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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 22, 2008

Golden ousted, GTA-backed candidates win
GCSD voters pass $84M budget in landslide

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Voters here passed school and library budgets by a landslide on Tuesday and ousted an incumbent school board member.

In a five-way race for three seats on the Guilderland School Board, the three candidates backed by the teachers’ union — incumbents Catherine Barber and John Dornbush along with Judy Slack, a long-time teaching assistant — won handily.

Superintendent John McGuire called the hotly-contested race “a very healthy democratic process.”

Peter Golden, running for a second three-year term, came in last. “The results show what I’ve been trying to point out for three years,” he said. “This is a company town. The school district is the largest employer. By continuing to put union-backed candidates on the board, it’s one of the reasons budgets are so big and hard to control.”

School boards, he said, were “designed to be an honest broker.”

Christine Kenefick, a parent making her first run, as an independent, came in fourth. “It was an interesting and challenging race when the union came out and endorsed people...without interviewing everyone on an equal ground,” she said. “I knew it would be an uphill battle.”

The Guilderland Teachers’ Association has 750 members.

Responding to assertions that Golden had made during the campaign about school-district retirees and union-backed candidates packing the board, Dornbush said, “That’s how he would like people to think of it. The numbers show that many more people supported us.”

Asked for her analysis of the election results, Barber said, “I think the concept of conflict as a premise has been rejected.”

During his campaign, Golden had said, “Often the people who want the conflict to go away have an enormous agenda. You’re not performing your mandate if you’re not willing to confront people. If you pretend you’re an extension of the administration, you shouldn’t be on the board.”

 During a televised pre-election forum, the three candidates on hand besides Golden made pointed comments about conflict not being necessary for change and how board members shouldn’t be adversarial. Golden responded that a school board is not a court or a club but a legislative body.

Another contentious election issue this year centered on the candidates’ right to hand out election flyers on school grounds, a longstanding practice in the district that was halted last year. Dornbush and Barber, members of the board’s policy committee, were against allowing the practice, since it would open the door for other sorts of politicking on school grounds. Golden and Kenefick were for it.

Asked for his view on the election results, school board President Richard Weisz replied, “Who knows what motivates the voters?”


The $84 million budget passed with 65.5 percent of the vote. Altogether, 3,154 people voted in a district that has over 30,000 residents.

“We’re always gratified when the community supports our schools,” said Weisz.

Guilderland’s “yes” vote was part of a statewide trend. Over 92 percent of school-district budgets passed on Tuesday, according to an analysis by the New York State School Boards Association. As of Wednesday afternoon, NYSSBA said, voters passed 625 school-district budgets and defeated 51; final results had not been reported for Auburn.

Guilderland’s 2008-09 budget represents a 2-percent increase in spending over the current year and will bring an estimated 1.43-percent tax increase for Guilderland residents.

“The budget increase was less than inflation, protecting the taxpayer and the program,” said Weisz.

The budget passed by large margins at all five elementary-school polling places.

Moments after the unofficial results were announced, McGuire told The Enterprise, “I am thrilled that we have a continuation of the tremendous support of the community.”

Voters passed a $790,000 bus and equipment proposition by an even larger margin, with 67.2 percent voting yes. This will pay for 10 new buses with about half of the purchase price being returned to the district from the state.

Board race

The results reported here are unofficial; they were announced Tuesday night by Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders, based on tallies from each of the five polling places.

Catherine Barber received 23.3 percent of the vote, garnering 1,905 in all for her first-place win.

She came in first at Lynnwood, Pine Bush, and Westmere; second at Guilderland; and third at Altamont.

Barber was also the top vote-getter three years ago when she made her first run for the school board.

“I’m just very pleased to have the support of the community for a second time,” Barber said on Tuesday night. “I hope to continue to keep the best interest of children and the community and maintain our excellence at a reasonable cost.”

A lawyer and a musician, Barber said, as a mother, she likes being involved in the schools and considers education to be of “the utmost importance.”

