Year in Review Part II

 

July 7

Village uses soft touch

for property issues

If your neighbors’ lawn is too long or they don’t take care of their garbage and you live in the village, you might have called Granville Village Ordinance Officer Gary Didier into action.

As part of the duties of the part-time position, Didier is tasked with keeping an eye out for property owners or tenants who are not taking care of the places they live, often to their neighbor’s distress.

In a time when taxes are determined by assessed value, any issue impacting property values can be a sensitive subject so Didier said he tries to use a soft touch with residents and it’s worked out so far.

“I don’t want to make them unhappy that they’re in the village but if your grass in one and a half feet tall and the neighbors, they’re keeping it nice, that’s not fair,” he said.

Since the village ran an advertisement alerting property owners to renewed enforcement in early May Didier reports no complaints have reached the point of being ordered to appear in court, although a handful have come close.

“I’d say maybe 90 to 95 percent of the people I deal with, all it takes is a phone call or a visit,” Didier said.  

Mayor Brian LaRose said the board has been pleased with the results of the work thus far.

“It’s been working out really well. This year we decided to take a more aggressive approach and with Gary’s help it’s been going very, very well,” he said. 

 

Tax cap passed

The last day of the recent state legislative session was a momentous one and saw state lawmakers make sweeping changes to state law.

And those changes went far beyond same-sex marriage straight to the future of education in small towns like Granville.

Just before the same-sex marriage bill passed, senators and representatives passed a wide agenda of legislation, including a tax cap that had been one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign promises.

Granville school officials and education authorities across the state have said the new law carries serious implications for poor and rural school districts.

The tax cap restricts municipalities and school districts to a two percent increase per year in the tax rates.

 

July 14

Steves takes helm

Newly elected Granville Board of Education President John Steves said despite the change in chairs not much will change with how the school board operates.

“I think we’re doing a pretty good job, we’re maintaining the facilities, we’re trying to maintain the staff as best we can and we’re financially very frugal, why do you want to change that?” said Steves, who takes over from Kathy Nelson, who is now the vice president.

Steves said he and Nelson, who nominated him as president, had conversations with other board members about how best to proceed and decided to nominate each other for the other’s board position.

“We had talked earlier and we were just trying to be a little more educated in the process, talked to the other members to see how they felt about things to do a better job,” he said. Due to the demands of the position Steves said the idea of a co-president was discussed, but eventually discarded in favor of the switch. 

Having the immediate past president in the roll of vice president allows the board to continue to benefit from Nelson’s experience, but the bottom line is the move does not signal a major philosophical shift or policy change.

 

July 21

Castle resigns

The Granville police officer who returned to work as a result of a judge’s order just a few months ago has resigned from the village department.

Patrol officer Joe Castle, a five-year veteran of the Granville Village Police, turned in his resignation Wednesday afternoon village officials said Thursday morning.

Castle’s one-sentence resignation letter simply said he was resigning his position effective immediately providing no explanation for the move.

Mayor Brian LaRose said Thursday he had not spoken to Castle and his resignation simply said he resigned ‘for personal reasons.’

“As far as the village is concerned he was an excellent employee,” LaRose said.

The injunction granted to Castle and the Granville Police Benevolent Association which allowed Castle to return to work was set to run out soon

The mayor said he had a meeting planned with the chief of police where the two would discuss what comes next for the village police department in terms of manning.

 

Interim principal named

James Donnelly is ready to get to work in Granville once he can just find some place to live.

“I’m excited to get into the district, meet the community and really learn. My first job in Granville is to learn and to ask questions. At the same time, I’ve already met with the assistant principal Dan (Poucher) and Mark (Bessen) we’ve already started the discussion about some of the things that have to go on before September,” Donnelly said.

First things first, Donnelly said he’s been working with local real estate agents trying to find a rental home for himself, his wife Joanne and Molly, their golden retriever.

With a son and a daughter out in the working world, a daughter a college junior and a son spending his senior year of high school as a college freshman Donnelly said he can visualize a crowded house for the holidays.

The former National Principal of the Year said Friday by phone he’s working to get the details of the family side of the transition worked out, but plans to start in the district July 25 readying for the new school year which begins Sept.6.

