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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 9, 2006

Concerns raised in New Scotland ID’s requested for voting

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SALEM – Some local residents feel that voters may have been discouraged to vote by a sign posted on the door of the Wyman Osterhout Community Center polling station on Tuesday.

The sign said that photo identification was required in order to vote.

In fact, only those voters who have registered by mail since 2003 and do not yet have their identification on file need to present it, said James Clancy, the Democratic commissioner for the Albany County Board of Elections.

Anyone who showed identification at Tuesday’s election will not have to present it again, he said, stating, "We only verify it once."

Jean Miller and her husband have been voting in New Salem for 24 years, she told The Enterprise.

The Millers were surprised when they arrived at the community center and saw the sign. When they entered, they were told they must provide their IDs. The poll workers told them that it was a law that had previously not been enforced, Jean Miller said.

"This thing on the door might have prohibited people from going in if they didn’t have their ID," Miller told The Enterprise.

The Millers both had their IDs, and were able to vote, she said.

Six people worked the polls at the community center on Tuesday, said town Supervisor, Ed Clark. The workers are trained by the county’s board of elections, he said. He doesn’t believe that they are required to attend any annual training after the initial training session, he told The Enterprise.

Clark said that the board of elections pays the poll workers, and they are reimbursed by the town. He wasn’t sure what they will be paid.

Andrea Gleason, a retired school teacher and former town board member, was one of the workers at the community center. She told The Enterprise that this was her first year as a poll worker.

Gleason said that the poll workers were given two manuals – one from the board of elections and one from the town – to refer to. In the manuals, it said that identification may be required, she said.

"If you were not familiar with the person, you could ask for ID," she said. In addition to verifying the identity of the voter, the poll workers were also verifying addresses, and updating records, she said.

"We were trying to be very accurate in our duty," she said.

The sign on the front door was challenged, and the workers took it down, Gleason said.

"We felt it wasn’t much of an infringement," she said. But some voters disagreed.

Miller said that she feels that the poll workers thought they were doing right by the law.

"It’s a failure of whoever trains them," she said.

Gleason, who was trained prior to this year’s election, said that the identification issue was not one that was brought up at her training session.

Gleason said that the community center got about 650 voters on Tuesday, and the poll workers felt that was a good number for the off-year election.

Miller says that poll workers should be aware of the law in order to prevent turning people away from the polls, but she doesn’t think the problem lies only in Albany County.

"I think there’s a lot of this going on around the country," she said. "We’re not alone."


The federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, passed in response to the controversial Bush-Gore presidential election, required voting changes nationwide.

Among the changes, $325 million was authorized to "buy-out" punch card and lever voting machines. States were required to apply for the funding, and replace their voting machines with newer machines.

New York State is not fully compliant with HAVA, Clancy said. The state must be fully compliant by the first election of 2007, he said.

The state legislature was deadlocked over deciding on what type of voting machines to use and so left it up to individual counties to decide. New York is the last state in the nation to comply.

Some requirements of HAVA that each state must follow include: providing voters with the opportunity to change or correct ballot errors; providing at least one voting machine that is accessible to the handicapped per precinct; making ballots in alternative languages accessible; providing provisional ballots so that no voter is turned away; and implementing a statewide voter registration list with the names of every registered voter in the state, maintained at the state level.

Albany County has not yet updated its voting machines, Clancy told The Enterprise. By February, he said, the state board of elections should submit a list to the county of all the certified voting machines it can choose from.

Voters with disabilities can vote on machines at the Albany County Board of Elections, Clancy said. Tuesday, well over 30 voters with handicaps cast their ballots there, which is way up from just three voters at the primary, he said.

Storage barn okayed for chimney-repair biz

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – A storage building got unanimous planning board approval Monday night after some residents raised concerns. The site falls in an industrial zone.

Gary Menia owns a business on New Scotland South Road that cleans, re-lines, and repairs chimneys. He stores some of his supplies outside, which causes added congestion, he told the board. The building would be used as dry storage, he said, for items such as scaffolding, stainless steel, and chimney caps.

