a concern.
The new court will be flooded in the winter, to create an ice rink.
"I don’t know whose idea that was, but it was not very bright," Baltis said of the plan to flood the court, expressing his concerns that the frozen water would cause the pavement to heave.
Currently, the town floods a portion of the park lawn for an ice rink. The ground absorbs a lot of water, Duncan explained. Flooding the tarmac is really to conserve water, he said.
The pavement would only heave if the water got under it, Duncan told The Enterprise, adding that there will be a drainage pipe to guide the water flow when the ice thaws.
At this point, Duncan said, the project depends on the paving companies, which are currently backed up.
"We’d like to start it this fall and finish it in the spring," Duncan said. The plan is to pave the new court this fall and to topcoat and surface it in the spring, he said. If the pavement is laid this fall, this winter’s ice rink will be located there, said Duncan.
In other business at the Sept. 12 town board meeting, the board:
Extended the moratorium on building in the Northeast Quadrant for an additional six months. The board held a public hearing on the moratorium prior to the meeting, and heard from only one resident, who said he was in favor of the extension.
Councilman Douglas LaGrange did not support the moratorium one year ago, when it was originally enacted. After LaGrange heard from the town’s attorney, L. Michael Mackey, that the Kensington Woods project would not be restricted by the moratorium, he said, "I’d be in favor of an extension of another six months, and then, that’s it." The board unanimously voted in favor of the extension;
Held a public hearing regarding a local law that would allow for the subdivision of lands that contain pre-existing structures that do not conform to the zoning. The law would relieve the applicant from having to go through the planning and zoning process.
The second part of the law would allow applicants to apply for a special-use permit to construct an accessory-type structure such as a shed or barn on a site without a primary structure. Each application would go through the planning board.
The draft was referred back to the planning board for additional definitions;
Heard from Keith Menia, of the town’s engineering firm, Stantec, that the Clarksville Water District Extension #7 is "on target" to come in under budget. The project, he said, is about 60 percent done, and will be substantially completed in 30 days. Councilwoman Peg Neri asked if the board could review all the money that has been paid out for the project in the seven years it has been ongoing, in order to better know what is involved for similar projects.
"I think town board members need to know that," Neri said. Menia said that the majority of the project’s costs were associated with the pre-planning phase. He said that it would not be a problem to supply the board with the figures within the next two meetings.
The town also approved a payment for the project in the amount of $126,636.90, which will be reimbursed to the town through the bond issue;
Heard that an application for a 15-lot subdivision for an extension of the existing development at Claremont Estates off of Route 156 has been presented to the town. The application will be presented to the planning board at its Oct. 2 meeting. The developer will be seeking an inter-municipal water agreement with the village of Voorheesville;
Approved the financing of a new fire truck for the Onesquethaw Volunteer Fire Company in the amount of $463,978. The truck will replace a 23-year-old truck, and will be able to carry more water;
Supported the New York State Department of State shared municipal services incentive grant program to study the feasibility of developing a health insurance consortium;
Recognized the month of September as childhood cancer awareness month in New Scotland;
Heard from public safety Commissioner Doug Miller that the pastor of the Krumkill Road church is interested in offering the building for use as a shelter facility in the event of an emergency;
Appointed Julie Mazzaferro to the towns water board. The water committee members are appointed by the town board but do not have term limits, and there is no set number of board members.
Resident Katy O’Rourke, a member of the water committee, announced that she and her husband have submitted an application to the water committee to set up a water district at the corner of routes 85 and 85A. Currently, the homes in that area are serviced by private spaghetti lines, and, "it’s kind of a mess," she said. The town of Bethlehem has requested that the town of New Scotland deal with these spaghetti lines, O’Rourke said.