Donnelly said his first order of business is to keep education moving forward in Granville.

 

July 28

Gay marriage Sunday

Same-sex couples said “I do” all over New York beginning at midnight Sunday, but there was no call for ceremonies in the local area.

In fact, there was a single ceremony done in all of Washington County. That was in Argyle, where Town Clerk Gianna Cross opened her office for three hours and issued one license, for a couple from Amsterdam.

In New York City, there were 659 marriage licenses issues. City Hall in Albany was open at midnight for ceremonies and a number of couples also used Niagara Falls as the backdrop for their ceremonies.

But as of Monday, there had been no licenses issued in Granville, Whitehall or other nearby towns.

Granville Town Clerk Jenny Martelle said Friday afternoon, she had not received any inquiries specifically regarding gay marriage.

“People call up all the time and want to know what they need to do to get married,” she said.

Martelle said none of the inquiries fielded lately specially addressed gay marriage. “But I don’t ask,” she said.

 

Aug. 4

Pantry director steps down

                   

The Mettowee Valley Ecumenical Council has named a new director for the food pantry, officials announced Friday.

Syndy Anoe, a retired teacher from Hartford was announced as the new director replacing the team of Joanne Holland and her husband Harry. 

“I went down to volunteer for a couple of hours 17 years ago,” Holland said.

 “Joanne provided great leadership for the food pantry and we are blessed to have Syndy taking over,” Rev. Jerry McKinney said.

Holland said she had been keeping an eye out for someone looking to take careful charge of a task she has put a great deal of time into over nearly two decades.

“That was a load off of my mind, God was good to me, timing was perfect; I couldn’t have asked for a better timing situation,” Holland said. 

“Mo-Jo’ as the pair were often referred to have assisted with the food pantry located in the basement of St. Mary’s Church for 17 years.

“It’s been a good, rewarding experience, I’m not sorry I ever did it,” Holland said.

 

Aug. 11

Emphasis on curfew

 

Idle hands, it is said, are the devil’s playthings.

Hanging out late at night doesn’t help either when it comes to causing damage to private and public property.

Prompted by an increase in the number of vandalism and destructive mischief types of complaints, local officials recently revealed their plan for ways to mitigate the problem.

Mayor Brian LaRose said the issue had been coming to the forefront more and more over the past year and now the village board has decided they must act to knock the problem down before it gets any worse.

Although the board drafted new rules for the band stand in Veterans Park recently, LaRose thought no new laws will be needed in this effort.

“That’s basically what it’s going to be, we’re going to better enforce the laws that we already have,” LaRose said.

The mayor said he met with Granville police Chief Ernie Bassett Jr. and together the two decided the first step in curtailing acts of vandalism and property destruction are to reduce the opportunity to commit them.

 

Vandalism traced to two

 

Granville village police announced Friday arrests have been made relating to the vandalism at the Slate Valley Museum in early July.

Matthew F. Ricketts, 17, faces one count of third-degree criminal mischief, a class “E” felony, after being accused of breaking off a birch tree by climbing its trunk in the early morning hours of July 5.

Granville Police Chief Ernie Bassett Jr. said the vandalism, which included picnic tables outside of the museum which were damaged and thrown into the Mettowee River.  Also graffiti and destruction of a pair of birch trees which totaled approximately $2,400 in damages.

A second arrest was made, but referred to Family Court, Bassett said because the suspect was 15 years old. The 15-year-old used a knife to strip the bark off of the second tree effectively killing it, police said.

A brief investigation into the vandalism produced witnesses who provided the names of the suspects, police said. 

 

Aug. 18

Marker replaced

 

It’s back, but not exactly. The marker denoting the end of the Lansingburgh Turnpike, an historic roadway running from Lansingburgh to Granville went missing during the Quaker Street construction project for the Rite Aid next to Price Chopper Plaza in 2007.

Some time during the week of Aug. 8 a blindingly bright new white stone appeared on the lawn of the Rite Aid; somehow unnoticed by many driving by.

