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Two who served Copake for years die

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COPAKE—This town lost two long-time public servants within a week of each other late last month.

Reginald “Reggie” Crowley, 67, died November 23. Mr. Crowley served as town supervisor from 2008 through 2011 and served as town justice for 14 years before that. For many years, he was a Columbia County Sheriff’s deputy. He later ran the county’s Stop DWI Program.

Lawrence “Larry” Proper, 64, died November 29. He served the Town of Copake for more than 40 years. He volunteered as a firefighter and was on the rescue squad. He worked for the town Highway Department for 30 years, eventually he was elected highway superintendent.

For 20 years he was also town clerk/tax collector, a post once held by his father, Otis W. Proper, from 1960 to 1968. When he wasn’t the town clerk, he was helping out the town clerk as the deputy town clerk.

But no matter what his role, he was always good-natured and the man to ask when anyone had a question about Copake.

In her Supervisor’s Report at the December 9 Town Board meeting, Jeanne Mettler told those present at Town Hall and via video conference, that a ceremony honoring Mr. Proper for his more than four decades of service was planned for the January 2022 Town Board meeting.

Reginald “Reggie” Crowley

“If things had gone as expected,” she said, former supervisors Jeff Nayer, Reggie Crowley and Angelo Valentino, and Highway Superintendent Bill Gregory, and past Town Clerk Vana Hotaling, and current Town Clerk Lynn Connolly, would all have been there “to say a few words expressing our gratitude and congratulations to a man who was the consummate public servant. But things did not go as expected.”

On Monday, December 6, she was among those who stood in front of Town Hall as a funeral procession for Mr. Proper rolled by.

“First a Copake firetruck, then two highway trucks—one with a plow, both gleaming. Then a long black hearse which paused at the driveway to Town Hall, and then moved on.

Lawrence “Larry” Proper

“Followed by the family, and over 30 cars of friends. Followed then by more Copake Highway Department trucks, and then trucks from the highway departments of 10 towns and the county and fire trucks from 5 towns: Ancram, Hillsdale, Canaan, Ghent, Taghkanic. They all rolled by to show their love and respect to this man who was a friend to all.”

“Last night,” she said, “the Board of Supervisors closed their meeting with a moment of silence to honor Reggie Crowley. We will close our meeting tonight with a moment of silence to honor former Copake judge and Supervisor Reginald Crowley, and former town clerk, former park superintendent and highway superintendent, Lawrence O. Proper.”

Later in the meeting, Supervisor Mettler said she had recently met with Teri Proper, Mr. Proper’s widow, and hoped that a ceremony honoring Larry could still be held sometime next year.

In other business, the Town Board:

*Conducted a public hearing on a new local law to opt out of allowing on-site consumption sites as authorized under Cannabis Law Article 4. The new law is subject to a permissive referendum.

Last month a majority of board members voted not to opt out of allowing local dispensaries for the sale of marijuana. All board members voted in favor of opting out of allowing onsite consumption lounges in Copake at the December 9 meeting. Ms. Mettler said she believed it would be prudent to appoint a committee to consider zoning issues connected with allowing local marijuana sales and consumption. She said it would have been ill-advised to allow consumption sites before the state has given thorough guidance and regulations and before such sites are restricted under local zoning. She said zoning dictates where bars can be, but there is nothing in the law about marijuana consumption sites.

The supervisor suggested that committee members appointed be: Bob Haight, Tom Goldsworthy and Lindsay LeBrecht. The ad hoc Zoning Advisory Committee will be short-term and assigned to address an immediate need.

All board members voted in favor of creating the committee as named, except Councilman Stosh Gansowski, who was not sure it was a “well-rounded” group.

*Agreed to remotely conduct both its 2021 year-end meeting, Tuesday, December 28, 4 to 5 p.m. and its 2022 Organization Meeting, Tuesday, January 4, 10 to 11 a.m. The board will then review the most recent Covid-19 case numbers before deciding whether to schedule the January 13 Town Board meeting in-person or remotely.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@columbiapaper.com

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