Martha Oden, who lives just a few houses from the proposed site, had some concerns. She first said she did not receive notice from the town about Monday’s public hearing until her mail came on Saturday afternoon. She said that the town is responsible for giving the public five days’ notice of a public hearing.

Oden proposed putting off the application until next month, in order for area residents to think over the proposal.

Robert Stapf, chairman of the board, did not feel that was necessary.

The five-day notification, Stapf said, is for listings in the newspaper, and both local weekly newspapers had posted a notice of the public hearing.

"This is an industrial district," Stapf said. "What Mr. Menia is proposing is a permitted use."

Oden said that Menia’s property is bisected by a Class C stream – the Vloman Kill – that she worries might be subject to pollution from the storage building.

"The ‘C’ is part of a ranking system that ranges from the highest level, ‘A,’ for drinking water, to ‘B,’ for water that is used in contact recreation like swimming, to ‘C,’ the lowest level. Waters labeled ‘C’ alone are not protected," Rick Georgeson, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Conservation, previously told The Enterprise.

Menia assured the board and the concerned residents that he would not be storing any vehicles, petroleum products, ashes, or any other potential pollutants.

"I’d like the DEC to get involved and look at this site," Oden said.

"DEC regulations are out there, and they cannot be violated," Stapf said.

The storage building that Menia is proposing will be designed to look like a barn, he said. "I’m trying to make it fit in," he told the board. He said he owns three houses in near-proximity to the property.

Menia is considering installing rough-cut wooden siding on the building to make it look more rustic, he said and he has no plans to install water or sewer, and will use minimal electricity, inside the facility only.

Resident Jennie Furbeck said the building is "certainly going to bring down the value of the land next to it."

"A storage building is a permitted use," Stapf reiterated.

Neighbor Daniel McKay offered the only public opinion that was favorable toward Menia’s application.

"You have been a very quiet business on the street, which we appreciate," he said to Menia. "I think this is off to good start."

Just prior to the board’s vote, board member Beth Stewart said, "I don’t think there is pollution that will affect the stream and I think we should approve it."

The proposal was approved with the stipulations that there be a 100-foot buffer zone from the center line of the stream, and there be no exterior flood lights.

Other business

In other business at the November planning board meeting, the board:

– Held a public hearing on an application by Velocitel, on behalf of Freedom Broadcasting, on a proposal to replace three antennas on an existing tower on Beaver Dam Road. The antennas would be replaced by six new antennas at the same height as the existing antennas.

There was no opposition from the public, and the application was approved in a unanimous decision;

– Held a public hearing on an application submitted by Susan Rooney that would allow her to replace an existing mobile home, with a newer, larger mobile home on her property on Upper Flatrock Road. The new home will be no larger than 1,344 square feet, and will be installed in the same general location as the existing home.

There was no public opposition, and, in a unanimous decision by the board, the application was approved, with the stipulation that a certificate of occupancy cannot be issued until the old home is removed;

– Approved an application submitted by Christopher Mielke allowing him to construct a pond on his property on Woodwind Drive. The pond will be about six feet deep with a radius of 20 feet. It will be used for fire protection and recreation. The pond will not affect the wells of any neighbors. The board required that Mielke install 12- to 15-feet of a gradual slope into the pond; and

– Scheduled a public hearing for next month on a proposal submitted by John Jeffers on behalf of his business, J.J. Maddens at 1903 New Scotland Rd., allowing him illumination on a detached sign. The board also recommended a favorable response to the zoning board of appeals for Jeffers in his application to erect a sign within a front-yard setback.

French students visit 10 days
and adieu to Voorheesville

By Rachel Dutil

VOORHEESVILLE – Thanksgiving came early this year for about 60 Voorheesvillians who shared the traditional feast with 15 students and their two teachers visiting from Sedan, France.

