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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 28, 2007

In New Scotland
Dems and GOP faceoff with full slates

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – The race is heating up in New Scotland – Republicans and Democrats have announced their party’s candidates for the town’s November elections.

The current town board has three Democrats and two Republicans in a town where Democratic enrollment now dominates with well over a third of registered voters not enrolled in any party.

Former town justice Thomas Dolin announced last month that he would run for supervisor on the Democratic ticket, while Councilman Douglas LaGrange, a Republican, was considering a run, and Supervisor Ed Clark said he would not seek re-election.

LaGrange, an eighth-generation dairy farmer, told The Enterprise this week that he "is going to run for supervisor" on the Republican ticket. He wanted to be sure that he could "unequivocally do the job as a full-time job. That can be done," LaGrange said.

"New Scotland is at a crossroads with planning," said LaGrange, who sees it as a defining issue in the election as a tech park is being developed in the eastern part of town.

"I think residents of New Scotland are well-served by the fact that both parties run good, qualified people," said the town’s Democratic party chair, L. Michael Mackey this week. "It leads to exciting races, and is a benefit to the residents."

The New Scotland Democratic Team, as the candidates are calling themselves, is made up mostly of incumbents. Dolin, a lawyer, who is making his first run at town supervisor, will be joined by Brendan O’Shea, a lawyer, who is running for one of two town justice positions, as the only other new candidate. Two slots are open because Dolin resigned as judge in order to run for supervisor.

Town Democrats up for re-election include: Diane Deschenes for town clerk; Deborah Baron, a school secretary, and Richard Reilly, a lawyer, for town board; Darrell Duncan for highway superintendent; and David Wukitsch, a lawyer, for town justice. Wukitsch was appointed by the town board in May, in a vote split along party lines, after Dolin’s late March resignation.

These candidates make "probably the strongest ticket the Democrats have ever run," said Mackey.

LaGrange, a lifelong resident of New Scotland, believes that his slate – including planning-board member Charles Voss and businessman Gary Schultz for the two town board seats, and Penny Barone for town clerk – "is the best group of candidates for the town, not for the party, that I’ve ever seen."

Republican Margaret Adkins, a lawyer, will seek re-election for her town justice post, and John Keenan, a lawyer, will run on the Republican ticket for the other judge position, LaGrange said. "Their résumés speak for themselves," LaGrange said of Adkins and Keenan, referring to them as "extremely good candidates" for the justice positions. "I’m thrilled with both of them," he added.

According to the Albany County Board of Elections, 35 percent of registered voters in New Scotland are enrolled as Democrats, and 29 percent as Republicans. Less than 1 percent of registered voters are enrolled in one of the small parties – 257 residents are enrolled as Independents, 174 as Conservatives, 11 in the Working Families party, 21 in the Green Party, and 1 Libertarian. That leaves about 36 percent of the voters not enrolled in a party.

The Republicans

Before making his final decision to run for supervisor, LaGrange said that he wanted to be sure that his wife and family were strongly behind it. "They certainly are, without any reluctance at all," he said yesterday.

He also wanted "to put together a slate of candidates that would be about the town of New Scotland," LaGrange said. "I had to have candidates that were going to improve what we already have" I wanted to get a slate of candidates that were business people who could attack the budget from a business perspective rather than a political perspective."

Chuck Voss, LaGrange said, "is a town planner by vocation. He brings so much expertise to the town board and he’s invaluable."

Gary Schultz has run a couple of businesses in Voorheesville, LaGrange said. When he asked Schultz to run for a seat on the town board, Schultz replied, "It’s time for me to give back to the community."

Penny Barone, said LaGrange, has the résumé and the ability to be a good town clerk. "She’d be a good face for Town Hall," he added.

Barone was very receptive to LaGrange’s idea to make Town Hall "more accessible to the public" by having office hours one evening per week so that residents wouldn’t have to rearrange their work schedules to get there.

LaGrange said he is tired of politics and of politicians who play on the emotions of the residents. "I think we need to be more honest," he said.

Though he believes Dolin is a "really good person" and "a good town justice," LaGrange believes that he is not experienced enough for the job. Dolin’s experience, LaGrange said, "is a shallow experience."

