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Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, January 3, 2008

Dems and Republicans raise hands in Knox

By Tyler Schuling

KNOX — On New Year’s Day, Knox’s newly-elected officials were sworn into office and the town board made its appointments at its annual re-organizational meeting.

All elected officials who took the oath of office on Tuesday are incumbents except Mary Ellen Nagengast, a Democrat who made her first run for the town board this fall.

Knox will continue to hold its monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall. In November, the town will hold its meeting on the first Wednesday following Election Day.

Officials voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize Gary Salisbury, the town’s highway superintendent, to spend up to $1,500 on equipment, material, and tools for the department without town-board approval.

Robert Whipple, who had served on the town’s board of assessment review, died last year. His term, due to expire in September of this year, is vacant.

Supervisor Michael Hammond said the town "will entertain filling that position at a later date."

The town’s elected and appointed officials and boards are as follows:

Town Board: Michael Hammond (Supervisor), Nicholas Viscio, Mary Ellen Nagengast, Dennis Decker, and Patricia Gage;

Deputy Supervisor: Nicholas Viscio;

Town Attorney: John Dorfman;

Town Historian: Frieda Saddlemire;

Emergency Preparedness Coordinator: Dennis Decker;

Animal Control Officer: John Norray;

Parks Superintendent: Louis Saddlemire;

Youth Director: Dennis Decker;

Highway Superintendent: Gary Salisbury;

Deputy Highway Superintendent: Loren Shafer, Jr.;

Transfer Station Attendants: David Quay, John Oliver, and Richard Dexter

Town Clerk: Kimberly Swain;

Deputy Town Clerks: Mary Alice Geel and Mary Ellen Nagengast;

Bookkeeper: Catherine Bates;

Town Justices: Linda Quay and Jean Gagnon;

Court Clerk: Deborah Liddle;

Court Officer: John McGivern;

Tax Collector: Delia Palombo;

Deputy Tax Collector: Lee Martin;

Registrar of Vital Statistics: Helen Quay;

Deputy Registrar of Vital Statistics: Deborah Liddle;

Assessor: Russell Pokorny;

Deputy Assessor: Edward Nicholson;

Building/Sanitary Inspector and Zoning Administrator: Robert Delaney;

Assistant Building Inspector: Daniel Sherman;

Zoning Board of Appeals: Earl Barcomb (chair), Kenneth Kirik, Robert Edwards, Amy Pokorny, Gail Burgess, Robert Simpson, and David Holley;

Planning Board: Robert Price (chair), Thomas Wolfe, Brett Pulliam, Michael Scott, Betty Ketchum, Daniel Driscoll, and Robert Gwinn;

Board of Assessment Review: Tim Frederick (chair), Howard Zimmer, Gerald Irwin, and Vall Pulliam;

Youth Committee: Dennis Decker (Ex-Officio), Charles Conklin, Grace Cunningham, Jean Gagnon, Jean Forti, Rich Matlock, Brett Pulliam, Laurie Picinich, Ed Schmidt, Sue Von Haugg, and Janet Viscio;

Conservation Advisory Council: Cheryl Frantzen (chair), Patricia Irwin, Rick Wilson, Hank Donnelly, and Stephanie Baron;

Official banks: KeyBank, the Bank of America, First Niagara, and the Bank of New York;

Official Newspaper: The Altamont Enterprise.

By Tyler Schuling

WESTERLO — Yesterday, officials elected in November — all Democrats — were sworn into office at the town’s annual reorganizational meeting.

Democrats ran unopposed in all of the town’s races on Election Day.

In 2008, John Nevins, the town’s highway superintendent, will be able to spend up to $10,000 for equipment, tools, and materials for the department without prior town-board approval. Nevins is also authorized to buy road oils at state contract prices and to spend up to $6.75 per yard on shale; he may not spend more than $20,000 this year.

Nevins may also enter into contracts for the department not to exceed $20,000.

Last night, the town board discussed interviewing candidates to fill a vacancy on the planning board. Kristen Slaver, who was appointed to the board when it was created in 2007, is now a town board member.

