||[Return to Home Page] [Subscriptions] [Newsstands] [Contact Us] [Archives]
New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, February 2, 2006
Kidder named to outreach post
New Scotland native says shell be there for the seniors
By Holly Grosch
NEW SCOTLAND Long-term New Salem resident Sue Kidder is the towns new senior outreach coordinator. The part-time position last year doubled as a town nurse but is now back to being just an outreach role; causing disagreement among the town board members and among the senior advisory committee members.
Sitting in her town-hall office last week, Kidder told stories of how, as a young girl, her elderly neighbors had a positive impact on her life.
"I have always loved old people," she said. "I loved their knowledge their calmness." "To me, they’re a national treasure," she said.
If her mother couldn’t find her playing in the yard, she was writing at a desk, or sitting at the piano in a neighbor’s home. "I didn’t play the piano, but I thought I did," Kidder said with a smile. Now she said she wants to give back to the seniors.
"My main focus is to locate the shut-ins," Kidder said. But, she went on, "There’s no pressure; it’s up to them." She said it’s her goal to keep the elderly "independent as long as they want to be independent."
Although she works for the town, Kidder said, "I’m not government...I’m more just for the seniors themselves."
Sue Weisz, the previous senior outreach coordinator who worked for the town for two years, was a registered nurse. Kidder is not a nurse. Last year, the senior advisory committee and Weisz applied to Albany Countys department of aging and received a one-year grant to have a third day of Weiszs salary paid for in the capacity of a town nurse. That grant runs out in March. Although, the committee applied to renew the same grant, it did not receive continued funding, said town board member Deborah Baron who is the boards liaison to senior services.
The town of New Scotland will continue to pay for just the two days as budgeted, Baron told The Enterprise. The town wants to secure more grants in the future to once again increase the coordinators hours, Baron said.
While Baron had wanted to reduce the hourly pay to a starting rate of 13 dollars and some cents per hour, she said the board decided to keep the senior outreach coordinators salary at $15 an hour, the compensation that had been budgeted for registered nurse Weisz during the budget sessions of the fall. Baron said she accepted this pay arrangement since thats what the candidates were told.
"The advisory board worked so hard to get a nurse in there," said Norma Walley a member of the advisory board, "For town board people to undo all the groundwork we have laid for the position... it’s very disturbing."
"Not to have a nurse is oh so very very sad," Walley said.
Walley is 82 years old and lives in Fuera Bush. "I feel we are forgotten out here," Walley said. "I see the need of people out here," she said of the rural hamlet.
Within a five-mile radius in Feura Bush, there are four people on dialysis, she said. When she heard some of the town board member’s viewing that they didn’t see the need for a town nurse, it upset her so much she said he had to get up and leave the board meeting. "It’s just so sad," Walley said.
The advisory committee had interviewed three of the four people who applied for the position, said Baron.
Walley said that in a 5-to-6 vote, the outreach committee recommended the town board hire Judith McKinnon. McKinnon is a registered nurse who had been the executive director of Community Caregivers until October. Weisz, before coming to New Scotland, had been the director of Community Caregivers as well.
"People get confused on their medication...This other woman [Kidder] won’t be able to help people with that," Walley said.
A nurse has additional medical expertise that helps when directing an elderly person to an agency, Walley said. The town nurse was able to look at wounds and burns elderly people had received in their homes and evaluate things like that, Walley said.
"There are many different situations that needed the skills of a nurse to assist them and Sue [Weisz] did that," Walley said.
Supervisor Ed Clark said he sees not hiring a nurse as "taking a step backward for the program." He believes Kidder will do a good job, but he would have preferred a registered nurse in the position.
Clark and Councilman Douglas LaGrange, both Republicans, registered their objection and then "reluctantly voted yes" on Kidder’s hiring, Clark said. They would have preferred to hire McKinnon, Clark said.
"I don’t want the program to go backward," Baron said, but sometimes taking a half a step backwards allows for a look at the program as a whole in order to effectively move forward, she said.
Town officials have disagreed over the necessity, importance, and liability of having a town nurse.