“Board members need common sense...” she said during the campaign. “I don’t think we need a premise of suspicion and conflict.”

Barber said a positive attitude is needed “to come to good decisions in the best interest of the school and community.”

Judy Slack got 21.7 percent of the vote, receiving 1,774 to come in second.

She came in second at Altamont and Lynnwood, third at Guilderland and Pine Bush, and fourth at Westmere.

“I’m very pleased,” Slack said on Tuesday night. “I think a lot of people came out and they liked what we had to say. We had the same philosophy and seemed to agree with the district.”

Slack, who began her career as a high-school English teacher, is retiring in June after working for 24 years as a teaching assistant at Lynnwood Elementary School. She has three grown children who had varying educational needs, all of which were met at Guilderland, she said.

During the campaign, Slack said of her reason for running, “It’s the kids. I want things to be OK for our kids. I’m not sure they’re at the top of everybody’s list.”

She also said she had been distressed with divisiveness on the board. “A board needs to work together,” Slack said, and to work with teachers and administrators. “We need to work as a group,” she said.

John Dornbush got 21.6 percent of the vote, garnering 1,767 to come in third.

He was first in Altamont, second at Pine Bush, third at Lynnwood and Westmere, and fourth at Guilderland.

“It’s gratifying to think we have the support of the community,” said Dornbush on election night, “but it’s humbling. It’s a big responsibility to work on the board. Ultimately, the children and the community are going to benefit.”

Dornbush has been on the board since 1999 and currently serves as vice president. He works as assistant director of financial aid at the University at Albany and has two grown sons.

He said about serving on the board, “We’re all in this together and we’ve been successful in the past and will be more successful in the future if we all treat each other with respect, truly listening to each other, and coming to sound decisions.”

He also said during the campaign, “I don’t believe conflict is necessary in order for change to take place.”

Christine Kenefick garnered 16.8 percent of the vote to come in fourth.

She was second at Westmere, fourth at Altamont and Pine Bush, and fifth at Guilderland and Lynnwood.

“I have a lot of people who came out and supported me,” Kenefick said on Tuesday night. “So many people thanked me for running, so that was humbling.”

She went on about the winning slate, “I have nothing but high regard for John and Cathy and Judy so I’m very happy for them. The district is in good hands.”

A lawyer who works as a confidential law clerk for an Appellate Division judge, Kenefick is the mother of two Westmere Elementary students.

During her campaign, she stressed the fact that, if elected, she would be the only parent of elementary-aged children on the board. “I think that voice needs to be heard on the board,” she said during her campaign.

Kenefick described her campaign as “grassroots,” with her fourth-grade daughter serving as her campaign manager and her 6-year-old son as her public-relations person.

Asked if she would run again, Kenefick at first hesitated to answer. Later, she replied, “I’ll have to confer with my campaign manager and my PR person. Fifth-grade is a challenging year,” she said with a smile.

Peter Golden got 16.7 percent of the vote, garnering 1,368 votes to finish last.

He came in first at Guilderland; fourth at Lynnwood; and fifth at Altamont, Pine Bush, and Westmere.

An author and the father of a high-school student, Golden was running for a second term.  He was an independent voice on the board and frequently outspoken. He was largely responsible for the district re-examining its health-care benefits to ultimately realize savings.

“I don’t think it’s a personal comment,” Golden said on Tuesday night of his defeat. “It’s straight self-interest.”

He went on about the increasing cost of school budgets statewide and said, “The legislature isn’t going to save communities...If people are angry at school taxes, they should be angry at school boards.”

Golden also said, “I’m disappointed but I feel good about making a point...[about] putting retirees and union-backed candidates on the board.”

He concluded, “In the end, it was worthwhile. I’ll continue to be involved with the issues.”



The Guilderland Public Library’s $3 million budget passed with 65 percent of the vote, 2,019 to 1,084.

