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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 14, 2005


Pofit at helm of Voorheesville school board

By Holly Grosch

VOORHEESVILLE — This is a transition year for the school district’s decision-making authorities. The school board reorganized this Monday night, with two new board members, Kevin Kroencke and David Gibson, replacing two veteran members, and the new superintendent of schools, Linda Langevin, took her place at the center of the dais.

"We have to let Mrs. Langevin get acclimated," newly-elected school board President Joseph Pofit told The Enterprise this week. Pofit said that he had expressed interest in the head position to his fellow board members prior to the meeting; he was the only one that received a nomination.

James Coffin is continuing as vice president of the board.

Pofit is entering his eighth year on the board. He said that he has certainly become more familiar with the issues and regulations and felt as though he has good base understanding to now lead.

Pofit thinks the district is in great shape to transition smoothly; he said he’s going to let Langevin get her feet on the ground and then learn what her impressions are of the environment at Voorheesville.

The two new board members are also going to be great new assets, Pofit said. Kroencke is very active in the community and one can tell very quickly that he loves the community, Pofit said, and Gibson’s business background and interest in technology will also offer another expertise, he added.

The board’s job is to work on policy and the budget and to make the administration accountable, not to get involved in the day-to-day operations, Pofit said.

It’s the board’s responsibility, Pofit said, to understand the budget, discuss things with the staff and community, and maintain the facilities especially since so much money has recently been spent on them.

Pofit said the board wants Voorheesville to remain one of the top five schools in the Capital Region, a ranking that it is very proud of, he said.

His job as president is to "keep the agenda moving, solicit dialogue, control the meeting, and maintain the integrity of the agenda," he said.

When asked how his chairing style differs from what residents have seen in the recent past, Pofit said, "What I enjoy doing is soliciting from all the board members." He said it won’t be uncommon for him to go around the table and try to get comments from each board member, with the "hope of getting a consensus, but if we can’t get one, that will be fine too," Pofit said.

Some people are squeamish about commenting, Pofit said, and his goal is to create a meeting environment where everyone is able to make as much or as little comment as they want.

Pofit works with Catholic Charities in developing senior housing, assisted living, and skilled-nursing facilities; he deals with the construction and financing of these programs for 14 counties, he said.

Pofit has three children who have been a part of the Voorheesville school system. One child graduated two years ago from Clayton A. Bouton High, one child is entering her sophomore year, and another will be a senior this year.

Curriculum

The board and Langevin want to take a look at the district’s curriculum.

The curriculum committee hasn’t been very active recently, Pofit said, and, while the school does have a "strong curriculum" and the board is "very happy with it," the board just needs to continue to stay on top of it, he said.

The board needs to make sure that children move from grade to grade smoothly, that each class flows to another logically, that the district is offering challenging courses, and that the curriculum is flexible enough so that students are "not locked in because of the grade they are in," Pofit said.

One of the reasons the district made the decision to move the middle school to the high school building was so that students who can excel and handle the workload can take upper-grade courses.

Another thing the district has wanted to look at, Pofit said, is beginning foreign language instruction at the lower grade levels.

While curriculum is reviewed regularly, this is a good time to do a review of all the curriculum across the board, because it is "certainly one of the strengths of our new superintendent," he said.

Langevin proposed on Monday night that the board hold two retreats this year rather than just one, and that one of the meetings be dedicated to reviewing the curriculum.

She has been setting up appointments and interviews to meet with community leaders and district staff, Langevin said and she soon would like to meet with each board member, one-on-one.

She is using the entry plan recommended by retiring superintendent Alan McCartney, but she has modified it to fit her style, she said.

"It’s become clear to me immediately," Langevin said that reviewing curriculum is an interest of many parties.

One retreat will focus on setting the goals for the administration and the board, Langevin said and the school board will set goals for her.

She would like a "roll up your sleeves" meeting lasting at least three hours, to discuss and make out a plan of how to tackle where the district wants to go with its curriculum.

Pofit wants to address the role the board should take in curriculum development.

All agreed that the department heads should attend the curriculum retreat to share their desires and be a part of the reconfiguration.

Adult Education

The district is losing money on the adult-education programs and the board wants to actually break even.

"It’s a very valuable program," Gibson said.

Pofit expressed his concern: "If it’s not self-sustaining, where is the money coming from""

Assistant Superintendent for Business Sarita Winchell said that the money, already budgeted, comes from the general fund.

