Letters to the Editor July 28
Speed trap discourages visitors
I can’t help but feel that all the positives that visitors experience in coming to Millerton are negated by the speed trap tactics of our local police department.
The esteemed law enforcement officer sits in his cruiser on the weekends just north of Agway on Route 22, right where the speed limit drops from 55 mph to 30 mph. He nabs tens, if not dozens, of alleged lawbreakers every weekend, and I can’t help but wonder if he learned his policing in the rural South in the 1960s and 1970s when the police in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia were notorious for stopping cars with “northern” plates on them and administering rural justice.
I would venture that every visitor so treated vows never to come back to Millerton and probably tells all his friends about the rough justice he or she encounters. The officer will probably say each one is justified, each one going 38 or even 43 mph through our village. I think he does it to justify, and probably pay, his salary.
I thought the bicycles that were donated to the police department were to be used for community policing — that is, a friendly presence in the town. I have yet to see an officer on the bikes, but I see him sitting in his air-conditioned cruiser on Route 22, waiting for the next miscreant. I really think this is not a necessary or even wise use of our constabulary.
Remembering Betty Toombs and her years in the community
Catherine “Betty” Toombs was born Nov. 3, 1918, and died May 11, 2011.
She was originally from the Bronx and grew up there, where she met her future husband, Charlie Toombs. Charlie and Betty were instrumental in building Amenia’s Fountain Square Veterans Memorial and were present and participated in every community celebration there since I can remember.
She lost her beloved husband, Charlie, in 2000, the year of their 50th wedding anniversary. While she became dependent upon others to transport her, she was also able to maintain active membership in the community and in her church, and in organizations that included the VFW, Ladies Auxiliary, the Amenia Grange and the Amenia Historical Society. She continued to support fundraisers in the town; she went to every pancake breakfast, supper and church dinner — you name it and Betty was there.
For 46 years Betty was a columnist for the Harlem Valley Times with her column, Amenia News. It was the oldest column of the Taconic Press. She retired from writing that column in 2006. In that column she wrote about events that were important to the people of Amenia, where you found out what is happening in Amenia and general hometown news.
It was as a fellow Granger that I knew her best, especially when we helped out at the Dutchess County Fair with our fellow county Grangers. But as important in my memory is the lady who sang at Fountain Square in celebration of our veterans. While there was some reduction in her level of activity over the 10 years following the loss of her husband, there was no reduction in her singing ability.
And when she and her family decided it was time for her to live with more available supervision and medical presence, it was with great reluctance that she agreed to leave her beloved Amenia home on Randall Road. As long as there was access to a telephone so she could keep in contact with her many friends in the area, she agreed to move to New Jersey.
I wondered why I hadn’t heard lately from Betty. It wasn’t totally unusual for a few weeks to go by before the phone rang — and it was Betty.
But this time, more than two months, was longer than usual. A call came with the news that Betty had died in May. Life is not going to be quite the same without hearing from Betty.
The town of Amenia misses you, Betty! We miss your great spirit, your laughter, your singing, your dancing, your writing and your great outlook on life that so well represented the era of the Greatest Generation, of which you and Charlie were proud members.
Many good trips with seniors
This is to inform the Amenia Town Board that as of November 2011, I will no longer be requesting money for Amenia Senior Trips.
I have sincerely enjoyed taking seniors on trips for 34 years, as of June 2011, although not with town monies all those years. I’m proud to have been a volunteer in this town where I grew up, as it is very special to me and so are the people.
Thank you, seniors, for all your help and all the good times.
With no recourse, Millerton Grange yields
By now most everyone must know that Millerton Grange, part of our local community since 1895, no longer exists.
After many years at Benedict Hall (over the Millerton Moviehouse), we built a new hall in 1935 along Route 22, south of the village. Members worked to pay for the hall by having dances, carnivals, flea markets, barbecues and other events.
In 1994, while still 28 members strong, we unanimously decided to ask New York State Grange for permission to sell our hall, as required by Grange bylaws. The burden of maintaining our hall was preventing us from doing our charitable work within the community.
Before selling, we had requested the use of the monies from a subsequent sale to establish a trust for charitable giving. This idea was adamantly rejected by New York State Grange, and we decided to challenge their decision.
In the interim, we felt so strongly about our decision that we used additional funds to establish a scholarship fund through the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, which has awarded 11 scholarships totaling $10,900. While still funded by our endowment made in 1997, scholarships will remain available until those funds are exhausted.
After many years of trying to get permission for the use of the funds from the sale of our hall, with the help of our attorney, Carl G. Whitbeck of Hudson, N.Y., the New York state Grange master, Oliver Orton, rejected our charter. Upon his decision, we appealed to National Grange Master Edward Luttrell as well as the New York state attorney general’s office. The national Grange master declared us to be an inactive Grange and therefore upheld the state grange’s decision. The attorney general’s office refused our plea for help and only advised to resolve the matter internally.
After being threatened with more legal action both to our Grange and its officers, it was decided to comply with the revocation of our charter. Our members felt the integrity of our not-for-profit organization was being comprised and therefore no longer worth the challenge.
We deeply regret no longer being a part of the community but rather a part of its history. We thank all those who have supported us over the past 115 years and special thanks to our attorney, Carl Whitbeck, and Jay and Martha Reynolds for their hospitality in letting us have our monthly meetings at Simmons’ Way.
Member of the Millerton Grange since 1932