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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 26, 2005

Village lights up the night with heart, hope, generosity, and spirit

— Holly Grosch

VOORHEESVILLE — Friday night, tents pitched along the woods hugged the left side of the high school track, as more tents looped around to the side of the school building and into an open field by the bandstand. Their occupants stayed the night to raise funds — $115,000 in all — to fight cancer.

RV’s pulled into parking spots, one right next to the other, and the high school’s parking lot was full of cars. Even with overflow parking nearby at Cornell Cooperative extension, vans lined busy Route 85.

More than a thousand people attended Voorheesville’s Relay for Life.

Dick Ramsey on the Kiwanis relay team said it was the largest event he has ever seen in Voorheesville.

Cancer survivor Jordan Glover, who has just finished her first year at Elmira College was diagnosed with cancer at 12 years when she was a Voorheesville student. There is a strong symbolism in the relay being an overnight event, she said.

"We start out strong with the sun shining," she said. Then the wee hours of the morning represent a time that is lonely and dark for a person who is trying to beat cancer. And since you’ve been up all night walking, as the sun rises, you start to get ready to get back to life, to go about your ordinary day a little tired, Jordan said, much like a cancer patient who has received a chemotherapy treatment but then heads off to work to face the day.

"When you say community, that’s exactly what Voorheesville brings to it," said Laura Minnick as she took her first lap around the track, walking with a team who called themselves "Beaded Babes," and carried a banner emblazoned with the name.

They were a group of mothers whose children were in the same elementary-school class. Since their children had formed a team, these mothers had formed a group of their own with a Mardi Gras theme. As Minnick walked she was handing out beads with a smile.

As an individual, Minnick said, she doesn’t like asking people for money or fund-raising but, with everyone on the team bringing in a $100 in pledges, she concludes, "you can make an impact as a whole team."

Relay for Life is a fund-raising event for the American Cancer Society held at about 4,000 communities across the nation each year.

This was Voorheesville’s first year hosting. Committees comprised of parents, teachers, community members, and students organized and ran the event with business sponsors and individual donations.

At the opening ceremonies, Carol Bishop-Panepinto from the American Cancer Society thanked school board member Richard Brackett for coming to her and suggesting that Relay for Life come to Voorheesville this year.

He and his family have participated for a number of years at Relay for Life in Colonie. His mother died of cancer when he was a child.

"Pretty much it’s what I knew it could be," Brackett told The Enterprise later in the evening as he leaned on the track’s metal fence looking at the walkers in the dusk.

Each relay team, which at Voorheesville seemed on averaged to have about 10 to 15 people, comes up with a team name; makes a team banner; and, throughout the night from 7 p.m. till morning when the sun rises, has at least one person walking on the track.

Survivors first
The first walk around the track was reserved for cancer survivors, and those currently struggling with cancer. "They are why we are here; we are celebrating their lives," Bishop-Panepinto said.

Glover cut the ceremonial tape that draped over the starting position on the track. The survivors then walked hand-in-hand, wearing their matching purple T-shirts which had the word "survivor" written in black across their shoulders.

The second lap was for survivors and their care takers.

"When people see a person like Lance Armstrong and me — they see that we beat the odds ...we’re a symbol for hope," Jordan Glover told The Enterprise.

"You can come out of it, you can survive — I did make it and other people can make it too," she said.

Glover had been diagnosed with cancer in 1999. She had two brain surgeries, seven months of chemotherapy, and then radiation. Her last blood transfusion was in January of 2000, she said.

"I don’t find it hard to talk about it... I didn’t give up and I’m here today," she said.

It was very special for Relay for Life to be held in her hometown this year, allowing her to share the experience with the same people "who helped me through my cancer," Glover said.

"I hope people learn to fight... If they want to live, they have to fight. Even if doctors say they have a 1-percent chance to over come the cancer, they can make it," Glover said. And with more help, education, and support, that person’s chances of making it become much higher she said.

Greater than expectations
The community exceeded the American Cancer Society’s initial projections for Voorheesville.

In August, Bishop-Panepinto addressed the school board, saying that she estimates about 200 people would participate, which is a realistic goal for a small school in the first year. Colonie, which is much larger, had hosted for six years, and last June had 600 walkers who raised $78,000, she said.

Voorheesville pulled out all the stops; over 900 people signed up to walk with even more showing up on the night of the event to participate in the celebration.

Brackett estimated 1,500 people were on hand at the peak of the evening.

