Letters To The Editor

Letters To The Editor 03.25.21

Why Poestenkill Needs a Contracted Ambulance Service

Consistency of response time, mutual aid, and advanced life support are the elements being sought at a price we can live with. Voting yes on the ambulance district on March 30, 2021, in itself, will not increase property taxes.   The vote on March 30 is for one thing – to establish an ambulance district (in this case, for the entire township of Poestenkill).  If the ambulance district is approved, then and only then, Requests for Proposal will be sent to established emergency service providers to be reviewed by the Town Board.  A vote will be held on November 2, 2021, will allow voters to decide whether or not to approve a proposed ambulance contract with a maximum tax levy not to exceed $85.18 for a home with a MARKET VALUE of $150,000 (info derived from the town tax assessor).     

While the Poestenkill First responders have done an outstanding job and are doing all they can, they have not been able to respond to all calls in 2019 and 2020 according to the Rensselaer County Bureau of Public Safety Emergency Communications Center, better known as 911, as evidenced in FOIl-ed reports.    When the first responder can’t respond, the safety net is gone that we have come to rely on while waiting for Mohawk Ambulance to arrive.

For the period from August 1, 2020, to October 30, 2020, the average response time from the time the dispatcher makes the connection to an ambulance on site is 19.7 minutes according to 911 records.  911 Dispatchers evaluate calls according to the seriousness of the event which does affect response time.  For the 14 ALPHA calls (least severe), response time averaged 26 minutes ranging from 13 to 45 minutes.  For the more severe DELTA calls, there were 14 calls averaging 16 minutes ranging from 12 to 21 minutes.  In this time period, there was one ECHO (most severe) call with a 15 minute response time.

The desire is to contract with an existing service that best fits the citizens of Poestenkill with a high level of consistent service allowing us to have mutual aid service (currently not available).  My concern is the welfare of our residents while critics seem to dwell on the financial aspects.

It is my hope the majority of voters are open minded ought to allowed the town board to get offers citizens can  evaluate  and express their opinions at the November  election thus made it a  voters referendum .

Harold Van Slyke, Councilman

Vote Yes on the Poestenkill Ambulance District – It’s an Initial Step, Not a Blank Check

It was informative to read the letter in the March 11 Advertiser from Michael Veshia, a retired Rensselaer County 911 dispatcher, which provided real facts, and fact-based opinions, regarding the ambulance situation in Poestenkill, based on his experience regarding emergency response. Thank you for your service Mr. Veshia. The big take-away is that Mr. Veshia has a significant difference of opinion as to the adequacy of ambulance service in Poestenkill from Dave Hass, a man with no actual emergency response experience and a habit of disseminating false, misleading and inflammatory statements. To put it even more clearly, a man with hands-on experience and expertise regarding the ability to dispatch ambulances for emergency situations in Poestenkill says the situation is far from excellent while one who does not have the experience says it is excellent. I choose to believe the expert.

The big question is why do Mr. Hass and his faction not want the town to even investigate whether ambulance response times can be improved? After all, establishing an ambulance district would not raise taxes, but would give the Town Board a chance to investigate alternatives to what we now have with Mohawk and deal with the contractual details regarding any potential alternative. Yet Mr. Hass fights the proposed district as if it is the final, as opposed to an initial, step. It’s the Board’s responsibility to, at least, determine whether our health and safety needs can be more effectively met, yet Board member Hass does not want to do so. Further, money will not flow unless the Board finds a viable alternative and voters accept that course of action in a subsequent referendum. It’s a simple fact that that is the process which the Board has established but Mr. Hass and his faction ignore facts.

I urge Poestenkill voters to let the process work, and to approve this initial referendum to establish an ambulance district. Thank you.

Steve Keller, Poestenkill

Poestenkill – Vote NO on the Blank Check Taxing District, Part 9

Politician: “Hey, I’ve got a great idea”

Normal person: “Oh boy.”

Politician: “Let’s tax air.”

Normal person: “That’s crazy, air is free”.

Politician: “We’ll just tell voters ‘Its only $7 per month and it’s good for you.’”

Normal person: “People won’t buy it, air is free.”

Politician: “We’ll scare them with lies and tell them ‘It’s for the children’.”

Normal person: “Hmmm, that just might work.”

This, in a nutshell, is the “ambulance issue” in Poestenkill.

We have excellent emergency response with the Poestenkill First Responders backed up by Mohawk Ambulance who provides ALS, BLS and transport at no cost to the taxpayers. We should be shouting from the rooftops how lucky we are. Our system is an example of government done right. It works because volunteers make it work.

Unfortunately, a small group of politicians think they can get ahead politically by scaring people and making vague promises they don’t even know how to keep. And they shamelessly tell you “It’s for the children.”