“We’re very happy it’s back, that’s an important monument, we’re glad they (Schuyler) stepped up and did what they said they were going to do for us,” Granville Supervisor Matt Hicks said. Hicks announced the arrival of the replacement monument at the Aug. 11 town board meeting.

Granville Town Historian Edi Sparling said she was pleased to find out the marker had been quietly replaced.

“The good thing is there’s a replacement there, that’s what was needed,” Sparling said. 

 

Aug. 25

Possible tornado

 

Some say microburst, some say straight-line winds, others say it was a tornado, but one thing that is sure is that something hit East Potter Avenue like a sledgehammer Sunday night.

A storm cell struck with incredible force about 6 p.m. Sunday.

No injuries were reported, but damage ranging from knocked down fences to broken and uprooted trees and even destroyed crops were reported Monday along Granview Drive, East Potter Avenue and on across the border past Liebig’s Strawberries.

Witnesses said the storm went from light drizzle rain to a heavy downpour with quarter-sized hailstones and powerful gusting winds back to a drizzle in a matter of minutes leaving behind a wake of devastation residents were still cleaning up Monday afternoon.

Close calls with the isolated storm, one of several which crisscrossed the county during the day, were widespread.

 

Sept. 1

Tropical storm hits

Tropical storm Irene pounded Granville Sunday night dropping more than six inches of rain in a 24-hour period causing major flooding in the village and forcing 25 families from their homes, causing a number of close calls and severely damaging several area businesses.

Residents of Factory and Depot streets and Rathbun Avenue were told they had to leave their homes Sunday evening as flood water from the Mettowee River began to rapidly climb over the banks of the river, flooding lawns and basements adjacent the fast moving waters.

Entire trees and various other kinds of debris could be seen among the churning waves of the river as a heavy rain continued to fall into the evening hours.

Village Mayor Brian LaRose and Town Supervisor Matt Hicks traveled around the village Sunday night evaluating conditions before conferring with emergency responders prior to declaring a state of emergency which was extended into Wednesday when the extent of the damage was determined Monday morning.

 

Three close calls

A single car accident nearly turned tragic Sunday night as a vehicle was washed off of flooded streets near the intersection of Routes 22 and 149.

The vehicle slipped from the roadway and before rescue personnel could reach it, disappeared from view, Village Fire Chief Ryan Pedone said.

The driver had been in contact with rescue personnel by cell phone until the vehicle shifted and began to sink.

The woman told rescuers she could not swim from the car because she did not know how to swim.

Firefighters and Washington County Sheriff’s deputies used a canoe and a flat bottom boat to access the vehicle and bring the driver to safety.

When the boat reached the vehicle it was almost completely submerged in a nose down position, he said.

The driver was sitting in the water in an open window of the car when rescue personnel reached her and pulled her into the boat, Pedone said.

Fire fighters then used safety lines they deployed to try to reach the boat to pull the boat and rescue personnel back to higher ground.

The driver was treated for hypothermia and taken to Glens Falls Hospital for evaluation.

Witnesses said the vehicle was swept away in an instant.

 

 

Bridges closed

 

With rising flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Irene Sunday night, local officials ordered closed a number of bridges across the village of Granville some of which remained closed into Monday morning.

Sunday night, as flood waters surged towards the top of the Church Street Bridge near the Mettowee River Park officials closed the span which remained closed for half of the day Monday.

At its height, about 9 p.m. Sunday night, flood waters in the Mettowee River were striking a point near the top of the wall of the pedestrian bridge.

Officials said the flood waters reached more than seven feet above flood stage at its highest point.

Prior to closing Church Street, officials closed the pedestrian walking bridge, the Rail Trail Bridge, the Main Street Bridge and the Mettowee River Bridge at the intersection with Route 22. 

Village Fire Chief Ryan Pedone said officials concerned about a combination of flood waters and debris which might dislodge the pedestrian walking bridge which runs between the Slate Valley Museum and the Pember Library and Museum could possibly send it crashing into the Main Street Bridge just a short distance downstream.

As flood waters receded Monday bridges began to reopen.

 

Sept. 8

Zappone vows return

Jim Zappone has a simple message for his customers.

