Copake seating chart changes, 1 spot vacant

COPAKE—It was the first regular Town Board meeting of the new year, January 9, and as with every new administration there’ll be some changes made.

The first change was the seating arrangement with newly-elected Town Supervisor Jeanne Mettler assuming the middle chair behind the court bench from where the meetings are conducted. Ms. Mettler,a Democrat, replaces two-term supervisor Jeff Nayer, an Independence Party member, who decided to call it a day after eight years in the top spot.

With Ms. Mettler’s move to supervisor, her seat on the board (with two years of a four-year term still remaining) was vacant—making the board one member short.

Councilman Richard Wolf, a Democrat, who is two years into his first term and was recently appointed deputy-supervisor, sat to the supervisor’s right. Councilman Stanley “Stosh” Gansowski, a Conservative, recently re-elected to his second term, sat to the supervisor’s left, two seats down. Immediately to the supervisor’s left, in the seat formerly held by Councilwoman Kelly Miller-Simmons, a Republican, who lost her bid for supervisor in November, sat newly-elected Councilwoman Terry Sullivan, a Republican, who served on the Town Board previously 2015 to 2017.

Also seated with the board were returning Town Attorney Ken Dow and newly-elected Town Clerk/Tax Collector Lynn Connolly, who replaces longtime clerk Larry Proper, who did not seek re-election.

Getting down to business, Supervisor Mettler quoted former Republican Supervisor Angelo Valentino (2000-2008) as saying: The people will tolerate politics for two months a year, but the rest of the time the board must dedicate itself to doing the work of the people.

Ms. Mettler conveyed her hope that the board will have a congenial, collegial and productive year. She promised to treat everyone with respect and even when she disagrees, to do it with courtesy.

The supervisor announced her appointment of a new town historian—Howard Blue. The post is a personal appointment by the supervisor, not the board. Mr. Blue replaces Gloria Lyons, who has served as historian for the past 15 years. The post comes with a $450 stipend/year. Ms. Mettler thanked Ms. Lyons for her many years of service.

By way of introducing Mr. Blue, Ms. Mettler said he has been studying, reporting and lecturing on Copake history for many years. He is currently the Copake Grange historian. Going forward, she said it is her hope that the historian will take an active role by writing historical articles for the Copake Connection, the town’s e-newsletter; creating a history page for the town website and drafting a town historian job description. Mr. Blue said he was “honored by the appointment.”

The town’s Broadband Committee Chair Deborah Cohen sent an email proposing “the retirement of the committee.” She recounted the committee’s accomplishments and noted, “The rollout of fiber and cable internet by Consolidated Communications and Spectrum respectively was largely complete by mid-2019. The great majority of Copake households now have access to at least one of those providers,and some even have a choice between the two. In some cases where high speed internet is not yet available, faster DSL service has become available.”

She volunteered the input of individual committee members, some with “great expertise in internet technology and its application to economic development” to the town on future projects or if issues arise. She thanked everyone who served on the Broadband Committee for helping to “bring Copake into the 21st century!” The board agreed to retire the committee and thanked it for its work.

Supervisor Mettler said that while economic development in the Copake hamlet is being addressed by the Copake Hamlet Revitalization Taskforce, townwide economic development is not being handled as vigorously.

She proposed the formation of a new Economic Advisory Committee to address those types of issues. She said she will put together a mission statement for review and tweaking at the February meeting and suggested that by March the board may conduct committee member interviews.

The Town Board gratefully accepted a donation from a private citizen to help repair the town’s ailing centerpiece clock. Copake resident Marc Gross of County Route 7, sent a note and a clipping from The Columbia Paper of the November 21, 2019 story, “Copake will fix clock but sparks fly over new bookkeeper.” The story details efforts to straighten out the differing times appearing on each of the four faces of the Copake Memorial Clock. The cost to repair the 75-year-old timepiece is not yet known, but the town has called in professionals to fix it.

Mr. Gross said in his note that he has enjoyed Copake for over 25 years and asked the town to accept his donation toward the clock repair. He enclosed a $2,500 check.

Ms. Mettler said the last time she checked with Rus Davis about when the repair would happen, he told her “the company is waiting for a break in the weather.”

In other business the board:

* Discussed seeking grants from local sources to fund summer Music in the Park events and for a new waterslide for use by the Copake Summer Program in the park

* Discussed raising the limit on the amount of money that can be spent by a department without seeking board permission in advance. The limit is currently $250

* Heard from resident Carol Gansowski that she has seen cement blocks and other debris thrown down an embankment behind a house on Route 22. The embankment is along the Bash Bish Brook. She called on the town to check it out.

The next regular Town Board meeting is February 13 at 7 p.m.To contact Diane Valden email

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