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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 10, 2005

In Guilderland Dems’ clean sweep

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — Showered with roses and surrounded by hugs, Democrat Denise Randall made history Tuesday. She is the first female to be elected judge in Guilderland.

By less than 200 votes, Randall ousted Republican Judge Steven J. Simon, who has been town justice for 25 years. This is the first time in Guilderland that both town justices will be Democrats.

The Democrats had even more to celebrate Tuesday as they swept the election. This will be the third consecutive term in Guilderland’s 200 years that the town board will be controlled by all Democrats with a Democratic supervisor.

For town board, Democrats Patricia Slavick, an incumbent, and Paul Pastore soundly beat Republican newcomers Michael Donegan and Ed Glenning.

Also, Democratic Supervisor Kenneth Runion, Town Clerk Rosemary Centi, and Receiver of Taxes Jean Cataldo, were all unopposed.

Centi and Cataldo excitedly hugged the winners Tuesday night as Runion, a former Republican, spoke of how happy he is to be a part of the Democratic party.

Then they celebrated with about 50 Democrats, and some Conservative and Independence party members, at Sutter’s Mill and Mining Co.

Meanwhile, the town’s Republican party met at Dorato’s restaurant, further down Western Avenue. The atmosphere was less festive, as the candidates accepted their defeat.

New judge

Randall was calm as the polls closed at 9 p.m. on Tuesday. Asked how she felt, before the results were announced, she said, "I did everything I could. I ran flat out. I ran to win and now I’ll just wait, knowing I did all I could do."

Randall received 4,345 votes and Simon got 4,171. (All vote tallies in this story are according to unofficial results from the Albany County Board of Elections.)

Randall also ran on the Independence and Conservative lines. While Simon was backed by the Conservative party in September’s primary, Randall won the line, 68 to 63.

Tuesday night, Democratic Chairman David Bosworth thanked the Conservative party. If not for it, he said, Randall may not have won the election. She got 304 votes on the Conservative line.

Guilderland has two town judges who each serve four-year terms. In 2003, John Bailey was the first Democrat ever to be elected judge in Guilderland. He replaced long-time Republican Judge Kenneth Riddett, who retired.

Unlike Riddett, Simon wasn’t ready to move on. He told The Enterprise earlier that he enjoyed being judge and wanted to continue his service to the town.

Wednesday, Simon said he was disappointed. "I’ve been doing it for 25 years and it’s been an honor. I’m proud of my record," he said. "I’m going to look forward, not back. I’ll continue my private law practice."

He added that, on the bright side, he won’t have to get out of bed in the middle of the night for arraignments.

Randall, the town court prosecutor who also has a private law practice, thanked the Democratic party, Bosworth, the voters, and her family Tuesday night.

"This, without a doubt, has been one of the most astounding adventures of my adult life," she said. She added that Pastore, who ran against Simon 12 years ago, and Richard Sherwood and Peter Barber, who unsuccessfully challenged the judge since, "ran hard before me and chipped away at my opponent, making this possible."

Other results and reactions

Before the election results were announced Tuesday, Slavick told The Enterprise that she was nervous. She and Donald Csaposs stood at the front of a growing crowd, watching as two party members wrote the results on two posterboards. Csaposs is the town’s economic development director and a member of the Independence Party.

It took about 45 minutes to receive and post the results for all 32 districts. During that time, the room became packed with people, most stretching their necks to read the results.

Pastore looked the most anxious. As each tally was written on the board, he stood on his tiptoes, flexed his eyebrows, and stroked his chin.

Although she knew she’d be re-elected, Cataldo said she was nervous for her running mates.

"I need them to win because I’m not being successful if they’re not here," she told The Enterprise.

The crowd cheered when many of the results were posted and occasionally booed at the districts where Simon beat Randall. By 10 p.m., all the results were in and Csaposs had added the results from the districts together.

Slavick, who also ran on the Independence and Conservative lines, got the most votes, with 4,713, and Pastore, with the Independence line, was next with 4,376. Republican Donegan, also with the Conservative line, got 3,845 votes and Glenning got 3,581.

