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

New Scotland divided: Race for town's new supervisor undecided

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND - The town is divided on choosing a new supervisor - Republican Douglas LaGrange and Democrat Thomas Dolin each received roughly half the vote on Tuesday.

Dolin got 1394 votes, which is 26 more than LaGrange, according to unofficial results from the Albany County Board of Elections.

Both are making their first run for the post being vacated by Ed Clark, who is retiring.

The winner won't be certain until after absentee ballots are counted next week.

The Albany County Board of Elections issued 128 absentee ballots, 79 of which have thus far been returned. Ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 5, and received by Nov. 13. A deadline of Nov. 19 is given to those in the military.

The two Democratic town board members - Richard Reilly and Deborah Baron - easily bested their Republican challengers, meaning the town board will retain its Democratic majority.

The Democratic clerk, Diane Deschenes, won in a landslide and the Democratic highway superintendent, Darrell Duncan, was unopposed.

In a four-way race for two judgeships, results were split. Incumbent Margaret Adkins got the most votes, followed by Democratic candidate David Wukitsch who was appointed in May after Dolin stepped down to run for supervisor.

About 45 percent of enrolled New Scotland voters turned out for Tuesday's election.

Of the 6,080 enrolled voters, 35 percent are registered as Democrats, 28 percent as Republican, 29 percent are not enrolled in a party, and less than 1 percent are enrolled in a small party.

"I remain reasonably optimistic," but the outcome is dependent upon the absentee ballots, said Dolin, a retired lawyer, on Tuesday night while at Smith's Tavern in Voorheesville, where Democratic candidates and their supporters celebrated as results from the eight voting districts trickled in.

Across town, Republican candidates and their supporters tensely awaited results at the American Legion Hall in Voorheesville. Some played darts, while their children played cards and shuffleboard. Though the numbers were not favorable toward many Republican candidates, they managed to hold out hope until the results from the last district came in.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed," said LaGrange, a farmer and town board member. "I'm disappointed because I know we had some great opportunities for the town," he said, referring to the slate of Republican candidates, who called to themselves Team New Scotland.

Adkins was the only Republican candidate to obtain more votes than her Democratic opponents. She received 28 percent of the vote.

Adkins told The Enterprise that she feels happy that people were confident enough to re-elect her.

"I'm always sorry when someone doesn't win, but I'm happy to continue in the job," she said.

All of the candidates for judge are lawyers.

Wukitsch received 25 percent of the vote.

Democratic candidate Brendan O'Shea and Republican candidate John Keenan lost their bids for the justice seats. O'Shea garnered 24 percent of the vote, and Keenan had 23 percent.

O'Shea expressed congratulations to all the winning candidates. "We ran a wonderful race," he said.

Keenan said that the results were "very disappointing."

In the town board race, Reilly, a lawyer, garnered 29 percent of the vote, while Baron, a school tax collector, had 28 percent.

Challengers Gary Shultz, a businessman, and Charles Voss, a professional planner, had 22 percent and 21 percent of the vote, respectively.

"We're excited," Reilly said Tuesday. "I enjoyed going door-to-door" and meeting town residents, said Reilly, who will begin his third four-year term in January.

"I'm proud of the entire Democratic ticket," Reilly said. "We all ran classy campaigns," he said. "I'm proud to have run with every single one of them."

L. Michael Mackey, the Democratic Party chair in New Scotland, said that he was "thrilled" by the overall outcome.

"It was a hard-fought campaign," he said. "Our positive message was well received by the public, and it shows in the results," Mackey said.

Baron and Wukitsch could not be reached for comment this week.

Democratic town clerk Diane Deschenes won her bid for re-election over Republican challenger Penny Barone with 65 percent of the vote.

"I'm thrilled," Deschenes said on Wednesday. She plans to continue doing the "best job I can," she said. "It's a great job," said Deschenes, "I'm thrilled to be the town clerk."

Democrat Darrell Duncan garnered 2,015 votes in his unopposed run for highway superintendent.


"We're kind of the underdogs," Voss told The Enterprise on Tuesday before the results were tallied. "You've got to throw your hat in the ring and at least try," he said ofd his run for town council.

"We were up against some difficult odds," said Schultz on Wednesday. It is an off-year for elections; there are more Democrats in town than Republicans, the Democrats "unethically" secured more small-party lines, and the Democrats had more money, he said.

