[Return to Home Page] [Subscriptions] [Newsstands] [Contact Us] [Archives]

Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, January 12, 2006

Amy Pokorny named to zoning board

By Matt Cook

KNOX — The town board selected Amy Pokorny as a member of the zoning board a week-and-a-half after her appointment was delayed to consider other candidates.

At a meeting this Tuesday, the Knox Town Board unanimously voted Pokorny to the position. At the annual reorganizational meeting on Jan. 1, the board considered Pokorny to replace Deborah Nelson, but, at the recommendation of Councilwoman Patricia Gage, decided to wait to consider two other applications.

Pokorny was the recommendation of zoning board Chairman Earl Barcomb. Nelson is not interested in returning to the board.

Tuesday, Gage, a Republican, proposed that the board appoint Cheryl Frantzen, who, with a Republican Party endorsement, ran a failed write-in campaign for town justice this fall. Gage withdrew her proposal after Frantzen agreed to a position on the Conservation Advisory Council.

Councilman Nicholas Viscio, a Democrat, said Barcomb’s recommendation was the deciding factor for him on the selection. The town can use the Conservation Advisory Council as a source of planning and zoning board members, Viscio said. However, he said, "I don’t think the CAC should lose its identification as its own board."

Supervisor Michael Hammond, also a Democrat, said Pokorny was a good candidate because of her involvement with local business.

"There are no other people on the zoning board who have business experience," Hammond said.

Pokorny and her husband, Russ, are former owners of the Knox Country Store.

"When I owned the store, I came to appreciate the importance of the local business climate and the ins and outs of the local business relationship to people in the community," Pokorny told The Enterprise.

The Pokornys are also active members of the Friends of the Helderberg. They host the Hilltown Market in their octagonal barn, and are spearheading an effort to create a Hilltown commerce map and trail.

"One of the goals of the Friends of the Helderbergs is to help improve the chances for small business in the Hilltowns and to make it possible for people who are trying to make a living on the Hill to make that a workable option," Pokorny said.

Pokorny said she plans to bring her pro-small business approach to the zoning board.

Pokorny works as a state employee. She and her husband have lived in Knox, where they built their own house, since the early 1990’s.

"One of the things that we really got to know with working in the store is the independent and self-sufficient attitude that [Hilltown] people have and the acceptance of all kinds of lifestyles and the willingness to work hard," Pokorny said.

Pokorny is a registered Democrat. Her husband, Russ, ran unsuccessfully for town board in 2003. He’s currently being trained to become the town assessor.

"November, not December"

Councilman Joseph Best, a Republican and the current owner of the Knox Country Store, said the town should do a better job of considering a wider range of candidates for positions.

"I’ve talked to many citizens of Knox who would like to get more involved in the community," Best said. "I’m a little concerned about how we put people on these boards. I’m not really against that appointment, but my bigger concern is how can we allow other people to be considered for these positions in the future."

The seven-member zoning board has an opening every year. The members serve seven-year terms.

Viscio suggested the town board start considering applications earlier.

"I think it’s important that members of this board look at that come November, not December," Viscio said.

Besides Pokorny and Barcomb, the members of the zoning board are Kenneth Kirik, Robert Edwards, Larry Wilson, Robert Simpson, and David Holley.

Members of the Conservation Advisory Council, which advises the town on environmental issues, are Frantzen, are Rick Wilson, Hank Donnelly, Stephanie Baron, Patricia Irwin, and Chairwoman Betty Ketcham. Best is the ex-officio member from the town board.

Grant application

In other business at the Jan. 10 meeting, the Knox Town Board voted unanimously to apply for a grant from the state’s Department of Agriculture and Markets to purchase a conservation easement on 250 acres of land belonging to Michael Scott. Contained entirely in the land is one of the original great lots owned by the Van Rensselaer patroon family.

The Mohawk-Hudson Land Conservancy asked the town to apply at last month’s meeting, because the grant will only be given to town or county governments. The town board asked Town Attorney John Dorfman to research the proposal.

Dorfman said Tuesday that he could not find any legal problems as long as the town has the power to enforce the easement.

"Short of that, this is a good opportunity for the town to maintain an important piece of property. I don’t see any pitfalls," Dorfman said.

"I don’t see how we can do anything better for our properties," Councilwoman Gage said.

Fire causes major damage to Mobil mart

By Matt Cook

EAST BERNE — A fire destroyed an East Berne store Friday night, leaving the hamlet without its convenience store and gas station.

Though the outside of the Countryside Food Mart Mobile station looks in decent condition, the electrical fire gutted the inside, said the store’s owner, David Vincent. The merchandise is ruined by the fire, smoke, and water from the firefighters, Vincent said.

"Literally everything is on the floor," Vincent said. "Nothing is salvageable."

Members of the East Berne Volunteer Fire Company, which fought the fire, did not return calls this week.

The fire did not reach the gas pumps. It burned up through the beams of the roof, Vincent said.

The Countryside Mart was the only store of its type in the area, Vincent said. He’s operated the property for six years.

"It was a busy store for us," he said.

Vincent leased the building and the pumps from a Schenectady company. Most of the improvements were his company’s, he said.

"It’s going to end up being an economic decision by two parties," Vincent said on rebuilding. "We’re both committed to reestablishing this business."

Vincent, of Duanesburg, operates five other stores, on properties he owns. Three are in Schoharie County and two are in Schenectady County.

The store’s eight employees are being reassigned to his other stores, Vincent said. Four have already started work; the others are working out transportation, he said.

When he heard about the fire, Vincent said, he felt anxiety.

"The first thing that I discovered was no one was injured," Vincent said. It was a relief, he said.

[Return to Home Page]