Baron was one of the council members who has questioned the town- nurse position all along, when there are comparable programs offered with visiting nurse volunteers and county programs, she said. Additionally, Baron said, she has become even more uncomfortable over the past year with liability as she learned more about insurance.
There were pluses and minuses to each candidate, Baron told The Enterprise of the interview process. McKinnon was a professional who had experience in grant writing, but Kidder knows the towns residents Baron said.
"No place like home"
Kidder, 56, was born and raised in New Salem. After leaving the area for 20 years, she returned to New Scotland and now resides in the home that was once her parents, she said.
"There’s no place like home," she said. New Scotland is one of the most beautiful places in the world, Kidder said. She appreciates the history of the town and how, when she runs into people around town, they say hello and ask how each other are doing.
Kidder is a co-owner of Blackbird Prime Properties, which owns the trailer park along Route 85, not far from Town Hall.
Baron said, when Kidder was hired by the town clerks office last year to do some records management, document copying, and filing, everyone was impressed then with how many people coming in and out of town hall knew Kidder.
Baron said she agrees with Councilman Reillys sentiment that each of the two candidates had some strong qualifications and each had some things they would have to learn. Baron said she thinks it will be easier to learn grant writing, than to pick-up years of knowledge about the community and its people.
Kidder "has a big heart and a big place in her heart," Baron said. Kidder took the initiative as a citizen and started an Extra Helpings program three years ago in New Scotland, Baron said; the cooperative food buying program purchases food at wholesale prices.
Kidder already has her own strong network of people, Baron said, and has proven her ability to recruit volunteers in town, which is one way Baron said she would like the senior outreach coordinator to expand the towns senior programs.
Baron would like Kidder to spend time actively pursuing volunteer recruitment, so that volunteers can help with tasks such as giving rides to doctors appointments.
Walley said she had heard the town board members’ argument that Kidder knows the town’s residents already. But Kidder lives in New Salem, a hamlet on the other side of town. "She doesn’t know Feura Bush," Walley said.
While the town is spending much of its resources on the issues of other areas of town and for young people, the senior services was the one municipal program that benefited Fuera Bush, Walley said.
"We’ve given the town our time and talent what goes around should come around," Walley said. She just wants to make sure her generation is taken care of, she said.
Kidder shared this same view. Seniors have already worked, contributed to society, already paid their dues, Kidder said. "What goes around comes around," she said too.
Kidder said she lives by the philosophy, "If we work together then we’ll make it through life." She said, as the senior outreach coordinator, "I’m sort of just the legs."
She said she wants to round up more volunteers, and work with the community, locate the seniors in need, turn over the information they need, make the contacts for them, and get seniors the help they need.
She has already arranged meetings on the new Medicare program at the senior center for February; Albany Countys department of aging will work one-on-one with seniors to chose their Medicare coverage. Kidder wants to help seniors get affordable heat through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
"Basically what this position is, is making the connections," Kidder said. She is also locating volunteer nurses to continue the blood-pressure clinics at the Fuera Bush apartments and the community center. And is going to use Albany County’s program that has certified nurses to continue to give New Scotland residents vitamin B-12 shots, Kidder said.
Kidder is currently working 20 hours a week for the town, she said. Kidder is a substitute bus driver for the Bethlehem School District and has bus runs in the afternoons.
She has established her hours for New Scotland as Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Stewart named by split vote...Clark objects
By Holly Grosch
NEW SCOTLAND Elizabeth Stewart, a Democrat, who lost her fall election bid against the Republican Supervisor, Ed Clark, has now been appointed as a planning board member. The vote was split, 3 to 2, along party lines.
The three Democratic council members Richard Reilly, Margaret Neri, and Deborah Baron voted in support of Stewart, while the Republican Councilman Douglas LaGrange and Clark voted against the appointment.
Stewart is filling the vacancy left by LaGrange when he took his seat on the town board Jan. 1.
Clark calls the Democratic appointment a political move, and believes that there were other candidates who were more qualified, with planning experience. Reilly and Neri dispute Clarks claim, saying that they picked the best candidate for the job after careful review.