The spending plan is up from $2.8 million this year and will bring an estimated tax increase of 6.67 percent, or five cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Two incumbent trustees were on the ballot to fill three seats on the 11-member board. John Daly received 1,904 votes and Vishnu Chaturvedi received 1,747 votes.

Daly, who is retired from a career with the state, described himself as having a “middle-of-the-road view.”

In a pre-election interview, he advocated having the library limit access to R-rated movies, CDs, DVDs, and video games for children under the age of 17.

Chaturvedi, a scientist, said one of his goals is to have the library “try to expand as much as possible to high-speed computing, accessible to all demographic age groups,” and he’d like to expand the public-speaking series to include local academicians, “people who can relate science to the public.”

Michael Fox, who launched a write-in campaign, will fill the third seat. He received 39 votes.  Jean Cataldo, the town’s tax receiver, got two write-in votes and seven other people each got one write-in vote.

Fox, who works for the New York State Senate as counsel in program, said he wanted to serve on the board because he has “the time and expertise to help out.”

Town to cut jobs

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Four weeks ago, John Adamovich lost his job. 

Two weeks ago, Supervisor Kenneth Runion said that the position was cut to save money in tough economic times. 

Last week, the town sent a memo to that effect, listing other positions that had been changed or eliminated.

Departments within the town have until June to submit cost-cutting measures to his office, Runion said yesterday.  He’d like to reduce spending by several hundred thousand dollars by the end of 2008, Runion said.  He thinks the goal can be reached largely because he has asked that a police officer’s position be eliminated, and that, taken with an additional officer’s post that was budgeted for but won’t be filled, is over $100,000 in salaries.

When Adamovich addressed the town board after he had been told he wouldn’t be hired for the seasonal position at the town’s golf course he’s held for the last four years, Runion said, “We grant preference to town residents for new hires and re-hires.” 

The town bought the course several years ago amid controversy for $6.6 million.  Adamovich, who began working at the 235-acre golf course a year before the town purchased it, lives in Gallupville.

“Well, there are two new members on the board and the board decided on this new policy,” Adamovich recalled Stacia Brigadier telling him when he called the town’s human resources department for an explanation as to why he wouldn’t get his job mowing the golf course this season.  “She made a point of saying two new board members,” he reiterated during an interview recently.  (Two Republicans were elected to the formerly all-Democratic town board and took office Jan. 1)

“That’s absolutely not true,” Brigadier said when asked about the exchange.  “It wasn’t a new policy,” she said of the 2004 resolution stating the town’s preference for hiring residents to fill municipal positions.

The resolution was prompted by the county’s Civil Service department, Runion said yesterday. The town usually requests a list of eligible candidates for a job opening, he said, and Civil Service provides a list of town residents as well as a countywide list.  The department asked for a statement from the town regarding its policy on hiring, so, he said, the board decided it would prefer hiring Guilderland residents, but wouldn’t have a residency requirement.

“The paramedics were the big example,” Runion said yesterday, explaining that some positions are difficult to fill and it wouldn’t benefit the town to restrict the hiring pool.

Asked why the policy had come up now, Runion said, “I’ve got to be proactive.”  With a downturn in the economy, things will be tight, he said, but added that the policy has always been there.

“I had been a good seasonal employee,” Adamovich told the board.  “I’m a little perplexed.”

“We didn’t do this, sir,” councilman Warren Redlich, one of the two new board members told him.  “This appears to be a decision by the supervisor.”

When Redlich then asked Runion whose decision it had been, he answered, “I’ll take responsibility for it.”  He later attributed his authority to make such decisions to the ability granted to him at the Jan. 1 organizational meeting to make provisional appointments.

Yesterday, however, he said that his authority in that capacity was due to Section 52 of the state’s Town Law, which grants the supervisor the ability to transfer employees among town departments and to re-organize departments.  He has moved a permanent employee from the parks department, of which the golf course is a part, to the mowing position that Adamovich had held for the summer, he said.