When using their own vehicles for government business, town employees will be reimbursed for their mileage, based on the current Internal Revenue Service rate. Currently, the rate is 50.5 cents per mile.

Town employees will earn 75 cents more per hour this year. Members of the planning board and zoning board of appeals will earn $2,500 in 2008; those who chair the boards will earn $4,500.

The town’s boards and elected and appointed positions for 2008 include:

Town Board: Richard Rapp (Supervisor), Ed Rash, R. Gregory Zeh, Robert Snyder, and Kristen Slaver;

Consultant to the town: Robert E. Fisher;

Town Clerk and Registrar of Vital Statistics: Gertrude A. Smith;

Deputy Registrar and Deputy Town Clerk: Kathleen Spinnato;

Zoning Administrator: Ed Lawson;

Superintendent of Highways: John Nevins;

Deputy Code Enforcement Officer: Bruce F. Bunzey;

Court Clerk: Steven King;

Deputy Supervisor: Edward A. Rash and R. Gregory Zeh;

Town Attorney: Aline D. Galgay;

Town Historian: Robert M. Duchow;

Dog-Control Officer: Jody Ostrander;

Assistant Dog Control Officer: William Scott III;

Zoning Board Clerk and Planning Board Clerk: Florence Derry;

Assessor’s Clerk: Claire Marshall;

Youth Council Coordinator: Mary Jane Snyder-Araldi;

Planning Board: Leonard Laub (chair), Gerald Boone, Clinton Milner, Jr., and Andrew Brick;

Board of Assessment Review: Dawn Belarge, Eugene Coogan, and Suzanne Rash;

Zoning Board of Appeals: Gail Snyder (chair), Ogden Saddlemire, Virginia Mangold, Gerald Woodruff, and Wilfred VanIderstine;

Depository of all town funds: The National Bank of Coxsackie; and

Official Town Newspapers: The Altamont Enterprise.

New Dems chase GOP’s ways

By Tyler Schuling

RENSSELAERVILLE — After Councilwoman Marie Dermody was sworn into office on New Year’s Day, power shifted to the Democrats.

Republicans had previously held a majority on the town board.

On Tuesday, the Democrats made many changes, appointed new officials, and created new positions. Often, the two Republicans — Supervisor Jost Nickelsberg and Robert Lansing — voted against the Democrats’ measures.

Throughout the meeting, Nickelsberg asked where monies for new positions would come from. Democrats said funds would be reassigned from the town’s budget and there would be no additional costs to the town’s taxpayers.

Rensselaerville now has a new lawyer, a new accountant, a new town comptroller, and a new planning-board chair.

The three Democrats on the town board — Dermody, two-year Councilwoman Sherri Pine, and eight-year Councilman Gary Chase — abolished the position of planning and zoning board secretary, previously held by Cathleen Bobrick. They then appointed resident Georgette Koenig to a temporary position for the planning and zoning boards.

"Have you talked with Cathleen Bobrick"" Nickelsberg asked. He later said, "We lost a very good person." Bobrick had been appointed by Nickelsberg and the Republicans at the start of 2006.

Since Nickelsberg took office in 2006, the law firm of Tabner, Ryan, and Kinery of Albany had provided legal counsel for the town. Democrats unsuccessfully voted against the measure in 2006 and 2007.

On Tuesday, Joseph Catalano was named the town’s attorney. He lives in Rensselaerville and had served in the post prior to 2006.

"We wanted to have someone who will not be doing business with people in the town," said Nickelsberg two years ago when the Republicans did not re-appoint Catalano.

Both Chase and Pine at that time and since favored keeping Catalano. "He lives in town and specializes in town law," Pine said two years ago.

Jon Kosich, who had been the town’s deputy attorney prior to 2006, was also re-instated Tuesday by the Democrats.

The Democrats also re-instated the post of clerk to the highway superintendent. Nickelsberg and the Republicans had abolished the post in 2006. It had been held by Joyce Chase, the wife of the highway superintendent, G. Jon Chase, and the mother of the councilman.

Tuesday, Joyce Chase was appointed to her old job. During his re-election campaign, Councilman Chase said, "I have no problem with nepotism. It’s what the town was founded on."