LaGrange said that he has had "cumulative experience" with town issues with his four years on the planning board, his work with the Residents Planning Advisory Committee (RPAC), and his nearly two years on the town board. "That puts me so far ahead," he said.

"I don’t want to stagnate in that office," LaGrange said of the supervisor’s office, "while we get someone up to speed."

He likened Dolin’s run for supervisor to his hypothetical run for town justice. If that were the case, LaGrange would be basing his experience on "my watching Judge Judy every day," he said.

LaGrange’s decision to run was "cemented" recently at a party of an old high-school friend, he said. His friend’s mother said that she heard that he was running for supervisor, and he said he hadn’t decided yet.

She told him that she would vote for him. He said that she told him that she had never known him to not be honest.

"It just took me to the next level of assurance that I was doing the right thing," LaGrange said.

The Democrats

Because most of the Democratic candidates in the upcoming election are incumbents, Mackey said, it was "easier" to compile the Democratic slate.

"I don’t think there is anyone more qualified in the town than Tom Dolin" for supervisor, Mackey said. "Brendan O’Shea is an excellent judge candidate," he added of the other new candidate.

The major issues within the town, Mackey said, are really "the same as almost every other election year."

The town needs to implement a plan of "controlled growth to help alleviate the tax burdens" without changing the fundamental character of the town," Mackey said.

"I know that the feeling of the candidates is that the town does need some growth, particularly commercial growth," he said.

In Dolin’s mid-May announcement of his run for supervisor, he stressed the importance that the town enact "a policy of smart, controlled, responsible growth.

"We obviously have to try and attract some commercial enterprises" in an attempt to combat the school-tax burden, which many residents feel is "becoming unbearable," Dolin told The Enterprise earlier.

Before becoming a judge, Dolin practiced law for 29 years. "I did a lot of commercial lending and trusts and estates work," Dolin said earlier of his years as an attorney.

He was the managing partner of a 14-lawyer law firm with more than $3 million in gross revenues, he said earlier.

He was also the attorney for the town of Westerlo for seven years, and the attorney for the planning boards in both New Scotland and Voorheesville.

In his 20 years as a planning board attorney, Dolin said that he became familiar "with the issues that rural towns and villages face with development pressures and the competing demands of established residents and developers."

Getting services to town residents, particularly water services, is another major concern for the town of New Scotland, Mackey said.

All of the Democratic candidates, he said, "feel that working closely with the larger neighboring municipalities" such as Guilderland, Bethlehem, Albany, and also with the village of Voorheesville which lies within town boundaries, will be crucial to solving the "age-old" issue of municipal water.

"I just recognize that there are a lot of people who are suffering without adequate water," Dolin said earlier of town residents. The town needs to work at determining "how to distribute it at an affordable price," he said.

Dolin, Baron, and Reilly are all interested in adjustments to the zoning law to address serious needs in the town, Mackey said.

There is a real need in town for senior housing, he said. It is a tremendous benefit to the town not only for aging residents, he said, but also "in terms of the contribution to school taxes."

They’re also interested in zoning adjustments that would encourage clustering of developments to maintain some open space, Mackey said.

All of the candidates "are tremendously well qualified," Mackey said. "It’s the strongest slate we’ve ever fielded."

The incumbents have "strong, proven track records," he said, adding, "The newcomers will prove themselves, once elected."

Jimmy waits for a liver, His mother stays by his side

By Rachel Dutil

VOORHEESVILLE – Jimmy Pincheon is a happy, "do-anything-for-anybody kind of kid," says his mother, Stephanie Pincheon.

Jimmy,12, will be a seventh-grader at Voorheesville Middle School next year. He was diagnosed last month with chronic liver failure and is hospitalized at Mount Sinai in New York City while he awaits a liver transplant.

"It’s very nerve-wracking," Pincheon said. "It’s hard to watch your son deteriorate." A single mother, Pincheon feels pressure to return to her job but will not leave her son alone in the hospital.

"He’s really happy and positive," Pincheon said of Jimmy, who was asleep when she spoke to The Enterprise on Tuesday. "He loves to be outdoors," she added.

Jimmy plays trumpet in the middle-school band and enjoys golfing, his mother said.

Pincheon picked up Jimmy from school at the start of Memorial Day weekend, and, though he didn’t appear sick, she noticed that his eyes were a very dark yellow color, she remembered. "Kind of like contacts for Halloween," she said of how his eyes looked.

