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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, May 12, 2005
Plans approved for new doctors office
NEW SCOTLAND Tee-time is out, the doctor is in.
Omni Development Companys proposed office building for two doctors at 1882 New Scotland Road has been approved by the towns planning board.
Construction will begin "in the summer at the latest," Omni Executive Vice President Charles Carrow told The Enterprise on Tuesday.
The building will be 10,457 square feet and have two main-door entrances, one for each medical group. One of the entrances will be to the side of the building, so the parking lot wraps around the building, civil engineer and land planner Dominick Arico explained to the planning board.
The building will be one story, with brick on the bottom and siding above the brick.
Omni used common design features of other commercial buildings and houses along the Route 85 corridor, so the office would blend with the surrounding community and be aesthetically pleasing, Carrow said.
Omni plans to have public sewer service from the Heldervale Sewer Extension, and public water from the town of Bethlehem. The water is there, Carrow said; he just needs to get a letter from Bethlehem.
Planning board member Robert Smith reiterated at last Tuesdays meeting that the boards approval is contingent on Omnis securing water and sewer.
Based on planning board recommendations, the developers chose to have one driveway connection to Route 85, rather than two. Planning board member Cynthia Elliott commended Arico and Carrow for their "nice use of a single entrance" and "nice landscaping plans."
Omni will plant trees to "hide" the parking lot, Arico said, and more trees on the eastern side of the building to create a buffer for neighbors, Carrow said.
Carrow said this Tuesday that he has secured a physicians group as one tenant, but occupants for the other half of the building have yet to enter into a lease agreement.
Dr. Angel Millora and his group of four doctors will be consolidating their current three offices, at three different locations across the Capital Region, into Omnis new building in New Scotland.
Millora told The Enterprise that one of the groups offices is just down the street on Kenwood Avenue in Slingerlands, another is on Delaware Avenue in Albany, and a third office is in Schodack.
The three other doctors in the practice are Virginia Lazaro, José Nebres, and Sumitra, who uses only her first name profession-ally, he said.
Millora said that his group is moving into the New Scotland building because the doctors needed a larger space and be-cause they wanted to update their equipment and offices. He also stated that this was a good location for them because it wasnt far from one of their existing offices and their many Slingerlands patients.
Carrow had explained this to the planning board in December and told The Enterprise this week that he plans to be back at Town Hall in the near future to move forward with the plans for Phase Two of construction.
He said, by developers standards, the town has been developer-friendly.
Omnis proposal for subsidized senior apartments on Mountainview Road in the village of Voorheesville is currently in the concept review phase, Carrow said.
He said that the proposed senior condos on Route 85, the proposed senior apartments in Voorheesville, and the existing Omni assisted-living complex on Carman Road in Guilderland are all development projects that Omni got involved with because the company believes these buildings and services are tremendous assets to a town.
Ready to Run in New Scotland
NEW SCOTLAND Two incumbents are running for New Scotland town board and one is stepping down.
Supervisor Ed Clark and council member Andrea Gleason will both seek reelection on the Republican ticket.
Long-time Democratic councilman Scott Houghtaling is stepping down.
Both parties announced their fall slates this week. Two four-year council seats are up as well as the two-year supervisors post. Currently, the board has two Republicans and three Democrats.
Enrollment in New Scotland is roughly divided in thirds, with a third of voters enrolled as Democrats, a third as Republicans, and a third not en-rolled in a party or enrolled in a small party.
Gleason, running for her third four-year term, said that the Republicans are offering an "excellent ticket.... that has a great spread of diversity... and represents all parts of town."
Clark is running for his third two-year term as supervisor. Farmer Douglas LaGrange, narrowly defeated in a bid for a council seat two years ago, is running again.
Clark, who lives in the village of Voorheesville, was the mayor there for 17 years. Douglas LaGrange is an eighth-generation Feura Bush farmer who runs the family’s dairy farm with his brothers. Gleason, a retired Voorheesville Elementary School teacher, said she "brings another opinion to the plate" as a senior citizen.
The Democrats are endorsing Wayne LaChappelle and Peg Neri for town council. LaChappelle, a retired police-man, currently a land excavator, was beaten two years ago in his first political runagainst Clark for supervisor. Neri is a lawyer, making her first run.
Houghtaling, the longest-sitting town board member, has chosen to step down and not re-run after serving for 12 years.
He told The Enterprise that theres no story of him going anywhere, and that it was just a personal decision, to free up some time for work and his family. He said his family is a priority for him and he thinks its time to focus on them.
