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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 12, 2008

Residents see red
Brandle Meadows discolors village water

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALTAMONT — Village water ran red on Monday evening.

Iron and minerals were stirred from the bottom of the village’s century-old pipes when construction workers at Brandle Meadows turned the valve that connects the development to the municipal system. 

Local developer Jeff Thomas got access to village water for his senior-housing development that is just outside of village limits on Brandle Road after suits and countersuits between himself, the village, and the owners of property on that road where the village found water.  The village has drilled two wells on that land and has connected them to Altamont’s water system, which provides water to Thomas’s project.

“There have been construction issues that have been worked out, which is why we’re there,” said Rich Straut, an engineer with Barton and Loguidice, hired by the village.  Inspectors from his firm were at the site when the valve was turned, he said, and neighboring residents came out of their homes, saying that their tap water had turned brown. 

Joan Kappel, who lives on Main Street, discovered her water was dark at about four in the afternoon, she said.  Unable to reach village trustees or the department of public works, she ended up calling the Guilderland Police in an effort to alert village officials to the problem and found that the department had received 25 similar phone calls.

Contractors at Brandle Meadows are supposed to contact the village in writing 72 hours before doing something of that nature, Straut said.  That directive came last fall when work was done without proper notice to the department of public works or Barton and Loguidice, he said.

“We told them explicitly that they cannot, without authorization, do that,” Mayor James Gaughan said on Tuesday of the contractors’ use of village water.

Bette and Cring, the construction manager of the project which declined comment on Wednesday, directed a worker to charge the system, said Timothy McIntyre, the village’s superintendent of public works.  That process drops the pressure in the village’s system, he said, and “creates a whirlwind in the pipes.”

The unusual flow disrupts the deposits that lie along the bottom of the pipes, he said.  Both McIntyre and Straut said that the water isn’t unsafe to drink and that it is expected to be out of the system within a day.

“The locus of responsibility is a serious one,” said Gaughan; village officials weren’t yet sure on Tuesday who was responsible for turning the valve.  “This would not have happened if they followed protocol,” he said.

He is currently drafting a citation, Gaughan said, and, according to Straut, other measures are being considered to safeguard the access to municipal water — the village will likely install a lock on the valve.

Chariot rides into sunset, Public House opens

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Their children have now scattered across the country and the Shinases are bidding goodbye to Guilderland and the restaurant they spent 34 years building.

Mike Shinas will still cook for his wife, Penelope, but they’ve left The Chariot, their Greek restaurant on Western Avenue, in the hands of Brenda and Gary Evans.  The Evans, who are both originally from Brooklyn but met in Stafford (Genesee County), are serving pub fare and hoping to build the banquet end of the business.

“We’ve had a good response,” they said on Tuesday, during a party they hosted for the departing Shinases.  The full bar now offers 42 beers, including six on tap, and they’re happy to accommodate customer requests, the couple said.

Brenda Evans’s parents ran a country inn in Stafford, where the pair learned the ropes.  They saw that the rural Guilderland eatery was for sale four months ago and have been running Evans Public House for the last month.

“It’s not for everybody,” said Brenda Evans of working with her spouse, as she threw a good-hearted glance to her husband.

“It was a dream,” said Mike Shinas, who has worked in restaurants his whole life, of running The Chariot, which his wife found when it was run down and without plumbing almost 40 years ago.

Both born in Greece, Mike Shinas arrived in America at age 13 and was later drafted into the Army and sent to Germany.  It was there that he met Penelope, who was visiting a friend.  “The rest is history,” he said.  The pair were wed in Greece before coming to settle in Albany, where they raised three children.  Now that the children have grown and moved on, the Shinases are leaving for Florida.

“We’re going to miss you guys,” said one farewell partygoer in a booming voice as he came through the door on Tuesday.  “You made us feel at home,” he told Mike Shinas, who, with his wife, greeted everyone with a hug.

New 911 system for Guilderland pinpoints caller’s location

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Some emergency calls will be routed differently now that a new 911 system has been installed at the town’s police station.

Departments across the county are being outfitted with new technology that connects 911 calls from cell phones directly to the department that covers the area from which the call is made and the new system can pinpoint where the caller is located, said Tim Chouinard, who was installing Guilderland’s system on Wednesday.  So far, he said, nine of the 11 departments in the county have been updated.

“It’s a state of the art system,” said Lieutenant Curtis Cox, who estimated that the Guilderland department gets between 25 and 30 calls to 911 a day, not all of which are emergencies.

The $1 million system was paid for by a federal grant, said Greg Chudzinski of the Albany County Sheriff’s Department.

By using GPS technology, the new system pinpoints where a call is made from and shows the location on a map, Cox said.

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