This year there is one open seat on the Board of Education. Dresden’s Frank Barber is the only candidate running for this seat. I contacted Mr. Barber and below are his answers to my questions. These questions are entirely my own and hopefully you will get a better sense of who the candidate is after reading his answers.
Could you please tell us about yourself and why you are running for the school board?
I am a life-long resident of Dresden, NY. My wife and I have two sons, both of whom attend the Whitehall High School.
I am currently employed as VP of Global Sales for Ames Goldsmith Corporation, in Glens Falls, NY. I have been with the company for more than 15 years now; on July 1st I will assume the position of President and CEO. I am running for a seat on the board mainly because I wanted to give something back to the community. In addition, I have two sons attending the district and I want to ensure that they are getting the best education possible with the financial resources that are available to the district.
Most people look back fondly on some aspects of their high-school education. Could you tell us what your favorite book from high school was? Why was it your favorite book and should it be required reading today?
It would be difficult for me to identify one favorite book, I have always enjoyed the works of Edgar Allan Poe, and I could suggest that many of his works might be a favorite. As for required reading today, I am not an educator, but his works are classics and I suspect they would be good reading in today’s classroom.
The Whitehall school district’s enrollment has declined 143 students between the 2004-2005 and the 2011-2012 school years. When should the taxpayers expect that this declining enrollment will translate into lower property taxes?
The declining enrollment at our school is of concern to me, it is not unique to the Whitehall district, but rather is indicative of a declining and aging population in our area. My concern with the decline is that this requires the fixed costs of the district to be spread across a smaller student enrollment, thereby increasing the cost per student enrolled. As for when this decline will translate to lower property taxes, I think there are variables beyond enrollment that must be taken into account before a conclusion can be drawn on lowering property taxes within the district. My wife and I own property in both Dresden and Whitehall and therefore I have a vested interest in keeping taxes in check.
The job market today is a highly competitive one. Should the school district be doing something that it is not already doing or should it be offering additional classes to see that its graduates have the skills and education necessary for success?
As I am not yet on the board I cannot knowledgeably comment on the classes offered, excepting of course those that are offered to my sons. From a parent’s perspective, I believe that they are receiving a quality education. As for additional classes, I would like to see more focus on technology and computer sciences at the high school level. Computers are such a necessary part of life today, we need to ensure that our students are receiving the appropriate instruction in this field.
I’m sure you wouldn’t be running for the school board if you didn’t care about children. After your term is concluded, what would you like to have accomplished for the residents of the district?
At the close of my term, I would like to know that I worked to keep the district’s property taxes in check, while at the same time maximizing the education that our students are receiving.
I would like thank Mr. Barber for his answers to my questions..
Tags: The Landing · Whitehall
Many thanks to the members of the Huletts Landing Property Owners Civic Association and Jay Vanderplaat for completing the clean-out of the old-hotel dam this past week. The last time the dam was cleaned out was many years ago.
Sand, sediment and stones had built up along one side.
Work was done with the DEC’s approval, in an environmentally friendly way.
When completed, the sand and gravel had been removed.
The access point was covered when the job was completed.
Many thanks to all those who made this environmentally-needed project a success. The dam is located on private property and is not open to the public.
Tags: The Environment · The Landing
Fort Ticonderoga plans special Memorial Day events.
Join Fort Ticonderoga on Memorial Day, May 27, to salute the service of the armed forces of the United States on the very grounds where so many American soldiers fought and sacrificed. Parade into Fort Ticonderoga behind the Fife and Drum Corps during a special program at 11 am, and step back in time to meet the soldiers of the American Revolution. Experience all aspects of the life of the Continental Army soldier in 1775, from their weapons to their rations, and learn about what they believed would come from their sacrifice. A 10% general admissions discount will be given to active duty military members with proof of service.