There is no “ambulance issue” in Poestenkill. We’re doing just fine.

For more information, please visit poestenkill.org.

Please reject the 18% tax hike and vote no on the ambulance tax district vote on March 30, 2021, from Noon – 8PM at the Sullivan-Jones VFW in Poestenkill.

Dave Hass, Councilman, Town of Poestenkill


Poestenkill is Not North Greenbush!

As a resident of Poestenkill since 1949, I wonder why we are being told how to vote on this ambulance district by someone from North Greenbush, when the two towns are distinctly dissimilar.

As of the census of 2000, there were 10,805 people, 4,161 households, and 2,916 families residing in the town of North Greenbush with a population density of 223.2/km² (578.0/mi²) and there were 4,336 housing units at an average density of 89.6/km² (232.0/mi²).

On the other hand, Poestenkill had a 2020 population of 4,495, less than half of that of North Greenbush, and unlike North Greenbush, Poestenkill, not surprisingly for a number of reasons, is currently declining at a rate of -0.04% annually and its population has decreased by -0.40% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 4,513 in 2010.

So why on earth would we in Poestenkill with a declining population be foolish enough to do something because people in a town twice our size with a growing population are doing it?

As to response times and “excellent service,” I think Councilman Wohlleber himself can testify as an expert as to just how rapidly emergency personnel can arrive at the scene of an alcohol-related two-car accident at the intersection of Plank and Blue Factory roads, which is “up in the mountains,” another stark difference between North Greenbush, which as anyone knows who has been there, is relatively flat with good roads, versus Poestenkill, which is not.

Does Councilman Wohlleber think it took an inordinate amount of time to get to the scene of that accident, which incidentally he was the cause of?

And are we who actually live in Poestenkill and know its road and terrain going to be so foolish as to believe that somehow, in some undefined way, having an ambulance district will give us better service during an ice storm or when there is two feet of snow on the ground, or when the roads are washed out after a flood?

If so, we are fools indeed!

Paul Plante, Averill Park

Vote Yes on the Poestenkill Ambulance District March 30, 2021

There has been a lot of debate about improving Ambulance Service in Poestenkill. And even some rancor on these pages, as well as on social media. And while I am more than willing to debate and discuss this topic, this should never be made into a personal issue. But in some ways, it is. People in our town are concerned about our current system. The Poestenkill Ambulance Committee appointed by the Town Board in 2017 was tasked to investigate and come up with some viable solutions. Which they did. Those findings have not been forgotten and are still valid to this day. Simply put, there are some shortcomings and frailties in our current system. Still.

In other articles we have seen the term “blank check” tossed about. And “$2,000.00 per call” mentioned, which is easily dismissed by actually doing the math. The same with the “blank check” argument. The District, if established, would have its budget voted on by the taxpayers. That’s actually a good thing. We get a say in how much is spent. Every time… Do we get that with the Town Budget? No. The elected officials (the five Town board members) are the only ones that actually vote on the Town Budget.

I mentioned some of the debate on social media and one of the points raised was “you wouldn’t buy a car without knowing what you are getting”. Of course you wouldn’t. But let’s go with the car analogy. You like Ford cars (or whatever brand you prefer). Great, you get a choice and can change whenever you like. But what if all of the other carmakers went broke, which is certainly not impossible? And Ford cars went through a streak of making terrible cars. Where do you turn?

We have the same situation today. We are on an island, being served by pretty much one company.

What if Mohawk goes through some corporate challenges that alter their service? And yes, it is certainly possible. Do you think a contract would be cheaper in the future? Let’s address this now. For many good reasons.

Thank you.

Evan Eisenhandler, Poestenkill

Why Cant You Be Honest…

Against better judgment I am responding to two letters in the advertiser last week.  One  of those letters was written by Paul Plante and another by Lou Basle.   These writers were looking for attention, and now they have it. 

Mr Plante claims that I have prevented him from voting absentee in the March 30th vote on a permissive referendum on an ambulance district.  The town board does not set these guidelines for voting absentee.  These are set by the state and it is completely out of the town’s control.  Mr Plante knew that when his letter was written.

The second letter, written by Lou Basle claimed I have stifled public comment on the creation of an ambulance district.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I have gone above and beyond to allow for public comment.  The meeting that he is referring to, was a workshop meeting that should have lasted approximately 20 minutes.  The sole purpose of this meeting was for the town clerk, deputy town clerk and the town attorney to finalize the procedures for the upcoming vote.  The workshop does not allow for a comment period, and therefore Mr. Basle and his son were not allowed to turn what was a brief meeting into another side show.  