Runion received 6,019 votes. Although he was running unopposed, during his campaign he outlined for The Enterprise the accomplishments of his administration, including: keeping the budget in line despite surprises, adopting a comprehensive land-use plan, and creating parks.

Enrollment for Guilderland voters falls roughly into thirds — Democrats, Republicans, and those who are not enrolled in a party or who are in small parties.

Cataldo garnered 6,298 votes and Centi got 5,955 votes. All three incumbents also ran on the Independence and Conservative lines.

Tuesday, Bosworth called the winners to the front of the room. Randall, Slavick, Centi, and Cataldo were given bouquets of roses and Cataldo pinned "I’m a Winner" ribbons on the elected councilpersons.

After several rounds of applause, Slavick spoke first. She thanked the Guilderland Democratic Committee for its work on the campaign.

"We won because we worked very hard," she said. "We showed a lot of energy on the streets. We clocked 85 hours on the street."

Slavick encountered a setback in the race in August, she said. Then, leaders of the Republican party had complained to Slavick’s employer that she was violating the Hatch Act by keeping her job and running for town board.

Slavick, an accountant, told The Enterprise then that she’d done all she could to clear her candidacy with her supervisor at the state’s Office of Mental Health. The Hatch Act is a law that prohibits federal and certain state workers from running for an elected office.

When told just before the Democratic caucus in September that her job was in conflict, Slavick decided to quit, she said. Still, Republican candidate Michael Donegan told The Enterprise that Slavick’s leaving her job wasn’t good enough. She violated the law for too long and she should drop out of the race, he said.

Tuesday, a smiling Slavick said, "I said in principle that I was going to run in this election and I did it."

She said earlier that her goals for the next four years include: conducting more studies for the comprehensive plan; seeing that water lines are looped for better quality and access; finding more grants for town projects; and getting more sidewalks in town, in accordance with a study made by the pathways committee.

Tuesday night, Pastore said that campaigning and working with the Democratic party was "truly a privilege and a pleasure."

"This victory is as much yours and it is ours," Pastore said. "I am most proud to be a part of the team. I truly believe that I’ve won prior to the results in having dealt with all of you."

Pastore said earlier that his experience as the town’s planning board attorney has helped him understand how the town is growing and what the current planning issues are. As a town board member, he said, he’ll see that issues such as residential growth and property-owners’ rights and public concerns of safety and well-being are addressed.

Wednesday, Donegan sent a letter to the Enterprise editor congratulating Slavick and Pastore and thanking everyone who worked on his campaign.

"I’m obviously disappointed," he told The Enterprise yesterday afternoon. "We ran a hard campaign."

Donegan, a lawyer with the state’s Commission of Corrections, said earlier that he ran for town board because he had fresh ideas and he wanted to open up the process of town government.

"I want to be proactive instead of reactive," he said.

Donegan also said that "the local Democratic party really has a stranglehold on this town board."

He and other Republicans have said that it is a conflict for Bosworth to be both party chair and councilman and that Bosworth has too much control over the board members. They used Democratic incumbent Bruce Sherwin, who said he was not nominated by his party because of his independent thinking, as an example.

Wednesday, Donegan said of he and the Republicans, "We’re resilient. We will be back."

Asked if he’d run again for town board, he said it’s too early to say, but he will keep his options open. He plans on getting rest now and spending time with his family, he said.

Glenning, a vice president for the Bank of America, told The Enterprise Wednesday that he congratulates the winners. He did not go to Dorato’s Tuesday night with other Republicans, but watched the results on television at home with his wife and daughter, he said.

"The greatest thing in an election is the public gets to be heard," Glenning said Wednesday. "We ran a good campaign, everybody did."

He said earlier of his election goals, "We need to have a better balance to the Guilderland economy. The way I see the town developing, there’s a lot of residential growth and I don’t see a lot of corresponding, commercial services."

Glenning now plans on spending more time with his daughter and wife, he said. He hopes to share some of his ideas with town officials, he said.