Memorial Day Event Highlights:
9:30 am – Fort Opens to Visitors
10:15 am, 1:15 pm, and 3:45 pm – Guided Tour
Learn how Fort Ticonderoga, known as the Key to the Continent, was an American bulwark for independence.
11 am – Salute to the Soldiers
In this hour long presentation enjoy Fife and Drum music, both patriotic and 18th century tunes. Hear the roar of musketry as Fort Ticonderoga salutes the sacrifice of soldiers who fought both at Ticonderoga and around the world for the United States. Hear the words of the soldiers of the American Revolution as they described their reasons for serving in the birth of this nation.
11:30 am and 2:30 pm – Garden & Grounds Tour
Discover this soldier’s garden turned colonial revival garden in the memory of the soldiers that fought and died at Fort Ticonderoga.
2 pm – Cannon Demonstration
Explore how the guns of Ticonderoga worked and discover how American soldiers used these vital guns in defense of our fledgling nation.
Last night the Whitehall school board presented the 2013 -2014 school budget that will go before the voters next week. The board has adopted a total budget of $13,733,985 that calls for a 2.19 percent increase in the tax levy. The district also received $418,000 more in state aid than it did last year. This is 5.71 percent increase in state aid.
The total budget for the current school year (2012-2013) is $13,205,125. If you include the increases in state aid and the tax levy, spending will increase $528,860 between this year and next.
If you take the total proposed 2013-2014 budget and divide it by the last publicly available enrollment numbers from the prior year (742 total students), the Whitehall school district is spending over $18,500 per student.
Residents of the district can vote on the budget, Tuesday, May 21st.
Tags: The Landing · Whitehall
Happy Mother’s Day!
Tags: Our Neighbors
I recently learned that the new hours for the now privately run Whitehall Transfer station will be: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – 8-4pm.
No longer will trash stickers be used, instead it’ll be “pay at the transfer station” using cash or cc.
They’re doing a sticker buyback program this week.
Tags: The Landing · Washington County · Whitehall
The Lake George Park Commission has released its Draft Invasive Species Prevention Plan, and is holding two public hearings to receive public comments. The first hearing will be on Tuesday, May 21 at 2PM at the Fort William Henry Conference Center in Lake George, and the second will be on Wednesday, June 12 at 6PM at the Best Western in Ticonderoga. “This has been a very open and significant effort over the past 18 months, and we look forward to the public’s comments on our draft Plan” notes LGPC Chairman Bruce Young. “These public hearings offer great opportunities for everyone to voice their opinion on this important topic, and these hearings will help shape the Commission’s decisions on how to proceed forward.”
The Draft Plan presents alternatives to keeping new invasive species out of Lake George, and focuses on the impacts that boats coming from other waterbodies can have on Lake George. Options for prevention include a voluntary program of boat launch stewards and public education, a self-certification program for boaters, and a mandatory inspection program for trailered boats prior to launch into Lake George. Each alternative is discussed in the Plan identifies the likely cost of that option, how it could be put in place, and what the impact to the boating public on Lake George would be.
The public comment period on the Plan is now open, and will remain so until June 25th. The Plan is available for review at the LGPC website, at www.lgpc.state.ny.us.
Tags: Lake George · The Environment
The State of New York recently announced an agreement to purchase two parcels in Whitehall. The Saddles, a 2,540 acre property on Lake Champlain’s South Bay, and Spruce Point, a 726 acre parcel between the Lake Champlain and Lake George basins.
Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Martens recently announced the planned acquisition of 69,000 acres throughout the Adirondacks. This planned acquisition will be the largest single addition to the Adirondack Forest Preserve in more than a century. Two of the parcels to be acquired, while outside the Adirondack blue line, are in Whitehall.
The Saddles on Lake Champlain. Looking East toward Whitehall. (Photo Credit: Alan Cedarstrom. Click image to see full-scale.)
