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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 19, 2007

Suda sentenced for drunk-driving death

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — After pleading guilty on Tuesday to a drunk-driving fatality in front of Crossgates Mall on Western Avenue, Sasiano Suda was sentenced in Albany County Court to three-and-a-half to seven years in state prison.

Suda, 40, who is a native the south Pacific island-nation, Micronesia, also faces possible deportation after he serves his sentence, according to the sentence handed down by Acting Supreme Court Justice Dan Lamont.

Suda pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, a felony, and to driving while under the influence of alcohol, a misdemeanor.

Joseph K. Albert, 24, was Suda’s passenger on the morning of Nov. 17, 2006, when Suda’s Saturn collided with an SUV driven by Michelle Burton of East Berne as she tried to turn into the mall from Western Avenue. As a result of the collision, Albert was seriously injured and later pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Albany Medical Center Hospital.

Burton was treated for minor injuries on the scene.

Assistant District Attorney Mary Tanner-Richter described Albert and Suda as "friends," and said Suda did not have any previous record of alcohol-related charges.

Guilderland Police said that, three hours after the crash that killed Albert, Suda was still intoxicated by nearly double the legal limit. Suda had a blood-alcohol content of .15 percent, according to his arrest report.

Excessive speed and intoxication contributed to the accident, according to the Guilderland Police investigation. Tanner-Ricter said it is unclear where Suda was heading to or coming from at 8:37 that November morning.

Suda was listed, at the time of his arrest, as living at 14 Myrtle Ave. in Albany.

Albert, also of Albany, was sitting in the passenger seat of Suda’s 1998 Saturn when Suda crashed head-on into Burton’s Toyota 4-Runner in a "T-bone" fashion, according to Guilderland Police. Burton was struck while making a left-hand turn from the eastbound lane into the mall, according to witnesses at the accident, the arrest report says.

Burton was treated for minor injuries following the accident.

The Westmere Fire Department used the Jaws of Life to remove Suda and Albert from the crushed car, Fire Chief William Swartz said at the time, and, while Suda was removed "quickly," it was 10 minutes before Albert was removed from the wreckage.

The damage to both cars was described by police and rescue workers as "substantial."

Rescue workers on the scene said that Albert was unconscious but still alive when they transported him to Albany Medical Center.

Suda’s original charges included felony counts of criminally negligent homicide, second-degree vehicular homicide, and first-degree reckless endangerment, as well as misdemeanor counts of driving while intoxicated and third-degree assault, say Guilderland Police who made the arrest.

The manslaughter and DWI charges Suda pleaded guilty to were part of his plea agreement with the Albany County District Attorney David Soares’s Office. After the sentencing on Tuesday, Soares released a statement saying "DWI crimes are not merely ‘accidents.’"

He also said his office will continue to pursue "severe penalties" for such crimes.

In rural west end
Mixed reviews on water expansion

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Plans for extending water to the rural west end of town frustrated some residents who don’t want to pay for it but pleased others who are tired of shortages and sulfur.

Dozens of residents came out to Town Hall Tuesday night for a public hearing on a west-end water extension.

Town board members listened closely as Guilderland residents said "yes" to the water extension but asked to take a closer look at traffic and density issues that could stem from the Glass Works Village.

The main concern about a new water line in town, was the bottom line: taxes.

"I’m a little disappointed in your proposal," said Jack Fitzgibbon of 7412 Church Rd. "If you want to extend, extend. But don’t charge the people who don’t want the water."

According to the current proposal, even those who do not connect to the municipal water in the new proposed water district will be required to pay a flat $475 fee as part of their taxes.

Ed Hernandez of Delaware Engineering presented the water extension plan at the meeting.

The new water district will loop through Hurst Road, Weaver Road, Chandler Road, Miller Road, and then back to Route 20, he said. Residents on some surrounding roads will be connected to this loop as well, he added.

