[Home Page] [This Week] [Classifieds] [Legals] [Obituaries] [Newsstands] [Subscriptions] [Advertising] [Deadlines] [About Us] [FAQ] [Archives] [Community Links] [Contact Us]

Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, May 31, 2007

Young inventors solve life’s problems

By Tyler Schuling

BERNE — Middle-school students at Berne-Knox-Westerlo have solved real-life problems with their inventions, which are being recognized at the regional Invention Convention.

From over 1,200 submissions from students in the Capital Region, 13 BKW students’ inventions have been selected as semi-finalists in an annual competition. The inventions are on display at the Schenectady Museum and Suits-Bueche Planetarium through June 7.

"My grandma was getting dialysis three times a week, and she got cold when blood was taken out," said sixth-grader Tom LaDuke, whose invention, Dialysis Sweater, is one of 100 on display at the Schenectady museum.

For his project, LaDuke cut slits in a sweater’s arms, inside the elbow, where interveneous tubes are inserted. He then sewed zippers into them. As his grandmother underwent dialysis treatments, she had to wear a T-shirt, LaDuke said; she completed treatment just before he finished his project.

If put on the market, the sweaters would be custom-made for each patient, LaDuke said.

Erin McIntyre’s invention, Fire Response Box, is a fireproof box, attached by Velcro to the inside of a house’s front door. Within the box is a map outlining the rooms inside and listing the names and ages of all family members; pets are also listed. The response box comes with a sticker, which would be placed on the exterior of a home’s front door to let firefighters know that the house is equipped with a fire response box.

McIntyre, also a sixth-grader, said she got the idea for her invention because her father, Tim McIntyre, is an East Berne volunteer firefighter. When entering a burning house, her father wouldn’t know where each of the family members’ rooms were located, how many people lived there, or their names, she said.

McIntyre said she thinks the invention would help her father do his job better. Both she and LaDuke said they thought Eric Collins’s invention, Pencilite, a mechanical pencil with lights attached to both of its ends, is a good idea. Both McIntyre and LaDuke said they will attend the awards ceremony at the Schenectady Museum at 7 p.m. on June 7 when 25 finalists will be announced.

The 100 semi-finalists were chosen by a panel of patent attorneys and engineers, who based their decisions on creativity, originality, complexity, innovation, practicality, and impact.

BKW middle-school science teacher Karen Barber is impressed by her students’ ingenuity and mystified by the selection process, given the number of good ideas in the competition.

"How do you choose one"" she asked. "There are such good ones that didn’t get chosen."

The invention unit, she said, teaches her students about competition. "If you don’t try, you don’t know how well you’ll do," Barber said.

BKW students whose inventions were chosen, include: Gabriella Audino, Pack-n-Go; Eric Collins, Pencilite; Taylor Della Rocco, The Smart Tracker; Jessica Keppler, Bed Boots; Natalie Marchewka, One Bit Fits All; Makayla McCormick, Safety Burner; Wyatt Moller, A 1 Kindling Splitter; Anthony Pasquini, Gun Stock Hand Muff; Joshua VonHaugg, Sleep Cool Sleeping Bag; Kelsey Wagoner, The Double Cuff Sock; and Lillian White, Electro-Mixer.

Man arrested for illegal purchase of gun

By Jarrett Carroll

BERNE — An arrest for a domestic dispute in February led to the arrest this week of a 42-year-old man after, police say, he attempted to illegally purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer in town.

Jeffrey J. Longendyke, of 480 Joslyn School Rd., tried to buy a .762 Russian Mosin Nagant rifle on May 24 from Helderberg Mountain Lures in Berne.

He is being charged with one count of first-degree falsifying business records, a felony, and criminal purchase of a weapon, a misdemeanor.

Longendyke had been arrested on Feb. 8 by the Guilderland Police on a complaint of domestic violence.