She took Jimmy, or Squeaky as he is more casually known, to Albany Medical Center, she said; she thought he needed some eye drops. He was diagnosed with liver failure, and, after a few days, was transported by ambulance to Mount Sinai, she said.

"Now from tip to toe he has a golden-brown color," Pincheon said. "Jaundice has taken over." She joked that she doesn’t dress him in yellow shirts because of his coloring.

Besides his color, Pincheon said, "You wouldn’t think he was ill."

The team of about 20 doctors which cares for Jimmy has been unable to identify what exactly caused his liver to fail, Pincheon said. Doctors tested for 53 common viruses in Jimmy that could lead to liver failure, and they all came back negative, Pincheon said.

The doctors do believe that it was caused by some kind of viral infection, she said. "It is not uncommon for them to never know what virus," she added.

Pincheon said that she has accepted the fact that Jimmy needs a new liver. "We keep a positive attitude," she said. "There’s no point in letting it overwhelm you" I keep a bright face for him."

Single mom

Pincheon has three sons. She and her ex-husband were divorced when Jimmy was still an infant, she said.

"We don’t really talk about him," she said of her ex-husband.

Justin, her oldest son, graduated from Clayton A. Bouton High School last year and joined the United States Marine Corps in September. He is currently stationed in Japan.

It is really hard for him being so far away, Pincheon said of her oldest son. "He is concerned" for his baby brother, and will take emergency leave to come home if he needs to, she said.

Justin joined the military at the same time as George Ward, another Voorheesville graduate. George’s mother, Darlene Ward, helped form the second chapter of the Capital Region Blue Star Mothers of America, made up of those whose children are serving in the military.

Ward asked Pincheon to join the group, just as her son talked Justin into joining the Marines, Ward told The Enterprise with a laugh.

The Blue Star Mothers group sent Jimmy a portable DVD player and a bunch of movies, Ward said. The doctors try to keep Jimmy as active as possible, she added. Ward has also set up a Jimmy Pincheon Benefit Fund at the First Niagara Bank in Voorheesville.

Rocky and Rochelle, the Pincheon family ferrets, have been staying at Ward’s house. Ward’s 8-year-old daughter, Lauren, said she plans to draw a picture for Jimmy and also wants to have her mom take a picture of her playing with Rocky and Rochelle to send to him.

"She is very close to her sons and they are very protective of her," Ward said of Pincheon’s relationship with her children. "Stephanie is unbelievably strong, I don’t know how she does it," Ward said.

"We feel he’s going to do just great with this," Pincheon said of Jimmy.

"Darlene Ward has been a godsend to me," Pincheon said. "She’s a great, great lady" She’s stepped right up as if we’ve been friends for years," she said of Ward, whom she hasn’t known all that long.

Pincheon’s middle son, Jason, just graduated from high school on Friday night. Pincheon drove back to Voorheesville for the ceremony, while her mother stayed with Jimmy in New York.

"We never leave him," Pincheon said. "He’s always with a family member."

Pincheon says that, as her children were growing up, she always took part in their activities. She helped coach baseball when her sons joined the baseball team and became president of the wrestling club when Justin and Jason starting wrestling, she said.

"Whatever the boys did, I was right behind them," she said. "It’s kept me young and motivated, so far."

Pincheon has taken a leave of absence from her job as a warehouse administrator for a local security-systems company, to be with her son. "Unfortunately, they’re not the most understanding people," she said of her employers, who want to know when she will be back at work.

The employer could not be reached for comment this week.

She said she tells them that when her son is better, she will be back at work.

"I wouldn’t ever think of leaving any of my sons alone in the hospital," Pincheon said.

"My boys mean the world to me" I wouldn’t trade them for anything," said Pincheon.

Jason and Justin are both "very concerned" about their brother, Pincheon said. "If it came down to live-tissue donation, they want to be here," she said.

Caring community

The walls of Jimmy’s room are covered with countless cards sent from family, friends, and members of the Voorheesville community, Pincheon said.

"The whole community has been overwhelmingly generous," she said.

Jimmy is a "nice, likeable kid," said middle-school guidance counselor Barbara Blumberg. "He’s a well-liked, well-thought of student," she added.