Hernandez said the proposed six-and-a-half mile water line will improve water flow and quality for new and existing users.

New users will be charged a one-time connection fee of $1,500, a $475 tax increase, and will have to pay the metered cost for their water, according to Supervisor Kenneth Runion. Existing users will see a $9.91 increase in their annual water bill, Runion said.

New users will also be responsible for the cost to connect the water lines to their houses, because the water extension will only bring the pipes "curb side," Hernandez said at the meeting.

Most of the residents in western Guilderland currently rely on wells for their water and say that water quality and quantity can vary from well to well.

The residents in favor of the project say their water supply is tainted with sulfur and other minerals and that water shortages are frequent.

"The amount of money my family spends on bottled water, softeners, and filters, is more than what I would pay for town water," one woman told the board. Another resident said that his water looks like "cement" and that "there’s not a lot of it."

"Thank-you; we’ve been waiting for this for 26 years," said Lauren Beckman of Weaver Road. "We don’t even give our water to our pets right now"It sounds like we are very fortunate we are spreading the cost around to existing customers instead of just the affected metered customers bearing all of the cost."

Strong applause filled the meeting room after Beckman’s comments, which were echoed by many other speakers.

Fitzgibbon, however, was among those who did not clap.

"This sounds like gymnastics with dollars and cents to me," he told the board. "It looks like this whole thing is cut and dry and the decision is already made it is going to go through and we will not be heard."

Runion responded by saying, "That’s the purpose of this hearing"to hear everyone’s comments."

"Anything you do in Guilderland, your taxes go up," Fitzgibbon said. "You can run your lines, just don’t charge me."

Sue Green, a frequent attendee to town board meetings, told the board that she "would not be a person who would stop others from water." But, she went on, "We also have to understand that water means growth."

Hernandez used an analogy of a road being built. Just because one neighbor refuses to use it, they would still have to help pay for it, he said.

Another resident at the meeting was concerned about cutting down trees in order to install the new water lines and said he preferred the "unique character" of the community to the "technological advantages" of bringing water to the area.

Hernandez said there was "flexibility" in the physical locations of the water pipes and that the amount of trees disturbed would be kept to a minimum.

Residents have until April 27 to submit comments in writing to the board on the proposed water extension. Runion said that board members will receive all of the public comments, both oral and written, before making a decision on the proposal.

The town board will vote on the Guilderland water district extension number 73 on May 15.

Sex-offender still has to register

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Whether they live under a bridge or on a park bench, homeless sex offenders still have to register with the state, according to the Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Those in violation of the registry laws will be arrested and charged if they are found, a DCJS spokesman told The Enterprise.

"Being homeless doesn’t relieve them of the responsibility for reporting their whereabouts," said John Caher, director of public information for the DCJS. "Even if there is no mailing address"Whatever they have, we want to know."

John Haddock, a homeless Level 3 sex offender who was ticketed by Guilderland Police in March after begging for money in town — a repeat offense for him— has now been arrested in Westchester County.

Haddock is being charged for failure to register as a sex offender for the third time in four years, according to the Westchester County Police Department, and he is due to appear in Westchester County Court tomorrow, April 20.

A Level 3 sex offender is the top of three levels, deemed by the state to be the most likely to re-offend.

Haddock is once again facing prison for not registering his address with the state, even though several of his Guilderland arrest reports list him as "homeless" or give an address of a local homeless shelter. He may be charged as a "persistent felon," which could increase his sentence, Caher said.

Problems with registration

"That’s a bit of problem for us," said Caher. "We have an audit going on right now to find the people who are not accounted for."

Caher said that when a sex offender dies, is hospitalized, or goes to prison, the DCJS is not always notified and it has to work with local law enforcement agencies to find these individuals.

"If they’re dead or in a coma, they obviously can’t notify us," he said. "They don’t ask you if you’re a sex offender when you go to the hospital."