“Doing a golf course isn’t like doing any old park,” Adamovich said.  “Everything has got to look picture perfect.”

Several other local municipalities are either making cuts or raising the price of services, Runion said, referring to the faltering economy.  If one part of the budget gets out of line, he said, “It’s almost like a domino effect.”  And, ultimately, he said, it’s his responsibility.

“Somebody’s playing games,” Adamovich said of the situation, “and it’s not John,” he added of the golf course superintendent, John Sanchirico.

Town to take bids on $7M west-end water project 

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Once dry, the town’s rural west end is closer to having municipal water service.

In a unanimous vote at Tuesday night’s meeting, the town board authorized its department of water and wastewater management to accept bids for the $7 million project.  The plan will provide water to 189 parcels in the rural section of town, about 75 to 80 percent of which are occupied, Ed Hernandez of Delaware Engineering guessed.

His firm put together a report, detailing the project, in December of 2006.  In addition to providing water to more Guilderland residents, the project will improve water quality system-wide, Hernandez said.  Since it will soon be fed from two directions, he explained, the water system will run on a loop, which will eliminate most of the standing water problems that the town has had in the past.  Water standing on dead-end lines can develop trihalomethane, a byproduct of chemicals used to clean drinking water.

Town residents outside of the new water district will see an increase of $9.81 per year as a result of the project, Hernandez said.  Those who are in the district will pay $575 a year plus an initial hook-up fee of $750 if they want to be connected to the system.

“Anything you do in Guilderland, your taxes go up,” Jack Fitzgibbon of Church Road told the board at a public hearing on the issue about a year ago.  “You can run your lines, just don’t charge me.”

Most residents at the hearing, who largely live in the water-strapped section of town, were in favor of the project.

Since development often follows municipal water, the town waited until it had a comprehensive land-use plan in place.

“Thank you; we’ve been waiting for this for 26 years,” said Lauren Beckman of Weaver Road at the hearing.  “We don’t even give our water to our pets right now…It sounds like we are very fortunate we are spreading the cost around to existing customers instead of just the affected metered customers bearing all of the cost.”

Other business

In other business at its May 20 meeting, the board:

—        Unanimously favored Susan Thomas’s request to rezone a parcel of land at 4770 Western Ave. from Industrial to RA-3, so that she and her husband can build a house on the land that borders the reservoir;

—        Voted unanimously to sell a standby generator that had been in the Nott Road sewage treatment plant.  The town had planned on selling the equipment to the village of Fishkill for $15,000, but the village no longer needs it;

—        Voted unanimously to appoint Susan Wheeler Weeks, Diane Meeusen, Martha W. Whitney, and the Rev. Allen Jager as volunteers to the Guilderland Center Hamlet Study Committee;

—        Heard a presentation from Donald Fletcher of Barton and Loguidice on a storm-water management report.  Discussion on the board soon turned to flooding issues in McKownville and it decided to have the supervisor ask William West, superintendent of water and wastewater management, and Todd Gifford, highway superintendent, to look into what concerns residents in that area have and what might be done to address those concerns;

—        Voted unanimously to support the Altamont Free Library in grant applications; and

—        Went into executive session to discuss litigation.

Principals get 3.75% raise for each of three years
Twelve GCSD employees honored, applauded

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — For the 31st year, the school board here honored some of its most outstanding workers, nominated by their colleagues and selected by a committee of their peers.

Twelve employees were honored last Tuesday night, half of them teachers.

The assistant superintendent for human resources, Susan Tangorre, quoted from Helen Keller as she addressed the meeting hall filled with proud friends and family members of the award recipients.

The best and most beautiful things in the world aren’t to be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart,” she quoted, adding, “Thanks for touching us.”

The crowd rose to its feet and applauded.

