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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 14, 2006

Bryande Murray writes for her mother and others who have fought cancer

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SALEM – Bryande Murray was only 8 years old when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, at age 22, she has self-published a children’s book about her mother’s experience, called Mommy vs. the Monster.

Maryann Murray has been a breast cancer survivor for nearly 16 years.

Her daughter, Bryande, considers her mom a hero.

Bryande bought an album, and thought about what she felt was most remarkable about her mother, she told The Enterprise. That, she said, was how she survived breast cancer.

She wrote a poem and drew illustrations for each page, and gave her mom the completed book for Mother’s Day in 2004.

"Everyone just went nuts," Bryande said. Her mother, who works for the State Police, showed all her friends and co-workers, and everyone wanted a copy, she said.

"When I wrote it for her, I never thought anyone else would appreciate it," Bryande said.

Bryande and her mother decided to try and get the book published.

"I had no clue what I was doing," Mrs. Murray said. "I got a self-publishing book that was my bible for eight months," she said.

Mrs. Murray did most of the legwork to get the book published, and Bryande acted as a consultant, she said.

Both Murray women will be at a book-signing on Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza from noon until 1:30 p.m. Copies of the book can be purchased for $16.95, with 20 percent of the proceeds being donated to a cancer charity. Mommy vs. the Monster can also be purchased at Borders or through amazon.com.

The 20-page hardcover book has a series of rhyming couplets, hand-written by Bryande, with colorful, cartoon drawings, also by Bryande. One page, for example, shows the mom with boxing gloves, fighting the monster, and reads: "She fought the monster all the time, morning, noon and night."

The book has a message of accomplishment and courage, capable of touching children and adults alike. "When someone who isn’t a kid can appreciate it, that’s really something," Bryande said.

Both Murrays say that they are surprised at how well the book has been received thus far. They have already sold 50 copies.

"I knew it was going to be nice, but I had no idea it was going to be this nice," Mrs. Murray said, adding, "It was well, well worth the effort."

In an author’s note at the end of her book, Bryande writes: "It is for her and others who have fought this disease, or may be in the process, that I wrote this book. I hope that it gives courage and strength to them, and sheds some light on what a child’s perspective is on such a terrible disease."

"Mommy’s sick"

As an 8-year-old, it was difficult to understand what was happening, Bryande said. "I didn’t know a lot about what was going on," she said.

The day that Mrs. Murray was told she had cancer, she was stunned, she told The Enterprise. "I couldn’t even speak," she said.

"She walked in the door, and was in tears," Bryande remembered.

"My dad never knew how to explain it," she said, so they kept it simple: "Mommy’s sick."

"When you are learning things yourself, how do you teach your children"", Bryande rhetorically asked.

Bryande relied on her older sister, Janelle, who was 12, to help her understand. "I could ask her questions that I couldn’t ask my parents," she said. "She stopped being the tormenting older sister."

Mrs. Murray said that her husband, Timothy, did research in the library, and would call the cancer hotline for her, when she was too emotional to make the call herself.

"My husband absorbed everything," she said. Some people even thought he was in the medical field because he was so well informed, she said.

At the time of her diagnosis, Murray had two infected nodes, which, she said, automatically categorizes the cancer at stage 3.

She had a partial mastectomy, and went through both radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Mrs. Murray said. The treatments altogether lasted over a year, she said.

The healing process

In her nearly 16 years of being cancer free, Mrs. Murray has been active and outspoken in supporting others who have the disease, or who have survived it themselves, she said.

"You just want to do something to help find a cure," Mrs. Murray said.

She has found comfort and support for nearly six years from an oncology camp for women known as Camp Bravehearts. It is a not-for-profit organization that offers women with cancer a variety of weekend retreats with different themes.

Mrs. Murray says it is very important to her that she go to one of the retreats every year. "I feel so empowered by these women," she said.

"You get together with these women and you don’t have to talk about your cancer, but it is there if you need it," she said.

Mrs. Murray has also taken part in the Race for the Cure, which raises money for breast cancer research.

Mrs. Murray is a fun and loving woman who wears a warm smile on her face, but, Bryande said, she lives in fear that, down the road, one of her daughters might get cancer.

"Every cancer is like an ambush," Bryande said. "Nobody can hide from it." Not even undeserving pets.

The Murrays were not prepared when their 7-year-old dog, Phoebe, got sick with cancer and died. "That was really tough for my mom," Bryande said. "Phoebe didn’t smoke cigarettes," she said, alluding to the unfairness of the situation. "Now she’s our angel," she said.

Old firehouse to be fire investigation office

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – The former firehouse on New Salem Road will soon be home to a fire investigation office.

Stuart Morrison has owned Morrison Engineering – a company that investigates claims for insurance agencies – since 1996.