On Tuesday, Republican officials deliberated after the Democrats made a motion that was seconded to create a town comptroller. Brenda Wood, who was appointed to the position, will assume many of the financial responsibilities formerly held by the supervisor.

Nickelsberg and Lansing said the issue was not on the agenda. Nickelsberg said he didn’t want to vote on creating a comptroller post for the town as no counsel was present to advise the board.

Councilman Chase repeatedly said he had made a motion that had been seconded and that it must be put to a vote. Dermody consulted Municipal Law — reading guidelines about what can be discussed and voted on at reorganizational meetings, the function and responsibilities of a town comptroller, and the board’s authority of power.

She said the board needed to be consistent with what had already transpired in the meeting and cited the board’s creating the position of clerk to the highway superintendent, which was also not on the board’s template for making appointments.

Democrats passed a resolution for Highway Superintendent Chase to sit with the board at its meetings; Republicans voted against the measure. Chase had sat with the town board until Nickelsberg took office. Since, they have often been at odds about spending, hiring, and road maintenance; the highway superintendent did not attend most of the town’s meetings in 2007.

In this small rural town, nepotism has been a point of contention.

During the last two years, while Republicans held the majority, the board considered adopting a policy on nepotism and conflicts of interest. Before the New Year, the Republican majority considered a policy on nepotism and held a special meeting last week on the bill. As it now stands, anyone hired to a position who is not required to take a Civil Service examination is required to sign an affidavit. Nickelsberg told The Enterprise Tuesday that the town board tabled the bill and that amendments need to be made.

Many members of the Chase family work for the town.

On Tuesday, members of the Chase family were appointed to town positions. Bradley Chase was appointed to the board of assessment review to fill the unexpired portion of Dermody’s term, and Roger Gifford was appointed to the zoning board of appeals.

The town board will continue to meet on the second Thursday at 7 p.m. but will also meet on the Tuesday before its monthly meeting to create its agenda. On Election Day, as Councilman Chase and Dermody led in a four-way race for two town board seats, Chase and Pine said they did not know what the board will discuss until they arrive at meetings.


Dermody served in 2007 on a newsletter committee that gave guidelines for advertising, space, and editing in the town’s newsletter. She said Tuesday she would like to see if the town can secure grants for the newsletter.

Nancy Class, who has worked in the past on the town’s newsletter, was appointed to a paid position to oversee production of the newsletter, which, Dermody said, will be a maximum of 10 hours a month. Dermody said Class would not have to be at Town Hall to perform the job and called the position "kind of like outsourcing to someone who lives in the town."

Georgette Koenig was appointed to a non-salaried, volunteer post of assistant to the town newsletter coordinator. Dermody said Koenig will get newsletters ready for distribution.

"She’s been an advocate since day one," Councilwoman Pine said of Koenig, "for and against things we did in the town newsletter."

Routine business

The town board, as well as appointing members to various boards and town positions, set its meeting times, the rate of return for mileage for town employees, wages, and designated its official banks and newspaper.

Town employees will be reimbursed 50.5 cents for each mile driven.

The town board did not appoint a town engineer. Rensselaerville has used Lamont Engineers in the past.

The board voted unanimously for the Bank of Greene County and First Niagara Bank as the town’s depositories.

Before Jan. 1, the town’s official newspaper had been The Greenville Press. Councilwoman Dermody moved that The Altamont Enterprise be the official paper and encouraged The Enterprise to increase its circulation in the township.

The town reinstated its investment policy. Nickelsberg said the town has put money in various CDs and has doubled or significantly increased the town’s return.