“I just want to let people know that we will be back,” Zappone said Thursday, in between talking with insurance claim adjusters and watching employees pull everything out of his water-inundated Zappone’s Chrysler Plymouth Dodge dealership on Route 22. “We will be open by Oct. 1; we will be back in action, and hopefully it will be the week before that. We’re doing it as fast as we can, and we’ll work 24 hours a day if we have to.”

Zappone did have insurance to cover the losses, “Thank God,” he said, and is also very happy he will not have to lay off any employees. “They will all be here, helping us get back open.”

His entire stock of 130 cars, trucks and SuVs – 95 of them new – was destroyed and all the vehicles will be picked up and taken away by the Chrysler Corp. “They are all totaled,” he said. “They are all flooded.”

 

Flood businesses

A number of area businesses took hard hits from Tropical Storm Irene suffering a broad range of degrees of damage from the minor to the extreme.

At the Granville McDonald’s the clean up process began Monday morning bright and early.

As the Indian River went back down below flood stage and slithered back across Route 22, workers were already pulling out items ruined by the waters of Tropical Storm Irene. Food inventory was lost due to the power outages from the freezers.

Across the parking lot, a crew worked Wednesday readying the Subway and Bongo’s for reopening.

Bongo’s owner Ben Bernard said both sites lost inventory due to the power being turned off, but little in terms of equipment had been lost.

A cooler compression was giving a repairman fits at the Subway, but most other pieces of cooking equipment survived the flooding.

With new inventory ordered, Subway reopened Friday.

In Middle Granville adjacent the Mettowee River and the bridge at the intersection of county Route 24 and Route 22A Chapman’s General Store is back up and running after a brief closure.

“As good as can be expected,” owner Marti Jurnak answered when asked how the store was doing. Their inventory losses probably reach into the thousands of dollars due to the seven inches of water that made its way into the store, she said. 

 

Residential areas

Perhaps the single residential area hardest hit by Tropical Storm Irene is Factory Street. Across the Mettowee River from the Slate Valley Museum the residents of the street and the spur off of its end, Rathbun Avenue, all had some measure of damage when the storm dropped six inches of rain bringing the river to crest on the western side street filling basements with water and residue.

 

Farms

Before Tropical Storm Irene hit, the Kilpatrick Family Farm was one of the premier Community Supported Agriculture-based farms in eastern New York. Now, 10 days after the storm, Michael Kilpatrick and his family face losses that could reach $150,000 and have stopped taking orders for the fall and winter farm shares that drive much of the Middle Granville’s farm’s success. The Mettowee River rose well over its banks and flooded four acres the family farmed in the flats behind Manchester Wood.

Sewer system takes hit

The flood waters from Tropical Storm Irene damaged more than private property as public property from roads to sewer systems were impacted by the deluge.

During a multi-million dollar water treatment project in the village and shortly after the completion of a million-dollar plus sewer treatment phased project completion Tropical Storm Irene came calling with six inches of rain and widespread flooding higher than even the oldest residents could recall.

Village officials said after the storm waters receded, the Village of Granville was left with a mixed bag of results.

Some infrastructure, the village’s fresh water system, was largely unaffected; once the flood waters went down the village fell under a precautionary boil water order for most of the next three days. The boil water notice was finally lifted the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 31.

For the sewer system, however, the impact was substantial.

While the water system repairs are virtually non existent, work could continue on the sewer system for many months, Public Works Superintendent Dan Williams said.

“We lost a lot of our sewer pumps,” Williams said.

 

More flooding

Taking into account strictly the damage done to public property, officials are saying initial estimates place the damage close to $1 million.

Village clerk Rick Roberts reported touring the village with an insurance adjuster on Labor Day getting preliminary estimates for damage of from $650,000 to around $750,000.

No damage estimates for private property have been determined at this point.

Political representatives have toured the damaged areas including Rep. Tony Jordan, Sen. Betty Little and Congressman Chris Gibson; each had promised to do what they can to help Granville, Mayor Brian LaRose said.

LaRose said he and Granville Town Supervisor Matt Hicks met with Gibson the day after the storm to advise him on the damage done to Granville. 

