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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, May 17, 2007
Blow wins board seat, budget passes by 80 votes
By Rachel Dutil
VOORHEESVILLE Two candidates vying for one school board seat shook hands after Tuesday nights announcement that Timothy Blow had been voted in.
"I just wished him the best of luck" I’m sure he’ll do a great job on the board," said Thomas Jones, who, along with Sean Signer, was running against Blow for the school board seat being vacated by Richard Brackett.
Blow garnered 464 votes, to Joness 351 votes, and Signers 178.
"I wish him luck" Maybe with his financial background, he can straighten out that business office," Brackett told The Enterprise regarding his successor. Brackett said earlier that he was not seeking re-election to the seven-member board because, "It’s time for someone else to take over" I did my five years."
The night was cordial all the way around with both the school and library budgets passing with comfortable margins.
The district’s $21 million budget, representing a 4.7 percent increase over this year’s, passed 592 to 512 with 54 percent supporting the budget, according to the unofficial results read off the back of the voting machines. Brackett said that he was "kind of surprised" that the budget passed. The 80-vote margin, he said, is more than in some recent years.
Sixty-eight percent of the budget, or about $14 million dollars, will be raised through property taxes, creating an increase in the tax levy of 5.5 percent.
"The vote spoke," Brackett said, adding, "There’s still a lot of people that are unhappy with the way things are done."
Superintendent Linda Langevin is thrilled that the district’s budget passed, she said on Wednesday. "I’m very grateful for people supporting the school and the programs and services we provide. It’s very refreshing."
The Voorheesville School District, she said, will do its best to continue to provide great programs. "I guess I want to say thank you," Langevin concluded on her feelings about the budget passage.
"We’re pleased that the voters chose to approve the budget we recommended, but are also mindful of the burden that it places on the taxpayer," board President David Gibson told The Enterprise yesterday. Gibson referred to the board as "stewards for the taxpayers’ money’ and stressed the importance of using it in "ways that have high value in the educational process.
"To the extent that we can find ways to decrease costs, than we will," he added.
"Everybody tried to do their part to get the numbers down as best they could," Assistant Superintendent for Business Sarita Winchell told The Enterprise after the school board approved the budget proposal, moving it to public vote. "We have some real needs in this district," she said.
A new social worker position, a first for the district; an additional elementary-school teacher; and the $18,000 tuition for a Voorheesville student to attend Tech Valley High School, which will open in the fall all added extra costs to the $21 million total budget, and Langevin said she appreciates the public support for the new things in the budget.
"We’re looking forward to a great year in 2007-08," Langevin said.
The school’s $207,470 bus proposition also passed 676 to 414 with 62 percent voting yes. Langevin said that she is "very happy" that it passed.
"I feel gratified," Blow told The Enterprise about his win. "I’m relieved it’s over" Now is the challenge of trying to be a worthwhile addition to the board that we have already," he said following Tuesday’s vote.
"I’ve always been on the outside, interested," Blow told The Enterprise earlier, adding that he is unhappy with some of the decisions that have been made in recent years.
Blow, the chief financial officer for Ballston Spa National Bank, has been a resident of the district for 17 years; he has three children, one in each school third-grade, seventh-grade, and tenth-grade. It gives him a "good spectrum of what’s going on," he said.
Langevin said that she is "very happy that Mr. Blow was selected." He has a strong financial background, has worked with kids through his involvement in Catholic Youth Organization sports, has children in the district, and is involved in the community, she said.
"I’m really happy because he’s well-rounded and knowledgeable with finances" He’ll be an extremely valuable board member," said Langevin.
"The district was in a great position having three good candidates," said Gibson yesterday.
During the campaign, Blow said that, if elected, he would be eager to "add my knowledge into the decision-making" for the district.
Blow said that he contributes to the community in many ways, and being elected to the school board is "one more step" to help out.
"My interests are aligned with individuals who want good education for their children and also those who don’t want taxes to spiral out of control," he said earlier.
Also on Tuesdays ballot was the $928,280 Voorheesville Public Library budget, which passed 653 to 442 with support from 60 percent of the voters.
It includes, for the first of five years, $30,000 in debt service to pay off a $150,000 land debt.
The total budget increases spending 5.5 percent over this year, including the debt service. The increase in library operations costs is 1.8 percent. New Scotland residents will pay an estimated $1.06 per $1,000 of assessed value.
"I’m delighted, and excited, and pleased about the budget," said library Director Gail Sacco on Wednesday afternoon after returning from a Croatian conference call that had her brimming with excitement, adding to her budget enthusiasm.