Glenning concluded that he will not run again. "This election was a one-shot deal for me," he said.

After half-century adored doctor leaves practice

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — The town’s first pediatrician, Anthony Mastrianni, made the bittersweet decision to retire earlier this year.

From his winter home in Florida this week, Mastrianni told The Enterprise about the satisfaction and heartbreak he experienced as a doctor.

He described the intimacy of, after 50 years of practicing medicine, watching his patients grow up and then treating their children.

"I took care of an awful lot of kids, thousands," Mastrianni said. "For the most part, pediatrics is a challenging and loving profession. Pediatricians are surrogate parents in a way....We’re a good breed of people."

Mastrianni, 76, started his career in 1954, when he interned at Albany Medical Center. He then practiced with his uncle, Francis Mastrianni, in Altamont for a year.

He served as a physician and radiologist in the United States Air Force for two years. And, from 1958 to 1960, he worked again at Albany Medical Center.

After working with adults, Mastrianni decided that he’d rather treat children.

"Kids are more challenging than adults," he said.

Mastrianni opened his own practice on New Scotland Avenue, in Albany, and, in 1966, moved it to Western Avenue in Guilderland. He moved the practice to Schoolhouse Road in 1977 with two partners, John Abbuhl and James Murphy.

Mastrianni spoke about how medicine has evolved over the years. He went on many house calls when he first began his practice, he said.

"It was good, but an inefficient way of taking care of children," he said, since he couldn’t bring most of his equipment with him.

Also, Mastrianni said, house calls took a lot of time; he traveled to see patients not just in Guilderland, but in Berne, Albany, Rensselaer, and Delmar.

When he ended house calls, it took the parents of his patients some adjusting, he said.

"I said, ‘Are you coming by horse and buggy or by heated car"’ They said, ‘Heated car.’ So, I said, ‘Then you can bring your child to the office,’" Mastrianni recalled.


He loved his work, Matrianni said, although at times it was difficult.

"Sometimes you felt like you were a veterinarian; you had to get the patient’s history from the parent," he said.

Mastrianni had a few parents bring in their babies, who had meningitis. He recalled putting the babies in his car and rushing them to the hospital, he said.

He talked about other ways his practice changed. When his patients got older, Mastrianni would not only examine them physically, but also counsel them.

"I used to be very embarrassed to talk to teens about their sexual activity," he said. But, he said, in the past decade or more, as talking about sex became less taboo, the discussions got easier.

Mastrianni was the health officer for the Guilderland schools and was the physician for the elementary and middle schools.

In the 1970’s, he said, he and the Guilderland High School principal would visit students and teach them about the dangers of smoking marijuana.

Mastrianni was also the medical director for St. Margaret’s Home for Children for 25 years.

"I mostly took care of severely brain-damaged children," he said. "It was a real challenge."

He formed an ethics committee for the facility. Mastrianni, along with other doctors, parents, a minister, and a lawyer created a set of regulations for physicians to follow, to determine when to treat terminally ill patients and when to let them die.

The doctors there needed guidance on how to make such excruciating decisions, he said.

"I had a baby that came from New York. The baby had a big hole in its skull and no brain material," Mastrianni said. "The skull cavity was filled with fluid....

"I told the mother, if the baby could suck on its own, we’d keep it alive. She held my hand and said, ‘Thank God.’ But, the baby died two days later," he said.

Raising children

As a doctor, Mastrianni could relate to the parents of his patients. He knew what it was like to be a parent. He and his wife, Joan, had six daughters.

Asked about treating his children, Mastrianni said, "They say the shoemaker’s kid gets the last sole."

He took care of the minor medical problems his children had, Mastrianni said, but let other pediatricians treat them regularly. His judgment may have been clouded, he said, because he was so emotionally attached to his daughters.

Mastrianni, who now has 13 grandchildren, proudly described his daughters’ occupations, from nursing and teaching to social and environmental work.

"My whole family is service-oriented," he said. "It’s a nice legacy to pass on."

