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Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, January 10, 2008

Berne Town Board makes appointments for the new year

By Tyler Schuling

BERNE — At its annual reorganizational meeting last night, the Berne Town Board made its appointments for 2008.

Officials elected to office in November — Assessors Brian Crawford and Carol Crounse and Councilmen James Hamilton and Peter Vance — took the oath of office on New Year’s Eve.

The town board will continue to meet on the second Wednesday of each month at 8 p.m. and on the fourth Wednesday as needed.

Officials authorized Ray Storm, the town’s highway superintendent to spend up to $2,500 in 2008 without the town board’s prior approval. In 2005, the town board upped the sum because not making repairs, which routinely come in above $1,000, can slow down the department.

The town renewed its agreement to fund the free library, currently located at Town Hall.

Berne will pay $56,000 for Advanced Life Support, a county-wide program supported by individual municipalities for a staffed fly car with paramedics to supplement services provided by local ambulance squads. In 2008, the town will pay Helderberg Ambulance $48,000 and Middleburgh Emergency Volunteer Ambulance Corps $1,500.

The town currently has a vacancy on its conservation board. Harold Lendrum, a longtime farmer who served on the board, died in November.

The town’s officials, appointments and boards for 2008 include:

Town Board: Kevin Crosier (Supervisor), Joseph Golden, Peter Vance, Wayne Emory, and James Hamilton;

Deputy Supervisor: Joseph Golden;

Director of Emergency Management: Kevin Crosier;

Town Clerk, Marriage Officer, Registrar, and Deputy Tax Collector: Patricia Favreau;

Town Attorney: William J. Conboy II;

Receiver of Taxes: Gerald O’Malley;

Town Justices: Kenneth Bunzey and Richard Guilz;

Building Administrator and Code Enforcement Officer: Peter Schaming;

Zoning Administrator and Code Enforcement Officer: Paul Jeffers;

Dog Control Officer: Cheryl Baitsholts;

Chairman of Assessors: Brian Crawford;

Deputy Town Clerk: Anita Clayton;

Deputy Highway Superintendent: Kenneth Weaver;

Bookkeeper: Andrea Cornwell;

Court Clerk and Highway Department Clerk: Patricia Boice;

Town Historian: Ralph Miller;

Assistant Historian: Erin Bradt;

Constable: Willard Schanz;

Youth Recreation Director: Pam Porter;

Assistant Youth Director: Melissa Worden;

Planning Board: Gerard Chartier (chair), Alan Rockmore, Tim Lippert, Katherine Hill-Brown, and Michael Vincent;

Zoning Board of Appeals: James Fallon (chair), John Carsten, Terry Adams, Werner Knopp, and Killeen Cirella;

Assessment Review Board: Charles Turner (chair), George Christian, Marie Flagler, David Smith, and Emily Wright;

Conservation Board: Terry Schwendeman (chair), Kathy Moore, Patricia Rexinger, and Al Raymond;

Youth Council: Amy Tubbs (chair), Susan Larrabe, Jennifer Fuller, Alan Zuk, and Philip Place;

Library Trustees: Mary Alice Molgard, Joan Mullen, Helen Lounsbury, Marsha Descartes, Carolyn Anderson, Marion Burkhardt, Mary Kinnard, and Alberta Wright (emeritus);

Official Bank: Citizens Bank; and

Official Newspaper: The Altamont Enterprise.

By Tyler Schuling

KNOX — After discussing proposed sites for a cellular tower in the town, officials are asking for residents’ input and will hold an informational public meeting later this month.

In December and again on Tuesday, the town board discussed two potential sites for a cellular tower. One is near the town park in the hamlet and the other is adjacent to the town’s transfer station along Street Road. Both are owned by the town.

Concerned about the safety and welfare of residents, officials have continually cited instances where someone would need cellular phone reception. Officials have also said income could be generated from a cellular tower.

The town board will hold a special meeting on Jan. 22 at Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.

Last year, members of the planning board created a law regulating the placement of the towers in the town.

Earlier, six of the seven planning-board members voted against placing a tower on the Street Road property. On Tuesday, Robert Price, the chairman of the planning board, said the vote was not on a formal resolution. The land, a 5.4-acre parcel that was donated to the town years ago, is located in a land conservation district and near the Winn Preserve, one of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s preserves in the town.

Price spoke in favor of the property on Street Road. He said the site is at an elevation 60 feet higher than the property at the town park and a tower would be "relatively hidden." If a tower were erected at the town park, it would be "grossly visible," Price said. The Street Road property is located in the center of the town, he said. He urged the town to hold multiple public hearings and to act fairly quickly as cellular tower companies have shown interest in erecting a tower. Vendors who have shown interest will be invited to the Jan. 22 meeting.

The board discussed changing the zoning ordinance for the property at Street Road to comply with a cellular tower. Councilwoman Patricia Gage said she didn’t want to set a precedent and that she was concerned about going against the planning board’s suggestion.

"Hands down, it will be less visible over there," said Councilman Nicholas Viscio.

"Visibility is always the thing that people complain about," Price said. He cited the town of New Scotland, which recently agreed to erect a cellular tower at a cemetery near a historic church in the town, despite protest from some residents.

