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Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, September 1, 2005

GOP caucus: Crosier heads slate

By Matt Cook

BERNE — Once again, the Berne Republican Committee will support a registered Democrat in his run for town supervisor.

In a standing-room-only caucus last week, Berne Republicans voted to nominate Supervisor Kevin Crosier for re-election. Crosier, a registered Democrat, ran on the Republican ticket four years ago, beating incumbent Democrat Alan Zuk.

Making his first run for office four years ago, Crosier told The Enterprise that, though he was running as a Republican, he didn’t "embrace every party value." "I’m creating the people’s platform. The only people that told me what to do are the people," he said.

Crosier wasn’t available for comment this week.

Republican Chairman Phillip Stevens told The Enterprise that, at the Aug. 22 caucus, he nominated a Republican, Rudolph Stempel, for the job. The local businessman ran successfully on the Republican ticket in the early ’80’s, serving one term as supervisor.

However, Stevens said, the vote between Crosier and Stempel was "not close."

Though he nominated someone else, Stevens said he supports Crosier as supervisor.

"I think he’s done a great job," Stevens said.

In November, Crosier will face the Democratic nominee, Councilman James Hamilton.

Crosier works as an Albany firefighter.

Joining Crosier on the Republican ticket are Mary Overbaugh and William Lichliter, each seeking one of the open seats on the town board. They will face Democratic incumbent Joseph Golden and Democrat Wayne Emory—both former school board members.

Stevens said the Republican Committee has not nominated anyone for any of the remaining open town positions—town clerk, highway superintendent, assessor, town justice, and tax collector—though it still may.

The Republican platform this election will include finishing the town’s sewer project while keeping costs down, and putting sidewalks in the hamlet of Berne, Stevens said. Also, Stevens said, he opposes businesses like Stewart’s in the hamlet, though he doesn’t fault the company for trying to make money.

In late June, the Stewart’s Corporation withdrew from the planning board an application to build a convenience store and gas station in the hamlet. The company said the town’s zoning was too restrictive.

Earlier this year, Berne passed a revision to its zoning ordinance rezoning the hamlet of Berne from largely residential to mixed-use. According to the ordinance, new businesses can move in, but they have to meet strict requirements intended to make them blend in with the historical hamlet.

The rezoning was one of the most divisive issues in the town in years. While Crosier strongly supported it, Hamilton voted against it with councilwoman Carol Crounse, saying they would support it if gas stations weren’t allowed anywhere in the hamlet.

Stevens said he’s confident that, if elected, Crosier, Overbaugh, and Lichliter will be able to enact the items on the Republican platform.

Though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans overwhelmingly in the Hilltowns, Stevens said he believes GOP candidates in Berne are becoming increasingly popular among independents and Democrats voting across party lines.

"We have really intelligent people here," he said. "More and more are moving to the town and want better things for the town and their children."

--Crosier must be away or something, because he hasn’t returned my calls for several days. I’ll add his comments if he calls back.

ITAD closes after an acclaimed run

By Matt Cook

RENSSELAERVILLE — The Hilltowns’ only professional theater company is calling it quits after a quarter of a century.

The founders of Impulse Theatre And Dance are dissolving the not-for-profit organization, which most recently found a home in Rensselaerville’s historic Conkling Hall.

"We had a good run," said Richard Creamer, who started the company in 1983 in New York City with his wife, Nadia.

Creamer said the decision to close was driven by health concerns and the desire to spend time on other projects.

The Creamers brought ITAD with them when they moved to Rensselaerville from New York 14 years ago. Their company has produced plays, musicals, and dance shows, drawing performers from New York as well as the Capital Region. The group has been recognized several times, including by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts.

Often, the company focused on lesser-known plays and performed with minimal set design, drawing attention to both the acting and the writing.

"It was really a great experience for everybody," Creamer said.

Through ITAD, Creamer, a 50-year veteran of the stage, got his first chance to direct a musical.

"That was really a hell of a lot of fun," he said.

He also remembers the audience reaction to the company’s first satirical play with a political message.

"Some people said that was kind of courageous," Creamer recalled.

In addition to mounting productions, ITAD was also a teaching company, Creamer said. One of its students, Ashston Holmes, who started at ITAD when he was 12, has landed a sizable role in the upcoming movie, History of Violence, directed by David Cronenberg and starring Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen.

The multiple-Oscar-nominated Harris has taken Holmes under his wing, Creamer said.

"He kept plugging away and working at it," Creamer said of Holmes. "This is really great for him."

Filling theater seats in rural towns was not always easy for ITAD. Creamer remembered summers spent at a small theater in Pallenville that lacked air conditioning.

"It was difficult to build an audience there because it was so out of the way, but it really was a lovely little theater," he said.

But, Creamer said, after word spread about the company, people started making the trip.

"I don’t want to boast, but we really ended up doing well there," he said.

Last summer, ITAD’s production of Gardner McKay’s play, Sea Marks, was the first major performance in a newly renovated Conkling Hall. The company presented several other shows there in the following year.

Though ITAD has been dissolved, Creamer said he will continue to bring theater to Rensselaerville. He’s currently writing a musical satire he intends to debut at Conkling Hall.

In his many years in theater, Creamer has been an actor, a writer, a director, and a producer, all this after, he said, "getting a late start." He didn’t try acting until he was a student at Boston University after a stint in the military.

"I fell in love with it absolutely," Creamer said. "It was like I found a new religion, an epiphany."

He described his thoughts watching a play from backstage for the first time: "I thought, ‘My God, it is magic. You move people. You reach people. You make them think. You make them cry.’"

Now, Creamer is trying to reach people in a different way. One of his first projects after ITAD is to write a novel, based on his childhood in Lynn, Mass. He’s halfway through his second draft.

"Now, we’ll see if I can find someone to publish it," he said, laughing.

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