He has two children, ages 10 and seven, and with school functions and scouting, he said, "I don’t want to miss those events." Houghtaling said he has enjoyed being a part of town government, and he thanks the residents for giving him the chance to be on the board. When Houghtaling’s children are grown-up, he said, he sees him-self returning to government in some capacity.
LaChappelle, like Houghtaling, is from Feura Bush. He currently is a sitting member of the zoning board.
Peg Neri lives on Helderhill Road in Voorheesville. Burns said. Neris husband, Louis, is legal counsel for the zoning and planning boards, annual appointments.
Connie Burns, who chairs the towns Democratic committee, said the committee has not yet chosen who it will endorse for town supervisor, but has narrowed the field to a few individuals who have expressed interest.
The Democratic committee is, however, backing a number of incumbents to other positions: Town Clerk Diane Deschenes, Highway Superintendent Darrell Duncan, and Town Judge Thomas Dolin.
Burns said that the committee continues to support these officials because they have been doing an excellent job.
"They are good at what they do," she said.
Under Clark’s leadership, New Scotland will continue to see progress, Luther said, "particularly when the Republicans take control of the board," he said.
"There’s a lot left to be done," Clark said. He told The Enterprise that he wants to continue with and conclude the things hes started; including the development of a town-wide comprehensive plan and several water development projects, such as on Lower Flat Rock Road.
"I think the Residents Planning Advisory Committee gave us direction to continue moving for-ward with good planning," Clark said, adding that he thinks the town is now in a good position to build a comprehensive plan be-cause RPAC helped the town to gain a good grasp of what residents want.
Clark said that he and Gleason "work very well together we always have."
"Above anything else, she does truly care about the people of the town," Luther said. Gleason is also the most vocal when individuals act in a partisan manner, Luther said. "She holds other board members accountable," he said.
"One of the things I’m proud of is trying to work together on decisions it’s a give and take," Gleason said. "I’ve often said the cliché there is no I in team and no I in town board."
Gleason said, while she tries to represent all the people in the town, she is a senior citizen on a fixed income. She said she is re-ally aware of money, and cautious and conservative when it comes to money.
She said one of her goals is the continued growth of the senior outreach program, under the direction of Sue Weisz.
Gleason has served for eight years as town board member and Clark for four years as supervisor. Clark told The Enterprise that this third run will probably be his last as supervisor.
Luther said that Douglas LaGrange has the background and qualifications that the Republican committee looks for in a town board candidate. LaGrange is a successful business leader, is a member of the planning board, served on RPAC, and has shown leadership qualities, Luther said.
"We’ve had many conversations," Luther said, and LaGrange has said he can’t imagine "living in a community and not wanting to do something to better that community."
In 2003, LaGrange lost his town council bid by 22 votes to Deborah Baron.
"It’s the Republican ticket yes," LaGrange told The Enterprise this week, but, he said he’s letting people know that he is tired of the "political parties constantly going at it in Town Hall."
He ran last time because he thought the board had not made good financial choices, and he was concerned when he saw the town "eating a lot of our re-serves," he said.
LaGrange operates what he calls a fairly large dairy-farming business in Feura Bush.
LaGrange said he was hum-bled by support for him in 2003 in his southern end of town. Three voting districts on the southern end of town over-whelming supported him, he said.
"People who know me think I can do a good job, not just for them but for the town," LaGrange said.
He has concerns about the industrial and commercial growth and about the character of the town. He plans to be vigilant about growth changes. The Helderberg escarpment and the rural character with the "real nice suburban flavor," is some-thing that LaChappelle appreciates, he said.
His "vow" as a council member is to be truly and completely accessible and approachable, he said. He said he knows what it’s like to have red tape that he can’t get through in government and he wants people to be able to come to him with their concerns or questions whether it be during a meeting, or after a meeting, be-fore, or "at my house." After a resident comes to him, he’ll use a "common sense approach to their problem," LaChapelle said.
He lives on a horse farm that he built with his wife from scratch. He owns his own business, Land Services, which is an excavation company located in Feura Bush.
He is a retired from the Bethlehem Police Department, where he worked for 25 years on the K-9 unit, handling dogs, he said.
LaChappelle has served on the towns water committee in the past, and is currently a sitting member on the towns zoning board.
Parents ask for smaller primary class sizes at Voorheesville
VOORHEESVILLE A handful of first-graders parents showed up at the school board meeting Monday with 43 form letters signed by other parents of soon-to-be second-graders; they were upset about class size.
"We’re very concerned about the large class size," Christin Wilcenski said; her daughter was in a first grade class of 24 students this year.
Wilcenski is a certified guidance counselor and used to work in the Albany public schools be-fore becoming staying home to raise her children.