The first local parcel is referred to as the Saddles, a 2,540 acre parcel acquired by the Nature Conservancy in 2007 with the intent that it would be sold to the state. As one heads over the South Bay bridge toward Whitehall, the Saddles can be seen in the distance. The tract features cliffs and more than 2,250 feet of undeveloped shoreline on Lake Champlain’s South Bay. The land includes streams, marshes, swamps and floodplain forests that encompass the lowlands of South Bay. The tract includes areas where the Eastern timber rattlesnake and peregrine falcon reside.
The second 726 acre parcel is referred to as Spruce Point or Dolph Pond. As you leave Whitehall, heading south toward Fort Ann, you can see the ridges on top of this parcel. Presently it is under exclusive lease through September 30, 2013 but will be open to the public in October 2013. The property features interesting ridges, a variety of forest types, including Appalachian oak hickory and hemlock northern hardwood, and provides habitat for black bear, white tail deer and other wildlife.
My post would not be complete without thanking Emily DeSantis, Director of Public Information for the Dept. of Environmental Conservation who helped me compile the information for this story.
Tags: Adirondacks · The Environment · Washington County · Whitehall
Tags: Lake George · The Landing
Some important dates to put on your local calendar for May regarding the school district.
Presentation of the 2013-2014 school budget.
Monday, May 13th
Large Group Instruction Room
Vote to adopt the 2013-2014 school budget and to elect one (1) member to a 5-year term on the school board.
Tuesday, May 21st
Large Group Instruction Room
12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Tags: The Landing · Whitehall
Both Washington and Essex counties recently announced decisions to prevent the spread of invasive species into Lake George.
Washington County will hold a public hearing on May 17th at 10:05 am in the Fort Edward county center to solicit public input on a proposed county-wide invasive species ban. Under the ordinance, it would be illegal to launch a boat that has any invasive species visible to the eye on any part of the boat.
An Essex County committee passed a resolution at their April meeting in support of a Warren county resolution calling for a ban on the transportation of invasive species. The Essex County Attorney will start working on a local Essex County law that would do the same.
Tags: Adirondacks · Lake George · The Environment · Ticonderoga · Washington County
“I am a little man and this is a little town, but there must be a spark in little men that can burst into flame.”
John Steinbeck, The Moon is Down
Tags: Our Neighbors
Just recently, school district “report cards” were released for the 2011-2012 school year. (Last year’s school year.) This is the last publicly available information on enrollment. So the most up to date information is for the LAST school year.
Numbers for the current school year (2012-2013) and projections for next year (2013-2014) are not currently available and are only released after budgeting is done for that year. I’d like to see projections for the following year’s enrollment be released as part of the budgeting process for that year but that’s another issue. However as readers of the Huletts Current already know, enrollment has been falling in the Whitehall School District (and is projected to continue to fall) while property taxes have increased over the same period. This is an update to my yearly enrollment table reflecting the most recently released enrollment numbers. When people talk to me about the Huletts Current, I get many positive comments about the coverage of this issue.
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The table illustrates that there has been an overall drop in total enrollment of 16.15% during the last eight years. Enrollment has declined every year during that time.
However the problem still remains, the population of New York continues to migrate to other states. This phenomenon can be seen clearly in Whitehall, where the local tax base is not conducive to attracting residents or business investment.
While the state has cut back on it’s share of aid to the district, the falling enrollment has not amounted to any cuts in property taxes. Losing 143 students over an eight year period has resulted in no property tax savings for the local property taxpayers. Hence, a spiraling decline in enrollment never results in lower property taxes, fueling the falling enrollment.
Tags: The Landing · Whitehall
Learn about Warren County’s Bicentennial at the new website: http://warrenny200.org
On March 12, 1813, the legislators of the State of New York, recognizing the expanding settlements occurring from the banks of the Hudson, to the shores of beautiful Lake George, and well into our scenic Adirondack Mountains, signed into law a bill that would remove this area from its parent county, Washington. This new jurisdiction became known as Warren County and was named for Revolutionary War General Joseph Warren.
Tags: Lake George · Our Neighbors