 

Sept. 15

Granville qualifies for FEMA

After waiting 10 days after the initial heavy flooding damage, Granville, along with the rest of Washington County, finally got the word Friday that they would qualify for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

Granville Town Supervisor Matt Hicks got the word from U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson just before Thursday’s town board meeting. Hicks said the important thing for anyone impacted by the flood waters to do is get the necessary paperwork filled out.

Mayor Brian LaRose said he feels confident the village will be in line for federal assistance with what could be as much as $1 million of damage done to the waste water treatment infrastructure.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) distributes two types of aid, Individual Assistance (IA) and Public Assistance (PA), he said.

 

Sept. 22

Sex offender law repealed

In a near-unanimous vote, the Washington County Board of Supervisors repealed a 2007 law restricting where sex offenders could live.

As a result of the decision, the only limitation on sex offenders who are no longer incarcerated, will be that Level 3 offenders – those convicted of the most serious sex crimes – will not be able to live within 1,000 feet of a school.

“Under the state law, we are still well-protected,” said the Rev. Jim Peterson, a Baptist pastor in both Granville and Whitehall and the only person to speak at the public hearing that preceded the vote. “The state law is adequate.”

“In my 40 years as a pastor, I have worked with five or six sex offenders,” he said. “I also have two daughters and five grandchildren, and this law puts too many limits on the sex offenders.”

There was some discussion when the resolution came up for a vote, but of the 16 supervisors present, only Dana Haff of Hartford voted no. Whitehall Supervisor Richard “Geezer” Gordon missed the meeting due to illness.

“I respect the reverend for speaking up, but I prefer to go to the Old Testament,” Haff said. “You cannot rehabilitate these people. It’s like an alcoholic who has been sober for 20 years, he cannot go into a bar. “If you have to trample on the rights of one individual to save many, then so be it.”

 

 Sept. 29

FEMA offers help

The Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to have representatives locally this week to help those who suffered flood damage in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, but first they need to register, officials said.

Peter Lembessis, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) public information officer for this region of New York State, said Friday the agency will have a mobile disaster recovery center set up in Salem to answer any questions residents might have about flooding assistance and to help steer them to various sources of help available.

But first and foremost, they need to register with FEMA regardless of their circumstances, insured or not, homeowner or renter, he said.

Lembessis said he can’t repeat that thought often enough – don’t make the call on your own because you think you might not get help, register, and let FEMA decide what you will receive.

“Be sure to sign up because it leads to numerous opportunities for funding to help rebuild from grants to loans,” Lembessis said.

 

Oct. 6

Vanderminden earns award

The industry he has given decades of his life to has now honored him, as Robert ‘Bob’ Vanderminden has been named the International Casual Furnishings Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2011. 

Vanderminden was recognized Sept. 14 at the industry gala held at the Field Museum in Chicago in front of several family members including three of his five children and several grandchildren, Telescope public relations Greta Cosey said.

The award recognizes individuals who have consistently made outstanding contributions to the industry as well as to their communities. 

Daughter and Telescope CEO Kathy Juckett said everyone was quite proud of her father’s receiving the industry’s most prestigious award.

“It really is quite an honor we’re really proud of him. He’s always been the kind of guy who worked really hard behind the scenes and got it done, to be acknowledged like this by the industry is just really special,” Juckett said.

Vanderminden was characteristically humble when discussing the award. “I’m deeply honored by the whole thing, it was really well done,” he said.

“I was annoyed to start with, but to tell you the truth it was petty interesting that particularly my competition was there. I appreciate a compliment more when it comes from your enemies, enemies from an economic standpoint,” Vanderminden said. 

 

Insurance issues

The village may have to pay more than $500,000 in flood-repair costs, following a decision by Trident Insurance. Village officials are upset and weighing possible responses.

Members of the village board peppered representatives from their insurance local agency, Cool Insurance Agency Inc., with questions Monday demanding to know what had changed after being informed their coverage did not live up to expectations leaving a gaping hole in village protection relating to Tropical Storm Irene.

Village officials said they were informed Friday Trident Insurance would not cover the first $500,000 in losses sustained in the flooding.

The village has a policy officials said provides $1 million in coverage.

