M ore than 46 years of service officially came to an end last Wednesday as the Skenesborough Volunteer Fire Company dissolved.
The Village Board of Trustees, at the company’s request, passed a resolution to revoke Skenesborough’s charter.
The board passed the resolution as a way to expedite Skenesborough’s dissolution.
Mayor Peter Telisky said members of the company approached the village and asked them for their assistance during in dissolving. Because the dissolution process would require court appeals and a number of other procedures, the village decided to remove the company’s charter.
“It was quicker and more efficient for the village to take the action,” Telisky said.
There will now be a 30 day waiting period, after which time the resolution will become effective and the company will no longer exist.
Afterwards members of the board thanked the company for everything they had done for the community during the last the four and a half decades.
“We sincerely appreciate everything Skenesborough has done for us over the years,” Telisky said.
Trustee Mike LaChapelle who once served as a volunteer firefighter himself echoed that sentiment. “I would like to thank you for everything you did. I walked in your shoes and it’s not easy.”
James Putorti, who served as the company’s president until last month, said members of Skenesborough made the decision to proceed with dissolving at a company meeting on Dec. 8.
“We were all in agreement. It wasn’t easy, but it’s necessary,” Putorti said. “It’s unfortunate, but it has to happen.”
The decision to dissolve is the culmination of two or three years of struggles for the department.
The company has been plagued by declining membership over the last couple of years and the situation had gotten so dire that the department was struggling to maintain enough membership to continue its operations.
They also lost a significant stream of revenue as their fundraising efforts gradually dried up over the past few years.
The company used to host bingo in the hall of the firehouse and held an annual truck raffle, but the cost of those efforts began to match, or even exceed, what they were bringing in, making them prohibitive.
Members of the company will not turn their attention to tying up any loose ends.
Members have already removed much of their personal property from the firehouse and have worked closely with the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company over the last few weeks on how to manage the transfer of its assets.
Putorti said Skenesborough reached an agreement last Tuesday to sell all their equipment and apparatus to the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company for $1, a gesture that drew praise from members of the board.
“I would like to give my tremendous gratitude to everyone for what they have done. It’s tough to lose your identity but what you have done is truly in the best interest of the public. The sale of the equipment for a dollar is exceptional,” trustee Walt Sandford said.
The Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company will keep the ladder truck in operations and some surplus equipment may be sold to the best advantage of the company.
As a gesture of goodwill, Whitehall agreed that a plaque on the truck dedicated to Harold Martell will remain in place until the truck is taken out of service, at which point the plaque will be handed over to Martell’s family.
Whitehall will also add Skenesborough’s files to its archives.
Putorti said most of the other contents in the building will remain in place, with the exception of some kitchen appliances which will likely be given to the Elks Lodge.
As for the firehouse itself, the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company has requested that the garage portion and meeting room area remain available for use by the department.
The remainder of the building is expected to be used as town offices.
WVFC president Brian Brooks said the company has decided not to pursue any payment from the town to help expedite their move into the firehouse.