The dynamic dozen are:

— Donna Amato, a first-grade teacher at Guilderland Elementary School for 15 years, lauded for her “unwavering patience and enthusiasm”;

— Wayne Bertrand, the district’s athletic director, praised for his passion to help others succeed;

— Sheila Elario, districtwide art supervisor, who was commended for “maintaining the high standards of the Guilderland art program”;

— Jennifer Graffeo, a keyboard specialist at Westmere Elementary School, who has worked as a library clerk and nurse’s office aid and who helped this year to carry on the library program after the death of the school’s beloved librarian Micki Nevett;

—  Jeff Gregory, computer technician at Guilderland High School for nine years, who was praised for his guidance and expertise, delivered “in a friendly and cooperative manner”;

— Audrey Jurcznski, a teacher at Pine Bush Elementary School,  who was lauded as “a model teacher and learner”;

— Linda Livingston, a secretary in the district office, praised for her “outstanding work ethic, skills, and calm demeanor”;

— Catherine Pickett, a teacher at Pine Bush Elementary School, about whom it was said, “Through warmth, caring, and humor, she builds a strong rapport with each and every child in her classroom and uses these connections to advocate for her students and to help them succeed”;

— JoAnn Pommer, teaching assistant at Altamont Elementary School for eight years, who works with special-needs students; her principal said she has “a heart as big as the school for the children”;

— Emily Spooner-Smith, a teacher at Guilderland Elementary School, whom, it was said, daily “personifies respect, personal responsibility, teamwork, and concern for others”;

— Christine vanAlstyne, a language-arts teacher at Westmere Elementary School, praised for her “compassion and leadership” and for her kindness, unwavering support, and great sense of humor; and

— Jocelyn Zimmerman, a teacher at Lynnwood Elementary School for over 15 years, who was lauded for her “boundless talent, creativity, dedication, and compassion.”

Other business

In other business at recent meetings, the school board:

— Unanimously approved a three-year contract with the seven school principals and the special-education administrator; each of them works a 12-month year. The contract runs through the 2010-11 school year with a 3.75-percent increase for each year.

Currently, the principals’ salaries range from $95,000 to $120,000.

The contract, which was ratified unanimously by both the school board and the principals, keeps the salaries “in the middle” of the Suburban Council, according to Tangorre.

The only other change in the contract, Tangorre said, is the number of years until a principal is eligible for health insurance at retirement was reduced from 10 to eight.

“The reality is sometimes, you want a principal who’s a veteran with experience,” and this will help attract them, said Tangorre;

— Authorized CSArch to develop cost estimates for potential construction work at Farnsworth Middle School at a cost not to exceed $2,000;

— Heard from Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Nancy Andress that sixth-grader Zubin Mukerjee and his brother, junior Zagreb Mukerjee, both won second place in the state History Day competition. Zubin wrote a paper on J. Robert Oppenheimer and Zagreb wrote a paper on the conflict and compromises surrounding the division of Pakistan. Both of them will compete on the national level in June.

Other Farnsworth Middle School students who competed at the state level, all guided by advisor Deb Escobar, were eighth-grader Samina Hydery, who presented a documentary on Wounded Knee 1973; sixth-graders Michelle Kange and Michelle Saucedo-Arenas who produced a documentary on Cesar Chavez, and Lian Henderson who presented a website on the wolves of Yellowstone Park;

— Learned that eight juniors — Casey Doak, Alex Metzger, Zagreb Mukerjee, Erich Reimer, Elizabeth Simon, Jeremy Simon, Galen Stevens, and Yipu Wang — met the requirements to enter the 2009 National Merit Scholarship Program;

— Heard a suggestion from board member Colleen O’Connell to get a “real jump on next year’s budget” and consider adopting a point-of-service system where students use debit-like cards to purchase lunches and pay for items like yearbooks and field trips; and

— Met in executive session for a negotiation update.

Forgotten deed restriction may lead applicant to court

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — A restricted subdivision proposal by a town official’s relative, but opposed by another town official, may be headed to court instead of the planning board.

