Letters to the Editor

Being frugal in tough times

To the editor:

With the recent news that some followed, our area saw the end of a volunteer fire department located in Fonda. It is sad that when financial times get tough, something like public safety gets cut first over other facets of municipal control.

This is not something new, but something of a first for our area.

The costs of being an emergency services organization have done nothing but get more expensive year after year. An opinion I have, and many others as well, is if the costs of something have to go up -- and if it's an important service -- it must be paid for.

Public safety in our area, which has an aging population along with new, younger families who call this area home, is something that many depend on -- even if they don't realize it until they need to call 911 from home or until they are involved in an emergency involving their vehicle on a roadway.

Local governments, villages and towns need to start clearly looking at how they are spending valuable tax dollars.

In the grand scheme of things, the results of the Fonda Fire Department closing its doors may lead to a decrease in the amount of tax dollars being spent on the purpose at hand, although the steps taken to get to that savings has been and will be debated for much time to come.

There are many examples in our county where there is duplication of services, services that cost taxpayers money. Tradition, organizational pride, personal feelings, and lack of true understanding of issues leads to things not being done in the most fiscally responsible ways. This is something that can't be sustained.

Our local elected political boards have to step back and, with the help of the emergency services in their areas, take a close look at where money can be saved but still provide the best possible service to the taxpayers.

Things like consolidation are going to be more common in the future, either done at the local level or forced from the state and federal level. Getting things done at home on our own terms will be much better than the alternative.

It's time to not only take the elected job seriously but also to work on stretching each and every tax dollar as far as it can go, for there is less income out there to be collected and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.

J.D. Downing, Town of Glen

Life in a small town

To the editor:

There are certain aspects of my life that I have not elaborated on in previous correspondence. My wife is very shy and withdrawn, whereas, I am a control freak. So, I decided to give her certain tasks to perform that would give her a sense of responsibility. These deeds have nothing to do with the length of our marriage, but I didn't want her to feel too comfortable. So, I assigned her the following chores:

1. She is in complete charge of all money and anything else of a monetary nature that we receive.

2. She decides at what time we will eat all three meals a day.

3. She will also determine what these meals consist of.

On the other hand, as I would say, I will decide anything really important such as:

1. Should we let Red China into the U.N.?

2. Shall we continue to vote for Ann Thane or David Dybas?

3. How do we go about getting autographed copies of Paul Tonko's speeches?

We decide all family matters in a democratic fashion by voting. There are four votes in my household. My wife has one, I have one, our 7-year-old beagle has one and the black cat named Snowball has one. My wife has never opposed me, but when it comes to where we buy our groceries, she votes for Price Chopper. The other three of us vote for Hannaford. There is a reason for this. At Hannaford I am on a first-name basis with both Mikes, both Jackies, Dave, Jim, Matthew, Patrick, Nelsa and Denise. I feel very comfortable there.

Relative to my children there are three surviving. The sole source of the income of my wife and I is Social Security and small pensions. For the past 25 years my children and their spouses have made sure that we are not hurting for a single thing. We are truly in "Fat City." The three of them however have a very warped sense of humor. A few years ago I lost all my teeth. While I was walking around with nothing but gums on Father's Day, they greeted me with a 2-pound box of peanut brittle. I almost bled to death trying to eat it.

In later years, after I had been working in the dietary department of the former Mount Loretto nursing home, my doctor decided I needed a quadruple bypass. Upon completion of this procedure, they decided I needed rehab and of all places I was sent to Mount Loretto. I knew all of the personnel there, including the nuns, and the residents. And the day I was admitted, 54 people stopped by to wish me well, shake my hand, or say a prayer with me in the first two hours. That evening my daughter, Millie, stopped in to visit and I told her about the 54 people. Her reply was "Gee, dad, that's great. Can you imagine how big your funeral is going to be"? I didn't speak to her for a month.

For you old-timers who remember the city as it used to be, on the southeast side of Main Street was a bar called Peck's Dutch Grill. Next door was the Empire Market. It was fairly large and even now 50-odd years later, I run into a lady named Sunny, who was the glue who held this operation together. If you saw her now you would know that the word "lady" fits her to a tee. She is drop-dead gorgeous. Outside the Empire Market sat a man in a wheelchair. His name was Simpson and he had lost one leg from diabetes. Social Services hadn't advanced enough to provide this man with an adequate way of life. On the fronts of the wheelchair was a wooden slab on which he had two mason jars. One jar said 25 cents and the other jar was full of pencils.

This is a very warm town. While nobody had anything, this man had less. People would always put a quarter in the jar. I don't think anyone ever took pencils. He was on a first-name basis with everyone. After four years of passing by this man and putting in a quarter, one Sunday my mother and my two sisters were going to Mass. They crossed the street from the Community Pharmacy to the Empire Market. My mother reached in her purse, took out a quarter, and put it in the jar, at which point Mr. Simpson grabbed her arm and said, "I'm sorry Mrs. Sheridan, but they went up to 35 cents." That was the end of our philanthropy.

I love this town and its inhabitants. I don't think that they realize how much quality they possess.

James J. Sheridan, Amsterdam

Wellness day help appreciated

To the editor:

On March 7 Wilber H. Lynch Literacy Academy in Amsterdam held a Health and Wellness Day for the entire school. Area experts came and shared their time and experience in a variety of presentations such as yoga, stress management, healthy eating, exercise, team building, animal rescue, and many more. The 50-plus health and wellness volunteers came from Amsterdam, Gloversville, Schenectady, Troy and the surrounding environs to spend time with our students. We would like to thank the presenters for sharing their time and talents with our students and enriching their lives.

We would also like to thank manager Reggie at Amsterdam's Rent-A-Center for providing three HDTVs for one of the presentations; Robert Bardin, Sodexo Food Service general manager for the district for donating 800 pieces of fruit for the students for a healthy snack and all the faculty and staff for making the program run so smoothly. The well received programs had the students experience and learn a great deal and they were very appreciative of the event and are looking forward to the next one.

Carol Stuff, Amsterdam