Schultz, who is enrolled as a Conservative, said that Democrats have "unethically" infiltrated the Conservative Party and the Independence Party, and that has been a major disappointment for him.

"I still think that, if more voters had turned out, our odds would have been better," Schultz said.

"I have discovered from my campaign experience that there are many people in town who do care about the town" and how it is governed," he said. "If we did nothing else," said Schultz of himself and the other Republican candidates, "I hope we woke people up to what is going on in Town Hall."

Schultz said that he doesn't like to lose, and is disappointed in losing his race. He would run again "if someone puts a loaded gun to the side of my head," he said. "I feel like the town of New Scotland lost the election, not Gary Schultz," he said.

"I'm very proud of the folks who ran on the Republican slate" the town of New Scotland slate" I'm disappointed their level of quality and character didn't have an opportunity to serve the town, but, hopefully, they'll stay involved," said LaGrange.

The campaign experience, said Adkins, teaches you that you need to pay attention to what people say and be respectful of the other candidates.

"It takes more time and effort than people realize, and I think all the candidates learned that," she said.

Adkins said that she was expecting the voter turnout to be lighter than it was. "I was encouraged to see so many people vote," she said. "I really do look forward to another term and am really appreciative to be able to do it."

Supervisor Clark said that he is "very glad" that Adkins was re-elected. "She has been doing a terrific job and I think she deserves to keep the position," he said.

Supervisor race not over

"I think everybody tried very hard and did the best they could to bring their message to the voters," said Clark this week.

Clark is retiring after successfully winning three two-year terms on the Republican line.

"Either one of the candidates, I'm sure, would be a benefit to the town," said Clark of LaGrange and Dolin. "I have faith they're both people of quality who will do their best," Clark said.

"I'm still cautiously optimistic that I will be successful," said Dolin.

Through the experience of campaigning, Dolin said, "I confirmed that people in town are still very interested in the operation of town government and are passionate about preserving the fundamental rural character of the town."

LaGrange, who is two years into a four-year term on the town board, said that regardless of the outcome of the election, his work for the town "won't waver. I'll do the best I can."

LaGrange said that he doesn't consider himself to be any better than anyone else. "I'm just doing what's right" I think people see that I practice what I preach, and I think they appreciate that," he said.

"I wish him well if he wins," LaGrange said of Dolin.

Although Clark said he didn't have overly strong feelings about the outcome of the election, he "would have preferred to see a change in the balance of power," he said.

The Republican candidates, he said, more adequately represent his views.

"I think that a major issue is development and the preservation of the unique atmosphere of New Scotland," said Clark. "Both sides were striving to tell the voters they would do a better job of doing that," he said. "More people were convinced by one side than the other.

"I congratulate the winners. I'm sure they can be trusted to do their very best on behalf of the town," said Clark.

$2.9M in upgrades
Clarksville Elementary students welcome visitors to their improved school

By Rachel Dutil

CLARKSVILLE - With cheerful smiles and excited voices, Clarksville Elementary students greeted residents and parents at an open house last Thursday.

"Welcome to Clarksville Elementary School," chorused a group of children awaiting visitors in the school's foyer.

Students led tours, which showcased the newly renovated school. The cost of the Clarksville project was $2.9 million, part of a $93 million Bethlehem School District bond project that was approved by voters in 2003.

Fifth-grader Erin Hogan guided The Enterprise through the halls of the school, giving detailed explanations of what was new in each location, as well as what it was like prior to the remodeling project.

The tour began in the front office, where the school's secretary, Kathy Haege, warmly welcomed visitors and asked that they please sign in, so that Principal Dorothy McDonald, who had broken her hip and was unable to attend, could see who had turned out for the event.

Haege said she is thrilled with her new office, which is now located adjacent to the school's main entrance. She explained, with excitement, that a new security system was also installed.

The school's doors will lock every morning after the students arrive, she said. When visitors come, Haege can talk to them over an intercom system, and can watch a live video of the entrance; she views the picture on a screen located on a small box in the corner of her desk, she said.

Clarksville Elementary School has 273 students, Haege said.

The school has a new cafetorium - a cafeteria that is also used as an auditorium, Hogan explained. It is great, she said, because the stage is much bigger. She explained that, in previous years, students were scrunched on a small stage during school plays.