Mastrianni then spoke fondly of his wife, who worked as a receptionist early in her husband’s practice and later worked as a nurse.

"She was very understanding," he said, as he established his practice and made house calls. "...She raised six kids, born within eight years, and never had outside help, no maids."

Mastrianni and his wife are now enjoying their retirement, he said. The couple lives in Florida in the winter and Guilderland in the summer.

Mastrianni plans on playing golf and reading, which, he said, he hadn’t been able to do much of before. When in this area, Mastrianni said he will volunteer for Community Caregivers and the Teresian House.

It was difficult to decide to retire, Mastrianni said.

"I developed such a rapport with my staff and patients," he said. "It was a vital part of my life."

His patients wrote kind things about him in a journal that was kept in his office, Mastrianni said. "It was filled with sentimental notes that I’ll always treasure," he said.

"It’s been a wonderful experience. I don’t regret one bit of it," Mastrianni concluded of his work. "I feel I played a part in helping parents raise their kids."

For legislative change
Task force to study teachers’ pensions

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — An idea hatched by the Guilderland School Board has received state-wide backing.

A task force of major stakeholders will look at ways to fund teachers’ pensions while protecting taxpayers.

"We’re looking to help taxpayers and preserve the pension system," said Linda Bakst, the board’s vice president. She stressed, "The integrity of the system needs to be maintained."

Bakst represented Guilderland last month at the New York State School Boards Association convention in Rochester where she led the initiative to introduce the resolution during the annual business meeting.

The task force will include representatives from NYSSBA, the New York United Teachers, the National Education Association, the New York State Council of School Superintendents, the New York State Association of School Business Officials, and the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System.

"We’re hoping to have a legislative agenda come out of it," said Bakst. "That’s the reason to have them all at the table," she said of the groups that represent both teachers and school boards, among others.

"Then all the groups hopefully would lobby for that agenda," Bakst said.

The task force is to present a proposal at the 2006 NYSSBA convention.

"Its time has come"

Guilderland School Board member Richard Weisz first introduced the idea at a board meeting this summer. He asked that the board push for a change in state legislation what would authorize school districts to offer 401(k) plans or to come up with a new set of rules for the Teachers’ Retirement System.

Weisz said then, as costs increase for things like energy and health insurance, "We’re being forced into a corner where the only way we can cut money is to cut staff."

The less the state mandates, Weisz said, the more flexibility districts have.

"All of the major industries with dedicated benefit plans are crashing," he said. "Sooner or later, it will come to us."

David Ernst, spokesman for NYSSBA, told The Enterprise in June that, at that time, the state legislature had no bills similar to Weisz’s proposal so the association had taken no formal position.

Generally speaking, he said, the association would favor a plan that would save public employers pension benefits.

Since the stock market faltered after the terrorists’ attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Ernst said, employer contributions to pension funds have gone up.

"Ever since the eighties," he said, "pension reform has all been in one direction and it ain’t downward."

He also said that, since Guilderland would not be meeting the June 15 deadline for resolutions, it could make a proposal during the convention, from the floor, but that is difficult procedurally, requiring a two-thirds vote from the delegates.

Bakst said that, on Oct. 29, easily 75 percent of the 250 voting delegates at the convention supported the resolution.

"A lot of people should get the credit," she said.

Guilderland Superintendent Gregory Aidala "did a lot of legwork," she said; he sent out letters to all the superintendents so they could inform their school boards.

"We went to a lot of local meetings," Bakst said, such as the Capital District School Boards Association. "We met with NYSSBA itself," she said.

Referring to the other Guilderland board member who attended the convention, Bakst said, "Barbara Fraterrigo and I talked to people. I got out a flyer."

Summing up the widespread support, Bast said of the resolution, "Its time has come."

"We’re not investors"

In June, just after Weisz made his proposal, Chris Claus, president of the teachers’ union at Guilderland told The Enterprise that the Teachers’ Retirement System has gone through four phases, called tiers, since the first tier in 1973.