She said that every Friday the staff at the school can pay a dollar to "dress down." The school designated two of the dress-down Fridays to help Stephanie Pincheon with her daily expenses, Blumberg said.

Pincheon has no income while she is out of work, and, though her landlord has been understanding, Pincheon said she is "not quite sure how things are going to work out."

Her main concern, though, is Jimmy, and helping him to get better.

Every day, Pincheon and Jimmy read messages posted on a webpage at caringbridge.org, that is set up specifically for Jimmy. "There’s been an influx of prayers and thoughts" through the website, Pincheon said.

Jimmy "misses everyone so much," she said. "It’s a little hard on him," she said, adding that he still manages to keep up his positive attitude.

"I have a feeling he’s going to be just fine," Pincheon said optimistically.

The staff of doctors and nurses at Mount Sinai, she said, are caring and wonderful. "It’s like we have an extended family."

Pincheon said that she stays strong, in part, because of the incredible support from her parents, her sister, and brothers. "My family has been a backbone for me," she said.

"This is just a bump in the road, and we’re going to get over it," Pincheon said. "We’re going to take out the old batteries and put in some new ones, and be just fine."

Voorheesville rescue squad will look at charging patients

By Saranac Hale Spencer

VOORHEESVILLE — After some debate, the Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service has agreed to look into charging patients for service.

The village board, like the town of New Scotland board, requested that the ambulance squad consider a revenue recovery system because it might alleviate some of the tax burden on residents, Lawrence Pakenas said, yesterday.

At the ambulance squad’s May 22 meeting, members voted to look into a revenue recovery plan, an investigation that could take six to nine months to complete, he said. At that point, members will vote on whether or not the squad should proceed with charging patients, based on what the committee looking into it recommends, Pakenas said.

Other area ambulance squads that have a revenue-recovery systems charge a flat rate of about $300 or $400 per ride plus $10 to $20 per mile that the ambulance takes the patient, said Pakenas. "We don’t know where we’d put ourselves in that range," he said of how much the Voorheesville squad might charge.

"I know both the village and the town are anxious for us to make a final decision," he said, but the most important thing is the impact it will have on the ambulance squad members and the patients they serve.

"I know it’s a contentious issue. I know it’s an emotionally-charged issue," Mayor Robert Conway said of considering revenue recovery at April’s village board meeting. But, he added, "We have a responsibility to the taxpayers."

"The word is to stay tuned," Pakenas said when asked how likely it is that the squad will vote to go ahead with the revenue recovery plan. "We’re far from having a final decision."

Other business

In other business at its meeting on Tuesday, the board:

— Heard from Clerk Linda Pasquali that the village has a new website, www.villageofvoorheesville.com;

— Heard questions from two residents of the Scotch Pine development about specifics of the agreement between the village and the town of New Scotland regarding water for a development slated to go in at the Colonie Country Club near the decades-old Scotch Pine development.

The village signed a contract agreeing to sell water to the town to be used by the new development this week, Pasquali said. As requested by some Scotch Pine residents, the contract requires a 50-foot buffer zone between the new development and Scotch Pine, Mayor Conway said;

— Heard from Trustee David Cardona that the village’s summer programs in the park are progressing well and the music festival planned for July 14 at the high school is on track;

— Voted unanimously to appoint Trustee John Stevens to the county’s municipal services board. The Albany County Legislature has asked that each municipality send a representative to work on shared services;

— Voted unanimously to approve Mr. Ding-a-Ling’s vendor permit for the summer;

— Heard from Pasquali that 36 village residents brought electronic waste and 37 residents brought hazardous waste to the annual disposal program;

— Heard from Pasquali that the village will take control of the sewer line put in by Eric King on Route 85A;

— Heard from Pasquali that a resident is having trouble with his water meter. The meter was taken from his house and sent out for testing; the results are expected on Wednesday;

— Welcomed a new business to the village. La Pasticceria, located on South Main Street, is selling European pastries, coffee, and sandwiches;

— Heard from Conway that Richard Reilly, who sits on the New Scotland Town Board, will be the attorney to the village’s planning board when Kim Lawrence leaves that post; and

— Discussed the progress of the proposed skateboard park, which has slowed because of financial and legal concerns on the part of the community group that was spearheading the effort, according to Conway and Cardona.

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