Before the application can be considered complete, the applicant must identify the properties the district would serve, the source of water, and potential development, and provide that information to the water committee, the town engineers, and the town board, said Menia;
Established a bid date of Oct. 5 at 10 a.m. for radio read water meters;
Heard from Duncan about the bid results for replacing the roof at Town Hall. The town had budgeted $12,000 for the project, and the lower of the two bidders, estimated $17,000 for the front part of the building, and $39,500 for the whole building. The other bid was $19,980 for the front part and $49,989 for the entire building;
Announced that Electronics Recycling Day will be held Sept. 28 and 29 at the highway garage for the neighboring town of Bethlehem. Residents must pre-register with the New Scotland Highway Department;
Re-appointed Roselyn Robinson as a member of the board of assessment review for a term expiring on Sept. 30, 2012, and re-appointed Paul Nichols as chairperson for a term beginning Oct. 1, 2007 and ending Sept. 30, 2008;
Heard from Councilwoman Neri that Time Warner is not agreeable to the town’s request for a five-year timetable on the franchise agreement. "We’re back at the drawing board," she said, adding that the contracts will soon be taken over by the state;
Heard from Neri that the second annual Clarksville Heritage Day, sponsored by the Clarksville Historical Society, was a success, and drew a profit of $6,500, and that the New Scotland Historical Association has an up and running website at www.newscotlandhistoricalassociation.org;
Announced that senior citizens flu shots will be given on Oct. 22 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Wyman Osterhout Community Center in New Salem, and on Oct. 29 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Feura Bush Senior Apartments.
The board also heard that the American Association of Retired Persons defensive driving program will be held on Oct. 24 and 25 from 1 to 5 p.m.; and
Expressed gratitude to the towns highway department for power-washing the exterior of Town Hall.
Senior housing bill goes back to planning board
By Rachel Dutil
NEW SCOTLAND After sharp criticism from a few citizens, the drafter of a bill for a senior overlay zone agreed with the rest of the town board to send it to the planning board for further review and recommendations.
"This is exactly how the process is supposed to work," Councilman Richard Reilly, who wrote most of the bill, told The Enterprise this week. "It was an excellent public hearing," he added. "The town board was able to respond in thoughtful dialogue."
The planning board is chaired by Robert Stapf who also helped write the bill and has spoken in support of it.
Some residents and town officials had criticized the proposal for lacking standards to accommodate the needs of the elderly.
Another complaint was that the bill was drafted specifically for one developer. Charles Carrow is proposing a senior housing development on a 6.9-acre parcel located behind a medical building that he built on Route 85. Last year, he requested that the town adopt a senior overlay zone for his project.
The property is located in a commercial zone; the senior overlay law would have allowed it to proceed.
The proposed overlay zone would allow for senior housing, with board approval, to be constructed in any zone in town. Current zoning has no provisions that specifically address senior housing.
Carrow told The Enterprise last week that he applauds the board for going back and reviewing the proposal. "It’s very important that they get this right," Carrow said.
The board three Democrats and two Republicans was divided on the issue. Supervisor Ed Clark and Douglas LaGrange, both of whom ran on the Republican ticket, told The Enterprise earlier that the proposal needs more specifics. Democrat Reilly supports it, as does Democrat Peg Neri. Democrat Deborah Baron said she will abstain from a vote on the bill because her husband, Robert Baron, is a business associate of Carrow. (LaGrange is running for supervisor on the Republican line, and Baron and Reilly are both seeking re-election on the Democratic line.)
LaGrange consulted planning experts regarding the proposed law. He wanted "to teach" himself and make an informed decision, he said this week. Gary Kleppel, a professor at the University at Albany who works with cluster housing, and Patricia Salkin, associate dean and director of the government law center of Albany Law School, both concluded, LaGrange said, that "zones should be at least partially residential so as not to seclude the seniors."
At last Wednesday’s public hearing, Reilly explained that the state of New York defines 13 types of senior housing. His intent with the law, he said, was "simply to encourage the construction of the entire spectrum of senior housing."