Early on, last fall, the fund-raising goal was set at $38,000, but, Voorheesville raised $115,000.

The American Cancer Society will spend the money locally toward cancer research, education, advocacy, and awareness programs.

Besides the walkers collecting pledges, a number of teams also set up booths, with bake sales, drawings, and items to purchase.

The Apple Blossom team comprised of 18 people from the Orchard Park Neighborhood Association, for example, had drawings for golf packages and gift certificates, which they had received as donations from corporations.

"Everyone has someone" affected by cancer

Eileen Kroencke, a member of the Apple Blossom team, said that she wanted to be involved in the relay because "everyone has someone in the family who has been affected by cancer."

The American Music Abroad choral group, which has high school singers from Voorheesville in the ensemble, opened the ceremonies on Friday by singing, "Over the hilltop, down in the valley — never alone for you, walk with me."

Shortly after the song, a sea of people walked around the track together — some in support of a particular cancer survivor, others in memory of a loved one who died from cancer, and all in an effort to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

"I’m not a rocket scientist; I’m not going to find a cure for cancer. This makes me feel like I’m doing something...that I’m making a difference," Brackett said.

He said his motivation for being an active participator and organizer of Relay for Life is so that other children don’t have to go through what he did when he was 11 years old and lost his mother to cancer. He said that she was a single mother who worked really hard and tried her best.

Mike Guerette, a teacher at the elementary school was on the team "Blue Shine," named after the band he is in. Guerette’s father died from cancer, he said, and the band had come out to walk for a great cause.

After three hours, Guerette said that it was the "sense of championship and spirit of the event" that was his favorite aspects of the night. He said it was a "fresh, positive experience."

School Superintendent Alan McCartney said this Monday that, as he walked around the relay encampment, he saw two-thirds of the district staff. "That says something," he noted.

Minnick said because Voorheesville is small, "half of the town is here, it’s a true community gathering...everyone knows everyone else," she said, adding that, as a result, she felt free to let her kids go; they could run around and be safe.

As third-grader P.J. Bache skipped along the track with his father, he said, "It’s a lot of exercise and fun — We get to walk around with family and friends and even some of our teachers are here!"

Coming together
As darkness began to set in, attendees started making campfires and pre-teen girls headed into their tents, laughing and giggling as they gossiped.

The New Scotland Kiwanis had a barbecue grill going. As an elder, Warren Schlickender flipped a burger, he checked his watch to see when it was his turn to head to the track and walk his laps.

Flashlights scanned over brownies and cookies as people picked out a snack from the bake sales. And teenage rock bands of four or five Clayton A. Bouton students kept the enthusiasm going as their music was pumped over the loudspeakers.

At 10 p.m., luminaries lit the track. Candles where placed in white waxed lunch bags. Each was decorated and colored and had a name, in memory of someone who had died from cancer, or in recognition of a cancer survivor.

The high school clubs had teams: the Builder’s club, the Key Club, the drama club.

Clusters of children came up with their own teams. Members of a New Scotland girls’ soccer team called themselves "Ponytail Posse."

The town government had a team, appropriately nicknaming themselves, "The Townies."

Mike Young, a nine-year-old was recognized in the opening ceremony for raising $1,500 by himself.

"Cancer has touched all of us," Fran Gorka said as she walked with her team.

Phil Bache said that a friend of his from work is a cancer survivor and that he was walking that night in support of him.

"I think a lot of people as individuals in the community are very giving but when they come together as one —," Brackett said they are even stronger. He rolled his eyes and sighed in admiration.

Jenn Lysenko, a senior at Clayton A. Bouton High was the student chair of Relay for Life. She said she saw her main job as getting the word out, rallying teams and finding corporate sponsors.

She went to each club at the school, civic organizations in the community, and local churches to rally walking teams.

Mountainview Evangelical parishioners walked around the track carrying a green and white banner that matched their mountain name.

Starting in the fall, Lysenko ran PowerPoint presentations, and talked to local businesses and organizations to garner sponsors.

Friday, the track was surrounded with a complete circle of signs on the inner athletic field. The square signs were placed just two-and-a-half feet apart from each other reading, "A community event sponsored by ..." and then a name of a business.

Lysenko said, when she signed up to participate, before she went to the first information session, she thought it was just going to be a group of her friends walking around the track, but once she learned the scope, she immediately wanted to take on a leadership role.

She wanted to do everything she could to help because her seven-year-old cousin had died of cancer last February, she said.