The group, led by Virginie and Jean-Francois Gillery, was visiting as part of an exchange program between the Clayton A. Bouton High School and the Lycee Mabillon – a high school in the northeastern part of France, near the border with Belgium. Sedan is a city with a population of about 20,500, near the cities of Reims and Charleville.

The visitors arrived on Oct. 13, left for New York City on Oct. 22, and departed for France on Oct. 24.

For the nine days that the group was in Voorheesville, the students and teachers stayed with host families.

The hosts were selected through an application process based on the Voorheesville student’s level in his or her foreign language class, said Robert Streifer, the chairperson of the foreign language department at Voorheesville.

Buddy families are also set up, Streifer said, so that a French student may have dinner with another American student’s family, he said.

"The program has a tremendous impact on many, many people," he said.

At least 15 families host the students, he said.

The International Club at the school helps to sponsor the exchange, Streifer said. They also rely on plenty of volunteer help, he said.

Not only do Streifer and the International Club host exchange students, they are also hosted. Streifer and a group of students are spending this week in Spain.

"We have a two-language program here," he said.

The students put a lot of energy into preparing for their experience abroad, he said. They write "Dear host" letters in either Spanish or French before they go, and write detailed thank-you letters on the plane on the way home, Streifer said.

"We need more people who are comfortable in an international environment," he said.

At Voorheesville ‘Something a Little Different

By Rachel Dutil

VOORHEESVILLE – Fifteen actors portray quirky characters in a series of five one-act plays presented this weekend by the Voorheesville Dionysians.

"Every script has some sort of twist to it," said Director Steve Madore.

The play plots range from confrontations with a crazy woman at the Laundromat, to having classmates caring for a five-pound sack of flour that is a pretend-baby for a school project.

Madore has been directing for 10 years, but this is his first time directing the Dionysians.

He started out as an actor, and then "had my arm twisted into directing," he told The Enterprise. He realized that his directing "was making me a worse actor, so I decided I wasn’t acting anymore."

Directing the Dionysians came up out of the blue, he said.

The decision to perform one-acts was already made when Madore was hired, he said. It allows more flexibility in the rehearsal schedule because so many students participate in fall athletics, Madore said.

Each of the casts rehearsed about three times a week. Madore’s biggest challenge was sitting down with the list of all the students’ scheduling conflicts to work out rehearsal times, he said.

"Our longest show probably hits a half-hour," Madore said.

Stringing a bunch of shows together, you can’t really go longer than that, he said. All in all, with intermission, he said, it will be a relatively short night of theater. And a short night of theater, he said, "is better than an ‘I-wish-I-was-home-a-half-an-hour-ago theater.’"

One-act plays, Madore said, are an excellent way to teach acting. For kids who don’t have much acting experience, one-acts give them an opportunity to have a larger role, he said.

The casts are small; two of the plays have only two characters. Every show has an actor who is doing something that Madore didn’t envision when casting, he said. "There have been pleasant surprises," he said.

The casts from all five plays total 15 actors, and the majority of the kids have a role in more than one play, he said. The final show of the evening – How Does a Thing Like That Get Started" by Pat Cook – has the largest cast, with 11 actors, Madore said.

The challenges of directing one-act plays are different than directing a full-length play, Madore said.

"I do a lot more multi-tasking," he said. "You never get the chance to get bored."

"Something a Little Different" is challenging for Madore and Portia Hubert – the school’s drama-club advisor, who is handling the publicity for the shows – because they don’t have one name to sell, Madore said.

He equated an evening of one-acts to the first week of a new television series.

We are asking people to come out and see these shows they’ve never heard of, he said.

From the standpoint of the actor, he said, "They get to start with a blank slate" and build a character from the ground up."

"I want an audience," Madore said of his goals for opening weekend.

When the show opens, he said, "I like to sit in the audience and watch the actors have fun."

"Something a Little Different" will be held on Nov. 10 and 11 at 7:15 p.m. and Nov. 12 at 2:15 p.m. in the Voorheesville Performing Arts Center, at the high school on Route 85A. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.

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