P’mont goes back to court after no-show ruling overturned

PHILMONT–The September 8 meeting of the Village Board was drawing to a close when Village Attorney Robert Fitzsimmons brought up the case of Samuel Wright III. Mr. Wright was convicted in February in a case involving the maintenance of some derelict properties, which Mr. Wright owned. That case was brought before Philmont Justice Rick Tracy. Now, new Justice Russ Immarigeon has overturned the ruling of Judge Tracy in the case of Mr. Wright.

Mr. Wright’s presence has been requested in court several times since 2008 in relation to several properties he owns that the town considers hazardous or dangerous. “Mr. Wright appears to have a mixed record of attendance,” said. Mr. Fitzsimmons. Once, when Mr. Wright failed to appear, “We called [his] mother,” he said.

Mr. Wright’s defense attorney sought to vacate the original conviction—a monetary penalty in the form of a lien—because neither Mr. Wright nor his attorney was present at the trial. According to Mr. Fitzsimmons, Mr. Wright’s attorney said that he forgot to inform his client of the date of the trial.

“Basically the court gave him a do-over,” said Mr. Fitzsimmons.

“Really the taxpayers are being hit pretty hard because of this maneuver,” said Trustee Douglas Cropper.

“Can we file a complaint about our judge to anybody?” asked Trustee Brian Johnson.

Mr. Fitzsimmons responded that it was within the judge’s rights to vacate the previous conviction. “[But] do I agree with it? Absolutely not,” said Mr. Fitzsimmons.

The role of justices has been on the board’s mind recently. In August, the board passed a local law requiring that justices be residents of the Village of Philmont.

The village could have appealed Judge Immarigeon’s decision, but decided against it because it would be a longer and more expensive process than a new trial. “An appeal could take six to eight months to a year,” said Mr. Fitzsimmons. “So we decided to go ahead with a new trial.” The date for the new trial is set for October 16.

Also this week, the board learned that the village has made a deal with developer Alfred Mattikow to exchange one building permit for titles to some equipment of Mr. Mattikow’s originally intended to be a part of a largely abandoned development project. The town will be responsible for installing booster pumps, and Mr. Mattikow will still be responsible for installing the fire pump.

Mr. Cropper asked if there is a clause in the agreement requiring Mr. Mattikow to install the fire pump by a certain date. “It’s already been too long,” said Mr. Cropper. “Even if it’s 2 years, I don’t want to see it go to 5 or 10.”

Trustee Barbara Sagal agreed, saying, “I think before the snow falls. He already told us he was going to do it and he didn’t do it…. He will find a way to circumvent this.”

Mr. Johnson disagreed. “I don’t think a deadline is necessary,” he said. “I just don’t see why we have to aggravate the situation.”

Mayor Clarence Speed brought the discussion to a close, requesting that the board address the issue during the next workshop meeting.

In other business the board:

•Heard Philmont resident Michael Hanson and Pastor Jaron Halsted of the Rock Solid Church in Hudson say they would like to use the Community Center on Fridays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for “a get together for the youth in town. In the area. Play some games. Give some moral instruction,” said Mr. Hanson.

The request was followed by a discussion with Philmont Police Chief Vernon Doyle about what kind of background check required for the adults responsible for the proposed program. Chief Doyle pointed out that a full fingerprint background check would cost around $75.

“Can’t you pass the fee along to the applicant?” asked one audience member.

“It’s kind of a slippery slope,” said Mr. Fitzsimmons. “Are we going to fingerprint everyone who wants to do a wedding” at the Community Center, he saked.

The board decided to do a less extensive free background check and to check the names of the adults responsible against sex offender registries.

•Learned from Mr. Cropper that the village Emergency Management Plan needs to be updated. He requested that the board review the plan and pass on any requests for changes to Mr. Cropper

•Heard that Community Center Director Julia Veronezi has been honored by State Senator Kathleen A. Marchione as a 2014 Woman of Distinction after begin nominated by Mr. Cropper. There will be an awards ceremony at 7 p.m. September 24 at Canfield Casino in Saratoga Springs. Columbia County residents Susan L. S. Brown and Dr. Irma Waldo will also be honored at the ceremony

•Announced a First Aid course October 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. and a CPR/AED course October 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The courses will be held at the Philmont Community Center, 14 Lake Drive. There is a $5 cash fee for each course for a card. There is an additional $25 course fee for non-Philmont residents. Class size is limited and registration ends October 6. Register by calling 518 567-8220 or e-mail .

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