"This Blue Ribbon thing is getting a little old now," Wilcenski said, referring to national recognition the school earned a decade ago.
"Another teacher is strongly needed next year," she told the board.
She went on to refer to STAR, (Student Teacher Achievement Study), research conducted in Tennessee by following students from 1985 to 2003 to track the effect of primary class sizes on students over the long term, Wilcenski said.
The study showed that children in class sizes of 19 or fewer are less likely to be left back a grade, and they achieve higher grades in high school, she said.
School Superintendent Alan McCartney acknowledged that the STAR study was the most famous but said that people can find all kinds of studies to argue one point over another. He told The Enterprise that Carnegie re-search, which a different parent brought up on Monday, shows, for example, that, if the student is in class size of 17 or under, there is a difference but, if its a class size of anywhere from 17 to 40, there is no difference.
McCartney said that he is by no means saying that he wants to raise class sizes to 40, but is just illustrating that there a number of different studies to argue for one system over another.
McCartney said the way the Voorheesville District looks at elementary class size is by looking at the individual children’s needs, "not the number of kids per teacher," McCartney said.
Voorheesville offers teachers aids, specialized instruction through reading teachers and math teachers in a resource center, and other special education teachersall of which offset larger class size, he said.
McCartney said at the school board meeting that, in the first-grade class of 24, nine of those students are pulled out for half the day for specialized instruction, and also there are a number of aids that come in to assist the teacher.
McCartney told The Enterprise that the elementary school class size has been in the 23 range for a number of years now, although he says, he does anticipate it going up, especially now, after receiving recognition in Newsweek.
McCartney had announced at the school board meeting that the news magazine, which ranks the top 1,000 schools in the nation based solely on their students performance on the Advanced Placement exams, ranked Voorheesville 270th, which puts it in the top 4 percent of school districts in the United States.
Wilcenski said that Voorheesville is supposed to be known as a small district with small class sizes but Albany public schools have 18 students on average in first-grade sections and Guilderland has 19 students on average in first-grade classes, she said.
For second grade, Guilderland currently averages 18.9 students per class, and next year anticipates averaging 19.9.
Based on the Voorheesville budget brochure, the average class size anticipated for first grade next year is 23 and the projected average class size for grade two is 23 students.
Wilcenski said that larger class sizes not only are taxing for students but erode the teachers abilities as well.
She said students are squeezed closer together, and the noise level is high.
Renée Bache, said she regularly volunteers to read with her daughters first-grade class. She told The Enterprise, based on her observations, there are a few aids assigned to a couple of children with special needs, but those special-education aids end up having to help out the teacher and other students, and they are being spread too thin.
A few aids come in for about an hour in the morning, but they just help the teacher with preparation work like cutting things out, she said, or taking the kids to lunch.
She said that, luckily, in her daughters class, parents help with reading tutorials but there are some classes where parents arent available to run small-group reading sessions, and those students are just missing out altogether.
McCartney emphasized that, if the administrative team recommends it, "We have extra money in the budget for additional teachers."
McCartney said that, when budgeting, the district makes estimates, but the board has, from time to time, transferred funds. Meeting student needs is a priority, McCartney said.
Voorheesville Teacher Association President Kathy Fiero spoke up at the school board meeting saying that the union most certainly supports smaller classes sizes but, she said, "That requires a ‘yes’ vote at the budget." election so the money is there.
She doesnt want people to vote against the budget next week because of concerns over class size, she said, stating, if the budget is voted down, then the district will be much less likely to reduce the second-grades class size.
Wilcenski would like 17 children in each class from kindergarten through third grade while retaining the current aids.
McCartney said, when adding another teacher to a grade, the district has to think about all thresholds for all the grades; if there are a few classes with just 10 students, then that would greatly impact the rest of the student body.
Bike death called a freak accident
NEW SCOTLAND The Helderberg escarpment was one of Mike Fiato’s favorite places to bike ride. "It was the area he grew up in. It was a comfort zone for him, and it’s a gorgeous area to ride in," said Jim Bethell, a friend who said cycling was their common dominator.
On Sunday, May 8, Fiato, of Coventry Court in Voorheesville, died from head injuries sustained during a bike accident the day before, in the hills of New Scotland.
Around 4 p.m. on Saturday, Fiato was riding his road bicycle down a hill on Delaware Turnpike in Clarksville near the intersection of Route 308, or New Scotland South Road, when his front tire blew, said Albany County Sheriffs Deputy William Rice.
"The major injuries were from the first impact when he went off the bike," Rice said. Fiato hit the pavement so hard from the force and speed, that his helmet shattered, Rice said.
