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Letters to the editor

Thursday, October 24, 2013 - Updated: 7:10 AM

A fresh start for the county

To the editor:

I am excited that we have chosen a new direction in Montgomery County. I am asking for your support for county executive because I believe we need not look backward. Now is the time to seize this opportunity and on Nov. 5, with your support, we can take our first step forward.

Make no mistake about it we face some tough challenges. Years of dysfunction, poor budgeting and fiscal mismanagement has left seniors and families across Montgomery County bearing the burden. While we have made tough decisions in our own lives, our government hasn't responded. Often times it seems many of them think it is more about them than the people they are there to serve.

As your executive, I will lead by example and set a new standard of professionalism, cooperation and respect. I will stand firm on my commitment to sound, long-term financial planning and decision making based on merit. My leadership will help us aggressively pursue economic development opportunities through the framework of the Regional Business Plan. This approach requires cooperation and I will work tirelessly to bridge the divide between the city, towns and villages. We are stronger when we work together and we can no longer afford to fight amongst ourselves.

My leadership will help shine the light on county operations and dramatically improve communication with the public. Whether it is at community events, public forums, regular mobile office hours or the open door policy in my office, I will be accessible and accountable to you.

In the race for county executive you have a clear choice and I am confident that if we elect candidates who are part of the solution, not part of the problem, we can put ourselves on the path to a brighter future in Montgomery County.

Thank you for your consideration. If you would like more information about me visit mattossenfort.com or feel free to call me at 620-1655.

Matt Ossenfort,

Amsterdam

The writer is a candidate for Montgomery County executive.

A job that inspires my life

To the editor:

Speaking directly to the hiring committee of the 7th Legislative District, the voters, please come out Nov. 5 and vote for Barbara S. Wheeler. Every vote counts.

Going door to door in this campaign brings back the beginning of what brought me here today. While being your supervisor has been a wonderful opportunity for so many reasons, my passion and dedication to serve my community has been fueled by my love of my first and most important job -- being a mother. Four years ago, even though few knew me, I worked hard and earned the opportunity and the honor to represent the 4th Ward on the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. More than anything, the past four years have taught me how crucial communication is to the job of being a good representative of the people. Whether through my work as a supervisor, my involvement on boards such as the YMCA, or other projects such as Neighborhood Watch, I have spent the past four years listening and learning about my constituents and the issues that matter most to all of us.

I am proud to be on three lines on Nov. 5, including Republican, Conservative and Independence. A main theme across all three of these party lines is fiscal conservativeness, which is a huge part of my substance as an elected official. Being a steward of the taxpayers' money is a job I take very seriously. Regardless of your party affiliation, I am confident that I can serve you to the best of my ability with optimism and determination.

These past four years have truly been an experience of a lifetime, but at the same time I feel that it is a journey that I am just beginning. I am embracing this journey for the same reason I started which is for the betterment of the community for those I serve -- I feel that I have so much more to give to the community I love. My hope is for young adults, such as myself, to live and thrive in our hometown, where we can raise our children and where I have committed my life's mission. Working together we can create a quality of life we can be proud of for ourselves and those that follow as did those that went before us.

I thank you for the opportunity to continue serving you in the first Montgomery County Legislature. I am happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have. Please feel free to contact me at any time at 728-5567.

Barbara S. Wheeler,

Amsterdam

Working hard for the town

To the editor:

I am Bill Holvig, the current town of Mohawk highway superintendent, and running for re-election. I have served the town for 17 years and during this time I have earned certification for Road Master I and II from the Cornell Local Roads Program, by attending classes throughout the years. I have written many grants and the town has received well over $300,000 in grant money from EnCon, FEMA and other grant resources. I continue to research what grants are available for the town.

I urged the town board to establish a capital improvement fund to purchase equipment when needed. It saves taxpayers money and keeps necessary equipment up to date. The town also saved $100,000 on the purchase of the Gradall and saved $16,000 on trucks purchased by buying local instead of using the state contract.

I suggested to the town board to purchase the annex building and improve the transfer site. Fortunately, in 2006 when we had the first flood, we had a building to move and continue town operations.