The town’s boards and elected and appointed positions for 2008 include:

Town Board: Jost Nickelsberg (Supervisor), Robert Lansing, Sherri Pine, Gary Chase, and Marie Dermody;

Town Clerk: Kathy Hallenbeck;

Town Attorney: Joseph Catalano;

Deputy Town Attorney: Jon Kosich;

Town Veterinarian: Diane Biederman;

Town Comptroller: Brenda Wood;

Town Justices: Victor La Plante and Victoria Geldner;

Civil Defense Co-ordinators: Brian Wood and David Chase;

Civil Defense Officer: Gerald Wood;

Deputy Town Highway Superintendent: David Potter;

Water Treatment Officer: Tina Shaver;

Deputy Water Treatment Officers: Delwin Shaver and Garrett Platel;

Sewage Treatment Officer: Tina Shaver;

Deputy Sewage Treatment Officers: Delwin Shaver and Garrett Platel;

Rensselaerville Water/Sewer Committee: Timothy Miller, Jack Long, William McChesney, Douglas Story, Dale Dormer, and Richard Platel;

Constable: Richard Simmons;

Bookkeeper: Sarah Packard;

Accountant to the town: Brian Fitzgerald;

Deputy Supervisor: Richard Tollner;

Clerk 2 to Assessors: Rachel Chase;

Dog-control Officer: Cheryl Baitsholts;

Refuse/Recycling Officer: Jon Whitbeck;

Substitute Refuse/Recycling Officers: Arthur McCulloch and Ronald Bates;

Historian: Irene Olson;

Election Machine Custodians: Anthony Donato and Martin Lloyd;

Planning Board: Muriel Frasher (chair), Alfred Stettner, Dorothea Cotter, Ray Welsh, Randy Bates, Allyn Wright, and Richard Amedure;

Building Inspector/Zoning Enforcement Officer: Mark Overbaugh;

Zoning Board of Appeals: Alden Pierce (chair), James Glorioso, Walter Cook, Kenneth McCulloch, and Roger Gifford;

Registrar of Vital Statistics: Kathy Hallenbeck;

Court Clerks: Gail La Plante and Lynette Terrell;

Deputy Town Clerk/Collector/Registrar: Deidre Andrus;

Senior Employees: Gerald Winans and Ronald Bates;

Town Newsletter Coordinator: Nancy Class;

Records Inventory Clerk: Deidre Andrus;

Assistant to the Town Newsletter Coordinator: Georgette Koenig;

Senior Services Coordinators: Ann Vogel and Clara Potter;

Assistant Senior Services Coordinator: Arthur Pizzigati; and

Foremen to Town Building Maintenance: Chris Heath and Steve Pfleging.

By Tyler Schuling

WESTERLO — When she was in the 10th grade, Westerlo native Donna Gardiner became interested in Russia after she heard an evangelist speak at a summer camp about his experiences there.

Now, at 62, she lives in St. Petersburg working as a consultant for teams in Russia, which are translating the Bible into non-Slavic languages.

After graduating from college and teaching for five years at Christian schools in the Albany area, Gardiner began translating the Bible into other languages.

"It was a spiritual motivation" Gardiner said. "I’ve been, since a child, a Christian, and also memorized from the Bible, read it, was taught from it as a child, and patterned my life after it.

"I feel it’s important enough," she said. "That’s what motivated me to join this organization — in order to provide the same scripture, the same book, for other languages in the world who have not, up to this point, even had a piece of it."

Gardiner has worked for Wycliffe Bible Translators since 1972.

She is currently on a one-year furlough after having hip replacement surgery in Russia. She returned to Westerlo in May and plans to return to St. Petersburg in May of this coming year.

During the first of two phases of her career, Gardiner said, she worked near Albuquerque, New Mexico, with Pueblo Indians.

When she first joined Wycliffe, she said, Russia was "such a hard case," and her organization was not active there because it was illegal to translate the Bible in the Soviet Union. Gardiner then decided to focus her attention on American Indians, she said.

Translating the Bible For Native Americans

Gardiner recalled her experiences in New Mexico, where she worked as a translator from 1974 to 1996.

Pueblo Indians have "a secret, covered-up religion," said Gardiner, "and they keep their culture and their language out of the line of sight of foreigners."

As she and her work partner started learning their language and about their culture, she said, the pair was a threat to some of the people in that Pueblo Indian community.

"We experienced some opposition from some individuals. We were never kicked out, but sometimes we met people who made it known they didn’t like our being there and learning as much as we were about their language and culture," she said.

"But we had to know those things in order to do a good job of translating," she said. "We had to know the language."

Gardiner and her partner had to know "some pretty esoteric language" because of the level of communication in the scriptures, she said, and, to some, they were a threat because they approached the level of language used in their ceremonies.

