Berne changes inside, outside, and down under

The Enterprise — Marcello Iaia

Room for plenty: The tin ceilings in Town Hall got a fresh coat of paint recently during the renovations to town hall by Timothy Lippert, the town’s building inspector. The project moves the town board’s meetings to a larger space with room for about 60 seats. The board’s former meeting room, which was often crowded, is used as the town court, pictured, where, Supervisor Kevin Crosier said, a large window will be removed for safety.

The Enterprise — Marcello Iaia

The view from the dais is broader but less intimate. Renovations to the Berne Town Hall have moved town board meetings into a larger and brightly lit space with more seating. The board’s former space will continue as the town’s court, though an opening between the two rooms allows for greater capacity for both.

The Enterprise — Marcello Iaia

Face of the town: Anita Clayton, Berne’s new town clerk, works at her desk on April 16, newly positioned at the front of the town hall, where the library used to be. The one-time hotel has a front entrance, accessible to people using wheelchairs, that officials hope residents will use instead of a narrow entrance in the rear. To the left of the town clerk’s door, at the front of the building, is another entrance for the courtroom. The project is not to exceed $20,000 and will include new front siding and signs for the town, according to Supervisor Kevin Crosier.

BERNE — Plans are underway to fix, over the next two summers, a troublesome intersection in the hamlet. Residents can learn about it on April 23.

Officials from the state’s Department of Transportation will hold an informational meeting in the town hall on Helderberg Trail at 7 p.m.

The $2.02 million project, broken into two phases over 2014 and 2015, involves improving the intersection of routes 443 and 156, reconstructing the retaining walls of the Fox Creek below, and rehabilitating the bridge nearby.

For the first phase, between June 30 and Sept. 1 this summer, the intersection will be closed for one weekend, from Friday at 6 p.m. to the following Monday at 6 a.m. A signed detour will direct traffic.

Work on the intersection will widen the area for vehicles, with the demolishing of a condemned building on the corner. At the same time, a new retaining wall and stone fill will be installed adjacent to the bridge over Fox Creek.

Two lanes will be open in the intersection during the first phase, though traffic may be stopped temporarily to move equipment or materials.

Work on the bridge is scheduled to happen in 2015, between June 29 and Aug. 31. The bridge will be closed to traffic during this period.

Another project in the hamlet — the town’s first-ever municipal sewer system — is nearing completion just as the intersection project is gearing up.

At last week’s town board meeting, Supervisor Kevin Crosier updated the board about the sewer project, which is scheduled to be substantially complete by May 31. Users in the Berne hamlet will be able to start connecting to the collection system in early June, he said.

Crosier said the control room of the treatment plant is complete, with seeding, grading, security fencing, a sidewalk, and siding left to do.

Snowplows during the winter hit three shut-off valves, near the highway department on Helderberg Trail and on Sand Road, which will be moved underground, he said.

The board voted unanimously to schedule a resident meeting on the sewer project on May 2 at 7 p.m. at the Helderberg Evangelical Lutheran Church. Crosier said the meeting would address what is expected of contractors to resolve outstanding issues and what is expected of residents to tie in to the system. Contractors hired by residents to connect homes need to meet certain qualifications. Crosier said he recommends residents each get three quotes.

“‘Uncle Bob’s got a little backhoe in the back of his tractor and Uncle Bob can hook mine up,’ and the answer is, ‘No, you can only have a contractor that’s certified by the town in order to do the hook up,” Crosier said at the meeting.

Other business

At the April 9 meeting, when all votes were unanimous, the town board also:

— Heard a report from Gerald O’Malley, the town tax collector, who said 90 percent of taxpayers in the town had paid so far. Last year at this time, it was 87 percent, he said, and he collected about $1,000 less than the $4,100 in penalties this year.

The county reimburses tax revenue not taken in by the town during the collection period;

— Read a letter from Ralph Ives, notifying the board that he would not be available to drive for seniors, Helderberg Ambulance, and Community Caregivers in the immediate future. Ives was appointed as a temporary part-time driver for the senior bus in February;

 — Authorized the highway superintendent, Kenneth Weaver, to bid up to $7,500, for a 2003 Chevy Silverado with a plow, in a federal surplus auction;

— Heard from Councilwoman Karen Schimmer that a representative from the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau in the state attorney general’s office will give a public presentation at the senior center on Route 443, on Saturday, May 3 at 10 a.m.;

— Amended Debra Bajouwa’s recently appointed term as a planning board member from an erroneous four years to five;

— Approved an annual agreement with the library board;

— Approved the declaration of five computer monitors as surplus and the authorization for them to be disposed with a municipality, not-for-profit, or school district;

— Authorized the supervisor to approve a $1,500-per-year radio tower rental agreement;

— Read a letter from Brian Wood, Emergency Medical Services coordinator for the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, inviting two town officials to a forum, on May 27, to discuss EMS coverage throughout the county.

“In 2013, there were 86 EMS calls not answered by the initially dispatched transporting ambulance,” Crosier read from Wood’s letter. “This includes second calls, calls where the local agency couldn’t provide a crew, calls with multiple patients.”

The forum, to be held in the sheriff’s office in Clarksville at 5 p.m., will address how the county can help. Crosier and Councilwoman Dawn Jordan will attend;

— Approved two change orders for the sewer project: automatic timers for the exhaust system in the treatment plant, for $1,493.85, and extra sidewalks around the plant and to the discharge monitoring manhole, for $4,547.98;

— Approved the expenditure of $840 for a desk and return for the building and zoning department;

— Approved the purchase of shirts for the highway department and summer youth program for $399.60;

— Adopted a resolution approving that $34,391.25 was spent on Hartgen Archeological Associates for the sewer project. The state requires an archeologist’s survey before ground is disturbed for large municipal projects; and

— Approved the job and description of a summer intern position for the conservation board, at $14.98 per hour, 23 hours per week, up to 10 weeks. 

More Hilltowns News

  • Following the closure of Rensselaerville Volunteer Ambulance, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office has had to offer an ambulance with an emergency medical provider as well as a paramedic in a fly car. This has led to an increase in the costs for the three Hilltowns served: Berne, Westerlo, and Rensselaerville.

  • The Berne-Knox-Westerlo Board of Education is putting up for a Nov. 2 vote two propositions for capital projects — for $15 million and $5 million. After a lengthy debate over whether the capital project was a “blank check” or a means of improving student education, three board members voted yes, one voted no, and one abstained.

  • Write-in candidates appear to have won the majority of the Independence Party nominations in Berne and Knox following Tuesday’s primary elections.