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Bernin’ Up

To the Editor:

I would like to make a few comments on the article “Minding the Store” [Newsfront, May 26] about the proposed Stewart’s in Berne.

I found your article interesting but incorrect in some aspects:

First the picture shows two houses as the proposed site. This is not the case, it is an empty lot to the left of the first house pictured and the first house pictured (larger Victorian on right in picture is not part of the proposal).

My parents own that house and have since 1973. Stewart’s made them an offer on their property after being refused by other landowners in town as Stewart’s would not meet their selling price.

Also, Mr. Conklin told me in person today that he never spoke to any of your reporters, so his comments were not direct quotes as you had stated.

I can understand people’s concerns with this enterprise coming into town. I applaud their going to meetings to discuss any changes to their town or zoning laws. I disapprove of any verbal assaults against my parents. They have been upstanding members of the Berne community for over 30 years, volunteering many hours of their talents and time to help others. They talked with their neighbors about their decision before Stewart’s went public with their plan, and they were understanding and supportive.

Living in Voorheesville myself, I have seen the Stewart’s process of entry into a community. Many meetings were held, opinions voiced. The process seemed to be inclusive of anyone who wanted to have their say.

As far as the position of the Berne Store, they have been the only store in town for many years. Their selection of groceries is at best limited. Part of being a business is competition, though truth be told Stewart’s will likely not challenge their prepared food offerings (especially the delicious subs). They both seem to offer the same limited necessity grocery items, and I’m sure people will be looking for which offers the best quality and price. I look at Nichol’s Market here in town up against the giants Price Chopper and Hannaford. They offer excellent customer service and weekly specials as competitive business peoples do and seem to have their niche, though there are two Stewart’s less than a mile away that offer many similar products.

I guess my final statement would be for the people of Berne to really look at both what they may lose AND what they stand to gain and get involved to support their decision.

Karen (Smith) Murphy



David King replies:

The picture used in the story along with the caption was misleading; it should have featured the lot to the left of the first house in the picture. John Conklin did speak to our photographer, and then I phoned him and confirmed his quotes.

To the Editor:

I want to thank you for your fair coverage of the whole Stewart’s situation in the Hamlet of Berne.

However, I would like to bring to your attention the fact that Mr. Huth, a member of the board that voted in the zoning change (which does seem to be designed specifically to allow a Stewart’s to come into town), was advised publicly beforehand, by the attorney hired by the Berne Hamlet Association, that he might want to remove himself from the vote due to the location of his home property (in the area directly affected), which could imply a potential conflict of interest. To this advice, Mr. Huth responded that there was no conflict of interest. A week after the board voted to adopt the zoning changes—by a two-to-three vote (Mr Huth’s vote being number three in favor and therefore a deciding factor in the outcome of that vote)—the Altamont Enterprise ran an ad announcing that Mr. Huth is now a real estate agent. How can anyone not see this as a huge conflict of interest? Incidentally, Mr. Crosier is also in the real estate business, so perhaps his vote should also be discounted. That would change that three-over-two vote to a two-over-one vote, against the zoning change.

How can we not be permitted to overturn that vote, to go back to the beginning and do this in a fair and equitable way? How can the Town Board overlook this terrible miscarriage of proceedings? The vote that included Mr. Huth should be thrown out, his motivation is far too questionable. The people in the hamlet who have been fighting this in a fair way, following all the rules and being deceived at every turn, need to be listened to.

If you are interested in doing a further exposure on this issue, feel free to look into it. The public needs to see that things are not being done fairly, and people’s homes, their way of life (actually a whole neighborhood) are at stake here! Thanks for your time and attention.

Joyce Abele


It’s Natural

To the Editor:

In response to the article “Left Behind” [June 2], I recently had the privilege of discovering Gumaer Farms in Stuyvesant Falls. This is a full working dairy farm in Columbia County, not a play farm in any sense. Gumaer pasteurizes and bottles its own milk onsite (whole, chocolate, 2-percent, half & half, etc). It then delivers to homes in the local area, and stores outside the local area. The milk is antibiotic- and BGH-free, and their operation is growing. I plan to buy their milk at the stores in Greene county which carry it (currently Black Horse and Story Farms, both working farms), and I have suggested it to my local health food store. Local, healthy milk is a valuable commodity and there is growing consumer support for it. Hopefully for all of us more dairy farms around the state will be able to succeed using this drug-free direct to the consumer model.

Deb Samuels


Flowers Grow

To the Editor:

Thanks so much for your tribute to Penny Green [Listen Here, May 26]. She was my next-door neighbor since this past autumn, a wonderful neighbor. I do odd jobs for her landlord, so I’d have to stop by her place to check on things now and then—changing light bulbs, adjusting the thermostat, getting rid of a dead mouse, things like that. She kept the place beautifully macabre: heavy drapes; Tim Burton figurines; rich, deep purple; and black, black, black everywhere. Goth isn’t really my thing, and she never succeeded in getting me over to Valentine’s around the corner, but she lived and loved goth and made an art out of it, and gave me a feeling for it. She also gave me lunch and dinner and, once, chocolate-chip cookies. When the weather started to get warm last month, she’d sit in the fenced-in backyard while her cat, Kitty M, explored. And she scolded me for mowing down the dandelions and violets that had popped up. “You can’t take away my dandelions and violets!” she said. “Well, I’ve got to mow the lawn,” I said, “and they’ll come back.” “Well, all right,” she said, though she didn’t sound convinced. I hope she saw that they did come back a few days later. But I think she may have already gone to the hospital for the last time by then, I don’t know. I wish I had left the wildflowers untouched. But thank you, also, for giving me an opportunity to put this down and get it out. None of my friends ever met Penny, so her loss—and so young! So vital!—would only have an abstract meaning for them and not be personal.

Ray Bono


Selective Conscience

To the Editor:

After reading Deirdre Fulton’s very informative article about the ‘conscience’ stand of some pharmacists [“Pharm Stand,” May 26], I wondered if these pharmacists react the same way when unmarried men bring in prescriptions for Viagra, Cialis and Levitra? I’ve never heard of any man having a difficulty filling one of those prescriptions even when they are using Medicaid to pay for it. Why are men expected and encouraged to have sex but women aren’t supposed to use contraception? Could it be that most of these drug store Pharisees are men?

Kathleen Hojohn


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