"I myself do not like giving increases in payroll when we’re in the red," Pofit said.

Approving an increase in salaries for adult-education teachers was part of the agenda for the night.

Winchell suggested that the board go into executive session so that she could explain why individual salary raises were proposed.

Pofit told The Enterprise on Wednesday that the board decided to maintain the same salary schedule as last year, but that it will continue to be reviewed and looked at again in the winter before the spring adult classes.

The community voted and approved the district’s spending money on improving Voorheesville’s facilities, so it’s important that the buildings remain a community resource, Pofit said. "The school building doesn’t shut down at 3:30," he said. The board continues to want to offer courses and activities to the general public.

But also, he said, the board wants to explore all the options possible since the report from the administration showed that the adult-education program falls $4,900 short. "We’d like to see it break even," he said.

Winchell suggested the board reconfigure the senior-citizen discount.

Coffin said what is needed is a "real good review of what courses are offered, their cost, and a proposal to fix the short fall."


Six Lots for $600K homes get preliminary approval

By Holly Grosch

NEW SCOTLAND — The planning board last Tuesday gave Engineer Francis Bossolini preliminary plat approval for six lots, on the corner of Krumkill and Font Grove Road; each is expected to have a home rangeing from $500,000 to $700,000 in price.

Subdivision approval is still pending.

This allows the applicant to keep moving forward, but also keeps the developement under the board’s control, planning board chairman Robert Stapf told The Enterprise this week.

With preliminary plat approval, the applicant can now invest the money into the project and explore and drill for wells, Stapf said. This approval also allows Bossolini to go to the Albany County Heath Department and work on getting the specific approvals that he needs, Stapf said.

If he doesn’t find water, Stapf went on, then Bossilini will have to come back to the board and re-configure the subdivision of the property. Where he finds water will determine how many lots he can have and also where the septic systems will have to be placed.

Stapf said that there is not yet a set developer tied to the project. The land is still owned by Jeremiah Manning and there is an agreement for Bossolini to do the engineering work, but who the land will be sold to for development is not yet determined.

Since neighbors had expressed concern about well drilling affecting their water quality, the planning board has asked Bossolini to collect water samples from neighboring wells, and sending those samples to a lab to be tested so that a base-line condition can be recorded, Stapf said. This way, if water quality does change, Stapf said, "We can have him correct it."

Other approvals

In other business, the planning board:

— Approved a special use, so that Michael Arel can keep the pond he built last fall on his property on Pauley Road. He said he didn’t know he needed a permit until after he dug it. Stapf said that the board approved the pond because it’s an in-ground pond that is just catching the natural drainage with no dam; and

— Permited Howard Amsler to construct a 1,152-square-foot pole and screened-in structure at the Tastee Treat Ice Cream concession-stand site on Route 85. "He’s been improving" that property, Stapf told The Enterprise. Amsler said last month he plans to place the new structure where the gazebo was, and place 8 to 10 picnic tables inside.


Holmberg mourned: ‘She died in office’

By Holly Grosch

NEW SCOTLAND — Marilyn Holmberg was the kind of women who put a pool in her backyard although she herself couldn’t swim, just so the neighborhood kids could.

She truly enjoyed the community; she knew many generations and was aware of the goings on in the community, said her daughter Judy Fritz.

The town’s tax collector, for 16 years, Mrs. Marilyn Holmberg died Monday, July 11, 2005, while still holding office. She was 80.

"It’s marvelous for us that she died in office," said Mrs. Fritz. "She loved being the tax collector."

"She was a math person."

Fritz recalled her mother going over flash cards with her and her sister and often pulling other neighborhood kids aside to study the cards as well.

The Enterprise spoke with Mrs. Holmberg this spring as the town board was considering meshing the tax collector’s office with the clerk’s office. She told of how her health was failing, and how she wished she could run again in the spring, but that she was just not up to it.

A member of the Town of New Scotland Republican party, she was first elected in 1988.

Holmberg said this spring, that this past year, when she was ill, she had needed some help with fulfilling her duties, and that she appreciated her daughter working with her.

Mrs. Fritz said it was a wonderful experience to share with her mother toward the end of her life.

An interest in financing isn’t just something that Mrs. Holmberg picked up late in her life. During World War II she worked at the Albany Engineering Depot at the Port of Albany as the payroll clerk.