This represents a reversal from the days after the disaster when an insurance company adjuster informed the village they were covered, officials said. 

“Frankly, I’m disappointed to be finding out 35 days later,” Mayor Brian LaRose said asking for an explanation. 

Officials from Cool Insurance Agency Inc., the village insurance agent, said Trident only recently informed them of the decision.

Gary Edie of Cool Insurance said the village policy only kicks in after $500,000 with a $50,000 deductible per location. He said the agency was appealing the decision, but could not promise any results. One of the topics being discussed is how many “locations” there actually are.

 

Oct. 13

Seeing the good

 

Granville High School’s gym was packed Friday morning. Students were laughing, cheering and giving out high-fives.

All in the name of good behavior and good grades.

“We’re trying to reinforce the positive things they do and make them admirable or cool,” first-year principal James Donnelly said of the all-school assembly, which was for both the school’s year-old PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports) program and the brand-new academic varsity letter for students who have an average of 90 or better the previous school year, which Donnelly instituted this year.

“The letter was something I had done at other schools, but really all the ideas are stolen from somebody else.”

Donnelly said there are two more recognition programs on the way. The school will be naming two students in each grade – seventh through 12th – as students of the month. The students will be chosen by the faculty, either for outstanding academic success or for improvement in their grades. Evergreen Slate has donated slate for the project, and the students’ names will be engraved on brass plaques.

 

Oct. 20

Steves steps down

Moments after announcing the decision to hire a permanent high school principal, Granville Board of Education President John Steves announced he was stepping down Monday night.

Steves said he offered his letter of resignation, which was accepted by the board so he could “pursue other opportunities.”

The resignation, which came right after the board took the “interim” tag off of Principal James Donnelly’s title, was effective immediately.

Steves said Tuesday morning he had to resign to pursue a job opportunity, because that opportunity was within the school district and he cannot apply while he sits on the board.

Steves said he will be throwing his hat in the ring during the second round of interviews for the recently vacated transportation supervisor position.

The transportation supervisor job opened when Bob Jones announced his retirement in September, but no candidate was hired after the first time the job was posted.

“If I do get it think I would enjoy it and do a good job at it,” Steves said.

 

Donnelly permanent

James Donnelly’s loss was Granville school’s gain Monday night as the high school principal “lost” his interim status, and was named the permanent principal of Granville Junior Senior High School.

Board of Education President John Steves announced the board decided Donnelly would be hired full-time at an executive session held prior to the Monday night meeting.

Steves said the board felt Donnelly had “impressive credentials and good ideas” so they chose to act sooner rather than later.      

 

Oct. 27

 

Bank robbed

Granville Police met with Vermont State Police Wednesday to discuss leads and possible connections to recent Vermont robberies after the TD Bank on Main Street was robbed by a woman Tuesday morning.

Granville Police Chief Ernie Bassett Jr. said the department was following up several leads in the case Wednesday.

Several law enforcement agencies joined Granville Police seeking a bank robber who fled the TD Bank just after 11 a.m.

As of press time, the suspect had not been found, but police continued a vigorous search chasing down various leads. The suspect got away with some money, but police had not disclosed how much.

 

Quick earns office

 

Check out the National FFA Organization web page chances are you’ll recognize a familiar face.

Ken Quick Jr. added another milestone to his personal resume Saturday as the Granville graduate was named National FFA Organization Eastern Region Vice President for 2011-2012.

 

Nov. 3

Bank hit again

Granville Police have discovered a clear connection between a pair of robberies at the Main Street TD Bank branch and two previous bank robberies in Vermont. The investigation of the second robbery in five days solidified the connection, which law enforcement suspected after the first robbery, police said Tuesday. 

Few questions now remain whether the two robbers are linked, and a clearer connection between robberies emerged between the male suspect and prior robberies across the border in Rutland and West Rutland, Vt., Granville Police Sgt. David Williams said

Photos released by Vermont State Police of the male robber at two locations, Lake Sunapee Bank in West Rutland and Merchant’s Bank in Rutland, show the same suspect clearly in both cases, a suspect who bears a striking resemblance to the robber from Saturday morning, Oct. 29.

