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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 18, 2010

Stempel sawmill back in business

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — Despite the lack of a roof, the Rudy Stempel Family Sawmill is once again open for business after the building had caved in under one of the heaviest snowfalls in recent history.

A handful of other Hilltown roofs fell as well, and some people were left snowbound after several feet of heavy, wet snow blanketed the Helderbergs. The town declared a state of emergency so that roads could be plowed.

On Feb. 26, Stempel’s 50-year-old sawmill was nearly crushed under its own roof. But Stempel was optimistic, stating that he would be back up and running by the time the snow had melted.

“The prediction was true,” Stempel told The Enterprise this week, and the mill was fully operational not one week after its near collapse — minus any overhead protection from the elements.

Asked how he did it, the octogenarian answered with one word — “perseverance.”

“We’ve got to rebuild the whole thing,” Stempel said of the roof. “We had to do a lot of wiring for the motors and the belts; we had to cut the wires in order to get the roof out.”

Stempel said that he, his son Brian, and a few friends had to build small, makeshift roofs over the parts of the mill that were being re-wired.

“At one point, we made a snow shovel out of the cherry picker,” Stempel laughed, “but everything went according to plan.”

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