HUDSON–Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett received an award last week for the support he provided to one of his deputies while the deputy was on active military duty. The county Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday, January 11, where the award was presented also marked the arrival of newest member of the county board.
When Deputy Sheriff P. J. Merante left for a year of military service at Guantanamo Bay, Sheriff David Bartlett helped support the deputy’s family. When Deputy Merante returned, the sheriff helped him and his family adjust. For these efforts, the U.S. Department of Defense honored Sheriff Bartlett with a Patriot Award. Emil Baker, Capital Area chair of the New York Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department program, handed Sheriff Bartlett his award certificate at the January 11 meeting.
A release from the Sheriff’s Office issued January 12 said that the award is presented to an employer who supports citizen soldiers through a wide range of measures, including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployments, caring for families and granting leaves of absence if needed.
“I want to thank Sheriff Bartlett on behalf of my family,” said Deputy Merante, a sergeant with the Army National Guard who also served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The press release said Deputy Merante was at Guantanamo Bay from January 1 until November 11, 2016 “to conduct detainee operations of law of war and enemy combatants.”
Sheriff Bartlett indicated that he had been able to support his military members, while fulfilling his duties as sheriff because of the quality of his staff. In addition, he said he values having veterans of the armed forces on his team. “It was hard to have a good deputy sheriff away for a year,” Sheriff Bartlett said. “I’m so fortunate to have the employees I have.”
In the release the Sheriff Bartlett said, “I will continue to support veterans during and outside of deployments, but I am very happy to have Deputy Merante back working for me.”
Also at the January 11 meeting, the board acknowledged its newest member, Ryan Skoda, supervisor of Taghkanic. He replaces Eric Tyree, who recently resigned.
Mr. Skoda has a farm in Taghkanic.
In a telephone interview January 14, he said he has lived in the Town of Taghkanic his “entire life,” was born in Hudson, attended SUNY Cobleskill and has an associate’s degree in dairy production and a bachelor’s degree in animal science. He served on the Taghkanic Town Council, before the Town Board appointed him to replace Mr. Tyree.
Mr. Skoda said his biggest goal is “to make everybody in the town proud of me at both the town level and the county level.”
Mr. Skoda suggested that this might include trying “to keep taxes flat or ideally to lower them.”
The next Columbia County full Board of Supervisors meeting will be Wednesday, February 8 at 401 State Street.