One wall in the new cafetorium will become a tile wall, Hogan said. She said that she and her classmates have been working on art projects that will get transferred to tiles and put up on the wall.

The school's library has also been extended, and is equipped with new furniture to complement the additional space. It is Hogan's favorite room, she said.

Hogan's guided tour also included a stroll through the renovated nurse's office, and the new music room, where music teacher Lorraine Guyon was playing soft music and happily greeting visitors.

"This is such a nice way to say thank you to the community," said Guyon of the open house.

Corrigan 'excited and energized' to become assistant principal

By Rachel Dutil

VOORHEESVILLE - Patrick Corrigan is ready to step up to the challenge of being associate principal of Voorheesville's high school.

He says he is "excited and energized" by issues handled by administrators. Having been a teacher for 14 years, Corrigan said he understands that teachers need good administrators.

Corrigan was appointed to the post by a unanimous vote of the school board at Monday's meeting. The position has an annual salary of $72,000.

He succeeds Michael Paolino, who recently accepted a job as principal of Guilderland High School. Ed Diegel, who was the principal of Voorheesville Elementary School for 15 years, has been filling the post, and will continue on in that capacity until Corrigan steps in. The date for the transition hasn't been set because a replacement has to be found for Corrigan in the classroom.

"He has done an outstanding job through their development as well as their courses," said Superintendent Linda Langevin, of Corrigan's work with Vorrheesville students.

Corrigan, who is in his seventh year working at Voorheesville, teaches 12th-grade social studies and chairs the department. He is also the advisor to the National Honor Society.

In his first teaching job, Corrigan taught Advanced Placement economics in one classroom, and then later walked to a room down the hall where he taught middle-school social studies, he said. That job tested his flexibility, he said.

"I feel like I've had a good run in the classroom" I've enjoyed what I've done," Corrigan told The Enterprise this week.

Langevin said that Corrigan teaches Advanced Placement courses in a "rigorous way," and ensures that his students grasp the concepts.

The board will likely make an appointment to fill Corrigan's vacated teaching post at its Dec. 10 meeting, said Langevin. She said that her sense is that the shift will take place by the end of the semester. "It won't happen by Thanksgiving," she said.

Langevin said that the board felt that immediately transferring Corrigan into his new administrative post and bringing in a substitute to teach his classes until someone is hired would be hard on students, and the board chose not to do that.

Corrigan really has a knowledge of curriculum, said Langevin. " He has a dependability and loyalty to the district, and a strong ability to lead," she said, adding that he commands respect from his peers.

New duties

As associate principal, Corrigan will be working mainly in the area of supporting students, she said. He will assist Principal Mark Diefendorf, and will fill in for him if he is absent.

Corrigan will also be responsible for student discipline; monitoring student attendance; assisting with the supervision and evaluation of classroom instruction; monitoring progress of at-risk students; coordinating activities of substitute teachers; and working with student, teacher, parent, and community groups to improve the overall effectiveness of the school's educational program.

"We've got a lot of things in the works," said Corrigan of the district. "I'm excited about that," he said. "It's exciting to be in a school where people are looking to create growth."

On Tuesday, after his appointment by the school board, Corrigan said that his students were all very congratulatory. They were "much nicer than I expected them to be," he joked.

"I was very flattered by how the students treated me," he said, adding that many were "legitimately concerned" about how the transition will impact them.

"I think there will be a lot of work involved," said Corrigan, of the shift from the classroom to the administration. He joked that he won't be taking an extended vacation any time soon.

It has been his experience, said Corrigan, that, when they need to, students "rise to the occasion."

"My expectation is that they will respect me as their associate principal just as they did as their teacher," he said. "My feeling is the kids probably want this to work as much as I want it to work," he said.

"I bring a lot of energy to what I do," said Corrigan. "Helping kids is important to me. It has carried me through my career," he said.

"In the classroom, you just get those moments that are just real comedy," said Corrigan, who says he has a good sense of humor about things. "I have fun just about every day I'm at work," he said, referring to the dynamic of the classroom. "Some of that will be lessened" as an administrator, he said.

"I know the district, I know where the challenges lie," he said. "I know the culture here and the needs of the building, Corrigan concluded, "And I'm willing to listen to people along the way."

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