"He died from blunt trauma to the head a fractured skull," Rice said. Fiato had no broken bones or any other injures except for some road rash, Rice said.
"It appears that the tire blew out because of a problem with the tube," Rice said, which re-leases about 100 pounds of pressure.
Bethell said that, once or twice a week, he and Fiato rode 20 to 30 miles in a few hours.
The pair had taken Saturday’s route last year, but this year, Bethell said, "We thought we’d make it a club ride; it was his and my idea."
Club riders dont clump together, he said, but end up spreading out once they get to the first hill.
On Saturday, Roeth, another bicyclist, Chris Prieto, and Fiato were the three in the back of group, riding in a single-file line about 150 feet away from each other, Roeth said; the rest of the group was up a little ways further, waiting for them on Waldenmaier Road.
One of the advantages of biking with the club is that everyone looks out for each other; Roeth said, "It’s a support group."
He went on, "It wasn’t a racing group it’s a touring group."
The cyclists still traveled at a good clip though, and on Delaware Turnpike, he and Fiato were going about 30 miles an hour, Roeth said.
Route 443 is a major road. The club riders use major turnpikes to get to country roads, Roeth said, so, at this point on the ride, the group was a little more spread out and biking a little faster than usual to off of the main road as soon as possible.
The club offers tours and riding groups for all abilities and levels but the number one rule is always safety, he said. Whenever there is an organized ride, everyone has to sign in, and wear a helmet, Roeth said.
Saturdays group consisted of all experienced riders who know how to maintain their equipment and cycles, he said.
"It sounded like a gun shot," he said. He turned around and says now that he isn’t sure if he saw Fiato flipping in the air, because it happened so fast.
Deputy Rice said that the sheriffs department is not sure how the tire tube blew out, but Fiato landed straight down, directly on his head.
Prieto and Roeth rushed back to get to their fellow rider. Roeth said that he was so flustered he couldnt get his cell phone out, but a car stopped and a woman called for emergency help while he attended to Fiato.
Roeth said that Fiato had a pulse and was breathing, but he wasnt breathing very well, so he loosened Fiatos helmet.
"We yelled out to him a couple of times but he wasn’t saying anything," Roeth said; Fiato was unconscious.
"I lost track of time," Roeth said, but he thinks the emergency medical service squad got to the scene in five minutes.
"There was blood on the road," Roeth said. Roeth said he can still clearly envision the scene and that he is having nightmares about it.
"The moral of the story...I don’t know if there is one...I just get the sense that this is something that sometimes happens," Roeth said.
He remembers one time, when he was going about 15 miles an hour and his tire popped, he was able to control his bike enough to steer off the side of the road and land in the grass, Roeth said.
Going about 30 miles an hour when a tube pops, a biker wouldnt have any control over the bicycle, Roeth said. He said the metal rim would just hit the road.
Roeth said that, with a road bike, cyclists can go faster.
While there is no way to know how the tube popped, Roeth said he imagines it was one of two things: the tube was sticking out and eventually wore and then popped, "or the tube just goes," he said.
If there are any preventive measures for other cyclists to take, Roeth said, all bikers should check their tire pressure every time before they go out, and, when they put a new tire on, double check to make sure they dont pinch the tube under the tire.
Mark Fiato energetic father, biker, eatery owner
NEW SCOTLAND Mark Fiato embodied the phrase to live life and each day to its fullest, his daughter, Amy Fiato said.
"He really had that nature of always wanting to do some-thing," Ms. Fiato said. Her father was so active, he sometimes wouldn’t even stop to catch his breath, she said.
He was also a devoted father to three daughters Amy Suzanne, 23; Kristin Gale, 20; and Heather Kathryn, 14.
Their father loved the outdoors and was always up for an out-door sport, whether dirt biking or hiking, Amy Fiato said. As an outdoor enthusiast, his two main passions were motorcycling and bicycling.
The family wrote in a tribute that he "went cycling with friends on a ride that will never end."
"He was a great guy, full of energy," Ms. Fiato said. He’d always make sure that everyone was included and that everyone felt welcome, she said.
If her friends or the friends of her two sisters were having a rough time, or if they were just bored and lonely, he would be there, Ms. Fiato said.
"Every time he would take my youngest sister out, he’d take a cousin out, too," she said.
"His family was real important to him he was a man that had a sense of values, that is really rare in this world," said Jim Bethell, a cycling friend. "His daughters always came first."
"He’d always say just go out to enjoy the ride," said Jacques Roeth, another biking friend from the Mohawk Hudson Cycling Club.
Mr. Fiato would ride because he wanted to be with friends, and for the exercise, Mr. Roeth said.