In general, Claus said, a teacher can collect a pension at the age of 55, and the pension continues until death.

Asked what the pension pays, Claus gave this equation: "Roughly speaking, a teacher’s pension equals the number of years in teaching, times 2 percent of the average of your highest three years of salaries. So, if you have 30 years of teaching, times 2 percent, that equals 60 percent. You take 60 percent of your highest three-year average."

Claus also drew an important distinction between private companies and the Teachers’ Retirement System.

"Private companies can borrow against their pension funds and that weakens them," he said. "The Teachers’ Retirement System is completely protected from any kind of raiding or liens. It's more secure."

He also said, "The only way I think a scheme like this would save a school district money is if it contributed less than now."

Claus did say changing legislation to allow school districts to bank the money, so they could better plan their annual budgets, shielded from fluctuation, would make sense.

He also said, "Teachers are teachers; we’re not investors." He indicated that the system in place now ensures teachers will have reliable incomes until death while a 401(k) plan allows a person to "accumulate large sums of money without tax liability," but, Claus said, "There’s no guarantee at the end."

"Long-term solution"

Asked if the task force were charged with considering the two recommendations made by Weisz — authorizing districts to offer 401(k) plans or coming up with a new set of rules for the Teachers’ Retirement System — Bakst said the charge was more general: to come up with financing strategies.

"There are definitely other ideas" to consider, she said.

She gave the example of allowing school districts to have a reserve fund. "In a better year," she said, "you could set aside money so in a lean year, you could draw it out."

The mandated amount that school districts are required to pay to the pension fund has ranged from as high has 20 percent to as low as three-tenths of a percent.

"A number of years, we were balancing our budget on the fact the [stock] market was good and we didn’t have to pay as much," said Bakst.

Since 2001, the amount districts must pay has risen dramatically. The amount that Guilderland had to pay this school year was an increase of 48 percent or $862,000 over last year.

Another change the task force might consider, Bakst said, is taking retirement payments out of the state-set cap if a budget is defeated by voters and the district adopts a contingency plan.

Taking payments outside the cap, she said, could prevent "massive cuts."

Referring to Weisz, Bakst said, "The things Dick suggested are also on the table."

"This is a long-term kind of solution," Bakst concluded, "but one of the most important. We often feel our hands are tied by state mandates. I feel pretty good about this."

Village turns out to celebrate old and new vets, saluting those who serve in all wars

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

ALTAMONT — The sun was shining on the village green Saturday afternoon as the war veterans were asked to step forward from the crowd of two hundred.

"Don’t be shy," said James Wilson from the gazebo. "All World War II veterans, come up in front of the podium."

The crowd applauded as the old men, one leaning heavily on a walker, moved to stand in front of the gazebo. Next came the Korean veterans as the clapping continued, then the Vietnam veterans, and the applause grew stronger.

Finally, the soldiers home from the war in Iraq were called up — these were the veterans on whom the ceremony centered. The new veterans had been saluted as they rode down Main Street in a convoy of period military vehicles, part of a parade that included gleaming fire trucks, flag-waving Girl Scouts, and kilt-wearing bagpipers.

"Stand erect and shoulder to shoulder with the one next to you," said Wilson, the Third District patriotism instructor, to the veterans.

Then he turned to the crowd and said, "These are the people that served their country, shoulder to shoulder, for every war we were in."

At the head of the troop of veterans was Rev. Charlene Robbins, a Gold Star Mother. Her son, Staff Sergeant Thomas D. Robbins, raised in Delmar, was killed in Iraq in February of 2004.

On one side of Robbins stood the commander of Altamont’s American Legion Post; on the other side stood the commander of the Boyd Hilton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post.

The trio walked forward to set a wreath of red, white, and blue flowers beneath the American flag at the foot of the village’s war memorial.

Robbins placed a single yellow rose, which she had carried in the parade, at the base of the monument.

As the Schenectady Pipe Band played "Amazing Grace," the two commanders saluted, erect and stock still, while the reverend, the Gold Star Mother, placed her hand over her heart and gazed skyward at the flag.

