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Ancram highway chief lends a hand


ANCRAM—When someone writes a letter to the Town Board about the highway superintendent, the board braces for complaints like a mailbox decapitated by a snow plow or a cherished tree trimmed beyond recognition. The highway chief himself may also bear bad news of storm damage or busted equipment.

But at its July 17 meeting, the Ancram Town Board received some pleasant news about its highway boss, Jim MacArthur.

Ancram resident Catherine Wile wrote to tell the board about her July 11 experience, when she and a group of friends were out bike riding on East Ancram Road. Ms. Wile wrote that one of her friends took a bad fall and was seriously injured. They called 911 and before the ambulance arrived, Mr. MacArthur showed in his pickup truck and “was very helpful, kind and professional.”

After her injured friend was taken to the hospital by the rescue squad and another friend went with them, she and her remaining friends found themselves “quite shaken up” and in possession of two extra bicycles.

Mr. MacArthur loaded the bikes into the back of his pickup and gave everyone a ride back to Copake where they had parked their cars. Without Mr. MacArthur’s assistance, Ms. Wile wrote, it would have been difficult for she and her friends to get themselves and all the bikes back to Copake. “Jim’s assistance really made a difference and we wanted to thank him publicly. I think that all too often these acts of kindness go unrecognized and we didn’t want that to happen.”

Ms. Wile signed the letter along with Jerry and Cecile Kraus of Copake, Carolyn Schroth of Spencertown and Drew Robbins of Salisbury, CT.

Town Supervisor Art Bassin read the letter aloud at the meeting and then commended Mr. MacArthur saying, “You did a good thing.”

Mr. MacArthur said he had been at the Copake Highway Garage when he heard the ambulance call and he went to the scene because he feared the bicyclist may have fallen in a pothole.

That did not prove to be the case and contrary to the letter, Mr. MacArthur said by phone this week, the rescue squad was already there when he arrived and all he did was put the bikes in the truck and provide a ride to Copake.

Attempts to reach Ms. Wile and other signers of the letter to find out the condition of their injured friend were unsuccessful.

Also at the July meeting, the board heard from resident Ann Rader, who along with Ancramdale veterinarian Tina Aiken spoke about the need for the town to enact its own laws regarding “puppy mills” and also a law prohibiting the chaining of dogs around the clock.

Ms. Rader said that since January, municipalities in this state have had the opportunity to “write stronger laws” than those that currently exist in the state Agriculture and Markets Law.

Dr. Aiken said that typically dogs born in puppy mills, a derogatory term for places that intensively breed dogs for puppies to sell, keep animals in inhumane conditions and the dogs experience more health problems than those bred by reputable establishments.

Supervisor Bassin agreed that puppy mills “are not a good thing” and asked Ms. Rader to provide him with a copy of Ag and Markets Law and a proposed town law so he could see the difference and understand the matter better.

In other business July 17:

Supervisor Bassin said the Roeliff Jansen Community Library will again seek $30,000 in annual support from the town via a referendum on the November ballot. Ancram residents voted down a similar question last year, though Ancram is among the three towns the library is chartered to serve. The town makes a voluntary $5,000 contribution annually. Residents of the other towns, Copake and Hillsdale have voted to be taxed to pay for library funding under what is called a Chapter 414 resolution, which allows voters to approve a tax that goes directly to a local library. Mr. Bassin asked the board to consider a draft law in advance of the referendum that would authorize Columbia County to itemize on annual Town of Ancram property tax bills the taxes levied on behalf of the library

The board heard a special report from Court Clerk/Deputy Town Clerk Ruth Wittlinger, who presented Town Clerk Monica Cleveland with a luscious-looking chocolate cake for her 30-something birthday. Mrs. Wittlinger had words of praise for Mrs. Cleveland, who helped her through many months of broken bone recovery following a slip on ice in the Town Hall parking lot

The board spend the bulk of the meeting going over with Town Attorney Jason Shaw a proposed law that would allow the town to act on the removal of unsafe buildings at the owner’s expense. The board will conduct a public hearing on the new law prior to the August board meeting.

The board meets next August 21. The public hearing starts at 6 p.m. followed by the regular business meeting at 7 p.m.

To contact Diane Valden email

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