The violence started at his Joslyn Road home and escalated after his wife went with their children to a friend’s home in Guilderland, the arrest report says. There, Longendyke took a wooden walking stick and used it break out the windows of his wife’s car as well as breaking a storm window at the house, according to his arrest report.

After he was arrested for third-degree criminal mischief, Guilderland Judge Denise Randall arraigned him and issued an order of protection.

The order also called for Longendyke to surrender his four firearms to the Albany County Sheriff’s Department and prohibit him from buying new ones.

The department still has Longendyke’s four guns, according to Senior Investigator Ron Bates of the sheriff’s department.

"This is what disqualified him immediately from purchasing a firearm," Bates told The Enterprise yesterday. "In his order of protection, he could not have them."

Bates said the sheriff’s department was notified by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System after Longendyke signed and offered an Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms "over the counter" firearms transfer application.

The law requires anyone who is buying a firearm to fill out an application and it subjects the would-be buyer to a criminal background check, Bates said.

The Russian Mosin Nagant rifle is a "bolt-action rifle" used for hunting and not an assault rifle, according to the sheriff’s department.

Longendyke answered "no" on his application to the specific question of whether there were any current court orders restraining him from "harassing, stalking, or threatening a child or intimate partner," said Bates. The owner of Helderberg Mountain Lures submitted the application to NICS, as required, and it was reported as "delayed" so the owner told Longendyke he would have to come back for the rifle, Bates said.

Four days later, Bates said, the NICS as well as the gun shop owner called the sheriff’s department which led to Longendyke’s arrest. The gun shop sells "sporting goods and firearms" from an area attached to the owner’s house.

Albany County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Longendyke at his Joslyn School Road home and he was arraigned in Berne Town Court by Judge Kenneth Bunzey and released on $5,000 bail.

Hilltown culinary students are best in state, 7th in nation

By Tyler Schuling

BERNE — After winning first place in the state culinary arts competition in January, a team of local students went on to nationals and earned the best finish in the state’s history.

Berne-Knox-Westerlo students Aaron Giebitz, Zach Davis, Julie Capuano, and Drew Swint, along with Aimee Hoop, a Richmond-Cobleskill student, won first place at the state competition in Buffalo in January.

All five students attend the culinary arts program at the Capital Region Career & Technical School Schoharie campus for part of each school day; the program is open to high school juniors and seniors.

Last month, with 38 states and Guam represented at the national competition in Charlotte, N.C., the Schoharie team won seventh place in the culinary competition. At nationals, teams competed in the culinary competition and the management competition. The nearby Southern Adirondack Education Center team placed fourth in management.

"That was the best New York State had ever done," said Davis of the two schools. New York began competing at nationals three years ago. The culinary arts students came home from the state competition with $24,000 in renewable scholarships to multiple culinary institutes, he said.

"We knew we would place in the top 10. We had that mentality. We wanted first, but seventh is great," said Capuano, adding that competition on a national stage is "a little intimidating" and "a little scary."

"We were the best in New York, but [other teams] were the best in their states," she said.

Teaching Teamwork

The students’ instructor, Chef Nancy Iannocone, said the main goal of the competition is to teach teamwork. By competing, students also learn organization, which is very important in the food industry, she said. The state and national competitions, she said, are different than some other culinary competitions.

To prepare a three-course meal for two people, teams have a one-hour time limit. They have no electricity and are allowed only two Bunsen burners. Each meal is capped at $75.

In both competitions, the local team brought its own food and equipment. All food items had to be kept at a certain temperature and had to be packaged separately in coolers. Nothing could be pre-made, except stocks and jams. If a food item didn’t meet temperature specifications, it was thrown out.

"You can’t just bring everything to the competition. You actually have to have to have it in separate coolers," said Swint. At nationals, all team members dressed the same, he said, "from the shirt all the way down to the shoes.

"We had to represent New York State, and everyone that sponsored us," Swint said, adding that their sponsors — Coca-Cola, ChefWorks, Rich Food Products, and The Culinary Institute of America — sought them out.