Snow and ice control on town and county roads, mowing, maintaining and paving the road are just some of the duties of the highway superintendent. Keeping the roads safe for school buses, commuters and travelers, is a primary concern. Sand, salting and plowing are necessary for keeping the roads safe.

In addition, I serve as vice president of the Montgomery County Highway Superintendents Association; as a team leader for Advocacy Day; I travel to Albany to lobby for increasing the CHIPs funding (and we received approximately $16,000 in additional funding this year); I also serve as the emergency management contact for the town. I attend meetings and do all the paperwork required to receive FEMA grant funds for our roads and buildings.

Most important is that the highway taxes have gone down. I take pride in serving as town of Mohawk highway superintendent. I will continue to work hard for the town and make the smart necessary decisions that benefit the town residents. I am experienced, dependable and responsible. On Nov. 5, Election Day, I would appreciate your support.

William "Bill" Holvig,

Fonda

Weathering the storm together

To the editor:

Election Day is only a few days away. Several months ago 70 percent of you voted for a new form of county government. I hope you will help me become the first 8th District legislator so I will then be in a position to help you.

The work and lessons learned during my eight years as 1st Ward Amsterdam alderman and two terms as deputy mayor will provide me with the experience and knowledge necessary to represent you on the county level. I will work full time for 12 full months each year for you as I do not leave the area whatsoever during the winters. I weather the winters side by side with you, the people I will represent.

I believe in cooperation to find the solutions necessary for the major financial problems that face our city, towns and villages. I have served on the Amsterdam AIDA board and have spent my entire life helping others in any way I was able to at the time.

As a communications professional, I will use my technical and professional knowledge to assist county personnel and departments however is needed.

Over the past 40-plus years I have strived to help our community in a multitude of ways, I now ask for your vote for 8th Legislative District of Montgomery County so I may continue my life's work.

Joe Isabel,

Amsterdam

My story and qualifications

To the editor:

Political letters seem to sound the same to me. Even telling you I'll work hard, think through the issues, and stay connected sounds like a sales pitch. The truth be told, running for office is like a job interview: You tell your life story and state your qualifications. But I don't know of any way to do this other than by making my best case to you. So, here it goes.

My name is Ken Mazur. I am an Amsterdam native, my grandfather an Amsterdam fireman, and my grandmother a founder of Liberty Enterprises. I have a bachelor of science from Cornell University, and I am employed as a health inspector with the New York State Department of Health. I inspect health care facilities to ensure fire and life safety and sanitation. I have years of experience in code enforcement. Currently, I serve as a civil service commissioner and on the Zoning Board of Appeals. I formerly served on the County Ethics Board. During the summer, I volunteer at the Auriesville Shrine.

I walked the entire 1st Ward and listened. I know you want safe attractive neighborhoods, speed limits enforced, roads repaired and clean, and the line held on taxes. In preparation, I met with city department heads on how to make these improvements. I will hold ward meetings and keep myself available. I see Amsterdam as a healthy and attractive city, ready for the 21st century, by fixing the controller's office, rezoning for growth, and common sense code enforcement.

At council meetings I will present a dignified public image. I will use my own judgment, and cross party lines when necessary. No automatic "yes" votes. I believe in rational, responsible budgeting and following the city charter.

I ask for your vote on Nov. 5. Thank You.

Ken Mazur,

Amsterdam

Change for the town of Palatine

To the editor:

I spent the last few months running, walking and driving throughout the town of Palatine, talking to residents about our collective future.

I met grandparents baking cookies with their grandkids; a farming couple talking passionately about keeping a small dairy going; a little girl who introduced me to her mom working busily in the kitchen. I spoke with a woman who worked 43 years at Beech-Nut and retired making $14 an hour. One person told me we'd never get good jobs back here.

In many conversations, the sense of hopelessness was difficult to hear. My future and the future of my family is on our little farm in the town of Palatine. Our hearts are here. Hopelessness is not an option. If possibilities seem limited, we need to change the possibilities.

As a starting point, here is a set of issues and potential solutions that I will take on:

1) Overwhelming school and property tax burden -- I will practice vigilant fiscal responsibility in town budgeting, while advocating at the state level to change funding formulas and secure state and federal funding opportunities.