The male robbery suspect in Granville was a thin, white male around 6 feet tall, wore a dark colored jacket over a white hooded sweatshirt and had a dark colored baseball cap, walked into the bank and displayed a note to the teller demanding cash and implying he had a gun about 11:45 a.m.

 

Edward’s sells

The former Edward’s Market on Main Street has been sold.

Joe Thomas and Jennifer Kelley-Thomas confirmed Oct. 24 they purchased the 8,000 square foot building which formerly housed the neighborhood grocery store known for its deli and meat department.

The building at 13 West Main Street was listed on the Country Horizon website for $98,000 featuring .6 acres of land including a parking lot on the opposite side of the street and apartments above the storefront.

 

Nov. 10

Witness ends robbery spree

 

In the sudden resolution to a series of cross-border bank robberies, a tip and a routine day on the job combined to result in the arrest of a Vermont couple within an hour of the robbery of a Poultney bank.

The call went out to police at 3:10 p.m. Nov. 2 alerting authorities the Citizen’s Bank on Main Street in Poultney, Vt. had been robbed by a suspect matching the description of a woman who robbed the Main Street Granville branch of TD Bank on Oct. 25.

Already linked by police to four prior robberies including three done by a male, suspects Jill Ludwig, 30, and John Maynard, 30, of Castleton would end the day in handcuffs and facing multiple charges, thanks to a few lucky breaks for police.

Police said the couple admitted to robbing the banks to support a heroin habit, which police suspected as the possible motivation for the crimes from the start of the investigation.

 

Insurance resolution

After weeks of battling with Granville Village insurer, Trident, regarding claims tied to the devastation wrought by Tropical Storm Irene, village clerk treasurer Rick

Roberts said he’s finally getting some good news.

During a conference call Friday, Nov. 4 village officials spoke with representatives from Trident who agreed to pay the major portion of claims made by the village, those at the waste water treatment plant off of Mettowee Street. Total losses in the village are currently estimated at about $1.3 million.

The losses in the waste water treatment plant alone are expected to top $500,000. “While this is not complete coverage, this is fairly good news,” Roberts said.

Damage to other village properties such as waste water pumping stations, the water well field and the Slate Valley Museum will be covered, but will each have a $50,000 deductible.

Those repairs should be covered by a combination of funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA and its New York State counterpart SEMA. “With everything combined I believe we will be made whole again,” Roberts said.

Mayor Brian LaRose praised the village staff for their work Monday night saying it was a combination of persistence by Roberts and deputy clerk Denise Davies along with excellent record keeping and documentation by Superintendent Dan Williams and his crew that helped bring about this resolution. 

LaRose said he authorized Roberts to keep the pressure on Trident and their local carrier Cool Insurance Agency Inc. after receiving word the company did not plan to cover flooding losses in the village.

 

Salvation Army comes

 

The Mettowee Valley Ecumenical Council constantly tries to find new ways to help the less fortunate in the Granville area and with this holiday season a new way to assist the needy will arrive.

The council plans to partner with the Salvation Army to set up a Salvation Army Service Unit in Granville, Rev. Jim Peterson said and bells will be ringing in Granville soon.

The pastor of Granville Baptist Church said the effort is hoping the people of Granville will dig deep especially when they see those signature red donation kettles.

“The Ecumenical Council is looking forward to being able to help the needy families in Granville with resources which have not previously been available, but now will be, if the public gives generously to the bell-ringers at the Salvation Army red kettles in front of the Granville Price Chopper,” Peterson said.

 

Nov. 24

First budget doesn’t pass

Washington County doesn’t have a 2012 budget yet, and won’t for at least another week, but that budget certainly drew its share of discussion Friday morning.

“We’re in tough, tough times,” said Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff, whose proposal to cut every line item by 0.47 percent to lower the budget didn’t even get a supervisor to second it, during a protracted debate.

Haff was one of nine of the 17 supervisors to vote against the budget, which would have raised taxes by 1.97 percent, thereby meeting the state’s two-percent tax-cap limit. The board could have raised taxes more, but would have had to take a separate vote to exceed the state cap.