The applicant, himself, notified the planning department that the requested subdivision was restricted. The planning board denied the request because of the deed restriction.

Daniel Cleary and his wife, Maria, applied to subdivide two acres on Veeder Road into two lots. Cleary is the brother of planning board member Michael Cleary, who recused himself from the discussion.

Daniel and Maria Cleary purchased the property from her father, Joseph Giuffre, who subdivided the property in 1987 when further subdivisions were restricted. The Clearys proposed to the planning board last week creataing a keyhole lot on the property that has public water but not public sewer access.

Planning Board Attorney Linda Clark, who is the Clearys’ neighbor, recused herself from the board and sat with her husband.

“We oppose the application that’s before you,” Clark said. She said that the minutes of the planning board meeting from Dec. 9, 1987 described the deed restrictions that were placed on Giuffre’s property.

“There’s nothing vague or hidden about this deed restriction,” Clark said.

Cleary said that no restriction was noted on online or in-person records, and that his attorney could not find a restriction on the title. The only note about the subdivision restriction was found on a subdivision map, he said.

“We couldn’t find it, either,” said attorney Bob Feller, who acted as planning board attorney. “Is [the map] adequate to put buyers on notice?”

He said that the issue before the board was not whether or not a deed restriction exists, but if the buyers had proper notice.

  “You’ve got a problem with your title, you go get a declaratory judgment,” Clark said. “The subdivider had an obligation to file, had an incentive not to file it. I’m here because I have to be. Her father told her there was a restriction. I will say that in a court of law.”

Maria Cleary, who sat in the audience, denied that she and her husband knew of the restriction before they bought the property, and left before the board gave a decision.

“She’s bullying us,” Cleary told The Enterprise, saying that Clark calls them at home.

Clark said that the board had neither the resources nor the burden to deal with the request.

“This board has to deal with it. Everybody has the right to come in and apply,” said planning board Chairman Stephen Feeney.

Feller agreed with Clark.

“The actual notice issue, because there is a dispute, is not something the board should take on. It effectively comes down to enforcing one of our own conditions. If a judge [says] it’s not enforceable, then so be it,” Feller said.

“I think the intent in 1987 is very clear,” said board member Paul Caputo. “The board did not want this property to be subdivided.”

Feller, however, noted that “there is nobody in the real property business who would find this restriction. I advise against enforcing a condition against an innocent purchaser.”

“If there was actual notice, nothing else matters,” Clark said. “It is the end of the road.”

The board voted unanimously to deny the request. Feller suggested that the board clearly state that the denial was because of the deed restriction, so that the Clearys can have a sufficient reason to go to court, if they so choose.

Board member Terry Coburn asked for and received clarification that, even if there had been no deed restriction, the planning board would have been free to deny the application.

“Veeder Road is no bigger than it was 20 years ago, and there’s a septic,” she said.

Other business

In other business, the planning board:

— Gave final approval to Woodsfield Estates on Lydius Street for a 46-lot clustered subdivision on 107 acres. Joe Bianchine of ABD Engineering said that two keyhole lots were created.

“We will be constructing a sidewalk to DeCaprio Park,” he said. The 82-acre green space will be donated to the town and managed by the Albany Pine Bush Commission, Bianchine said.

The board said that the deeds must note the nearby sportsmen club, and the occasional burn management used in the pine bush. Deeds must also suggest that purchasers use native plants in landscaping; and

— Approved Phil Roberts’s site plan to build a garage at his 1971 Western Ave. property that is zoned for light business. Currently, Roberts has some trucks and equipment under a portable plastic shed.

“I’d like to get everything under roof and clean up the blacktop,” Roberts said.

Turf war? Oliver protests uprooted garden

By Zach Simeone

ALTAMONT — Villagers looking to liven up the patch of grass in front of their homes might want to think twice.

In the winter, snow banks cover the grass between the road and the sidewalk. Main Street resident Jerry Oliver was under the impression that it was his responsibility to maintain that grass. So, for the past three summers, he planted flowers on the bit of green in front of his Victorian home.