The board had continued the public hearing from its August meeting after complaints that the time was not sufficient and that many residents were not aware of the proposal or the hearing. The town has also accepted written comments; Supervisor Clark said that he had received remarks from seven residents.
Thomas Dolin, who is running for town supervisor on the Democratic ticket, told the board that he has looked over suggestions supplied to the town by resident Edie Abrams, and thinks that the proposal should be "further studied" by the planning board, and that affordability should also be considered.
"I think the only way a floating zone could ever work is if you have some definite criteria," said resident Katy O’Rourke. "If there’s no criteria set" It looks like it’s not fair."
Lou Neri, who is the counsel to the towns zoning and planning boards and the husband of Councilwoman Peg Neri, said that the criteria is established in the zoning law. The planning board applies the regulations of the law, he said.
"Each project is taken and analyzed in the area that it’s placed," Neri said. Each project is "analyzed on its own merits" for the area it is proposed, he said.
ORourke said that she found the law confusing.
There is nothing in the current zoning law that prevents residential development in a commercial zone, Neri said, adding that ORourke herself built her home in a commercial zone.
Any single-family, two-family, or multi-family residential building is permitted in a commercial zone with a special-use permit, Paul Cantlin, the towns zoning administrator, told The Enterprise this week. A developer could, with a special-use permit, construct a multi-family structure and call it senior housing, Cantlin said.
"We can work around the edges," said Reilly at last week’s meeting. The town can’t tell a developer that they must build a specific type of senior housing on a certain piece of land, because, he said, "if they don’t want to, they’ll just walk away."
Elizabeth Kormos chairs a senior services advisory board for the town. Her business, Kormos & Co., works in the areas of senior housing and commercial development.
At last weeks public hearing, Kormos commended the board for working to implement a senior-housing district.
"I just thought the proposal was a little open-ended," she told The Enterprise.
Senior housing that attracts residents from out of town isn’t such a bad thing, Kormos said at last week’s meeting. "They come with their visits to Emma Cleary’s and Olsen’s," she said, referring to a restaurant and a garden center on New Scotland Road.
Kormos is an advocate for new construction that has certain features that allows those who are disabled to at least visit the home, if not live there, she told The Enterprise. For example, having at least one at-grade entrance, and doorways wide enough for a wheelchair, she said.
"I don’t believe you should mandate elevators," she said, but a builder could stack two closets, which would allow for later installation of an elevator.
"I’d like to see the town have some incentives," she told the board. Usually a town offers some sort of a tradeoff to the developer, she said. The town may offer a developer to build more densely than zoning allows as an incentive to build senior housing, for example, she said.
The proposal has been placed on the agenda for the planning boards Oct. 2 meeting, Cantlin said this week. If the planning board decides that it wants to hold a special meeting to discuss it, it can do that, he said.
The proposal is being forwarded to the planning board with written comments that were submitted to the town, and the minutes of last weeks public hearing will also be provided to planning-board members, Reilly said.
"The planning board will decide if any more specifics are needed," he concluded.
Dubay crowned Bridge King
By Saranac Hale Spencer
VOORHEESVILLE The King of Bridge has been coronated, and he wears a plastic crown.
Andrew Dubay grew up with card-playing parents, which is how he learned the somewhat esoteric game of bridge, he said.
An only child, Dubay often went to local bridge tournaments with his parents, William and Judy Dubay. His reach became international, though, in the summer of 2006 when he traveled to Slovakia for the World Youth Pairs Championships. There, he spent two weeks with about 400 young bridge players from around the world.
"You have to speak English at the table," he said, so communication wasn’t a problem for him.
Along with the crown, which sits on his parents coat rack, Dubay was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the American Contract Bridge League.
This fall, Dubay, a graduate of Clayton A. Bouton High, began his freshman year at Reed College in Oregon, where he has identified "at least three other bridge players," he said, and he might start a bridge club.
"It’s not as complicated as people imagine," Dubay said of his game.
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