Morrison’s application was heard before the planning board last week.

He plans to buy the property from William and Jeffrey Lawyer, who currently own the 1.75-acre property, adjacent to the Punkintown Fair grounds. The fairgrounds are not part of the property. He intends to use the existing structure as an office, and to construct a 42-by-78-foot building as a storage unit for collected evidence.

Morrison told the board that most of the evidence is charred appliances that would be transported to the site via pickup truck. He explained that he will not be holding any types of hazardous materials, or anything that would cause environmental concerns.

Chairman Robert Stapf joked that, if anything happened, the firehouse is just across the street.

Morrison told The Enterprise he keeps evidence "anywhere from two months to 10 years" depending on the case. "As soon as everything gets worked out, then we get authorization to throw it away," he said.

The board allowed Janice Weston, a neighbor who lives next to the property, to address some of her concerns to Morrison.

Weston asked Morrison if he planned to install any additional lighting on the property. He said he had not planned on it. She also was concerned about the location of the second building. Morrison said the building would be located behind the existing structure and would not be visible from New Salem Road.

The board approved Morrison’s application with the stipulations that there be parking for at least two vehicles on the north side of the building; that the lighting, if any, be non-intrusive; there be access on the north side only; and there be no environmental concerns.

Morrison said this approval marked the last step in his qualification for a purchase contract. He hopes to begin construction by the end of the month, he told The Enterprise.

Other business

In other business, the board:

– Heard from Dean VanAlstyne and Martin Flansburg on their application for a use variance to use a residential property on Delaware Turnpike for a commercial use. VanAlstyne hopes to build a structure for use as garage and office space for his business, Hydrotech. Flansburg must prove financial hardship in order to be granted the variance. The zoning board will make the decision on the variance. The board forwarded the application back to the zoning board. It will come back to the planning board for site plan review;

– Heard from Jon Petrecky on his application for a special-use permit to allow him to deposit more than 100 yards of fill on his property on Orchard Hill Road. He would obtain the fill both on-site and off-site. He plans to fill in and grade an area on which he will then construct a home. The board scheduled a public hearing on his proposal for next month;

– Heard from Ronald Shelmerdine on his application for a special use permit to allow him to deposit more than 100 yards of fill on his property on New Salem South Road. He would obtain the fill on site. He wants to fill in an area for access, and an area large enough to install a septic system. The board suggested he install a silt fence to prevent runoff, and scheduled a public hearing for next month;

– Heard from Charles Carrow on a request to continue use of a temporary construction access for the professional building at 1882 New Scotland Rd, near the old Tee-Time Golf site, until the time that Phase II of the project has been reviewed. This would allow the structure associated with Phase II to be built before the completion of the road, and eliminate the need to construct the road twice. The board approved the request with the stipulation that the temporary roadway be paved back from the road 30 feet, and have compacted, crushed stone the rest of the way. Carrow must also set up a financial escrow account with the town; and

– Heard from Christopher Mielke on behalf of Joseph and Lillian Orsini, on an application for a special-use permit to deposit more than 100 yards of fill on a 7.3-acre property that Mielke intends to purchase from the Orsini’s on Wood Wind Drive. The fill would be obtained off-site and would be used to create a level area around a proposed new home. Mielke also plans to build a pond on the property, and will fill out the appropriate paperwork to add that to the current application. The board scheduled a public hearing for next month.

Heritage harmonizes with fun and games in Feura Bush

By Rachel Dutil

FEURA BUSH – "Vly Creek Boys will shine tonight"" are the words that the Vly Creek Quartet will sing as it enchants those who venture out for this year’s Plum Fest festivities Saturday in Feura Bush.

The annual festival – named because the town of New Scotland is plum in the middle of Albany County – celebrates a different hamlet in town each year. Sponsored by the town and the New Scotland Historical Association, the Feura Bush Plum Fest will feature games, food, music, sales, hikes, a parade, a health clinic, and historic tours.

The Vly Creek Boys will provide the traditional harmonies of a barbershop quartet.

John Griffen has been singing with the quartet for five or six years, he told The Enterprise. He said it all began when the Voorheesville school started a musical cabaret . Ken George, a guidance counselor at the school, who has since retired, wanted to give the cabaret an "all ages" feel, Griffen said.

This is how the Vly Creek Boys started up.

Griffen is the only member who has been singing with the boys since the start. George "wimped out; he says he can’t sing the high notes," Griffen said.

The group now consists of Griffen, Bob Andrews, William Morrison, and Laura "Larry" Minnock. "Larry" now sings the high notes, Griffen said.

"We wear black pants with white socks with them rolled up in case the creek rises," he quipped.

The group will be performing from 11 a.m. until noon Saturday. They will start in the park and end up at the church.