But it also means, Caher said, that those who "simply don’t register" and do not have a permanent address, can be hard to locate sometimes.

According to state law, risk is usually assessed at the time of sentencing, according to factors including the offender’s level of offense, its nature, the offenders relationship to the victim, and if force was used.

The state then sends sex offenders an annual verification form on the anniversary of their registration date, Caher said.

If someone does not answer the verification form in 21 days or notify the state of a change of address in 10 days, they are in violation of the registry law and a notification will be sent to local police, Caher told The Enterprise.

"If someone is on parole or in a probationary hearing, it is easier to keep track of them because they are in contact with authorities," Caher said. "People released from parole are more of a problem."

Local municipalities can have further restrictions as well, he said, citing new legislation in Putnam County that states sex offenders cannot live within 2,500 feet of "anything."

"I think it’s getting harder and harder for these people to find a place to live," said Caher. "But what are you going to do" Ship them out to the Adirondacks""

Referring to Haddock’s arrest, Caher said that an address of a homeless shelter was listed on his last arrest report.

His arrest in March, in a report filed by Guilderland Police, listed his residence at 259 South Pearl St., which is the Capital City Rescue Mission.

"He put an address on his arrest report," said Caher. "If that’s where he is, that’s where he should report."

Caher said that if a homeless sex offender lives under a bridge or in a park, that "they know what area their in," and should report that to the state’s registry. Even if the state cannot mail a form to an offender, Caher said, or the offender has no mailing address or place of residence, it is up to the sex offender to keep the state notified.

If not, he continued, they will be reported as "not registered" and susceptible to arrest.

Most of the sex offenders in the state comply with registry laws, Caher said.

"We’ve got 25,000 registered sex offenders in this state, and the vast majority keep us informed of where they are," Caher said. That information is then posted on a website for Level 2 and Level 3 offenders and also distributed to local law-enforcement agencies.

The arrest

Haddock pleaded guilty in 1991 in Nassau County Court to a 1989 rape of an adult female relative. A spokesman from the sex registry said that Haddock attempted to forcibly rape the woman after he grabbed her by the neck.

Haddock was sentenced to serve between six and 12 years in prison and was released in May of 2002 and registered as a Level 3 offender, according to the DCJS. In 2003, he was arrested for failing to register and charged with a misdemeanor. He was arrested again in 2004 and charged in Guilderland for failing to register, that time a felony.

He was sentenced in Guilderland Town Court to serve one to three years.

Haddock was released from Albany County’s jail on March 16, and then, according to his arrest report, he was ticketed in Guilderland on March 31 for loitering and begging, a violation.

He was ticketed around 11:30 a.m. in Guilderland after an officer spotted him at the end of the Northway on Western Avenue with a sign that read, "Homeless need help, God bless," according to Guilderland Police. In previous Guilderland arrests, according to police, he has used similar signs.

In the March arrest report, it said Haddock was born in Charleston, S.C., and describes him as a 6 foot, 2 inch black man who weighs 220 pounds and lives at the Capital City Rescue Mission in Albany.

His occupation in the report is listed as "panhandler."

A couple of weeks after being ticketed in Guilderland, Westchester Police were tipped off about a sex offender living at the Open Arms shelter in White Plains, according to the department’s spokesman, Kieran O’Leary.

"He was arrested by the Westchester County Police Department after he turned up at a homeless shelter down here," O’Leary said about Haddock. "We got a tip from down at the shelter about a sex offender"I believe your guys up there have picked him up for this before"

Once they discovered who he was, O’Leary said, it was revealed that Haddock was not currently registered with the DCJS.

O’Leary said that Haddock was not "very forthcoming" with his sex offender status.

"I get the idea that he was not completely cooperative"I don’t think he just volunteered his status," O’Leary said. "Basically, they had to take his ID from him."

Covergirl Cataldo on Parade, beat out Madonna

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — If you happened to catch last Sunday’s edition of Parade, you may have recognized one of the smiling faces — especially if you just paid your taxes.