To show the public what a tower will look like once erected, the town board authorized $600 for Price to obtain digital photographs of the proposed sites with computer-generated graphics of towers superimposed on the vistas.

Price said a tower would probably be 195 feet tall, which would not require a flashing red light, and the only time it would generate noise is during construction and when power is shut off and a generator would be turned on.

A 165-foot-tall meteorological tower is currently located on Middle Road in Knox, which is part of the Helderberg Wind Project.

Councilman Viscio said he drove up and down the road, looking for the tower and passed it twice without seeing it. "And it’s in a wide-open area," Viscio said. "I have a hard time even seeing that thing."

Officials speculated about other locations and alternatives. Price said the town also owns property across the road from the Street Road property. The elevation of the land, he said, is about 50 feet lower than across the street. County Legislator Alexander "Sandy" Gordon said he favors reusing resources and recommended using silos already located in the town. Gordon estimated some silos in the town to be 80 feet tall.

Supervisor Michael Hammond cited cellular towers in Middleburgh and Richmondville that look like a tall flagpoles. He said he met with the mayor of Middleburgh, who praised the tower, and Richmondville is "enjoying multiple incomes on that tower, too."

Price estimated a Knox tower would bring in about $24,000 to $28,000 annually.

Other business

In other business, the town board:

— Heard from Hammond, "We’re having vandalism in the town park again." Hammond said Louis Saddlemire, the town’s parks supervisor, knows who vandalized the property and has spoken with them;

— Authorized Gary Salisbury, the town’s highway superintendent, to erect a flag pole at the town’s highway garage;

— Renewed its contract with the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society in Menands for cats and dogs. Jack Norray, the town’s animal-control officer, reported to the board. He said he knows who owns many of the dogs in the town. In 2007, he said, he had three dogs and lots of cats. He had snakes in a house, goats were killed, and someone was bitten by a monkey, he said. He drove 2,322 miles, he said, and he’s trying to do a lot of his work by phone so he doesn’t have to drive.

"Thanks a lot for keeping me on another year," said Norray;

— Heard from Hammond that Susan Lombardi, who was hired as the town’s grant writer to aid in the town-hall renovation project, will be submitting information on the project to the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development. Councilwoman Gage presented the board with information about grants being offered by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority;

— Heard from Councilman Dennis Decker, the town’s youth director, that Winterfest, an annual event in Knox, will be celebrated on Jan. 26 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. If there is no snow, the event will be held on Feb. 2. Winterfest will have a chili contest and bonfire. Hot dogs, coffee, and hot chocolate will be available and participants can sled and snowshoe. The town board authorized $200 for food and refreshments for the event;

— Appointed residents Travis Stevens and Earl Barcomb Jr. to the Conservation Advisory Council;

— Heard from Hammond that he hasn’t been formally notified or seen a check from the state about the town’s receiving a state grant for recycling equipment. The town applied for a grant with the Department of Environmental Conservation when purchasing a transfer-station truck that cost over $100,000.

"That was a good effort on your part," Hammond said to Salisbury.

At the end of 2007, the state announced that Knox will receive $30,386 for recycling equipment through the state Environmental Protection Fund. Recycling programs throughout the state will receive $26 million to be divided among 92 municipalities and solid waste management authorities, according to state authorities;

— Was petitioned by residents of Thompson’s Lake Campground to name the entrance road for emergency services purposes. The town is required to notify the county of all private roads. The board voted unanimously to name the road Campground Road;

— Agreed to purchase a new backhoe for the highway department, pending a permissive referendum. In December, Salisbury was uncertain how long the quotes from S.C. Hansen in Latham would be valid, as the town’s backhoe will decrease in value as it is used and a new one could increase in cost due to emissions requirements. Salisbury said Tuesday that S.C. Hansen in Latham will keep the prices of $66,709.19 for a new backhoe and $36,000 as a trade-in for the town’s backhoe.

Salisbury called the trade-in "a fair price."

"I think it’s a real good deal," he said.

The town’s backhoe, purchased in 2003, has 1,322 hours and gets used a lot and it gets "used hard," Salisbury said.

He said the new machine will be bigger, will have air-conditioning, and will also dig to the side. Salisbury said the town should wait to buy an extended five-year warranty for $3,300. He cited instances when the town used the warranty on its current machine, such as when replacing two lift cylinders.

Hammond said the town currently has $44,254.74 in the account for highway equipment, that the town will not be in debt, and that the board will later be transferring $50,000 into the account. He said the town is trying to get away from having beat-up equipment and trying to buy equal to or better than the town currently has. When selling town equipment in the past, he said, the town has almost had to beg for someone to take it;

— Heard from Salisbury that he received a call from Albany County, stating residents are no longer allowed to take salt and sand from a municipality’s supply.

"That just happened this week," he said. "From what I see, people don’t abuse it";

— Discussed recycling. Salisbury said the town has not been able to find a vendor for its recycled glass.

"There is no place for it to go," he said. "It’s all going to the same landfill."

Knox has a separate bin for glass at its transfer station.

Salisbury said there is no market for recycled glass and that the town was hoping something would open up. He estimated the town collects 12 tons of glass each year. Councilwoman Gage recommended notifying the public through notices.

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