2) Concern about fairness in how rules are applied and how town business is conducted -- I will work to increase transparency, by increasing availability of documents on the town website and implementing regular supervisor office hours for questions and concerns.

3) Interest in ironing out administrative procedures -- I will work collaboratively with town officials, employees and contractors to streamline and clarify procedures.

Many of you have already taken a leap of faith and supported my campaign. I am both humbled and grateful. Already, we are changing the odds. I look forward to working with residents of the town of Palatine to create new possibilities and a better future for our town as the next town supervisor.

Sara Niccoli,

Palatine

Proven skill is needed most

To the editor:

Making an informed decision on Election Day is important. While reviewing the recent literature by Debra Baranello, a few points concerned me. The information provided by Baranello was very vague.

For example, she discusses increased code enforcement, but Baranello is a personal friend of Mayor Ann Thane. After six years, Mayor Thane hasn't brought about a large change in code enforcement. What can she do that the mayor can't? Also, Baranello fails to provide any clear plan as to how she'll bring about that change.

Next, Debra Baranello states that she'll work to have a more visible and active police force. The statistics are clear ... crime has decreased and the Amsterdam Police Department is doing a great job.

Finally, Baranello states that she will strive to stay within the tax cap. The tax cap is not an issue, because it's already mandated. Debra Baranello fails to address the most important part of tax increases in the form of user fee increases.

Baranello's admirable volunteerism has worth. Even if not elected as alderman, she can continue to contribute to the community in that manner. Unfortunately, Baranello's plan is ambiguous. Also, in my opinion, I believe it was a bit presumptuous to refer to herself as Alderman Baranello on the literature that she distributed.

The finances in the city of Amsterdam cannot afford a councilperson with a learning curve right now, no matter how much volunteer work she takes part in and no matter how good her intentions are. Ron Barone has worked on many government budgets while in office. I think this proven skill is something Amsterdam needs considering the financial climate of our city. We need someone with proven capabilities who can make difficult decisions and has been in that position before.

For these reasons, I will be supporting Ron Barone on Nov. 5, and I invite my neighbors to do the same.

Santo Zenon,

Amsterdam

Stepping up to the plate

To the editor:

Here we are again at election time and campaign signs are posted all over. But what do we really know about the candidates or the offices they seek to hold? In some cases we know those up for re-election, we know about the candidates but not so much about the duties or responsibilities of the office they hold.

Such is the race for town highway superintendent in the town of Florida. Bill Weller has served for better than two decades. When Bill took office he inherited an over-manned, ill-equipped and drastically dysfunctional department. Over the years Bill has trimmed the labor force, updated the equipment, and made the department lean and trim.

Bill also stepped forward to take on the responsibility of many other departments such as the parks and buildings, sanitation and sewer, and water. These are not part of his elected position, but he stepped up to the plate and took them on.

Through the years Bill has had to deal with complaints about damaged mail boxes, tree branches, snow plowing not to someone's satisfaction, and many others, but he has handled them in a professional manner and with consideration of people's feelings. Bill is the one who is held accountable for the department and anything that goes wrong.

Bill has developed a good working relationship with neighboring towns, county officials and neighboring counties. Bill has a workable budget and even turned back funds to the town. His terms in office and accomplishments will be remembered for quite some time.

When going to vote this year give consideration not just to the party they represent or if you like a candidate, but if they are the incumbent consider how they have done their job in the past, and if that is what you would like for the future.

Ted Schrom,

Amsterdam

The right one for the job

To the editor:

I am writing in support of Robert Purtell for county legislator, District 9. The town of Amsterdam and the fine folks in Cranesville and Hagaman need a good representative at the county, and I think he's the best person for the job.

Bob is a lifelong resident and a business owner with a strong record of service to our community. As a member of the finance committee for Liberty ARC, he has experience working with a $60 million budget. And his many years in real estate make him very familiar with an issue weighing on all of us -- property taxes.

Robert Purtell is the right person for the job. He has the experience and integrity to tackle the $100 million county budget and put Montgomery County back on the right track. If you live in District 9 (Hagaman, Cranesville, eastern parts of Amsterdam) I urge you to vote for him on Nov. 5.