The $80 million proposed budget would have produced $77.5 million in revenue and would have pulled $2.5 million – or 20 percent total from the fund balance. That would leave the fund balance at $9.3 million.

 

Dec. 1

Ross Recalls Pearl Harbor

Barney Ross’ voice wavers a bit more than it used to, and sometimes he needs to pause for a few seconds before he continues with his story.

But once he gets going, and falls into his rhythm, the story — from 70 years ago — seems as smooth as the path a stream carves through the rock of a stream bed.

“I saw a Japanese plane go by our ship, and I could see the pilot smile as he went past our ship. There was a torpedo under his plane, and he dropped that torpedo, and it hit the USS Utah.

“We were lucky, they were looking for the battleships. They didn’t care about the destroyers.”

Ross, a 90-year-old Whitehall native who has lived at the Indian River Rehabilitation Center in Granville for the last two years, was aboard the destroyer USS Blue during the attack at Pearl Harbor.  The Utah, along with the USS Arizona, never sailed again, all six of the other battleships were damaged and 2,402 American servicemen died that morning, Dec. 7, 1941.

 

Dec. 8

Celani named to board

Former Granville Board of Education member Molly Celani was named as a temporary member of the board Monday night, filling a slot vacated when new district transportation supervisor John Steves resigned as board president.

Steves resigned his seat in October to clear his way to apply for the district position.

Board President Kathy Nelson announced the resolution to name Celani as the first order of business Monday night in a meeting held at the Mary J. Tanner Primary School. Annually the board holds meeting at Tanner and Granville Elementary and takes a tour of the facilities before the meeting.

Celani’s interim position was confirmed by the board 8-0 on a motion from new vice President Eric Scribner and a second from Dee Bergeron, with John McDermott absent from the meeting.

The temporary position will last until a new board member can be elected in May and takes his or her seat in June.

 

County budget passes

In the end, there was a budget, but there was little joy about it.

“There were no big changes. It was what we expected,” Hebron Supervisor Brian Campbell said Thursday after the Washington County Board of Supervisors passed a $113.8 million budget, which includes a 1.176 percent tax increase.

 Supervisors used almost $7 million from the county’s various fund balances to keep the increase under the state-mandated two-percent cap. Without the fund-balance transfers, the tax increase would have been 25.9 percent.

“It’s going to be more difficult next year,” Campbell continued. “I know it’s hard for everyone. I am a dairy farmer, I know.”

 

Dec. 15

Gauges shut down

Two flood gauges which served as early-warning systems during this year’s heavy flooding will be turned off in March, because there is no more funding available for them.

One of the gauges is located on the Mettowee River, 110 feet downstream from the bridge on County Route 21 in Middle Granville, and has been in operation for more than two decades and monitors when water levels are approaching their crests.

Portions of the Mettowee River were more than a dozen feet about flood level after Tropical Storm Irene hit the region in August, causing major flooding.

A second gauge, on Lake Champlain, approximately 2.5 miles north of the state boat launch on South Bay and four miles north of the village and Lock 12. That gauge helped monitor this spring’s floods, when water levels reached historic levels and were several feet over flood stage.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced earlier this fall that 31 gauges across New York will be shut off effective March 1, 2012. The agency was forced to make the announcement after funding dried up.

 

Dec. 22

 

Bear roams area

A large black bear has been spotted in Granville twice in the past week, in close proximity to the public, prompting police to urge residents to be cautious around what is a large, unpredictable wild animal.

Saturday evening beginning about 6 p.m., a bear, believed to be the same one spotted in the town of Granville earlier in the week was reported to police in the area between Mettowee Street, Berkowitz Drive, Elm and Columbus streets.

The bear returned to the village Tuesday n

 

Hartford may sue

The town of Hartford may take Washington County to court over back taxes and road maintenance costs related to the proposed Eldridge Lane landfill.

The land, originally taken over by Washington and Warren counties in 1994, was never used as planned and has been off the tax rolls since then. Its landfill permit expired earlier this year, but town Supervisor Dana Haff is adamant the county is underpaying the town on taxes owed and on the town’s maintenance of the road.

 

 

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