“It was really quite beautiful,” Oliver said. “I always got compliments on them.”

This year, Oliver’s flowers were torn from the ground by the department of public works. He still doesn’t understand why, he said.

In a letter to the Enterprise editor this week, Oliver said that Trustee Kerry Dineen issued an edict, through Timothy McIntyre, Altamont’s superintendent of public works, to tear up his flower beds. Mayor James Gaughan called this “an unfair characterization of the actions of the department of public works.” No trustee issues edicts, he said.

But this is not the first time Gaughan and Oliver have been at odds.

In 2005, Gaughan and Dineen ran for office together and were elected, defeating Oliver in his bid for mayor. One of the defining issues in the election was the rebuilding of village roads, which was handled by the incumbents who were ousted.

“The Department of Transportation told me that they have right of way, but that it’s my responsibility to maintain the grass,” Oliver said.

Peter Van Keuren, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, told The Enterprise, “This is something that the municipality would be required to take over.”

“I don’t know where he got that from that it’s his responsibility,” McIntyre said of Oliver. He and Oliver have been friends for some years now, according to Oliver.

“Residents are responsible for cleaning the sidewalks,” said McIntyre. “But the 2004 Maintenance Resolution says that maintaining the snow storage areas is our responsibility,” he said of the village.

“It seems so pointless,” Oliver said. “To say ‘Don’t maintain it, don’t make it attractive,’ to me makes no sense. I told them, ‘Don’t bother keeping it up, I’ll take care of it.’ I was willing to put in new grass seed and make it beautiful. Everyone seemed to love it, too.”

But when residents make personal use out of those grass strips, McIntyre said, it “can get in the way of doing the job right,” referring to the mowing and seed planting. “We have a few riding mowers and walk-behind mowers,” said McIntyre. Workers operating the mowers might be forced to make a detour around flowers planted in the strip, making their job more difficult, McIntyre said.

“It’s simply incorrect to say that it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain them,” added Mayor Gaughan. “Tim [McIntyre] even wrote a letter recently saying that they were going to seed them and were going to be mowing them, and asked that people not plant on those strips,” he said, referring to a letter that was published in The Enterprise.

In the meantime, Oliver will continue to plant on the rest of his property. As far as he is concerned, though, this should have been a non-issue. “If someone wants to put the effort and money into making the village prettier, I can’t understand someone not wanting that,” he said. “But I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion.”

Donlon at the Home Front Café
Pollard invites the public to “welcome this American hero”

ALTAMONT — Roger H. C. Donlon was the first American soldier in the Vietnam War to be awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration.

Forty-four years later, he’ll be at the Home Front Café on the village’s Main Street to be honored in a quieter way.

Cindy Pollard, proprietor of the restaurant, has decorated the dining area to resemble her mother’s World War II-era kitchen. She frequently hosts veterans of the second world war, who share their stories with students.

This is the first time she has hosted a veteran from Vietnam.

“He’s a remarkable man,” said Pollard. “Twenty years after he lost so many of his men, he went back to Vietnam to build a memorial.”

As the commander of a detachment in the Army’s Special Forces, Captain Donlon and his 12-man team on July 6, 1964 defended a small American outpost at Camp Nam Dong in Vietnam.

Donlon has written a book, Beyond Nam Dong, which William Westmoreland, the retired Army general, has called an “inspiring story of a courageous soldier and patriot.”

Donlon will be at the Home Front Café on Wednesday, May 28, from noon to 2 p.m. “He’s on his way to West Point,” said Pollard, “to hand out honors for the Medal of Honor Society.”

He will sign his book, and visit with students from Christian Brothers Academy and members of the community.

“He is fostering relationships between American and Vietnamese students...His story is wonderful,” said Pollard. “I want as many people as possible to come and welcome this American hero.”

Melissa Hale-Spencer

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