In Knox, no surprises in appointments

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

By the book: James Corigliano, Berne town justice, administers the oath of office to seven Knox officials on New Year’s Day.

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Signing on: Amy Pokorny right, officially signs on for four years as a Knox councilwoman while the new town clerk, Tara Murphy, and veteran town lawyer, center, John Dorfman, stand by.

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Raising their right hands on New Year’s Day, Knox officials take the oath of office en masse: From left, Councilwoman Amy Pokorny, Clerk Tara Murphy, Judge Jean Gagnon, supervisor Michael Hammond, Highway Superintendent Gary Salisbury, Tax Collector  Diane Champion, and Councilman Nicholas Viscio.

KNOX — The mood was cordial New Year’s Day as the Knox Town Board members, all Democrats, assembled for the annual reorganizational meeting. Friendly banter filled the air as those who had been elected or re-elected prepared to take the oath of office.

Judge James Corigliano emerged from his chambers in a black robe to administer the oath and said to the row of office-holders standing before him, “The town is in good hands.”

The only Republican in the line-up was the town’s highway superintendent, Gary Salisbury. He ran unopposed and got the most votes of any Knox candidate this past November.

Taking the oath for the first time was Tara Murphy, who had bested Amanda Gullestad in November’s election. She replaces Republican Kimberly Swain, who did not pursue a fifth term as clerk, saying she wanted to spend more time with her children.

Diane Champion was uncontested in her second run for tax collector as was Jean Gagnon in her third term as town justice.

Michael Hammond, who, with 40 years at the helm, is the longest serving supervisor in Albany County, won the closest election in recent years with 54 percent of the vote.

“I think it shows people are satisfied with the way the town is being run,” said Councilwoman Amy Pokorny of the victory on Election Night. She won her first full term in November.

Councilman Nicholas Viscio, who also serves as deputy supervisor, had garnered the most votes in the three-way race for two board seats.

After the oath was administered on Tuesday morning, Hammond said, “Now we can prepare for the big storm.”

“Get the snow-blowers ready,” responded the judge.

The yearly appointments were all made unanimously without discussion and the salaries were set — with 3-percent raises for highway workers, no raises for board members —  also without comment or dispute. The meeting was adjourned in less than half an hour, with punch and cookies served afterwards to the handful in attendance.

The board unanimously voted to establish:

The Altamont Enterprise as the official newspaper of the town;

— The Key Bank, Bank of America, and First Niagara as designated depositories; and

— Regular town board meetings to be held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m., except for the November meeting, which will be on the first Wednesday following Election Day. All meetings will be held in Town Hall.


The board also made the following appointments on New Year’s Day:

—  Mary Alice Geel as deputy town clerk;

— Helen Quay as registrar of vital statistics;

— Deborah Liddle as deputy registrar of vital statistics;

— Lee Martin as deputy tax collector;

— Cheryl Frantzen as town historian;

— Dennis Decker as emergency preparedness coordinator;

— Nicholas Viscio as deputy supervisor;

— Edward Nicholson as data collector;

— Robert Delaney as building/sanitary inspector and zoning administrator;

— Daniel Sherman as assistant building inspector;

— Louis Saddlemire as dog warden;

— Louis Saddlemire as park laborer;

— Dennis Barber as ex officio member of the youth committee;

— Deborah Liddle as court clerk;

— John McGivern as court officer;

— Loren Shafer Jr. as deputy highway superintendent;

— Catherine Bates as account clerk;

— David Quay as landfill attendant;

— Joseph Adriance as landfill attendant;

— Richard Dexter as landfill attendant;

— Carol Barber as minutes recorder for the zoning board;

— Pamela Fenoff as minutes recorder for the planning board;

— John Dorfman as town attorney;

— Robert Edwards as zoning board of appeals chairman, and named these members with terms to expire on Dec. 31 of the following years — Kenneth Kirik (2019), Gail Burgess (2016), Jay Baumstein (2016), James McDonald (2015), John DeMis (2014), Sue Mason (2020), and Edwards (2018);

— Robert Price appointed as planning board chairman, and named these members with terms to expire on Dec. 31 of the following years — Brett Pulliam (2018), Earl Barcomb Jr. (2017), Betty Ketcham (2016), Daniel Driscoll (2015), Robert Gwinn (2014), Thomas Wolfe (2020), and Price (2019);

— Timothy Frederick as board of assessment review chairman, and named these members with terms to expire on Sept. 30 of the following years — Vall Pulliam (2017), Howard Zimmer (2016), Timothy Fredrick (2015), Gerald Irwin (2014), and Joycelyn Farrar (2018);

— Councilman Dennis Barber as ex officio member of the youth committee and named the following members — Chairwoman MaryEllen Nagengast, Jean Gagnon, Jean Forti, Ann Payne, Thomas Payne, Karen Kuck, Chasity McGivern, and Glen Humphrey; and

— Councilman Dennis Decker as ex officio member of the conservation advisory council and named these members with terms to expire on Dec. 31 of the following years —Cheryl Frantzen (2018), Hank Donnelly (2016), Stephanie Siciliano (2015), Nathan Giorondo (2014), Patricia Irwin (2019).

The conservation advisory council has two vacancies, for terms expiring in 2020 and 2017, which will be dealt with at the January town board meeting.


The board also established the following salaries:

— Supervisor at $16,672;

— Superintendent of highways at $53,358;

— Town clerk, a part-time post, at $12,585;

— Deputy town clerk paid $12.87 hourly;

— Tax collector at $5,000;

— Assessor at $12,608;

— Data collector at $4,202;

— Councilmembers at $3,825;

— Justices at $10,143;

— Registrar of vital statistics at $1,188;

— Emergency preparedness coordinator at $222;

— Deputy supervisor, with no salary;

— Building/sanitary Inspector and zoning administrator at $9,522;

— Assistant building inspector at $4,096;

— Court officer at $1,900;

— Dog warden at $6,687;

— Park laborer at $14.67 hourly;

— Landfill attendants at $12.08 hourly;

— Court clerk at $16.71 hourly;

— Account clerk at $20.97 hourly;

— Deputy highway superintendent salary, an additional 50 cents an hour;

— Deputy tax collector at $12.87 hourly;

— Minutes recorder at $12.87 hourly;

— Highway department laborer at $15.55 hourly;

— Highway department operator 1 at $15.95 hourly;

— Highway department operator II at $16.39 hourly;

— Court officer at $1,900; and

— Town attorney at $18,094.

More Hilltowns News

  • Berne’s latest farmers’ market, initiated as a response to the coronavirus, had its opening on Wednesday, Aug. 5, in what vendor Todd Gallup, of Berne’s Gallup Farms, told The Enterprise was an “extraordinary success.” The market will continue to operate Wednesdays from 3 until 5:30 p.m. at the Berne Town Park with no established end date. 

  • Following an inquiry from The Enterprise, New York State’s Committee on Open Government has issued an opinion that the Berne Town Board has been calling for executive sessions under inappropriate pretenses.

  • A state audit has revealed that Knox Town Clerk Traci Schanz failed to deposit more than 300 fee collections within the legally required timeframes and made reporting errors that left the town with an unremitted cash balance of more than $3,000, according to a report from the Office of the New York State Comptroller. Schanz said she is grateful for what she learned from the audit and new procedures have been put in place.

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