"If we see a crowd, that’s where we’ll go" Unless they can run faster than we can," Griffen joked.

The group plays classic tunes, and Griffen said, "The newest thing we got is probably a 1920 copyright."

"We have a ball doing it," he concluded.

Creble House

The Creble House will be recognized as a local landmark at the Plum Fest activites on Saturday.

The house was built in 1901 by Francis Creble. When Creble retired in 1899, he and his wife, Sarah Callahan Creble, bought the property where the house still stands, across from thee Houghtaling’s Market. They hired some builders from Altamont who worked on the construction of the house over the next two years. Creble spent $13,000 on the construction, which at the time was a large sum of money.

John Heere, of South Bethlehem, moved to the Creble House with his family in 1939. Heere grew up there with his brother and sister, and his parents and grandparents.

"My brother and sister, we three grew up there with a great feeling of contentment," he said.

"It’s a big house," he said. There are approximately 15 rooms.

His parents, William and Willhelmina, were in the painting and decorating business, and were very proud of the house, he said.

They moved out in 1971.

Heere said he was invited to the house by the current owners, Mary Anne Barry and Paul Hauschen, a few months ago.

"I was very hesitant going over; I thought it would be very different," he told The Enterprise. But, he said, to his surprise, it has been kept very close to how he remembers it from his childhood.

"It’s one of a kind," he said.

Fun for kids

This year’s Plum Fest will offer many activities for children to enjoy.

Mr. Bouncety Bounce will be located in the Feura Bush Park to bring smiles and laughter to the faces of children who hop on.

There will also be kite-flying, kick ball, games and a petting zoo located at the park.

Also, there will be a parade for kids in the afternoon.

The section of Route 32 at Western Avenue and New Scotland Avenue will be closed during the parade, which will start at 3:45 p.m. and run until about 4:15 p.m.

Julie Nooney, who has organized the parade, encourages kids to come and walk or ride their bikes, scooters, or wagons along with the Onesquethaw Fire Company in the parade.

The parade will journey "around the Mathias Place, Orchard Street, New Scotland Avenue loop, concluding at the Town Park," Nooney said.

Nooney said that she will be decorating and setting up in the town park beginning at 3:15 p.m. "We’ll line up and wait for the fire truck," she said. That is the signal to start the parade.

Everyone is invited to participate, she said; just show up at the town park. Participants will receive a surprise at the end of the parade, she said.

Health clinic

A new addition at this year’s Plum Fest is a health clinic.

It will be located in the pavilion at the park.

Susan Kidder, New Scotland’s senior liaison, has organized the events at the clinic. She has lined up quite a few providers who will hand out information on various health issues, she said.

Hospice will be there with two masseuses for anyone who needs a little muscle relaxation, she said.

Kidder said the location for the clinic is great because all the children’s activities are also located in the park. "While the kids are playing in the park, mom and dad can get info on how to keep themselves and their families healthy," she said.

Besides informing people on how to keep healthy, Four Corners Pharmacy will have representatives available to take blood pressures.

Kidder will also have a sign-up list for the Feura Bush Plum Fest Blood Drive.

Unfortunately, the local Red Cross does not have a mobile unit. "They haven’t had a bus in 10 years," she said.

Therefore, the blood drive will be held at the New Scotland Town Hall on Route 85 Sept. 29 from 1 to 7 p.m., she said.

"Two reds are better than one," Kidder said, is a new program encouraging larger blood donations. It takes about 10 minutes longer than a normal draw, and draws two units as opposed to one, she said.

This doubles the amount of red blood cells, and donors give every 112 days instead of 56 days, Kidder explained.

For more information on the blood drive, contact Kidder at Town Hall, 439-9038, or call the supervisor’s office at 439-4889.

Library land purchase, and school improvement project up for vote on Sept. 19

By Rachel Dutil

VOORHEESVILLE – Members of the school and library boards are urging residents of the Voorheesville School District to vote on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

Two unrelated issues will be on the ballot – the school district’s $5.8 million bond project and the library’s $150,000 land acquisition. Voting will take place in the middle-school foyer from 2 to 9:30 p.m.

The vast majority of the $5.8 million for the school project – 89 percent – would be used to make renovations and repairs at the elementary school. The other 11 percent would fund repairs to the high school and bus garage.

C. James Coffin, vice president of the school board, called the project a "preservation of a community asset" at Monday’s school board meeting. Board member Richard Brackett, referred to as the most frugal board member, said, "They can’t control the temperature," referring to the need for heating-system improvements at the elementary school. Board President David Gibson said that this "looked like a very good investment."

