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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 4, 2008

Reaching out to residents
With fuel price hikes, officials concerned about the elderly in need

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

ALTAMONT —Winter is coming and village officials want to be sure residents, especially the elderly, aren’t left out in the cold.

The mayor invited two  people who work on county programs for those with low incomes to Tuesday’s village board meeting.

“We work quietly,” said Judith Eisgruber, executive director of the Albany County Rural Housing Alliance.

She explained that ARCHA, founded in 1982, primarily helps low-income people with home repairs. Other programs help first-time homebuyers and those facing foreclosure.

Butch Lawyer works on a weatherization program that saves money for homeowners while increasing their comfort and also reduces dependence on foreign oil.

Both programs operate from Martin Road in Voorheesville.

Mayor James Gaughan said that sessions in Altamont in previous years explaining the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), were often poorly attended. He said he was “fearful eligible people just don’t do the paperwork” and asked if Eisgruber or Lawyer had suggestions on “getting the word out to the right persons.”

Lawyer asked how many seniors live in the village. Gaughan estimated about 300, based on the last census, which showed 17 percent of the village’s 1,800 residents are seniors.

“We could mail to all 300 of those,” said Lawyer, saying he had funds to do so and that direct mailing is the best way to get response.

“I would love to work with you to get the information to the right people,” said Gaughan. “I’m worried people fall between the cracks.”

“This winter will not be easy,” said Trustee William Aylward. “It will be tough on a lot of people.”

“Last year,” Eisgruber said, “we quadrupled our numbers of people we saw for foreclosure…When winter comes, it picks up…People are choosing between eating and staying warm.”

The household income limits for ARCHA services range from $24,700, or 50 percent of the area median, for a one-person household, up to $39,550, or 80 percent of the area median. For a two-person household, the income limits range from $28,250 to $45,200. For a three-person household, the range is $31,750 to $50,850.

ARCHA can be reached at 765-2425.

For HEAP, Lawyer said, the income limit for a one-person household is $22,000; for a two-person household, it’s $22,512; for a three-person household, it’s $24,448.

More information on HEAP is available at 756-8650 and on the weatherization program at 765-3539.

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Received a detailed report from Keith Lee, head of the Parks Committee and the mayor’s partner, on summer activities at the village‘s eight park areas.

Lee thanked the village and the department of public works staff for work installing the playground at the Maple Avenue park. Over $17,000 has been raised for the preschool playground.

“There have been participants of the younger set,” said the mayor, adding it looks like the playground will be a big success;

— Heard that Jo Ann Mulligan, a sixth-grader at Farnsworth Middle School, read 98 books in the Altamont Free Library’s summer reading program.

“We’re all very proud of her,” said Trustee Aylward.

Mulligan will be named Altamont’s honorary mayor at the October village board meeting. “She will be meeting with the mayor to discuss policy issues from a young person’s perspective,” said Judith Wines, the library’s director;

— Heard that the Altamont Fire Department is having a membership drive this month;

— Heard from Public Safety Commissioner Anthony Salerno that Altamont will be participating in the next Albany County Stop DWI sweep. “We have a low number of Altamont arrests, so it’s working,” he said.

Asked by Aylward about break-ins on Sand Street, Salerno said he believed “people from out of the area” perpetrated the car break-ins and that he was beefing up patrols. He urged residents to lock their cars;

— Heard from Maple Avenue resident Norman Bauman that an Australian bicyclist pedaled through Altamont and afterwards declared, “I just visited the most wonderful village I’ve ever seen in my whole life”;

—  Heard from a new resident of Prospect Terrace that the sidewalks need repair. “If the kids ride their bikes, they could get hurt,” she said of the uneven old Helderberg bluestone slabs.

Gaughan responded that the village has received a planning grant and a session will be held Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. for public input. To get money, he said, “We need to get some momentum here.”

Timothy McIntyre, superintendent of public works, said that workers had removed old slate sidewalks that were beyond repair and replaced slate pieces where the walkways were reparable;

— Held a hearing on adopting a law on sewers and sewage disposal. Gaughan said the bill, which he called complex, was part of the village’s long-range plan to update procedures and regulations.

No one from the public spoke at the hearing.

The board will vote on the bill at its next meeting, so trustees have a chance to review changes

— Discussed eight acres of property at 6604 Dunnsville Road in Guilderland owned by Joseph and Michelle Muia, which they want to divide into two parcels.

The Muias haven’t applied for water although, according to Trustee Kerry Dineen, they are entitled to one hook-up on the village line but there is no guarantee for the second. The board voted to forward the matter to building inspector Donald Cropsey for the zoning board of appeals;

— Accepted a bid for $8,864 from Pollard Excavation, the lowest of four bidders, to repair the creekbed alongside the post office in Altamont. The project is being funded through FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency;

— Agreed to let the Altamont Free Library borrow a 1900 railroad ticket cabinet and a vintage conductor’s boarding stool for a fund-raiser on Sept. 13;

— Approved public water service for Wildwood Camp, which is outside the village line. Gaughan said it was similar to an agreement the village made several years ago with Brandle Meadows, a senior housing complex just outside the village. Wildwood runs programs for children with disabilities. Its request for water was on hold until the village had new wells on line;

— Approved pursuit of a grant for sidewalks and a pedestrian bridge on Sand Street.  The bridge would connect Sand Street to the grounds of Altamont Elementary School.  Gaughan said Guilderland’s school superintendent and assistant superintendent for business were in favor of the project.

If the $80,000 grant is obtained, the village will have to pay for 20 percent, said Gaughan. “You couldn’t get a sidewalk and a bridge on that street for $16,000,” he said, calling it the “culmination of a project we’ve long envisioned”;

— Gave Boy Scout Jeffrey Moller permission to map, mark, and measure the trails at Bozenkill Park and construct a weather-proof case for his Eagle Scout project. He is the son of the assistant superintendent of public works, said Gaughan, and his project fits with the village’s goal of encouraging more trail use; and

— Accepted the resignation for personal reasons of Kevin Delligan, a laborer in the public works department, effective July 11. He had worked for the department about a year, said McIntyre.

The board hired Donald Wright to replace him at a salary of $13 per hour.

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