Justin Knudsen,

Town of Amsterdam

Improving the lives of others

To the editor:

Having been a close friend of Barbara Wheeler for over 25 years, I am fully aware of Barb's passion and dedication to improve the lives of those she serves. Until recent years, I had little involvement with local politics. My lack of enthusiasm toward politicians was due to my perception that many, if not most, politicians were dishonest socialists aiming to seek attention and win votes through crafty words and impressive ideas about how they would work hard to fulfill promises to better the lives of those in their community only to end up making poor excuses for their failures. Yet, oddly enough often ending up with more money in their pockets and less in ours.

Barb, on the other hand, has proven to me and to so many others that there are truly honest politicians who will work their hardest to fight for the community they serve. Barb works diligently to keep money in the pockets of those she is so passionately striving to create a better life for in order that we might continue to have a growing desire to live in our small city and raise our children in a community they will be proud to build memories in.

Thanks to Barb, my interest in local politics continues to grow as Barb's actions line up with her words and has revived my perception of a genuine public servant who truly does strive to improve our community.

For a strong representative in Fonda and a fierce Montgomery County lobbyist in Albany, I strongly encourage you to vote for Barbara S. Wheeler on Tuesday Nov 5.

Thank you for your time.

Jennifer Nicolella,

Amsterdam

Check out the real facts

To the editor:

Say what, Mr. Norris? I, too, live in the town of Northampton. As your current supervisor, I work non-stop for all of the town voters and taxpayers. My job (prescribed by the state of New York) requires that I represent Northampton not only at the local level but on the county board of supervisors. It also requires that the supervisor, at the local level, is the budget officer.

During my tenure I have elevated my county position and will be chairman of the board in 2014. A newly elected Northampton supervisor will not achieve such appointment for at least another 15 years. (The last was 1995.) Key committee appointments at county level impact decisions which affect all town residents.

The position of town supervisor, to which I was elected, along with a confidential secretary/bookkeeper position, were made full-time in 1990 by previous administrations. After 17 years of dedicated service, our bookkeeper/confidential secretary resigned, at the hands of the town board and a small group of the opposition such as yourself. This left me with the responsibilities of that vacated position. An attempt to backfill that position with another willing soul failed, as she also left in tears.

I have become the sole person to do payrolls, budget and everyday matters that were formally performed by the bookkeeper. The part-time person recently brought on will also be leaving if I am not re-elected, due to your and others' actions.

You and your candidates have bullied others and manipulated the facts in recent mailings and personal visits. I would ask the public to ask where all funding for the "promises" being made will come from.

You, Mr. Norris, and the "Unite Northampton Team" have created turmoil, threats and disruptions daily in your attempt to prevent the town clerk and myself from performing our everyday duties. Anyone attending meetings or being at town hall can attest to that.

The council members alluded to in the Norris editorial are put on committees to work on issues and present to the board, performing their elected duties. I am only one of five board members.

Voters, please check out the real facts and ask questions. I will continue to do my job until the voters tell me otherwise. On Nov. 5, 2013, look for my name on line 5 "Wisest Choice."

Linda Kemper,

Northampton

The writer is Northampton supervisor and a candidate for re-election.

Northampton voters beware

To the editor:

As a former town board member that donated hundreds of hours working on the town court renovations, town hall lighting system, plus working on grant applications, I feel it is time to get back on the Northampton town board.

After being defeated two years ago, the "good old boys" stated -- "one down and two to go." When our bookkeeper resigned that changed to "two down and one to go," meaning the supervisor. Recently, it was stated in the town clerk's office that she will be the next to go.

Monies are being wasted left and right with this board, $16,000 and counting on a mass gathering ordinance that was put aside in court after our former attorney warned us it would never stand up in court. The former attorney was paid at $100 per hour while the new attorney received $160 per hour.

At the Feb. 20, 2013, board meeting, Councilman Ellsworth stated, "If you raise taxes 50 percent, in reality to the home owner it's almost no money and would solve our problem."

Your "Unite Northampton Team" has proposed a joint highway department that could double our tax rate. The town and village now already share equipment and services. The town last year raised $235,228 in taxes while the village, with one-third of the population, raised $454,227.45. How much more money will be added to the budget if the "good old boys" get elected.