Here’s a hint: She was next to one of the most famous students from the Hogwarts School of Wizardry.

Jean Cataldo, Guilderland’s tax collector, was featured on the cover this week of the magazine’s annual report on "What People Earn." Cataldo, who received the highest number of votes in the town’s last election, currently earns a salary of $47,400.

She beat out Madonna for the covergirl slot; the superstar was pictured inside , with her salary listed at $175 million.

Cataldo’s picture and salary were listed with dozens of celebrities, CEOs, athletes, scientists, and various other regular employees around the country. The feature article detailed wages of American workers and discussed how employees view the workplace and current economic trends.

"I saw this little item in the magazine that said, if you were interested, you could participate in a survey," Cataldo told The Enterprise. "Since my salary is public information, I thought, ‘What’s the big deal"’"

Cataldo said, after filling out a "little questionnaire" about her salary and how she felt about the economy, she received a telephone call.

"I got a call in January asking if a photographer could take a head shot"So I knew things were looking promising," Cataldo said.

Originally, the article was supposed to come out in March, Cataldo said about an e-mail confirmation she received, but then it was pushed back until this week.

"I was surprised myself," Cataldo said about seeing her picture on the cover.

Cataldo said that she was recognized by friends and old co-workers immediately following the issue’s release, which is inserted into hundreds of newspapers’ Sunday editions around the nation.

"People have been calling me about it from all over," she said. "That’s the fun part"I got a big kick out of it."

Speaking fondly about the years she spent working at the information desk as well as for some managers at Crossgates Mall, Cataldo said she just received an e-mail from the mall’s general manager, saying how happy he was for her.

"He said he was just so happy to see how well I was doing, working here in Guilderland," she said.

Cataldo and television chef Rachael Ray of New York City were the only two New York listings on the cover. Albert Einstein, who did have a New York summer home in the Adirondacks, was also on the cover, but only listed as deceased.

Parade is a magazine published on high finished newsprint and distributed as a Sunday supplement. It was founded in 1941 and is owned by Advance Publications.

"It was really neat," Cataldo concluded with a laugh. "I only wish I wasn’t right next to Harry Potter’s billion-dollar salary."

Tax rate steady at $2.33
Altamont accepts $2M budget plan

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALTAMONT — In a unanimous vote at Tuesday night’s village board meeting, the board accepted a $2 million preliminary budget for the next fiscal year.

The biggest change in the budget, said Village Clerk Jean LaCrosse, was the addition of the bond for the $1.4 million ground-water project. The water-strapped village drilled a well on a piece of property on Brandle Road, just outside Altamont, to provide more water. The project was scheduled to be finished in February.

The tax rate is $2.33 per $1,000 of assessed property value, a rate that hasn’t changed in the last few years, Village Treasurer Catherine Hasbrouck said at the meeting. The village may have to look at a tax increase in the next budget, though, she added.

Mayor James Gaughan was pleased with the whole budget process this year, he said Wednesday. Discussions were candid and the village was able to maintain its tax rate, he said.

Sales-tax revenues distributed to municipalities by Albany County are the largest source of income for the village, an amount totaling $510,000. The village is counting on collecting $231,973 from property taxes and various other sources of income account for the rest of the budget.

The water fund for 2007-08 is about $395,000; the fund for sewer is about $424,000; and the general fund is about $1.1 million.

A new addition to the budget is a recreation director, part of a shared services program with the town of Guilderland, said LaCrosse. Linda Cure will be coming up with programs for parks in the summer, at a cost of $3,000 to the village.

The "police supplies" line in the budget nearly doubled from the figure last year, going from $4,148 to $7,398. Police supplies include things like flares, ammunition, safety equipment, and uniforms, said Public Safety Commissioner Anthony Salerno. The budget allots $113,049 for salaries in the police department, which includes Salerno’s $41,513 salary and the $16-per-hour wage for part-time officers.