The conference call, she explained, was part of an international librarianship that she and another Voorheesville librarian were a part of. They discussed programming, literature, and information about the United States and its library system, Sacco said.
Regarding the budget vote, she said, "I’m happy that people understand how hard we’re working to bring good services to the community."
Library trustee Catherine Andersons term expires on June 30, Sacco said, and she did not seek re-election. No candidates were on the ballot, and there were no write-in candidates on Tuesday.
Sacco said that she didn’t know what to expect because this was the "first time we didn’t have a candidate."
The library is seeking letters from anyone who might be interested in being appointed to the five-member board for a one-year term, from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008, she said.
Next year, there will be two open seats on the library board, she said. The two candidates with the most votes will be appointed, she explained. The candidate with the most votes will be appointed for a normal five-year term, and the other top candidate, she said, would be appointed to a four-year term to finish the term already started this upcoming July.
"We’re going to try to honor the trust that the community has given us," Sacco concluded.
Wukitsch named town judge by Dems, Dolin still mum
By Rachel Dutil
NEW SCOTLAND David Wukitsch has some large shoes to fill.
In a vote split along party lines, the town board appointed Wukitsch, a Democrat, last Wednesday to serve as one of two New Scotland town justices. Democratic board members Richard Reilly, Deborah Baron, and Margaret Neri voted in favor of appointing Wukitsch, while the two Republicans Supervisor Ed Clark and Councilman Douglas LaGrange were opposed.
Wukitsch replaces Justice Thomas Dolin, a Democrat, who announced in late March his resignation to "explore the possibility of running for other elective office." Republican Margaret Adkins is the other town judge; she is up for re-election in the fall.
Clark and LaGrange were in favor of appointing Republican Kenneth Connolly who served as town justice in New Scotland for 20 years, and continues to serve as the village justice in Voorheesville. Connollysaid he would not run for judge in the fall and offered to fill the post only until an elected candidate assumed office, Clark told The Enterprise earlier.
"I still believe we have a very experienced justice to fill in for the interim," Clark told the board last week, recommending Connolly.
"My sense is to appoint someone who could be there for a longer term," Reilly said before making the motion to appoint Wukitsch.
"He certainly has outstanding credentials," Reilly told The Enterprise of Wukitsch, adding that he’s a "fine candidate" for the position. "I think Tom is widely regarded as having been an excellent town justice, and those are big shoes to fill," he said of Dolin’s 14 years as town justice and his "good judicial temperament."
Wukitsch told The Enterprise that he is "grateful to the New Scotland town board" for appointing him to the position, and added, "I plan on seeking a full term in the fall."
Wukitsch, 51, grew up in Rotterdam, and has lived in New Scotland since 2000, he said, with his wife and four sons. He has been practicing law since 1982.
Wukitsch is currently a partner with McNamee, Lochner, Titus, & Williams in Albany, working in civil litigation as well as labor and employment law, he said.
As town justice, Wukitsch said, "I will strive to apply the applicable law to the facts of each case to the best of my ability."
He has also served as a confidential law assistant to former Senior Associate Judge Richard D. Simons on the New York Court of Appeals; was the town attorney for New Baltimore in Greene County; and was a lecturer and former contract grader for the New York State Bar Association.
"I think the town couldn’t do any better than to have him as a town judge," said the town’s attorney, L. Michael Mackey, who is also the Democratic party chairman in New Scotland. "He’s extremely qualified for the position" His demeanor and personality speak well for him; he’ll make an outstanding judge," Mackey said, adding that the two went to law school together in 1981 at Albany Law School.
Dolin said this week that he is continuing to explore his political options. "I do miss it," he said of being a New Scotland judge, "But I’m looking forward to doing other things."
After Dolin announced on March 30 that he would resign, he told The Enterprise that rules on judicial conduct did not allow him to talk about what post he might pursue until his resignation became official on April 15. He said after last weeks town board meeting that he is still discussing the possibilities with his wife.
Dolin said that Wukitsch is "an excellent choice" for town judge. "His legal background validates his qualifications for the position" I think he’ll do fine."
"Judge Dolin did great for the town for a number of years, and will certainly be missed, but he’s got a good replacement in Dave," Mackey said.
Wukitsch, who will be formally sworn in to office tonight (Thursday) at Town Hall on Route 85, said that he "will strive to do my very best" as a town justice in New Scotland.
Dolin said that he believes Wukitsch will be fair and compassionate. "I wish him all the best, and, I think we’re going to be fortunate to have him," Dolin said of his successor.
Senior housing on hold
Plans for a senior housing community on New Scotland Road have been pending for two years. Charles Carrow Sr., president and chief executive officer of Carrow Real Estate Services, would "like to see some action.," said Supervisor Clark.
