Shakespeare & Company A Body of Water June-July 2024

Hey, speeders. Smile


ANCRAM—If you are driving in this town and you suddenly get the feeling you are being watched—maybe you are.

Ancram has purchased two new Evolis radar speed signs and has them set out along roads at varying locations frequented by speeding motorists.

The radar speed signs, made in France, according to the Evolis website ( were “conceived and designed as street furniture… with its curved lines and batteries included in the box” and the signs offer “a compact design that fits perfectly in any city environment.”

Not exactly custom-made for Ancram, but who cares? They seem to be working.

At the December 20 Town Board meeting, Councilman Hugh Clark reported on a meeting he and Councilman David Boice had with Resident Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Kilmer about the speeding situations in the Ancram and Ancramdale hamlets.

After hearing concerns from residents about too many pedal-to-the-metal motorists, especially zooming through the hamlets, town officials purchased the two radar signs for a total of $5,500. The signs are the size of an ordinary road sign and digitally display an oncoming driver’s speed. Thanks to the engineering ingenuity of the town highway crew, the signs have been mounted on a trailer instead of strapped to a pole, so their location can be changed periodically.

Mr. Clark said the first sign had a beneficial effect and drivers slowed down because of it. That effect was expected to be enhanced when the second sign went into operation. Likewise an increased presence of road patrols in recent weeks has resulted in the writing of fewer tickets, according to Deputy Kilmer’s observations. Hamlet residents have stopped both the deputy and Councilman Boice to say thank you for the police presence and that it had slowed people down.

The bottom line,” Mr. Clark said, “is that with the two signs and the greater police presence and attention, the hiring of extra patrols is not warranted at this time.” He said the effects of these measures are likely to continue and seem to be making a dent in the number of speeders.

Mr. Boice said he spoke to several officers, both deputies and state troopers and they all had the impression that people are slowing down. He said Ancram is not more of a problem than any other place, there is no difference in the “driving philosophy.”

Mr. Clark said Deputy Kilmer told him that Ancram is the first and only town in the county that has employed speed signs as a municipality.

Mr. Boice agreed that the town should hold off on adding any more anti-speeding tactics just now, noting, “If you do three or four things you won’t know what worked. We’re already on the way to people saying: You can’t drive fast through that town.”

Supervisor Art Bassin said he sets the targeted speed limit on the signs and programs it to show speeds that register above the limit. He said the signs track speeds in both directions and that collected information can be downloaded on computer by Bluetooth.

The signs and their response to the speedometer readings of passing motorists have gained at least one fan, who finds watching each encounter play out from his front window… entertaining.

Prope Dietter had a ringside seat to the action when the new radar speed sign was stationed outside his house on County Route 8 in Ancramdale. Photo by B. Docktor

Town Clerk Monica Cleveland said her grandfather, Avery “Prope” Dietter gets a kick out of the flashing lights and seeing which drivers set them off and calls her if he sees anything noteworthy.

Mr. Dietter told The Columbia Paper this week, that when people obey the speed limit, the sign says “thank you” and when they exceed the limit, it says “slow down.”

Mr. Dietter, 91, known as the Mayor of Ancramdale, said the sign out in front of his house was an attention-getter while it was there, but it has since been moved.

He said he can remember when the county asked him for permission to put the first 35 mph speed limit sign on his lawn along County Route 8 some years ago.

Mr. Dietter said the first person to get a ticket as a result of disobeying the sign was the late Polly Masters, who subsequently called him up and gave him a chewing out for allowing the sign to be put there.

Mr. Bassin said at the meeting, when people ask him if the radar signs have cameras, he tells them, “Not yet.”

But that doesn’t mean someone out there isn’t watching.

The Town Board’s next meeting is Thursday, January 17 at 7 p.m.

To contact Diane Valden email

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