Two new part-time police officers were hired following an executive session at Tuesday night’s meeting. Robert Traina, of Berne, and Brian Caman, of Troy, will be joining Altamont’s police department. Gaughan said that, with the two new hires, there are nine part-time officers in the department, plus Salerno, and the village would like to have 10 part-timers, which is the number there were last year.

Earlier in the meeting, the board accepted a letter of resignation from Maurice McCormick, who was an officer in the Altamont Police Department for several years. He cited family and job commitments as his reasons for resignation. McCormick is an Albany County Sherriff’s deputy, Salerno said yesterday, adding that he would be missed by Altamont.

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Held its re-organizational meeting and installed Trustee William Aylward and Trustee Christine Marshall to the village board. Village Judge Rebecca Morse Hout also took the oath of office. All three were unopposed; Aylward and Hout were incumbents;

— Heard from Keith Lee, a gardening expert who is the mayor’s partner, that he plans to start working on the Maple Avenue park when the weather clears. Lee also reported that the Altamont Community Tradition plans to host its annual green-and-clean event on Saturday, April 21;

— Heard that the fire department answered 16 calls in March and 45 calls in April, 42 of which were on Monday. The fire department pumped out more than 40 basements after the storm that brought snow and rain on Sunday and Monday;

— Heard from Donald Cropsey, the village’s building inspector, that he had gotten several calls from Altamont residents regarding a white picket fence that went up on Main Street. He has told the owner of the house that the fence is too high and the owner will be applying for a variance to allow for the fence;

— Heard from Salerno that there will be a safety fair and bicycle rodeo at the village hall on Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be bike safety lessons and free bike helmets for kids, Salerno said yesterday, provided by the law firm of Martin, Harding, and Mazzotti;

— Applauded Altamont Police Officer Patrick Thomas as Salerno presented him with a plaque, to recognize his service to the community. Officer Matthew Hanzalik was also supposed to be recognized, for his dedication to his patrol, Salerno said yesterday, but Hanzalik was unable to be at the meeting;

— Voted unanimously to have the engineering firm of Barton & Loguidice look into problems with the village’s aging sewer system. The firm will be performing a sanitary sewer inflow and infiltration assessment for $28,300;

— Voted unanimously to make changes to an agreement regarding water and sewer services to developer Jeff Thomas’s planned Brandle Meadows senior housing project. The village has agreed to have individual water meters attached to each dwelling in the complex.

"That’s a little bit more burden on the village, but we’re willing to do that," said Guy Roemer, the village’s attorney.

The village will also be taking the title for the water and sewer infrastructure on the Brandle Meadows property and be responsible for maintaining it. The village has asked for an opinion from the state’s comptroller about whether or not it has the authority to take on the infrastructure.

When The Enterprise asked why the village would agree to individual water meters — rather than billing a homeowners’ association for one central meter — and take on the infrastructure, Gaughan answered, "We think we can handle it." He also said that it was important to the village to get the project underway; and

— Voted unanimously to fire Mark Smith, a probationary employee of the public works department who worked for the village for about five months, Gaughan said. Smith didn’t meet job performance standards, Gaughan said, so Public Works Superintendent Timothy McIntire recommended his termination.

Five run for three seats on Guilderland School Board

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Five candidates are running for three seats on the Guilderland School Board.

John Fraher, Carolyn Kelly, and Gloria Towle-Hilton are each running for the first time. Barbara Fraterrigo has served on the board for a decade and Colleen O’Connell has served for three years.

The third incumbent, Thomas Nachod, the board’s longest-serving member at 12 years, is not seeking re-election. A banker, he is leaving Guilderland to be president of a new bank on Long Island.

The three-year posts are unpaid and the three highest vote-getters will serve on the nine-member board, taking office in July.

