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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 30, 2009

FEMA funds from December ice storm trickle in

By Philippa Stasiuk

VOORHEESVILLE—Voorheesville will be one of the first communities to receive federal disaster aid in the amount of $18,500 for damages from the monster ice storm in December 2008.

In what Federal Emergency Management Agency representative Marianne Jackson describes as an ongoing approval process, communities in nine New York counties have already received $2 million. Almost $300,000 of that amount will be earmarked specifically for Albany County, which, along with Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Columbia counties, were considered by FEMA to be the hardest hit by the storm.

President Barack Obama signed a major disaster declaration for New York on March 4, 2009. According to Jackson, the declaration is, “provided by our nation’s laws so that, if an event occurs that overwhelms local governments, they can ask for assistance.” FEMA’s public assistance program reimburses 75 percent of eligible costs incurred by such an event.

The village of Altamont is also being refunded almost $9,000 by FEMA in the second round of reimbursements. Tim McIntyre, Superintendent of Public Works, said that the money requested for Altamont was to pay for running a generator for a full week after the storm knocked out power from the bottom of Altamont Hill all the way into Knox. The generator ran part of Altamont’s water system during that time. Other expenses in Altamont had to do with spreading between 30 and 40 tons of salt for ice control, and debris cleanup.

Voorheesville Public Works Superintendent Will Smith said at Tuesday night’s village board meeting that Voorheesville is one of the first to receive aid because it was among the first to get its paperwork turned in to FEMA. The federal agency, working with the New York State Emergency Management office, requires entities seeking reimbursements to show how excess costs were incurred. Villages and towns can prove these expenses through human resource records showing overtime hours and receipts for equipment use needed to handle the debris that the storm created.

In Voorheesville, the extra money was spent on debris removal, emergency services like road salting, and structural damage. The latter was incurred when two big trees fell on the tennis court fence in Jim Nichols Memorial Park.

According to Jackson, in order for communities to be eligible for federal disaster money they must also dispose of vegetative matter in an environmentally friendly way. In Voorheesville, organic debris like tree branches are made into mulch that is then sold and delivered to village residents at a minimal cost to be spread in gardens and around trees and shrubs.

Two local ambulance squads are being reimbursed by FEMA as well. The Western Turnpike Rescue Squad in Guilderland is receiving about $9,400. Michael Klugo, the assistant chief, said, “Basically, that’s to refund what we spent on fuel.”

Helderberg Ambulance, based in Berne, is receiving about $1,500. Most of that, said Alan Zuk, the squad’s former president who currently serves on the board of directors, is “for running the generator to keep the station electrified.”

He went on, “We actually had volunteer staff on duty during the course of the emergency. One individual slept overnight. The fuel was for the generator.”

Also, Zuk said, “We responded to a fire call during the emergency.” Part of the funds will pay for two ambulances that stood by at the scene of the fire, he said.

Speaking about the process of helping the counties in New York get the federal assistance that they need, Jacqueline Chandler, a spokeswoman for FEMA, was optimistic. “It is gratifying to be able to show people where their tax dollars are going.”

Other business

In other business, the board:

—Agreed to comply with changes made to the Solid Waste Management Plan and authorized Mayor Robert Conway to enter into an inter-municipal agreement with members of the landfill’s planning unit, effective immediately.

Conway said that users of the Rapp Road landfill, like Voorheesville, are being asked to sign the resolution as a condition of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s consideration to extend the Rapp Road landfill. “The DEC wants very stringent recycling from participating municipalities to take material out of the waste stream and prolong the life of the landfill, so this is in support of that program,” he said.

Conway said extending the landfill would facilitate another five years of use of the Rapp Road landfill, which is expected to be full by next year;

— Heard from Tom Smith of the Voorheesville Area Ambulance Squad a progress report on the revenue recovery service. Smith said that as of March 31, Medstat recovery service had collected about $84,000 on behalf of the Ambulance Squad. The revenues generated by the ambulance squad are divided 61/39 with the town of New Scotland getting the larger share. Smith also said that in the last 11 months, the ambulance squad had transported 223 people to local facilities;

— Heard from Trustee William Hotaling that the village’s zoning board allowed for a yard setback at 56 North Main and that the planning commission had approved the use of the United Methodist Church for a Friday farmers’ market for June through October. The commission also gave permission to Claude Rodrigue for a cluster homes development subdivision at 101 Maple Ave.;

—Heard from Trustee Richard Berger that the fire department is currently applying for the 2009 Assistance to Firefighters Grants through the Department of Homeland Security. The grants provide $510 million dollars to fire departments across the country to “enhance response capabilities and to more effectively protect the health and safety of the public with respect to fire and other hazards.” The deadline is May 20;

— Unanimously passed a resolution allowing the developer of the Severson Manor II 10-unit development access to the village’s sewer system. The developer, Troy Miller, will have a two-year timeframe to hook up to the village’s sewer;

— Received from Jerry Gordinier, village stormwater management program coordinator, the first annual report of the Stormwater Coalition of Albany County, which includes 11 other municipalities. The report addresses the region’s ground and water health;

— Heard from Mayor Conway that the village offers its condolences to the family of Agnes Burns;

— Approved the use of the village truck for Voorheesville’s annual Volunteer Day on May 2. The volunteers will be cleaning along parts of Vly Creek; and

— Unanimously passed the 2009-10 village budget.

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