At some culinary competitions, Iannacone said, teams are required to use food items and equipment provided for them and must prepare what judges ask of them.

The team prepares all classical dishes, but, Davis said, "We give them a twist." Davis moved to the Capital Region from Florida and had prior culinary experience.

At the competitions, the four seniors on the team prepared the meals. Giebitz, a junior, is the team’s alternate.

Swint prepared the appetizers. At the national competition, he prepared a goat cheese cake with baby beets and asparagus, marinated in pancetta vinaigrette.

Davis and Hoop prepared the entrée, a seafood ragu with sea bass. For dessert, Capuano and Hoop prepared a citrus curd tartlet on a graham cracker and almond crust with mixed fruit and a mango sauce.

Before choosing dishes, the team researched, talked to people, and considered themes, such as Cajun and Mediterranean. Iannacone said she had attended seminars to better understand what judges look for.

"We were competing in front of the best chefs in the world at that point," said Davis. "They don’t get any better."

To prepare for the competitions, the team "practiced, practiced, practiced," Iannacone said. During competitions, teams are "highly scrutinized" by master chefs, and they are surrounded by spectators.

"It’s pretty intimidating," Iannacone said. Three of the team members were in last year’s state competition, she said. As well as having experienced members on the team, this year’s team had a lot of desire, said Iannocone.

"They really wanted to win," she said.

While competing in Charlotte, the team members became friends with those on other teams — from Michigan, West Virginia, Washington, and Connecticut, said Swint. "Everyone was there for the same purpose," he said. "They wanted to compete, have fun, to learn, but also to win," Swint said.

Just desserts

Each day at school, the culinary arts students prepare breakfast and lunch for the students and staff at the Schoharie campus. They also prepare meals for banquets.

This fall, the four seniors will be attending culinary arts colleges. Davis will go to The Culinary Institute of America; Swint will attend Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I.; and Hoop and Capuano will both be attending Schenectady Community College.

Davis said his dream is to open his own restaurant in "his hometown area" — Albany. Swint wants to have his own show on a food network or be an executive pastry chef in a major city, such as Las Vegas or New York City.

Swint said of having his own show, "That would be the dream right there."

Hoop said her long-term goal is to own her own bakery.

Capuano also wants to own her own bakery, specializing in wedding cakes. She currently works at Nichols’ Shop ’N’ Save in Voorheesville, preparing the store’s breads and cakes.

Capuano’s family puts her skills to work. "They always have me make them desserts," she said.

‘Awesome lady’ named top teacher

By Tyler Schuling

BERNE — As a student fought cancer to the death, his teacher stayed by his side right up to the end, and now uses his life as a foundation.

Laura Mileto, a special-education resource teacher at Berne-Knox-Westerlo, was presented with Wal-Mart’s Teacher of the Year Award on May 15.

Mileto tutored Anthony Hill at his home and at the hospital, until he died at the age of 17 after a three-and-a-half year battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

"She did an awful lot for Anthony," said Hill’s mother, Jackie. Hill said she hadn’t realized that Mileto didn’t get paid for all the visits to the Hill’s home and the hospital. "She did it out of the kindness of her heart," she said. Hill called Mileto an "awesome lady" and "a blessing."

"She’s always been there to support us," said Hill, adding that Mileto organized two spaghetti dinners, which raised money for the Anthony Hill Scholarship Fund. Mileto also sold snacks out of her classroom to raise money, and attended bone-marrow drives, Jackie Hill said.

Receiving the Teacher of the Year Award was bittersweet, Mileto said last week.

"There were so many people that were deserving of it, and he’s not here," she said. After receiving the honor, a teacher told her: "It’s not about the death of Anthony. It’s about what you did after he passed."

"Sometimes you need that reminder," Mileto said. "I know he would love that his fellow students are being helped out in his name."