Candidates had to file their petitions by Monday. The election is May 15; at the same time, voters will be deciding on an $82 million budget for next year.

John Fraher

John Fraher, of Witte Road, became interested in running for the school board, he said, after talking to his Westmere neighbors.

"There’s a lot of talk in our neighborhood this year. There are concerns about the rising cost of the budget and if we are spending money prudently," said Fraher.

Fraher, a certified public accountant with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Wayne State University in Detroit, said, "I thought I could be of assistance."

Fraher grew up in town, attending Christ the King School in Guilderland and then graduating from Bishop Gibbons High School, where he played a variety of sports. He now has three children in the Guilderland schools — two at Farnsworth Middle School and one at Guilderland Elementary School. He has recently coached in the local youth soccer league.

Asked about his goals if he is elected to the school board, Fraher said, "I would like to make sure we’re spending dollars where they should be spend, with the children in mind first."

He called the district’s annual budget "a large animal with many complexities" and he complimented the "positive things" the school board has done in the last year or two to control costs, such as bidding services to lower costs.

"We spend a lot of money on programs," said Fraher. "Some are great. Others I question. I’m all for sports, but are we putting some of those items ahead of scholastic needs"" he asked.

Carolyn Kelly

Carolyn Kelly, of Stonefield Way, has done a wide range of volunteer work on behalf of her children. An auditor with a degree in accounting, she has 17 years of experience in financial forensics and internal auditing.

She’d like to put that expertise to work as a school board member. "I really, truly love children," she said, "and really want to ensure children receive the...education they need at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. I also believe parents should be embraced and their concerns should be respectfully considered."

Kelly, who has lived in the school district for 21 years, sees the upcoming year as "critical" for the district as it searches for a new superintendent and as it faces declines in enrollment and state aid; Kelly said "thoughtful discussion" is needed.

Kelly’s varied volunteer experience has centered around her three children — her daughters are in eighth and ninth grades at Guilderland and she has a 5-year-old son. She has been active in many different roles in the PTA at the elementary-, middle-, and high-school level; has taught youth in her church, Saint Madeleine Sophie; is a Girl Scout leader; has been a parent advocate for the Committee on Preschool Education; and was a past co-chair of a Capital District group of parents of children with special needs.

Kelly has also been an outspoken advocate for increased school security. She had served on a district subcommittee that studied school security and recommended monitors be posted at elementary schools to buzz in visitors through locked doors. School board members compromised by hiring just the monitors, after some expressed concern it would change the culture of the Guilderland schools to lock the front doors.

Asked this week what she thought about the current system, Kelly said, "I think there are some more concerns that could be addressed. It’s wonderful to have monitors for a portion of the day. We certainly raised awareness."

Kelly has served on the Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee since 1999. This year, she voiced support for the $82 million proposal and said she was "absolutely thrilled to see FLES finally in the budget," a reference to the Foreign Language Early Start program that will introduce kindergartners, and first- and second-graders to Spanish.

Kelly also said she couldn’t support the added enrichment teacher at the middle school since the school will have 200 fewer students and she said, "I don’t think we’re funding technology properly."

She also opposed combining the supervisors’ posts for English and social students at the high school, to save $65,000; Kelly said both were needed and said the board should look at supervisors for kindergarten through 12th grade.

She supported the summer reading program for struggling elementary-school students.

Ultimately, the school board included FLES, the middle-school enrichment teacher, and the summer reading program in the budget proposal and combined the supervisors’ posts for English and social studies at the high school.

Kelly said this week of serving on the school board, "It’s important to have a board that’s open to new ideas and it’s important to have a parents’ perspective on the board."

Gloria Towle-Hilt

Gloria Towle-Hilt, a long-time social-studies teacher at Farnsworth Middle School, is retiring in June but says she wants to "give back" to a school district that has been supportive of her and helped her grow, so is running for the school board.

She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University at Albany and, in addition to being a social studies teacher, she started the program for gifted students at the middle school and later started the program for at-risk students, she said.