Nearly $3 million of the proposed $5.8 million would upgrade the 45-year-old heating and ventilation systems at the elementary school. Other problems at the elementary school that the project would address: replacing asbestos tile flooring, replacing the fire and smoke detector systems, rebuilding the wheelchair-accessible entrance, replacing single-pane windows with more energy efficient windows, and reconstructing the restrooms in the 1963 wing of the school.

The high school would require about 9 percent of the overall project cost, or about $550,000. Renovations to the tennis courts, and restrooms not renovated during the 2001 project; addition of a new water-softening system; and installation of an abuse-resistant suspended ceiling in the old gym would be included with this part of the project.

Improvements to the bus garage would use about 1.5 percent of the overall cost, or about $90,000. These improvements would include: installing brighter, more efficient lights; relocating the system that removes bus exhaust from the garage, away from the nearby elementary school; replacing parts of the heating system that no longer function; and filling in and sealing an underground holding tank that is no longer used. (See related story on-line at www.altamontenterprise.com, July 20, 2006.)

The district would use $500,000 from its capital reserve fund, and would receive state building aid of approximately $3.5 million or 64 percent of the total costs. This would leave $1.4 million to be raised through local taxes. New Scotland residents would pay 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, Guilderland residents in the Voorheesville School district would pay 33 cents, and Berne residents in the Voorheesville School District would pay 39 cents.

The repayment schedule for the bond would be over a 15-year period. The $7.9 million bond issue from 1989 will be retiring at the same time that taxpayers would begin paying on the new bond issue.

Library land

"There’s not much we can do with the space we have," announced Voorheesville Public Library Director Gail Sacco during her presentation at the public hearing on Monday.

The library hopes to win the vote on Tuesday, Sept. 19, granting the go-ahead to purchase 5.6 acres of land behind the current property. The land is currently owned by the Sickles and Ulion families, which have agreed to sell the property for $95,000. In addition to that amount, would also be $5,000 in closing costs.

In total, the library is asking for financing totaling $150,000 — $100,000 to purchase the land, and $50,000 to develop a plan for how to use the land.

Sacco told The Enterprise that the $50,000 would partly be used to seek professional expertise, such as architectural designs for future building plans, and part would be used for what she calls "community conversations."

These conversations, Sacco explained, would be geared toward establishing a better idea of what members of the community think about services, and positive changes they would like to see in the library. They might include showing different photographs of other libraries, to get a sense of what people like and dislike. They would be held both at the library and out in the community.

Dick Ramsey, the president of the library’s board of trustees, says that this proposal is a "very good plan for the future" and it comes at a "very good price."

At this point, the library is very cramped, said Sacco. For every new book that comes in, an older book that doesn’t get circulated much needs to be removed, Ramsey explained.

The library currently sits on a 1.5-acre lot on School Road. There is no room for expansion without eliminating parking spaces, library officials say. The board of trustees made the decision, with this in mind, that more land is needed in order to expand.

The financing of the project, if approved, would be through borrowing money by issuing a bond. Taxpayers would see an increase of two cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Ramsey, when asked by The Enterprise how he would respond to residents concerned about future tax increases due to library expansion, said, "Nothing gets cheaper as we go along."

He also said that possibly, in the future, the library might consider taking donations and hosting fund drives to help support the library, so that "it’s not all taxes."

Other business

In other business, the school board:

– Approved membership in the Successful Practices Network for the middle school/high school at a cost of $6,000 and the elementary school at a cost of $4,000;

– Agreed to pay for four board members to attend the New York State School Boards Association annual convention in New York City for a total cost of about $3,600;

– Approved the attendance of 12 school administrators to the School Reinvention Symposium for Grades 6 – 12 in Washington, D.C. for a total cost of about $9,000;

– Approved the attendance of the board of education, administrative staff, and department chairs for an administrative retreat at the Rensselaerville Institute at a cost of $55 for a full day, and $40 for half-day use;

– Approved out-of-town student field trips to Salem, Mass.; Lake Placid; and New York City;

– Heard from Michael Goyer, the district’s, transportation supervisor, on the instability in the number of students on a bus on any particular day. He said that the main problem is that parents are not informing him enough in advance about changes to the locations where their children need to be picked up or dropped off.

"We make every effort to be reasonable," Goyer said

Tanya Hensel, who introduced herself to the board as the president of the Parent Teacher Association, said that she will be sure to bring this issue up at the next meeting. The board requested that Goyer and Linda Langevin, the superintendent, meet and get back to the board on this matter;

– Approved the Internal Auditing Charter supporting the functions of the internal auditor position at the school; and

– Approved a contract of Four Winds Saratoga for tutorial services for students of the district who may be admitted to the facility, which offers mental-health treatment. The rate is $26 per hour of instruction. The contract provides for up to 10 hours per week for middle -school and high-school students, and five hours per week for elementary school students.

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