If anybody was acting politically, it is Clark, who is unable to set aside personal issues lingering from a previous election rivalry, Reilly said.
A business-development manager, Stewart, who could not be interviewed this week, has said she has concerns with high-density projects like the current Kennsington Woods application.
Stewart expressed her planning visions extensively during her campaign for supervisor.
She wants to safeguard the aquifer on the old Tall Timbers property in the towns Northeast Quadrant from construction pollution, especially since mining there reached just a few feet above the water table, Stewart said.
"I do not like to go to a place with wall-to-wall houses," she said. "We do want green spaces for people to enjoy."
With nanotechnology underway, the Capital Region is on the edge of development, Stewart said, which will change the whole topography.
New Scotland needs moderate growth in both commercial and residential development, Stewart said.
The enrollment at the school is down compared to years past, so there is room at the school, she said.
Stewart would like the town to have affordable housing for both young and old.
The town needs to address traffic or pollution along with development, she said.
"We have to be looking at infrastructure," Stewart said. "Can we add additional roads in a certain area of proposed development" What will the traffic patterns be" These are things that need to be considered," she said. "We do not want to look like Western Avenue."
She does not think that rigid aesthetic guidelines are needed as the Residents Planning Advisory Committee had recommended because she believes, with planning board members guiding proposals, developers already try to fit their architecture in with what is the existing rural character of the town, Stewart said.
Clark told The Enterprise this week that he "objected strongly" to the appointment of Stewart. "I don’t believe she had the credentials," like other candidates, he said.
The Democrats are either rewarding Stewart for her "service to the party" or preparing her to run in future elections by building up her résumé, Clark said.
The board collectively interviewed all eight people who applied for the planning-board vacancy and an alternate spot, Clark said. And then the board wanted to make the appointments directly after the interviews, on the same night, he said.
The town now has in place a full planning board for next weeks February meeting.
One motion was made to appoint both Stewart as the member and Jo Ann Davies as the alternate, Clark said. Clark said he didnt vote no, because of Davies, (see related story), but he did have two other candidates he would have preferred, he said.
Candidate Pat Snyder, had seven or eight years of experience as a planning-board member in another New York State community and also had previously served as a trustee there, Clark said. Snyders family moved to Voorheesville from Buchanan in 2003.
Her municipal service was during a period of commercial development of that town, Clark said, so she has tremendous experience with planning issues similar to those New Scotland is facing now.
Also, Clark said he would have liked to appoint Greg Ferentino, an architect who has represented both sides, development business and municipalities.
According to New Scotlands voter registration rolls, both Ferentino and Snyder are not registered in a political party. Stewart is a Democrat and Davies is not registered in a party either. Before Stewart was appointed, the composition of the planning board was three Democrats and three Republicans.
"I get frustrated with Ed," Reilly told The Enterprise this week. "These are personnel matters...It’s unfortunate that he initiates these debates... Interviews are conducted in executive session for a reason," Reilly said.
Good people in good faith stick their necks out and apply for a position, Reilly said, and they shouldn’t be "dragged across the newspaper in a debate." Reilly said. Clark’s actions are "unfortunate and discouraging," Reilly said.
Stewart "is a long-time town resident who is familiar with the issues the town if facing," Reilly said. She interviewed great and was one of the only candidates "I could tell that read the town’s zoning law and comprehensive plan," Reilly said.
She is familiar with New Scotlands needs, and familiar with what the town values, he said. She knows what the values of New Scotland are and what residents across the spectrum want, Reilly said. Also, she knows the history of the Tall Timbers site, and who all the players are, he said.
Clark takes the people he wants and then builds a defense around his choice, Reilly said. While Clark emphasizes planning experience, Reilly said he believes other factors are just as important.
"Experience on a planning board is one thing but experience with the town of New Scotland is another," Reilly said, referring to Snyder. He said he thinks it’s more important for New Scotland’s new planning board member to be familiar in the issues the town is facing right now rather than nuances like understanding the State environmental quality review process, which the town has engineering and legal counsel to walk the board members through.