"She truly is an amazing woman, teacher, and friend," said BKW teachers Shannon James and Sheila Martin in a letter to the Enterprise editor.

Mileto said she doesn’t know who nominated her for the award. Along with the honor, BKW was given a $1,000 educational grant. Mileto will complete essays and obtain letters of recommendation to compete at the state level, and BKW could be awarded another $10,000 grant if she wins.

Remembering Anthony

Small in stature, Mileto spoke last week about the large role Anthony Hill continues to play in her life. She has a framed copy of the letter sent to Wal-Mart representatives from the person who nominated her. She wears a bracelet, created in Hill’s honor, that says "Live fearlessly." When speaking about Hill, she smiles and laughs often when recalling moments they shared, ever amazed by his unwavering attitude and positive outlook.

"Awesome kid. My favorite. He’ll always be my favorite," said Mileto. "He’s definitely missed every single day. He came up with the idea to live fearlessly. He didn’t survive to see the bracelets come in, but he came up with the saying. And I think we’re all just trying to do that in his memory because that’s how he lived his life," she said.

Throughout the nearly four years she tutored him, Hill never complained, Mileto said. His lessons varied, day by day, and he worked up until a week before he died.

"Everything was modified to begin with. But he never complained," she said. The last day they worked together, Mileto asked Anthony if he wanted to work or if he "just wanted to talk and chill out." Mileto smiled when thinking of Hill’s reply: "Do you have something small""

"Because by then it was: If we do it, we do it. If we don’t, it’s OK. Because we knew. We knew the outcome by then," Mileto said. "He never stopped. He never gave up."

When asked if there were letdowns, she said, "I didn’t show it with him, and he didn’t show it with me." She would often drive home in tears, she said. "When I found out he had three months to live, I was in shock because he looked good, and he looked strong," she recalled. "I almost wanted him to start a journal, but that would be accepting that he was going to die, so I did not suggest that."

When Hill was receiving hospice care, Mileto was told she needed to say goodbye. "He wasn’t really there. I gave him a kiss on the cheek, and I left, and that was it. That was the last time I saw him. You want to say so much more, but you can’t," she said. "You don’t want to take away any hope."

The day Hill died, teachers took Mileto aside and advised her to stay home the following day. But Mileto refused.

"If I didn’t come in, I wouldn’t come back," Mileto said. She thought to herself, "‘I can’t give up, and I know these kids are going to be"in shock.’"

"They helped me, and I helped them get through it, and that was hard. It’s a huge loss. Huge loss. But you try to remember what he stood for. He helped so many people in everything he did."

When Hill was asked how he wanted the bracelet proceeds to be to be spent, he said he wanted them to go to Albany Medical Center Hospital, Mileto said. The money was used to buy a blanket-warmer for the cancer center, which hadn’t had one. BKW students took a field trip to the hospital to see where the blanket-warmer was and would be used, Mileto said.

"The A factor"

"Anthony never fit into one particular category"He kind of made his own category, and he made friends with everybody. Everybody loved him," Mileto said. "That’s how I got to know the other kids in the school — through him.

"There are some great kids here. I think he opened my eyes to a lot of different people, whereas before I kind of just stuck with the special-ed. kids, and I didn’t know a lot of the other kids," she said.

Mileto said she started to interact more with other students, went to sporting events, and got more involved in students’ lives and activities because of Anthony Hill. "That’s living," she said. "He taught me a lot about living.

"I do believe in angels"I believe he’s in a better place, and I believe he is watching over us — everyone here, his family, and definitely his friends," she said.

"I have pictures of him in my classroom, just as a reminder, and I need that. It’s one of those things you have to be reminded of to live fearlessly," Mileto said. "I really try to get that across to my kids who don’t appreciate life all the time. We try to talk to them about not settling with a relationship — if they’re failing, to keep trying," she said.

Mileto has been teaching with her assistant, Marylyn West, for about five years, and she said she knows she would not have made it through without her. "She bonds with the kids as much as I do," Mileto said. "We’re very positive together. She’s a lot of fun."