She wiped tears from her face and, after the song was over and the color guard had fired its salute, she was embraced by the commanders.

Robbins told The Enterprise after the ceremony that she was surviving her son’s death "by believing there is more out in the world than what we see in front of us."

She went on, "We raised our children to believe in what the flag represents." Sgt. Robbins, on his father’s side, had ancestors who had fought since the Revolution, she said, and "on my side since World War II."

She said, "We know the price that’s paid."

Robbins also said of the day’s festivities, "It’s nice to see the public recognition of the courage it takes for these young people to serve."

She is a Spiritualist minister, Robbins said, describing hers as the faith followed by Abraham Lincoln and many of the early suffragists — a faith supportive of democracy, she said.

"There’s an equal opportunity for each of us to turn loss into something beautiful," said Robbins.

"I work with a lot of people who have lost loved ones," she said. "It’s healing for me to be able to give them hope...Our spirit lives forever."

"They’re your kids"

While the parade, the songs, the prayers, the speeches, and the wreath-changing in the village park were all similar in form to ceremonies held over the last few decades, Saturday’s was different in substance. It was emotionally charged because it recognized veterans in an ongoing war.

The idea for the event came from Tim McIntyre, the head of public works in Altamont, and was largely planned by Darlene Stanton, president of the VFW’s Ladies Auxiliary.

Stanton also spearheads a drive to send care packages to local soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Each and every one of the kids on the list," she said of those honored at Saturday's ceremony, "were recipients of the care boxes. They are all from here."

Explaining why the ceremony was so moving, Stanton said afterwards, "It’s because you know the kids. They’re your kids."

The 4-Hers who marched in the parade carried a banner, emphasizing 4 H’s: "Happy to Have our Heroes Home."

One little girl with pigtails rode in an Army tank with a family member, beaming all the way.

Three-year-old Ryan Logan solemnly placed his hand over his heart at the start of the program as Michael Donegan sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." Behind him, standing proud, was his 11-year-old brother, Adam.

Their mother, Charlene Logan, stood beside them, singing the words to the national anthem.

Her husband, Robert Logan, "just got back from Iraq," she said. "He was gone 14 months," she told The Enterprise.

Another difference in the celebration reflected a difference in the war itself. While, in earlier wars, everyone in an enemy nation was treated as an enemy, in this war, soldiers are expected to kill insurgents in Iraq while helping to rebuild destroyed communities.

"So many people are cynical about our young people in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Cindy Pollard, who runs the Home Front Café in Altamont, inviting schoolchildren to learn from the World War II memorabilia and from visiting veterans.

Pollard also said, "We rarely give them credit for the hospitals they’ve built or the schools they’ve built....They deserve to come home to a cheering crowd."

From the mouths of babes

Three children from Berne-Knox-Westerlo read their prize-winning essays. Asked why she wrote her essay, eight-year-old Ashley Feldmann told The Enterprise, "Since I heard some people died in Iraq, I wanted to say sorry to them and good luck to the people still alive."

She said she was nervous about reading to the crowd.

"Do the shoes that we sent fit"" she asked from the podium. A soldier from Berne, Jake Montesano, had said Iraqi children needed shoes, so Berne students had collected shoes and Stanton’s group shipped them over.

Feldmann told the soldiers from the podium, "I’ll make a cake for you. Do you like chocolate or vanilla cake and ice cream""

Jonathan King, the 11-year-old who read his essay next, told The Enterprise beforehand that he was not at all nervous. "I like to write," he said. "As a matter of fact, I’m working on a book about turtles." He explained that he had rescued an ailing turtle from a pet store, nursed it back to health, and then let it go.

"I thought he should be with his family," said King.

He told the crowd that memories from the war in Iraq should be put in a time capsule.

"Now we will hear what the soldiers have to say and then we will hear music for those who have died in the Iraqi war," he said.

The third child to read an essay was nine-year-old Logan Nelson of East Berne. He painted a picture of a grand celebration for returning soldiers — with fireworks and skywriters and "a lot of food."