"I like Greg," Reilly said of Ferentino. He interviewed well, Reilly said, adding that he could see Ferentino serving the town in the future as a planning board member. But right now, he is not the perfect candidate that Clark says he is, Reilly said.
Ferentino is a co-respondant in a law suit the town is facing, Reilly said.
Last year, Ferentino and his wife had a "drop-dead drag-out dispute" during planning board meetings over approval for a dog kennel on property they own on Fielding Way, Reilly said.
The Enterprise attended these meetings. Krumkill neighbors came out in swarms, to speak against the proposal because of noise and traffic concerns; but the Ferentinos and the Dimura family also came armed with their attorneys.
The Dimuras live on Fielding Way and have been feuding with the Ferentinos over rights to the private road, particularly the right-of-way for entering and exiting.
The Dimuras, who say they own the road, conceded that a gravel subscriptive right-of-way was established over time, but they said at planning board meetings that there is no deeded easement and the Ferentinos do not have the right to "over-use" the access, such as would be the case with a commercial enterprise with increased traffic.
Also their attorney, John Hayko, said that the planning board was bound to the limitation set by New Scotland’s zoning board in a variance approved in 1992, which was granted to serve only two residential lots. "Those conditions cannot be overlooked or ignored," Hayko said at the September planning-board meeting.
The Ferentinos’ attorney argued that the easement was by "necessity," which happens by itself. He also argued that the town maintained the road up until the late 1970’s.
The planning board ended up approving the special use permit for the dog kennel.
The boards attorney, Louis Neri, advised the planning board that it was not up to the town to make a determination on the limitations of the access, and that the board did have the authority to make a determination on the special use request. The decision before the planning board was simply the issue of the use, of a dog kennel itself, Neri had said.
Planning board Chairman Robert Stapf said at the time that, although the board permitted the use, in order for the Ferintinos to get a permit, the road would have to comply with the town’s road standards. "Town law has very specific standards for two-way traffic," Stapf said. In order to comply, the road has to be modified, he said.
For the driveway to be widened, Hayko said, his client would have to agree to it; he reprimanded the board for throwing the issue to the courts.
Reilly told The Enterprise on Wednesday that the Dimuras and others have filed a suit against the town of New Scotlands planning board and the Ferentinos. Litigation is pending, Reilly said.
So, while this does not completely exclude Greg Ferentino from being a planning-board member, his dog kennel application may come back before the planning board in the future, Reilly said. So, at this juncture, Ferentino may not be the best candidate for the town to appoint, Reilly said.
New Scotland resident Katy ORourke who attends board meetings regularly called The Enterprise this week, saying she was "upset in they way the whole thing went down."
First of all, she said the public knew that the interviews were going to be conducted last Wednesday night but were not told that the board was going appoint someone after the long executive session.
"It just cut out any kind of public input," O’Rourke said. She said she certainly was interested in who the candidates were and the board’s reason for choosing one over another. She said she would have liked the board to make its appointment like it often does during a regular board meeting.
"The way the whole thing was done was cowardly," O’Rourke said. She said the town board is sending the message that it doesn’t want to hear everyone’s opinion.
ORourke then went on to say, much as Clark had, that the Democrats appointment was politically motivated.
"I think they were confused on what position they were voting on," she said.
"I think a lot of people will be disappointed that Peg Neri went along with it," O’Rourke said. "I was very hopeful, she would be a more independent voice."
Neri is a new Democratic council member as of Jan. 1.
"I didn’t go along with anything, I listened and made my own decision," Neri responded to The Enterprise. She said she reviewed each candidate’s qualification, read their application ahead of time, and thoughtfully participated in the interview process. "If I don’t vote in the particular way Ms. O’Rourke or Mr. Clark want me to vote, they say I’m partisan, and that’s not true," Neri said.
"I didn’t become a board member to vote in any particular way...I use my experience, education, and good judgement and make up my own mind," she said.
Stewart has lived in New Scotland for a long time and had researched the issues facing the planning board, Neri said; she thinks Stewart will be a great asset to the board.