Lysenko had made a presentation to a regional group of Key Club members but, she was shocked, she said when a full bus load arrived from Bethlehem High School on Friday night.

Two weeks ago, she realized how big it was going to be when they passed the funding goals, before it was even bank night.

Community organizations had held car washes and dinners beforehand to add contributions to the total.

Then at bank night, last Tuesday, all the walkers brought in their pledge dollars, totally $85,000.

Then $30,000 thousand more was made just during the event.

Lysenko’s favorite creative money-raiser Friday night was from a team from the elementary school. They made bracelets to sell that said, "Chip and Changer are fighting cancer," referring o the two therapy dogs at the elementary school. The four legged friends could be seen walking around the track as well.

For the first 45 minutes, Lysenko just walked around in awe. "I was so amazed, and so grateful," she said. "Everything is going so very well and everyone is so enthusiastic."

Being the student chair for Relay for Life was one of the most amazing experiences in her high school career, she said.

"We have a very close-knit community. It’s something I’ve grown up with and grown to appreciate, and now as a senior, it’s something I’ve come to recognize more," Lysenko said.

There is already a buzz of everyone wanting to host Relay for Life again next year; the phrase "first annual" was being thrown around Friday night.

"I know this community is going to want it," Lysenko said.

Cingular Wireless begins its quest for 90-foot cell tower

— Holly Grosch

NEW SCOTLAND — Cingular Wireless, as anticipated, has applied to build a 90-foot cell tower on Woods Hill Road. Cingular’s representative came before the zoning board last week for the first time to officially introduce its plans.

Adam Walters, an outside attorney who has offices in Buffalo and Albany spoke on the telecommunications company’s behalf last Tuesday. Deborah Burke, from Pyramid Network Services, the company that has submitted the application on behalf of Cingular, also attended.

The proposed plan is to build a 90-foot monopole to the south side of the municipal water tank located on Woods Hill Road. There is already an existing 95-foot Sprint cell tower to the north side of the tank.

"No one likes to see a new monopole," Walters said of local residents, adding that Cingular too, prefers to co-locate on an existing tower rather than build a new one, because "it’s much more expensive to build our own than to rent from Sprint."

But, the highest space available on Sprint’s telecommunications tower is at 70 feet, which would be below the 75-foot tree line, Walters said, and, as a result, would not provide the needed wireless coverage.

Walters said that Sprint indicated to him that 70 feet was the highest available spot on the tower because the existing tower already has one carrier at 100 feet and another at 85 feet.

"This site is a good site," for a new tower, Walters said. "It’s well screened, well wooded and is fenced in."

New Scotland passed a telecommunication law last year that states that any telecommunication tower proposed to be taller than 45 feet requires a variance, which means almost all cell-phone companies’ towers will require a variance and as result will go through rigorous review by the town’s zoning and planning boards.

The law also stipulates a non-refundable $4,000 application fee, and an initial security deposit of $8,500 be placed into escrow to pay engineers and other outside consultants the town may have to hire to review the application.

In order for Cingular’s desired tower to be built, a number of applications have to be approved by the town, including a use variance, the new telecommunications special use permit, and area variances.

For example, the proposed location for the tower is 24 feet from a property line so Cingular will need an area variance for that as well, to meet set-back requirements.

Zoning Administrator Paul Cantlin said that, once Walters makes his initial presentations to the zoning and planning boards, then his department can digest what Cingular wants to do and decide what variances must be pursued first, and the process to go about the total application.

Visual impact & other sites
Walters began to exhibit visual-impact photo-simulation pictures at the zoning board meeting last week. Visual impact studies are required by the town’s new law.

As Walters showed pictures from all over town, looking into where the new tower would be, he claimed that the tower "will largely not be visible based on the terrain." His pictures were taken in the winter, he said, so this represents the worst-case scenario for visibility with the trees still leafless.

Zoning board member Adam Greenberg said that he would like to see the escarpment in the view-shed analysis as well.

Walters also showed diagrams that demonstrated which areas of town currently do not receive reliable coverage from Cingular and how the new tower will "fill in the gap."

Cingular has a long term plan to place another new tower in Delmar, Walters said, which will then completely close out areas without service.

New Scotland’s cell-tower law requires the telecommunications company to show all possible co-location spots and to observe the town’s placement priority list.

Companies must one by one prove that a tower or antenna cannot be placed and reach similar objectives at a town determined preferred location.

The first-priority location is on an existing tower; the second is on a town-owned structure; the third is on electrical power lines, transmission towers, or power poles; and the fourth is on other existing structures in town such as a water tower, silo, or church steeple.