Will we hire a new bookkeeper to perform those duties that the supervisor now does? Will we hire an office manager? And how many more "friends" will be added? It has also been stated that the town should pay for village police to help "enforce" town laws.

It is very important that this Nov. 5 you elect people who will represent the best interests of the town and not be represented by an all village town board. Please vote for me on line 8H: "The People's Party."

Guy Poulin,

Northampton

Make Muni records public

To the editor:

As an Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course member, I have followed the most recent "debate" with interest. I attended a Common Council meeting where the subject of renewing Joe Merendo's contract was listed on the agenda. I would think, when being asked to vote on a resolution concerning a contract renewal, someone might have the wherewithal to actually bring a copy of the contract to the meeting. Incredibly, no one had a copy, which makes it difficult to arrive at any type of an informed decision.

At that meeting, after much "discussion," it was stated that the golf course was underperforming, and that the golf commission has recommended a "three-pronged attack" to alleviate the situation. Replace the pro, replace the concessionaire, replace the maintenance department. What has been sadly lacking is any explanation of exactly how this approach is going to increase the revenues of the course. What I, and several other golfers that I have spoken with, would like to know is what is this approach based on? Are there studies that provide data showing that this course of action has been proven to increase revenue? If so, I would ask that these studies be published, or at least provide a link to a website where they exist. It should be fairly easy to do, as I'm sure that no thinking person(s) would propose such sweeping changes without viable data to back them up.

When addressing the performance of the golf course, would it be asking too much for a financial report to be published? One that shows how much the course takes in, and where that money goes. As an entity that is owned by the city, and one that involves hundreds of thousands of dollars, shouldn't these records already exist? Make them available to the public and end the speculation of where the money goes. Is it true that the city took $95,000 from the golf course to apply to a bond payment, then, after deciding to not make the payment, did not return the $95,000 to the course? Is it true that any time there is an event that requires the course to be closed (generally from noon to 5 p.m.), a check for $1,700 is written and sent directly to the mayor's office? Keep in mind, these events are usually for charities to benefit our community (not the mayor's office). There are many such rumors/truths that exist; why not make the finances of the course transparent and dispel/substantiate the rumors?

There is one more point I would like to discuss. If you ask a golfer why he is going to travel out of town to play a certain course, you will invariably get two reasons: price and course conditions. No one ever mentions who the pro is, no one ever mentions the concessionaire. Surprisingly, those are two of the aforementioned "three-pronged attack." Enough said.

Chuck Rossi,

Town of Amsterdam

Thank you from the Rotary

To the editor:

On Thursday, Oct. 10, the Amsterdam Rotary Club sponsored a chicken parmesan dinner to benefit the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York, Community 202, which covers the Amsterdam and Fonda-Fultonville School districts. The community plans on using the funds for camping equipment that they currently do not have. This way more girls will have the opportunity to experience the out-of-doors and all that it has to offer. They also will purchase program materials such as tables, canopies, chairs, Girl Guides and Journeys. The materials will be available for troops to use at their individual meetings or at community events. This was our eighth year sponsoring this event with many local individuals and charitable groups reaping the benefits.

Our motto of "Service Above Self" was displayed by the numerous volunteers from our club who once again gave of their time to work that evening. They also showed their support by arranging for advertising, placing signage around town, welcoming guests, waitressing, a little help in the kitchen, and most of all selling tickets. We should also mention that the Girl Scouts were a lot of help serving our guests.

We would be remiss without mentioning Rotary member Walt Porath and the Raindancer restaurant for another excellent performance. His managers, waitresses and kitchen staff were once again on top of their game. There were over 500 guests served in less than three hours and we have heard nothing but rave reviews. For many years now we have counted on the Raindancer for their support and generosity and each time Walt has been there without mention. We owe him special thanks for all the generosity.

Amsterdam Rotary has always been committed to the community and will continue to do so. We meet for lunch every Wednesday at (where else) the Raindancer and constantly are recruiting new individuals and businesses that want to give back to our community. Please feel free to stop by for a great lunch, good conversation, and share some new ideas.

Cindy Rivera

and Judy Phetteplace,

Amsterdam

     

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