ORourke said she doesnt see how living in the town for a certain amount of time makes a candidate more qaulified than someone with planning experience.
"It’s very very fustrating," O’Rourke said, because she sees how very few people show up at the public meetings, and she said she thinks part of the reason is because residents don’t believe they have the power to change anything. She said she can see where citizens get this viewpoint "expecially when this sneaky and underhanded," stuff happens, she said.
Davies appointed alternate to New Scotland Planning Board
By Holly Grosch
NEW SCOTLAND Water committee member Jo Ann Davies was appointed as the planning boards alternate member last Wednesday. The spot has been vacant since July, when Chuck Voss moved up to be a regular member.
Councilman Richard Reilly told The Enterprise that he likes the perspective that Davies will bring to the planning board as a water committee member.
Davies, will in a way, be a conduit between the water and planning boards, Reilly said.
"Working on the water committee I’ve come to realize how critical water, or lack of water, is in terms of our growth," Davies said.
The infrastructure of roads, water, and sewer are needed for development to occur, she said. Davies said she wants a thoughtful balance struck between natural resources and growth.
She doesnt want the towns rural feel to dissipate, which is one of the main reasons that people move to New Scotland in the first place, Davies said.
Reviewing the planning board agenda for next Tuesday, she said, "There are a lot of items and a lot of them impact each other."
"Jo Ann has represented herself very well at town meetings...She’s not someone who occasionally shows," Reilly said, applauding Davies dedication. She has put a lot of time and money into working on the water committee and has been very active, vocal and articulate, he said. He anticipates her putting the same kind of dedication and commitment toward the planning board.
Reilly said Davies also is a "great fit" because he likes the planning board to be well rounded with members who have different experiences professionally, different backgrounds, and perspectives, from varying locations of town.
Davies, who lives just south of the Clarksville hamlet, has been a New Scotland resident for 19 years, she said.
Davies said she realizes that Clarksville and Feura Bush are parts of town that havent produced too many public officials; she said maybe shell be the incentive that motivates others.
She retired in 2003 from the Bethlehem School District as the curriculum supervisor of career and technical studies, and now, she said, she wants to give back to the community with her new-found free time.
While she may live in one area, and as a result know more about that one area of town over another, she said, its not her purpose to represent one side of town on the planning board but rather to make decisions that are best for the town as a whole.
Village wants to reconfigure Swift Road
By Saranac Hale Spencer
VOORHEESVILLE The steep pitch of Swift Road where it meets Route 85A has caused village officials to look at reconfiguring the road.
Mayor John Stevens exhibited a drawing at a recent village board meeting, done by the engineering firm Barton & Loguidice, of the proposed change at the intersection across from the Voorheesville Elementary School.
The severe decline of Swift Road has been cited as the major problem. The ideal intersection, according to an engineer at Barton & Loguidice, is to have a 90-degree angle between the two intersecting roads and a more gentle grade approaching it in this particular case.
There is no time line for the project because it depends on securing funds. The project is estimated to cost $500,000. The town is currently looking for grants.
According to Barton & Loguidice, the actual construction will take approximately four to five months but the whole process could take a couple of years if it is federally funded.
In other business at recent board-of-trustees meetings, the board:
Heard from Trustee Robert Conway that King presented to the planning commission a plan for a subdivision on Swift Road. The proposal is for putting six homes between Swift Road and Crowridge Road. This project is unrelated to the redesign of Swift Road, Stevens told The Enterprise;
Heard from Conway that the planning comission gave conditional approval to Lussier Management Inc. for a special-use permit for a day spa slated to open in the Village Plaza;
Heard from village attorney Anne-Jo McTague that a letter is being mailed to David Moreau regarding the purchase of land on Locust Drive. Moreau had requested the village "deed" the property to him; the letter states the land may be purchased for the assessed value of $45,000;
Unanimousely approved a resolution describing the agreement for a water interconnect for emergencies between Voorheesville and Guilderland; the resolution is needed to apply for a grant; and
Decided not to put a star on top of the village gazebo as requested by Michael Jarus.
[Return to Home Page]