Walters said that, while the Woods Hill Road location is ideal to serve the area Where Cingular currently has poor coverage, the 60-foot-high water tank is not high enough to place an antenna above the tree line.

One location the zoning board requested that Cingular include in its review is on top of the flag pole in the town park on Swift Road, down the street from Woods Hill Road.

Cingulars’ new tower, like the old Sprint tower, would be set back behind and to the side of the water tank but situated at a diagonal angle from each other because the towers can not be placed in line, otherwise there would be interference and static in the phone service. As a result, the two towers will not be shielding each other from view, Walters said.

Walters agreed to do propagation studies from Niagara Mohawk’s poles as the board requested, "although," he said, "they are much shorter."

Greenberg also asked about the possibility of stealth technology or a flagpole structure rather than a tower.

Burke responded that it would limit the coverage and capacity of the tower, stating that a flagpole structure prevents the possibility of other companies co-locating on it later.

Additional horizontal space is needed to place more antennas, because each company needs about two antennas, Walters said.

Since the town’s law prefers placing a new antenna on an existing tower, any new towers are required to be designed and built to accommodate future demands for at least one more commercial application. Walters said that Cingular’s proposed mono-pole is capable of hosting one more carrier.

Referring to a map that showed a lot of white area representing poor coverage, Greenberg asked if he stood on a road in the white area in New Scotland, did that mean that his Cingular cell phone would not work there"

Walters said the area labeled "not reliable," means the call is consistently dropped or has static.

Cingular representatives, expressed interest in being on the planning board’s agenda on June 7.

Grievance Day in the Hilltowns and New Scotland

—Matt Cook and Maggie Gordon

Few people in the Hilltowns and New Scotland appealed their assessments before their towns’ assessment review boards on the state-wide Grievance Day, Tuesday. No commercial property owners grieved their assessments. None of these towns have gone through revaluation recently.

—In New Scotland, two residents filed grievances;

—In Westerlo, one resident filed a grievance;

—In Rensselaerville, six residents filed grievances; and

—In Knox, three residents filed grievances;

In each town, except Knox, the grievances will be considered by the review boards and decided on at a later date.

In Knox, the three residents had their assessments lowered slightly, said Tim Frederick, chair of the assessment review board.

Information from Berne was not available.

Voorheesville tightens leash on loose dogs

— Bill Sherman

VOORHEESVILLE — After months of negotiating an animal-control contract with the town of New Scotland, village leaders Tuesday night decided to terminate the contract at the end of June.

Mayor Jack Stevens told The Enterprise that village parking-enforcement employee Frank Pierro was hired on Wednesday to assume the animal control duties for the village.

State law requires the town to answer calls regarding dangerous or attacking dogs in the village. However, the village has long contracted with the town to perform additional animal-control duties such as enforcing the village’s ordinances on barking dogs, the leash law, and animal waste.

Last October, the village began negotiating a new contract with the town since the current contract was set to expire at the end of the year. It was not until February that the municipalities agreed to a new contract, which had the village paying $6,000 annually.

Recently Voorheesville was informed that two of the three New Scotland animal-control officers were resigning. Stevens said that town leaders were unsure what would be done with the department.

While expressing some frustration over the entire animal-control issue with the town, Stevens said it was better for the village to handle its own calls. Stevens said residents should call the village about animal-control complaints. The town will continue to take the "dangerous dog" calls, as required by state law.

Other business
In other business the board:
— Passed a resolution authorizing the submission of a state Justice Court Assistance Program grant. Stevens said the grant submission is an annual request under this program.

This year the village is requesting funding for new court chairs, file cabinets, calculators, a high security shredder, an electronic and hardbound thesaurus and to upgrade computer, printer and fax equipment.

Stevens said new village grant-writer, Anne Biese, prepared the grant. The village should receive an answer in about 90 days; and

— Scheduled two public hearings for June 15.

The first hearing will be begin at 6 p.m. The topic is the village’s new cable television contract.

The second hearing, set for 6:30 p.m., will be on a proposed amendment to a local law. Village Building Inspector Jerry Gordinier has proposed lowering the insurance rider required for companies performing residential electrical inspections from $10 million to $6 million.

Stevens said he hopes lowering the insurance requirement will "open up the market to new firms, which could lower the cost to homeowners." Stevens said Gordinier is reviewing all of the village ordinances to make them more "user-friendly."

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