Letters: Garrison Fire District Vote

Photo by Michael Turton

The five commissioners of the Garrison Fire District are responsible for the protection of residents’ lives and property. We do this through the Garrison Volunteer Fire Co. and mutual aid from other emergency services in Philipstown.

As commissioners, we oversee the day-to-day operations. It is our responsibility to maintain two firehouses, trucks and all other equipment necessary for the performance of the firefighters’ duties. Records of training and physicals are kept to ensure the health and safety of the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way.

This was the first year the district started to work on important repairs and projects that had been neglected because of several years of underfunding. A backup generator was installed at Station 1 so the doors can be opened when the electricity is out. Station 2 had a leaking diesel fuel tank replaced, new fire hoses were purchased and unexpected truck repairs had to be made.

The 2018 budget is $6,000 less than in 2017. It was adopted 4 to 1, with Commissioner Stan Freilich voting no. This budget will allow us to continue the work that was started last year. There is still a lot of work to be done.

It has been my honor to serve as a commissioner for the last two years. I have worked hard and will continue to do so if re-elected in the fire district election Dec. 12. The volunteers of the Garrison Fire Department deserve your respect and gratitude, and they have mine.

David Brower, Garrison

Fire District Voting

Garrison

Tuesday, Dec. 12, 5 – 9 p.m.
Garrison Firehouse
1616 Route 9, Garrison
Candidates: Dave Brower, Joe Regele
1 open seat, 5-year term

North Highlands

Tuesday, Dec. 12, 6 – 9 p.m.
North Highlands Firehouse
504 Fishkill Road, Philipstown
Candidates: Amy Locitzer
1 open seat, 5-year term

I wanted to write to endorse David Brower for re-election as a commissioner of the Garrison Fire District and also share my perspective as a commissioner over the past year.

The fire district is only in its second year of existence. It takes a while to sort through the legalities and nuisances that entails. It was known from the start that the district and fire company would have to find ways to get to know and respect and trust each other. The board has made great progress. There are dedicated professionals on both sides, and slowly we are trying to become as close to one entity as possible, working together and assisting each other.

I ran last year for a seat on the board to take a close look at the budget process and to ensure transparency for taxpayers. I was on the budget committee and the 2018 budget was developed by going line-by-line and building from actual expenditures and anticipated necessary expenses, with reserves for the unexpected, all built from the bottom up. I do not spend my own money frivolously, and I would never spend taxpayer money without justification.

You may have heard that we were able to save quite a bit of money this year by reviewing insurance and legal costs. That money was needed for unexpected repairs. We should expect the unexpected and going forward, budget accordingly.

There are reserves in the budget in anticipation of the long-term needs, just as you would have a savings account for home improvements or repairs.

You also may have heard about an insurance payment for a fire company boat that was swamped and sank while attached to a buoy. The fire company owned the boat and our lawyer and insurance company informed us the recovery check belongs to the company. The district was reimbursed the amount it had invested in the boat and we will also receive annual checks from the fire company to cover the costs of the boat and other equipment it owns.

The fire company has fully opened their books to the Garrison Fire District and community. All its paperwork is current and it has presented the district with a full accounting. This transparency is what we have been hoping for. After spending a year on the “inside,” I continue to be amazed at the dedication of our volunteer firefighters. The thought and time they spend making sure Garrison residents are safe is truly astonishing. They are proud of their commitment, and we residents are lucky to have them covering our backs.

Linda Lomonaco, Garrison

Joe Regele and I, a few years ago, were at the Garrison train station campaigning against and for (respectively) the New York State Service Award program. All volunteer fire companies have this retirement program, but Joe was against it for Garrison. When I asked, “But why?” he responded, “I want to see if I can defeat it.” At that time, he did.

So began Joe’s sport: find financial fault with local organizations. After a stint with the Philipstown Recreation Department and a brief foray into the Garrison School reserve funds, Joe concentrated relentlessly on the Garrison Volunteer Fire Co. With nothing constructive to offer, he argued, demanded, disbelieved and accused with a tenacity that accomplished nothing.

Joe’s letter in the Dec. 1 issue about his candidacy for fire district commissioner was classic Regele-speak: innuendo, information without context, hyperbolic guarantees of future disclosures. It’s a pathetic waste of skill and energy. The Garrison Volunteer Fire Co. has a long history of community service. I commend their determination to continue despite these destructive efforts.

David Brower is also running for commissioner. He has been an active firefighter for many years, in many roles. He also was a member of the Philipstown Town Board. I hope you will vote for a person who is honest, sensible, loyal to our community and conservatively aware of the fire company’s needs.

Betsy Calhoun, Garrison
Calhoun is a past president of the Garrison Volunteer Fire Co.

Editor’s note: Because this letter was received close to the election, we asked Regele if he would like to respond. He wrote:

“Carl Sandburg said: ‘If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.’ It is an unfortunate byproduct of local politics that issues become personal. Ms. Calhoun’s letter is a perfect example. Our purported conversation on the train platform never happened. I would like to point out that there is a world of difference between asking questions and finding fault (and add that her reprise of my resume omitted six seasons of coaching the Philipstown Dragons). Attacking me does not change the facts — it just degrades the dialog and muddies the water. Blaming the messenger and pounding the table will not change the facts.”


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