Carrow is looking for the town board to talk to the neighboring town of Bethlehem in order to include his property in the water and sewer districts.
"I think, to be realistic, you need to approach them [Bethlehem] on a project-by-project basis," said Mackey, the town’s attorney.
Bethlehem doesn’t want developers approaching them about water and sewer, Mackey said. "They want to know that it’s a project the town wants," he said.
Carrow’s project has already gotten a general OK from the town’s planning board, said that board’s chairman, Robert Stapf, who was at last Wednesday’s town board meeting. "We need the town to go forward and talk to Bethlehem," he added.
Carrow, back in August, requested that the town adopt a senior overlay zone an additional zone that lays over the existing zoning, and has additional requirements the development must satisfy. Carrows property falls within a commercial district.
"Anything that isn’t addressed in the overlay zone would default to the underlying zone," Reilly explained.
R. Mark Dempf, the towns engineer, said that the towns water committee does not have unanimous support for residential housing in a commercial district.
In other business at recent meetings, the town board:
Transferred the contracts of Vollmer Associates to Stantec Consulting Services, which recently took over Vollmer. Dempf and Keith Menia will continue to be the towns engineers;
Authorized Stantec Consulting Services, the towns engineering firm, to create high resolution, photo-quality mapping for the Northeast Quadrant, at an estimated cost of $4,000;
Signed an agreement with Albany County for the Advanced Life Support program at a cost of $155,115. The program provides a fly car for medical emergencies;
Announced that Affordable Waste was sold to Wright Sanitation, and will be taking over the trash pickup in the town;
Discussed the possibility of constructing a 120-by-60-foot intermunicipal skateboard park with the village of Voorheesville. The board had no major objections;
Heard concerns about the speed limit on Tygert Road and the Feura Bush Park neighborhood. Town Assessor Julie Nooney, who lives in the area of the Feura Bush Park, said that the speed limit upon entering the park, "is without a doubt a hazard." Supervisor Clark said that he would make the appropriate requests to the county that the speed be reduced;
Authorized Highway Superintendent Darrell Duncan to sign an agreement with Stantec Consulting Services regarding the Krumkill Road slope stabilization investigation. Dempf, an engineer with Stantec, told the board, "The situation is not good," regarding the erosion of a section of the road after flooding in April. Dempf hopes that a project can be developed that will solve the issue "once and for all." He is going to look into whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency will consider reimbursing the town for the project;
Heard from Dempf on the Heldervale Water District master meter replacement project. The district currently has only one operational meter, he said. "We need to replace the meter pit its in, and water-proof it," Dempf said.
At the opposite end of the district is another inoperable meter pit, he explained. A State Environmental Quality Review determined that the project would have minimal environmental impact, Dempf said;
Approved an agreement for 2007 with Albany County for the emergency medical techniciandefibrilation services;
Authorized increasing the maximum amount to be spent on the Clarksville Water District Extension #7. The project was estimated at $430,000, but the lowest bid came in at $555,000. The cost could be reduced to $495,000 if the minimum-required amount of hydrants are installed. The typical cost to the homeowners, with the minimum amount of hydrants, would increase by about $14 per year, Dempf told the board. With the standard amount of hydrants, the increase would be about $34 per year. "It seems like the logical way to go with the lesser hydrants," said LaGrange. "I think it’s exciting that this project is moving," added Baron;
Accepted Unifirst as the uniform company for the towns highway department;
Announced the names of three new town employees: operator Lansing Appleby, laborer James Kendall, and dog warden James Conde;
Approved the membership of Linda Sue Kane into the Onesquethaw Volunteer Fire Company;
Heard Reilly announce, "We’re making progress," on the zoning changes to the Northeast Quadrant of town. He said that the proposed changes have been passed along to the planning board for comments. Reilly added that he wasn’t proposing anything "that isn’t already in our comprehensive plan."
LaGrange updated the board on the status of the comprehensive plan; the town is working to combine sections two and 10, and weave in recommendations made by the Residents Planning Advisory Committee (RPAC).
Councilwoman Neri voiced her confusion. "RPAC was never formally adopted by this board," she said. Dempf said that only some of the recommendations would be worked in. "This board’s responsibility is to decide where the town should go," Dempf said;
Approved a mileage reimbursement policy for town employees that addresses when reimbursement is appropriate and how it is calculated, so that the town does not incur costs for mileage of employees traveling to and from work;
Announced the annual Relay for Life walk-a-thon will be held at the Voorheesville high school on June 2 and 3; and
Announced that, on June 6 at 7 p.m., the Clarksville Church will host a program titled: A History of Clarksville Churches.
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