Keith Hammond, Poestenkill Town Supervisor 

Can Poestenkill Home Owners Afford This

I am sharing this information with all Poestenkill Home Owners to bring your attention to and to have the full picture of what is really going on with the Ambulance Taxing District. It appears not all the information has been shared with the residence and I want to be sure you have all the information before voting on March 30. Please review the 2020 Adopted County-wide Shared Services Initiative Rensselaer County pages 14 & 15. It appears that an agreement for Ambulance Services has already been entered into.


After reading this information, my interpretation is Poestenkill residence are paying for Sand Lake to have another ambulance that will be shared with us. So Poestenkill residents pay Sand Lake $276,000 for shared services (for 1 year). “What shared services means”, Sand Lake has a call and the first bus goes out and 10 minutes later another call comes in for Sand Lake the second bus goes out, 10 minutes after that Poestenkill has a call both of the ambulances are out in Sand Lake, Poestenkill’s call now goes to mutual aid. All this takes time as the call is dispatch again and again until one of the other services can take the call and if all the other towns are unavailable Mohawk is called. This could potentially delay the response times even more. If the ambulance services is to be dedicated to Poestenkill only, the cost would be a staggering $552,000 to the residence of Poestenkill. This would be paid for by raising property taxes. This also means Sand Lake controls this budget and what they charge, Poestenkill pays. “Open checkbook”.

We have been told over and over that the taxing district is being put together so the Town can get information to formulate a plan. It appears that plan has already been formulated and that information has not been share.

I will be voting NO and I hope you will too.

Art Time, Poestenkill

To the Editor:

Over 13,000 nursing home residents have died in New York in the past year. AARP has long urged State policymakers to give older New Yorkers a preferable alternative to nursing homes –  their own homes.

The New York State Senate has proposed adding $27 million to the next state budget, due April 1, for in-home services for the elderly. This funding would help end the current waiting list of over 11,000 seniors for these in-home services such as home meal delivery, transportation to medical appointments, and help with daily activities.. By allowing more New York seniors to age at home, it would save taxpayers money by reducing the need for mostly Medicaid-funded and far more expensive nursing home placements.

The Assembly proposed adding $5 million for these services; it’s a good step but not enough. Seniors deserve better. The Assembly and Governor must enact the Senate’s compassionate and cost-effective proposal.

The past year has shown the need to ensure nursing homes are safer for those who inhabit them; the State should also add $5 million for the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program to bolster the corps of trained observers who keep an independent eye on nursing home conditions.

Thank you,

Fran Hamblin, AARP volunteer, East Nassau

Proactive Leadership Is Needed

There is a growing need for local governments to get serious about cybersecurity—a need which has been highlighted just this past week. The ransomware intrusion through the Emergency Services vendor that enables 911 dispatch systems for Albany, Saratoga, and Rensselaer Counties is likely to be one of many future events that requires trained professionals who understand third-party contract management, external security controls review, and data governance oversight. Updating a website or hiring qualified technologists and technicians must be part of a larger approach that establishes consistent policy, improves accessibility, and stores, retrieves, or relays information securely. With several data protection and cybersecurity bills being recently passed into law by state legislatures or considered by Congress, local governments are facing additional concerns about being responsive to implementing new requirements in less time with fewer resources. We need leadership that understands the concerns of residents and businesses when it comes to cybersecurity and data privacy as well as how to deploy resources effectively. Our local leaders must work as part of a team to leverage every resource available, like the passionate Cybersecurity faculty and students at HVCC and the internationally recognized Center for Internet Security (located in East Greenbush) that is dedicated to helping local governments and businesses plan, prepare, and respond to these incidents. I recommend readers visit www.cisecurity.org for more information on resources available to your community or business.

Justan Foster, North Greenbush

Don’t Serve Two Masters

It is said in the Bible that a person can not serve two masters. The Sand Lake Town Code may soon say something similar.

The Sand Lake Town Board is expected to consider at its next regular meeting a proposed local law to prohibit any elected Town officer from also holding any elective County or State office. The Town Board should approve this local law.

Recently, similar local laws were adopted in two other Rensselaer County municipalities, most recently the Town of Schodack. In each case, the local law’s adoption appeared motivated, at least in part, by partisan concerns — namely, preventing a popular official from holding elective offices in two units of government. Not having now a similar issue in Sand Lake makes this a good time for the Sand Lake Town Board to act.

In Sand Lake, the most likely potential dual office situation is being holding a seat on the Town Board and also holding a seat on the County Legislature. Those two positions are incompatible. A Town Board member serves only the electorate or the Town. In Sand Lake’s County legislative district, the legislators represent Sand Lake, Schodack and Nassau, and have a duty to serve the best interests of the County. The Interests of the Town and the County ofter differ and are on some issues in direct opposition.

The Sand Lake electorate ought to know that the persons elected to serve the Town will keep the Town’s interests first, without conflicting duties to another governmental unit.

Garrett DeGraff, Averill Park

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