Towle-Hilt, of Stanford Drive, married a fellow Farnsworth teacher and both of their children are Guilderland graduates; their daughter is an elementary-school music teacher and their son works in technology.

One of the ways the school district was supportive, said Towle-Hilt, was in allowing her husband and herself first a one-year and then a two-year leave of absence to teach in Africa. Towle-Hilt developed an interest in Africa because of a pen pal she had there; she became passionate about teaching there. The experience later enriched her teaching back in Guilderland, she said.

Towle-Hilt has no particular agenda in running for the board, she said, but is interested in improving communication and relationships among different parts of the district.

She gave an example from her teaching experience. She began taking her at-risk students to help in a city soup kitchen and found the volunteer work brought out their empathy and increased both their awareness of others and their own sense of worth in contributing.

Now she takes her regular classroom students to help at the soup kitchen as well; many have gone on to volunteer on their own time, she said.

Towle-Hilt described a group of elderly volunteers who were at first wary of working with 12-year-olds but, once Towle-Hilt paired them up, they became pals, she said, and now look forward to working with her students.

She also described her work spearheading a Habitat for Humanity project in Guilderland, an idea that germinated in a social-studies cabinet meeting, she said, and spread to include all different parts of the Guilderland community. "It was inspirational," she said of completing the first suburban Habitat home in the area.

Towle-Hilt said she is pleased with the growing diversity in Guilderland and would like to emphasize the positive aspects of a diverse community.

Colleen O’Connell

Incumbent Colleen O’Connell, of Salvia Lane, said this week that she shares "a common philosophy" with Towle-Hilt and the two are coordinating their campaigns. The pair know each other from their church, Saint Madeleine Sophie, they said, and, while they may not agree on each specific issue, they value the give-and-take of discussion.

School-board elections don’t involve political parties, but, in the past in Guilderland, two or three candidates have often run together, sometimes on slates with specific agendas or platforms.

Both Towle-Hilt and O’Connell said, while they were coordinating their campaigns, they would not describe themselves as being on the same slate.

O’Connell, a lawyer who is staying home to raise her children, is running for a second term, she said earlier, because she has learned a lot about being a school-board member in her first three years. "I feel I almost owe it to the community," she said.

She also wants to be part of the search this summer for a new superintendent to replace Gregory Aidala, who is retiring in the fall. "We need someone who is not going to be a steward of this district but will lead us into the future," she said.

O’Connell is most proud of "advancing the discussion on nutrition, wellness, and good health practices" and is also pleased with the district’s recent change in bidding for services from professionals like lawyers and architects.

Her goals for her next term include "better communication amongst school-board members, the community, and parents," and "a return to civility."

She said, "There have been lapses of courtesy, and rudeness to fellow school-board members and administrators...Our conduct needs to be above reproach."

Barbara Fraterrigo

Barbara Fraterrigo, of Ableman Avenue, says she’s running again because she just loves being on the school board.

Fraterrigo, who works as a manager of a doctor’s office, is both a mother and grandmother.

She could not be reached this week but told The Enterprise earlier that, in her decade on the board, she is most proud of the improvement in communication with the public. She cited an added public comment period at meetings, televised meetings, and, most recently, coffee klatches, where board members chat with passers-by.

"Lots of times," Fraterrigo said of her tenure on the board, "I had points of view not shared by anybody."

She was, for example, the only board member to initially vote against the continued employment of a teacher and coach whom some parents said had repeatedly called their daughters "sluts." Later, after considerable public outcry, the board reversed itself, offering the teacher a settlement to leave.

And, three years ago, Fraterrigo was the only board member who did not reject the idea of setting up an advisory board to study reading curriculum, as proposed by a group of parents who children struggled to read.

One of Fraterrigo’s goals for her next term include community involvement with curriculum, perhaps having citizens serve on cabinets.

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