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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,

Joshua Thomas
Signs currently on lawns throughout St. Johnsville urge people to attend OESJ School Board meetings, some of which were allegedly quite heated in 2013.

Joshua Thomas
A view inside an abandoned, flood-wrecked Reid Street, Fort Plain, home.

Joshua Thomas
Just days after the June 28 flood in Fort Plain, Amish volunteers helped to clear out the fully-destroyed Save-A-Lot.

Joshua Thomas - A distraught-appearing woman views clean up efforts from inside Fort Plain's Red Lantern on June 28, just hours after the flood swept through downtown, destroying numerous businesses.

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2013: The Year That Was

Thursday, January 02, 2014 - Updated: 10:04 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

It wasn't the easiest year for many local people. Hundreds of people in Fort Plain are still suffering the devastating ramifications of this year's flood, which rushed through Fort Plain on the morning of June 28 with no warning. The force of the flood, caused by an overflowing Otsquago Creek, damaged nearly every downtown business and displaced hundreds of homeowners.

Rescue agencies sprang to work fast, with the American Red Cross setting up a flood shelter at the Harry Hoag Central School and local departments and organizations working overtime to rescue stranded flood survivors and make the area safe. In the days and months following the devastating event, nearly 4,000 volunteers, visiting from church, school groups and various other organizations, and for numerous reasons, passed through the village, helping to muck out and make repairs at as many decimated homes as possible. 

State officials visited flood damaged properties, promising and delivering physical and financial help.

Many people -- not only individuals in Fort Plain, but across New York State -- praised Mayor Guy Barton and the village board for their efforts following the flood, as they've been visible, easy-to-reach presences that have not yet stopped attempting to obtain money for Fort Plain's repair and betterment, which, in 2014, will include the purchase of a flood and disaster alert siren.

St. Johnsville and Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School districts began their life as a merged district -- OESJ Central School --when school started this past September. While the kids have, by all accounts, acclimated and got along famously, numerous individuals that initially supported the pairing of districts have spoken out against the merger, prompted largely by OESJ Board of Education infighting and unpopular decisions regarding district faculty.

After years sitting vacant, the former Beech-Nut plant in Canajoharie was finally purchased. The company that purchased the facility, TD Development LLC, has noted that they plan to demolish 30 percent of the vast structure, intending to renovate the rest.

The purchase was exciting news for many local people, who watched with nostalgia as the iconic Beech-Nut sign was removed from the building early in 2013, so that those traveling the NYS Thruway would not be confused by the sight of a sign for a business that is now located in Fonda.

Work progressed at local historic properties, including West Hill School in Canajoharie, which was turned over to Historic West Hill School by the village, along with Unity Hall, Fort Plain, which rang in 2013 with a performance by local musicians as part of the annual Last Night celebration, held in Fort Plain. Work also progressed at Fort Plain's Diefendorf Hall, with the Friends of Fort Plain spearheading the facility's revitalization leading numerous events to highlight the history of the village of Fort Plain, which as named a historic district.

The former Historic Fort Plain has been renamed the Mohawk Valley Collective. The group opened a new tourist information space in downtown Canajoharie in August, offering extensive information about the local area, providing an informative gateway to the valley directly accessible off the NYS Thruway.

As of the beginning of the 2013 school year, all local districts are now operating under New York State's Common Core standards, altering the previous curriculum to fall in line with the mandated program's stringent guidelines.

November elections ensured that there will be many changes to local boards beginning January 1. In the town of Minden, Cheryl Reese takes over as supervisor, succeeding two term Supervisor, Thomas Quackenbush, who was elected District 2 legislator. Former historian Thomas Yager will take over for Todd McFee as a Minden councilperson, and Scott Crewell will replace long-time Highway Superintendent Ron Kardash.

In the town of Palatine, Supervisor Brian Sweet will be succeeded by Sara Niccoli.

In numerous local towns and villages, boards adopted moratoriums to keep illegal kennels out after meetings were packed with animal advocates. Not only locals attended the meetings, but advocates from far away places, bringing stories of illegal breeding cruelty and suggesting that uninformed upstate municipalities take some time to review their (often sparse or nonexistent) policies regarding such facilities.

2013 went out with a bang in many local communities, which saw attendance for holiday events skyrocket, drawing in some of the largest crowds ever across the board. Many attributed the increased attendance to the mild December weather.

Joshua Thomas - A Main Street business in Fort Plain is pictured just hours after the flood swept through. The inside of the store was barely viewable, as flood water caused condensation to cover the front door's window.

Joshua Thomas - Right before Christmas, Historic West Hill School President Hein Kraak placed a light-up message of "Love" across the front of West Hill School, Canajoharie.

Joshua Thomas - On the day of the June 28 flood in Fort Plain, an upside down wise man rests inside a bush located behind a Main Street home lining the Otsquago Creek.

Joshua Thomas - Months after the June 28 flood, this uninhabitable Reid Street home in Fort Plain still had mud caked across the walls.

     

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