Mileto started a scholarship fund with the awards given to students who plan to attend community colleges and vocational schools. Recipients of the awards, she said, have to have "the A factor."

"They have to have the Anthony factor," Mileto said, explaining that those who are awarded the scholarships have Hill’s qualites; they must be considerate, sincere, and always thinking of others.

Each year, Mileto organizes a spaghetti dinner to raise money for the scholarships, held on Senior Night. Last year, four students were given scholarships of $500. The extra money raised goes to hospice, she said. She made shirts with a picture of Hill and the saying, "Living fearlessly in your name." At the spaghetti dinners, members of Hill’s church, the First Baptist Church in Westerlo, as well as friends and family of students come out in support, she said.

"The community here is so much different than a larger city because everyone came together, and everybody knows everybody," she said.

Local eateries prepare for trans-fat ban

By Tyler Schuling

ALBANY COUNTY — Local restaurants are preparing to change how they cook since the county legislature voted to ban trans fat.

Trans fat is the common name for a type of unsaturated fat, developed for its long shelf life. According to the National Academy of Sciences, which advises the government for public policy, "trans fatty acids are not essential and provide no known benefit to human health." The NAS, in its 2005 report, says there is no safe level of trans fat consumption because any increase increases the risk of coronary heart disease.

"Food nutrition values should start at a young age," said legislative Majority Leader Frank Commisso.

Earlier this month, the legislature unanimously passed a resolution banning the fats from county restaurants. The plan will be incorporated in the Albany County Sanitary Code.

Commisso, who sponsored the proposal, said obesity in children leads to other problems. After educating himself about trans fats and their health implications, Commisso said, he then moved forward with a plan to remove them from local restaurants. Last December, New York City banned trans fat from its restaurants.

"I would hope that, within a year, we’ll have a fully executed plan," said Commisso. Some area restaurants have already taken steps in the right direction on their own, he said. By changing from oils and shortenings that contain trans fats to healthier oils, such as corn, canola, and soy, "One would not taste the difference," Commisso said. Some healthier oils are cheaper and others are more expensive, "depending on which way you go," he said.

Michelle Catalano, owner of The Highlands Restaurant in Knox, made the switch to non-trans fat oils around September of last year after reading an article about the ban in New York City restaurants. Catalano called the switch "an easy move," and said the change hasn’t affected the taste of her food or her customers’ satisfaction. It also doesn’t cost more, she said.

"The quality is great," she said, adding that soy bean oil has long been on store shelves but wasn’t marketed as a non-trans fat product.

"If there is a difference, I can’t notice it, and neither can my customers," Catalano said.

John Knight, night manager of Bountiful Bread in Stuyvesant Plaza, said his store won’t be affected much because it doesn’t use fryers. Knight suspected fast-food restaurants will be more affected by the new restrictions. Bountiful Bread will have to switch from margarine to butter, and Knight estimated that the price of a $2.49 muffin will increase by 10 to 15 cents.

Personally, Knight said, he thinks the ban could steer consumers away from Albany County, and they might seek out nearby eateries without a ban, in Troy or Rensselaer. Changing to non-trans fat oils doesn’t affect the taste of foods, but does change the texture of fried foods, he said. The ban will not affect the way Bountiful Bread orders ingredients because its supplier also sells butter, he said.

Potato-chip manufacturers are also removing trans fats from their products, and clearly labeling their packages, Commisso said. In 2002, Frito-Lay began to eliminate trans fat from Doritos, Tostitos, and Cheetos; the company then manufactured reduced-fat products.

"I don’t expect restaurants to list all the ingredients of a burger," Commisso said, adding that it would be too much of a burden for restaurant owners. Trans fats are most commonly found in the icing of baked foods and in cakes and cookies, he said.

"The consumer is becoming very educated about what’s in foods," Commisso said.

[Return to Home Page]