PHILMONT–You win some, you lose some. Just now, the village library has scored a big win, being named a “five-star library”–the top rating–in the “Library Journal” annual index of public library services. Only 14 libraries in the state achieved five-star status.
To mark the honor, five big, bright gold stars are now lined up on the front lawn of the library on Main Street.
In other library news, the fall book sale begins at noon today, Thursday, November 11, and runs through Sunday, November (Bag Day). A bake sale is featured Saturday; Library Director Karen Garafalo has promised new additions to the stock of books daily.
And thus far, the Friends of the Library have sold more than 90 inscribed bricks for the walkways at the rear entrance. There’s ample room for more, Ms. Garafalo says; bricks cost $50 each and can be inscribed in memory or honor or recognition of anyone or anything.
In the loss column comes word that Philmont is losing its rescue squad and its Stewart’s Shop. The Stewart’s closing was Topic A at the monthly Village Board meeting Monday, November 8.
“There’s not a thing we can do about it,” Mayor Clarence “Skip” Speed told concerned residents. “I spent an hour and a half on the phone with them, and they said it’s a done deal–it’s signed in stone. If you’re not making a profit, you’re a fool to stay open.”
“But it’s always so busy,” said one resident.
“There’s not much profit in selling dollar coffee and people sitting there all day,” Mayor Speed said. He said he hates to see the popular gathering place go. Referring to the shaky local economy, he added, “I’ll be lucky if I can go another year, if things don’t start changing.” Mr. Speed has run a towing and auto repair business in Mellenville for going on 30 years.
The demise of the Philmont Rescue Squad drew little comment. After switching from all-volunteers to paid EMTs, “they just ran out of money,” said the mayor. “The fire company has given them free room and board for many, many years.” The squad has been absorbed by the Greenport Rescue Squad, which has opened a station at 83 Main Street.
In other business Monday, village trustees:
*Heard from Mayor Speed that “we’re getting pretty close to putting security cameras on Main Street,” what with the continuing problem of motorists not stopping for pedestrians in marked crosswalks, and a recent incident in which vandals smashed windows in the village office building.
Based on discussions with other municipalities, “it’s pretty cheap for what you get,” he said.
*The mayor also promised a crackdown on drivers who ignore the “Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk” signs posted in three spots on Main Street. He said he hopes to increase the fine–now $50 with an $85 state surcharge–to $250 plus surcharge for a second offense.
*Heard in the monthly report from Claverack Town Supervisor Robin Andrews, read by Trustee Barbara Sagal, that the 2011 town budget carries a four-cent property tax increase for village residents, who will pay 98 cents per $1,000 assessed value next year.*Supervisor Andrews also urged increased volunteer support for the Mellenville Union Cemetery, lest town taxpayers be forced to assume all costs of its operation.
“If you support the concept of less government takeover, and less taxes,” she wrote in her report, “you can have a direct impact by offering your support to the … cemetery. They are looking for volunteers for their board, and would welcome donations.”