As bike companions, they would talk as they rode along and sometimes they would be working so hard that they couldnt talk, Mr. Roeth said.
"Mark was no slouch either, he could beat me up the hill all the time," Mr. Roeth said.
"He wanted to spend every moment with family and friends and make everyone else around him happy," Ms. Fiato said.
The thing Mr. Roeth says he remembers most about Mr. Fiato is that "he always had a positive thing to say."
"He always had a smile I never saw him depressed," Mr. Roeth said.
"He was a really unique individual. No matter who it was, he’d welcome them with open arms...and you’d walk way with a good feeling," said Mr. Bethell.
Mr. Bethell met Mr. Fiato four years ago in the drive-through of Taco Pronto, the Guilderland restaurant that Mr. Fiato owned and operated for 25 years.
When he was in the drive-through, Mr. Bethell said, he had his bicycle on his car’s rack and Mr. Fiato asked him, "What the heck is that doing up there" You should be riding it."
"He’s been there for me ever since...Mark was a good friend...I’m one of hundreds who will miss him greatly," Mr. Bethell said.
He was the best rider in the area, said Mr. Palmeri. "The bike and him were fluid in motion as one," he said.
Although Fiato had turned in the racing trips to be a family man, he still road his motorcycles recreationally
"He’s always been interested in motorcycles, way before I was born," Ms. Fiato said. She said in the last five years, she has seen her father’s interest drift toward bicycling. She thinks it was be-cause he enjoyed the challenge and the exercise.
"He took us for motorcycle rides," Ms. Fiato said. She said her father wanted to share his interests with his daughters.
Whenever he was working on a motorcycle, or restoring old bikes, hed take his children out in the garage to help him.
"He was the kind of dad that wanted to show us everything," Ms. Fiato said.
Every time he was in the garage fixing anything, a car or a motorcycle or even a vacuum cleaner, she said, "Even if you didn’t want anything to do with it, he’d share with us everything he did."
"He always wanted us to try new things," Ms. Fiato said. "He was a very supportive father who was very involved in all of our lives." He stressed that education was very important and taught his daughters that they should "always think of other people and be very nice to others," she said.
Ms. Fiato thinks one of the reasons her father liked the restaurant business was because of all the different people he could talk to and meet.
He had an upbeat, dynamic, and charismatic personality, the family wrote in a tribute.
"My father was very independent; he knew who he was and what he wanted. He knew actually what he wanted, and how to get it," Ms. Fiato said.
He was very sure of himself, she said, and had a strong work ethic; these are the reasons why he started a restaurant business at the age of 28 and has been successful at ever since, she said.
In the summer, Mr. Fiato and Mr. Palmeri would go to the Antique Engine Club’s "Gas Up" in Schoharie. Fiato had re-built a pre-World War II motorcycle, an Indian Motorcycle, Mr. Palmeri said, which used to be the other big American brand name along-side Harley-Davidson.
\Mr. Fiato was a sponsor of the Electric City Motorcycle Riders Club and an active member of the American Motorcycle Association.
Mr. Palmeri wrote in a letter to the editor this week: "I’d ask him over and over again to attend rallies with me all over the country and in Canada, but he always said no, preferring the thrilling early morning out-and-back rides so he could spend the afternoons with his kids. He was the best father a kid could have."
Mr. Mark Fiato was born in Albany but spent his childhood in New Salem off of New Salem South Road. He went to Voorheesvilles high school, and he moved into the village of Voorheesville when his eldest daughter, Amy, was a toddler, she said.
His mother, Kale Fiato, now lives in Albany, and Mr. Fiatos father, Salvatore, and his wife, Christine, live in Slingerlands.
Mr. Fiato is survived by three daughters, Amy Suzanne, Kristin Kale, and Heather Kathryn, all of Voorheesville .
Other survivors include his four siblings: Mick Fiato and his wife, Gayle, of Boston; Martha Fiato, of Guilderland; Mona George and her husband, Kevin, of Voorheesville; and Miriam Fiato and her husband, Brian Lainhart, of Voorheesville.
He is also survived by the mother of his four children, Laura Williams Fiato.
A newborn son, Paul Mark Fiato, died before him.
Funeral services will be held today, May 12, at 8 p.m. at New Comer-Cannon Family Funeral Home, 343 New Karner Road, Colonie, on Route 155, south of Central Avenue. Calling hours will be held today, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.
Interment will be Saturday morning at the Jerusalem Cemetery, in Feura Bush.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Capital District Cancer Resource Foundation, 317 South Manning Boulevard, Albany, NY 12208.