Before the ceremony started, Nelson told The Enterprise, as he tossed kernels of popcorn into the air, catching them in his mouth, "I wrote we would have a party to honor the soldiers coming back because I like parties and I think they’re coming home from a long way and they deserve it."

"What we had to do"

Michael Breslin, Albany County executive and a Vietnam War veteran, also stressed the importance of being welcomed home, but from a different perspective.

Thirty-seven years ago, he said, he was serving with a company in Vietnam on the Cambodian border. "When I came back, no one really wanted to talk to us," he said. "Nor did we want to talk."

Breslin also spoke about the nature of heroism. "None of us went to give our lives," he said. "We went to do what we had to do. None of us were fearless...."

Breslin said that today’s soldiers are doing the same thing although many of them are older than the Americans who fought in Vietnam and have families and added responsibilities.

"No one can tell us when this all will end," said Breslin, "but no one can question what they have done for their country."

Surveying the scene in the village park, Breslin said that, when he was a little boy, he read Mark Twain who "wrote of places like this" and he looked at the Norman Rockwell paintings on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post that "pictured places like this."

Breslin praised a place "where everyone turns out to express gratitude for things for which we really need to be grateful" and he told the crowd, "I thank you as a community for coming together to join in this moment of Thanksgiving."

Altamont's mayor, James Gaughan, and Guilderland's supervisor, Kenneth Runion, read proclamations recognizing the soldiers, and then, one by one, the soldiers or members of their families were given certificates and applause.

Major Bernadine Colloton, an Army nurse, received certificates for her son and her daughter. Both of them are majors, too.

Kimberly Colloton, an architect, is with the Army Corps of Engineers; she has served in South Korea and Iraq and is returning to Iraq this month. Patrick Colloton is with Special Forces. He received a Purple Heart, his mother told The Enterprise, and is now in Iraq, training Iraqi soldiers.

"He says they’re working very hard to be free. You don’t hear the good," said Bernadine Colloton. She was, herself, stationed in Germany for 14 months. "I was taking care of the [American] soldiers from Iraq," she said.

"I pray every day that the Lord will keep them safe," she said of her children.

During the certificate presentations, a particularly moving moment came when Stanton announced Roger Downing’s name. She said she had known him since childhood and he was leaving the next day for a fourth tour of duty in Iraq. His mother, Carol Krause, and his stepfather, William Krause, accepted his certificate.

A lighter moment came when Eileen Bosworth stood to accept a second certificate. The first, she and her husband, David Bosworth, had accepted on behalf of their son, David. The second was for her future daughter-in-law.

Stanton reported of Mrs. Bosworth, "She said, if anything good came out of this war, it was their impending marriage."

"Need to remember"

Joseph Pullicino, a veteran who received the Purple Heart in Vietnam and was president of the Tri-County Veterans, made the closing speech before the wreath-laying ceremony.

Echoing some of the same sentiments expressed by Breslin, he said, "When we came back from Vietnam, we didn’t have a community to welcome us." The dedication of the monument in Washington, D.C., though, "took those hard feelings away," he said.

Many thought that most of the Vietnam veterans weren’t educated and wouldn’t make much of themselves, said Pullicino, but now they are "in high places all over."

"When you come back, be proud to be a veteran," he said, urging the new veterans to join the VFW or American Legion or other veterans’ groups.

"People need to remember the sacrifices that have been made," he said.

Every day, Pullicino said, he looks on the Internet to see the number of American war casualties. On Saturday, he said, the number of those killed in action in Iraq was 2,046 and the number of wounded in action was well over 15,000.

In Afghanistan, he said, the number killed in action was 246 and the number wounded in action was 567.

The wounds, he said, were terrible and the numbers were staggering.

"Coming back with these injuries...what they’re going to need is people out there fighting for them," said Pullicino. "Work hard so no one forgets what sacrifice you made."

Pullicino concluded, "You don’t see that many yellow ribbons anymore. People forget awful easy...."

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