"On the other hand," said Gardiner, "some members of the community were really impressed...Some of them would say now and again, ‘You speak this language better than my kids do,’ or ‘You speak this language better than I do,’ which was not true."

On a daily basis, Gardiner said, she and her partner fumbled around while speaking the Pueblo language, but, in their manuscripts, they were translating a higher level of language, and the Pueblo Indians thought they had commanded that level of language, too, and respected their knowledge of their language.

After she had gotten her feet on the ground as a translator, Gardiner said, she was trained as a consultant, which set the stage for her current work in Russia.

During the last eight years in New Mexico, Gardiner said, she traveled throughout North America — to Alaska, Florida, Eastern Canada, the Grand Canyon, and to "points in between" — functioning as a consultant to others working in Bible translation with Native Americans and Inuits.


"The Soviet Union is a huge area," said Gardiner. "Eleven time zones." Most of the population is concentrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Wycliffe’s employees out in the field are scattered throughout the area, she said. Every two years, members of the organization — about 170 people, including spouses and children — get together for a conference.

"You’d be surprised where technology has spread. Even out in Eastern Siberia, at least in the population centers, people have computers, they have satellite dishes, they have cell phones," Gardiner said.

"Communication is a big question," she said, "a big concern for us, with all those people scattered across the continent."

Security is monitored from Wycliffe’s St. Petersburg office. If someone gets into a situation — a natural or weather-related disaster, a political uprising, or a famine — the office in St. Petersburg needs to know about it to help and advise them, said Gardiner. All of Wycliffe’s teams are required to be in contact via Internet, cell phone, or satellite, she said.

Fortunately, Gardiner said, no one has been in a natural disaster, such as an earthquake.

"But we have had people and still do have people who are located where there might be kidnappings, there might be acts of terrorism, and so, therefore, both we and they have to keep an eye on the tone," she said.

Wycliffe has had to pull its members from the field and say, "It’s time for you to get out of there. Pack your stuff and your family and come to St. Petersburg or go to Moscow," Gardiner said.

There are also people working in Central Asian countries, said Gardiner. The attitudes of politicians may change, and they may stop issuing visas or tell translators they have to be out of the country by a certain time.

Members of a team working on a translation project may be scattered throughout the world. One team has members in Seattle, Prague, and Turkey, who communicate by Internet, said Gardiner. When they need to see each other to critique a manuscript, they will meet for a few weeks and then return to their homes.

"It’s more ideal for the whole team to be in the place where the language is spoken, among the people for whom this translation is being done," said Gardiner.

"It throws a real monkey wrench into the situation not to be able to live there. And therefore, extra steps have to be added into the preparation process to make sure that your translation is understandable and acceptable in that community," she said.

"This is stuff that you would find out more readily if you were living there, but, if you’re not living there, you have to find people who can go back there," Gardiner said, "without making waves."

People in a team may represent different dialects and disagree about how to express ideas and pronunciation, Gardiner said.
"You have to agree as a team that you’re going to make this translation in the most prestigious dialect of a cluster," said Gardiner. The most prestigious language, she said, may be one that dates back farthest. It could also be the language of a trade center, the language of the most people, or the language of a religious leader or prophet.

Translation into the most prestigious dialect may be read by many who speak other dialects because it’s similar to their manner of speaking, said Gardiner. But, if the Bible has been translated into a distant dialect or there are disagreements between speakers of two dialects, she said, certain people will not use the translation and want to have their own.

"Sometimes it’s social pressures that make us decide whether to do one translation or two, whether to do it this way or that way," she said.

Home to Westerlo

Gardiner grew up in Westerlo on a dairy farm and attended the First Baptist Church of Westerlo. Her parents are no longer living, but all of her siblings are alive. Her brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and grand-nieces and grand-nephews are living in Westerlo. Her aunts and uncles are not far away.

"It doesn’t seem to change that much," she said of Westerlo. "It still feels the same, but, the more driving and walking I do around the country roads, I look back into the woods, and the woods are full of houses that weren’t there when I was a child.

"When I come home to Westerlo, I’m at home," said Gardiner. "I know these people. I know this place."

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