Mrs. Holmberg also worked as a beautician. She took classes and was certified and first worked at a salon in Albany. Then she ran a salon out of her home, cutting the hair of friends and the community members, Mrs. Fritz said. It was just another way that Mrs. Holmberg liked the challenge of learning and working with people.

Farm roots

Mrs. Holmberg was born in Albany and graduated from Bethlehem High School; she was the daughter of Jacob and Margaret Coons Klapp.

Mrs. Holmberg grew up on a farm on Feura Bush-Unionville Road. She told stories of the old days but also watched how things changed over the years, Mrs. Fritz said. Mrs. Holmberg was very aware of the political and physical changes of New Scotland, Mrs. Fritz said. She kept up-to-date with the zoning and tax situation, and water issue was a big concern of hers, her daughter said.

New Scotland’s deputy tax collector, who worked under Mrs. Holmberg, is Arlene Herzog.

"She ran the office well," Mrs. Herzog said, "it was nice and pleasant to work with her."

Her philosophy was that, if everyone helps everyone else, it will all work out well, Mrs. Herzog said.

Mrs. Holmberg was always very friendly and had a sense of humor, she said.

She was known for her quick one-liners; she’d say something off the cuff, which would make a person turn around out of surprise and say, "What did you say"," her comments where funny, Mrs. Herzog said.

She seemed to really enjoy seeing all the residents as they came in to pay their taxes, Mrs. Herzog said.

If a bill got lost, she said, then Mrs. Holmberg would say, "Oh, that’s the relative of so-and-so" and she would be able to track someone down.

"Any number I needed, I could call her up and she had it memorized," said Mrs. Fritz. Even up to a few weeks ago, her memory was sharp, said her daughter.

Nurturing

In a tribute, Mrs. Holmberg’s family wrote that she enjoyed crafts and homemaking.

Mrs. Fritz said that she and her sister had many memories of their mother crocheting dozens of afghans, "granny afghans," Mrs. Fritz said. She also made beaded and hooked rugs.

Mrs. Holmberg used to sew all of her daughters’ clothing, including their prom dresses, Mrs. Fritz said. Also, when the had dance recitals, Mrs. Fritz said, she remembers her mother making costumes for practically the whole troupe, along with a few other mothers.

The re-use of materials is something that Mrs. Fritz believes her mother carried with her from early farm life. Mrs. Fritz said she remembers going dump picking with her mother and one time they picked out beautiful round oak tables for just a few dollars.

"She liked hardy German meals and sit-down dinners," Mrs. Fritz said, something that society is now losing. "We always had a sit down dinner with a full-course meal."

Mrs. Holmberg’s mothering and hospitality crossed into the work place as well.

"She’d bring casseroles and sandwiches into the office," Mrs. Herzog said. She’d always make sure that everyone had something to eat, and have sodas on hand to hand out.

She’d pass food around, and made a really comfortable working environment. She helped foster socializing in town hall, taking food to the clerk’s office, bringing food to the zoning department, said Mrs. Herzog.

"She kept everyone in touch with each other instead of a division type of thing," Mrs. Herzog said. People in the back office would mosey to the front around noontime to see what she had put out, Mrs. Herzog said. Mrs. Holmberg really fostered camaraderie, she said.

* * * *

Mrs. Holmberg’s husband, Greger Holmberg, died before her. Her sister, Ann Boehlke, also died before her.

She is survived by her two daughters, Judith Ann Fritz and her husband, James, of Delmar, and Linda Jeanne Holmberg of Oakland, Calif.; her sisters ,Kathleen Frasier of Delmar, and Margaret Parker of Feura Bush.

She is also survived by her grandchilden, Kirsten Piotrowski and her husband, Michael, of Round Lake, Gretchen Fritz and her husband, Thomas Tantillo, of Mamaroneck, N.Y.; and Jennifer Fritz of Delmar, and by several nieces and nephews.

Her funeral service will be Saturday at 10 a.m. from the Daniel Keenan Funeral Home, 490 Delaware Ave, Albany and at 11 a.m. in Unionville Dutch Reformed Church. Calling hours will be at the funeral home on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. Interment will be at the Holy Spirit Lutheran Cemetery in Glenmont.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, NE Region, 440 New Karner Road Albany, NY 12205.


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