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Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, January 8, 2009

Knox super says
In 2009, bigger town hall, better cell service

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

KNOX — In the coming year, Knox residents can look forward to a more accessible and expanded town hall and to better cell phone reception, according to the town supervisor.

But the face of government in this rural Helderberg Hilltown will remain virtually unchanged. The annual re-organizational meeting on Jan. 1 brought few changes to town personnel.

“The only new appointment we made, after the untimely death of Mike Scott,” said Supervisor Michael Hammond, referring to a long-time planning board member, “was Stewart Kidder. He had been on as a planning board member before.”

The long-time zoning board chairman, Earl Barcomb Sr., also died in 2008 and was replaced earlier by Robert Edwards. “Bob had served under Earl for quite a few years,” said Hammond. “We look for people that have that sense of dedication to the job.”

He went on, “We’re very appreciative of people serving with no pay.” Hammond lauded the unpaid board members as “altruistic,” stating how time-consuming their work is.

Town Hall revisited

Hammond said his major goal for the year ahead is to see the town hall renovated.  The hall was built near the center of the hamlet on the edge of the town park in 1977 and the town board has considered expanding and renovating it for at least a decade.

A year ago, the board approved plans drawn up by architect Charles Sacco, with an estimated cost then of $1.2 million.

“We’re ready to roll,” Hammond told The Enterprise on New Year’s Day. “We’ve done the surveying and the soil testing. We’ll go out for bids in May and June....An absolute top for costs is $1.3 million.”

The primary thrust is to make the town hall accessible to people with handicaps, bringing it into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, said Hammond.

Other improvements will include a fireproof storage area for town records, offices on the lower level for the assessor and the tax collector, judges’ chambers, an elevator, and a multi-purpose room where the town’s boards will meet and town court will be held.

The community room downstairs will have a refrigerator and stove, Hammond said, so it can be used by residents in case of an emergency.

The project will also include rest rooms that can be accessed by people using the park even when the rest of the town hall is closed. “There will be a foyer people can access from the outside,” said Hammond.

Also after months of planning, Knox expects to have a cell tower “functional by the end of June,” said Hammond.

“People are always asking me when,” said Hammond. “We have all the approvals. We had to jump through a number of hoops. We will sign a contract in January.”

He concluded, “It will be a good revenue source for the town.”

Kidder signs on

Stewart Kidder said he had resigned from the planning board because he “had so much going on.”

Kidder, 64, works as the director of support operations for the state’s Department of Correctional Services. As such, he is in charge of purchasing, of managing a fleet of 3,000 vehicles, of all central files for mail and supplies, and he serves as quartermaster supplying uniforms to 24,000 officers.

Yet, when Hammond called him the day before the New Year’s re-organizational meeting and asked him to fill the vacant planning-board post, Kidder accepted.

“I enjoy doing things for the community,” said Kidder.

He is also very active in the Berne Masonic Lodge.

A family man, he is married to Gail Kidder. They have two children — a son, Todd, who works as a graphic designer and lives in Los Angeles, and a daughter, Karin, a marketing specialist, who lives with her husband, Bob, and their daughter, Grace, in Hilton Head, S.C.

Born in Maine, Kidder graduated in 1962 from Rangeley High School where he was captain of the ski team. He went on to graduate in 1964 with a degree in forestry from Paul Smiths College in the Adirondacks.

“I’m a country guy,” Kidder told The Enterprise. “That’s why I moved here. I’d like to keep it that way,” he said of Knox’s rural character.

He also said he sees wind as “a very good alternative energy source — something we need to look at.” (While a community wind group has been active in Knox for several years, corporate wind was a force in the Hilltowns last year as a branch of Shell Oil approached residents in neighboring towns about placing large turbines on the crest of the Helderbergs. While Shell backed off, another company has since expressed interest.)

Kidder started his career designing, building, and selling tramways and ski lifts. In his younger days, he also raced and worked in the National Ski Patrol, helping injured skiers.

“I worked all over the United States and Canada,” he said.

New York State tapped Kidder as it geared up to host the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. He oversaw the lift construction at Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks.

He then worked for the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation as chief of the Bureau of Winter Recreation, overseeing the running of Gore, Belleayre, Whiteface, and Mount Van Hoevenberg.

When the state’s prison system was expanding in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Kidder was asked to work in correctional services, and has worked in that field for two decades.

“I was tired of traveling,” he said.

Kidder has lived in Knox since 1979. In that time, he said, he’s seen “a fair amount of new construction.”

Kidder concluded, “I’m not a preservationist, but I’m interested in good planning, and in maintaining open space.”


The town’s elected and appointed officials and boards are as follows:

Town Board: Michael Hammond (Supervisor), Nicholas Viscio, MaryEllen Nagengast, Dennis Decker, and Patricia Gage;

Deputy Supervisor: Nicholas Viscio;

Town Attorney: John Dorfman;

Town Historian: Frieda Saddlemire;

Emergency Preparedness Coordinator: Dennis Decker;

Animal Control Officer: John Norray;

Parks: Louis Saddlemire;

Youth Director: MaryEllen Nagengast;

Highway Superintendent: Gary Salisbury;

Deputy Highway Superintendent: Loren Shafer Jr.;

Transfer Station Attendants: David Quay, Richard Dexter, and Louis Tubbs;

Town Clerk: Kimberly Swain;

Deputy Town Clerk: Mary Alice Geel;

Bookkeeper: Catherine Bates;

Town Justices: Linda Quay and Jean Gagnon;

Court Clerk: Deborah Liddle;

Court Officer: John McGivern;

Tax Collector: Delia Palombo;

Deputy Tax Collector: Lee Martin;

Registrar of Vital Statistics: Helen Quay;

Deputy Registrar of Vital Statistics: Deborah Liddle;

Assessor: Russell Pokorny;

Data Collector: Edward Nicholson;

Building/Sanitary Inspector and Zoning Administrator: Robert Delaney;

Assistant Building Inspector: Daniel Sherman;

Auditor: Beryl Grant;

Zoning Board of Appeals: Robert Edwards (chair, term expires Dec. 31, 2011), James McDonald (2015), Dennis Barber (2014), Sue Mason (2013), Kenneth Kirik (2012), Amy Pokorny (2010), and Gail Burgess (2009);

Minutes Recorder for Zoning Board: Carol Barber;

Planning Board: Robert Price (chair, term expires Dec. 31, 2012), Daniel Driscoll (2015), Robert Gwin (2014), Thomas Wolfe (2013), Brett Pulliam (2011), Stewart Kidder (2010), and Betty Ketcham (2009);

Minutes Recorder for Planning Board: Catherine Traina;

Board of Assessment Review: Tim Frederick (chair, term expires Sept. 30, 2010), Jocelyn Farrar (2013), Vall Pulliam (2012), Howard Zimmer (2011), Gerald Irwin (2009);

Youth Committee: MaryEllen Nagengast (ex-officio), Charles Conklin, Grace Cunningham, Jean Gagnon, Jean Forti, Rich Matlock, Brett Pulliam, Laurie Picinich, Ed Schmidt, Sue Von Haugg, and Janet Viscio;

Conservation Advisory Council: Cheryl Frantzen (chair, term expires Dec. 31, 2011), Stephanie Baron (2015); Travis Stevens (2014); Earl Barcomb Jr. (2013); Patricia Irwin (2012); and Hank Donnelly (2009); and

Official Newspaper: The Altamont Enterprise.

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