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Joshua Thomas
Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk speaks with veterans at the Fort Plain VFW Tuesday evening.

Joshua Thomas
Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk speaks with veterans at the Fort Plain VFW Tuesday evening.

Joshua Thomas
Veterans listen to Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk speak Tuesday evening.

Joshua Thomas
Fort Plain Central School Board Member and Vietnam Veteran Louis "Rusty" Capece, standing, implores fellow veterans to attend a Jan. 8 FPCS board meeting wherein the board will vote to extend tax cuts to veterans.


Tkaczyk speaks to veterans

Thursday, January 09, 2014 - Updated: 10:08 AM


C-S-E Editor

FORT PLAIN -- Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk visited the Fort Plain VFW Post 3275 Tuesday evening, speaking with about 20 local veterans and residents. Tkaczyk, a member of Post 701, Amsterdam and a member of the state Veterans' Committee, first spoke about legislation she's been attempting to have adopted, then inviting those present to speak or ask questions.

Tkaczyk stated that she's been pushing legislation to make sure military personnel overseas are able to vote in primaries. "There's no reason why we can't figure out how to get military ballots overseas and get them back in time," she said.

A present veteran noted that he once received his ballot in the mail three days after it was due.

Tied into that initiative is an attempt to cut down the number of primary votes. Tkaczyk said she believes all primaries should be held on the same date, saving voters trips to the polls and taxpayers money.

Tkaczyk said that it costs taxpayers about 50 million dollars every two years to cover the cost of separate primary days, including the cost of ballot printing and staff. Last year, there were three separate primary votes.

She said, "to me, it symbolizes that we need the government to work for the people and the taxpayers, and it's a simple example of where we're not making the right decisions. We're not doing the right thing, and it's costing us more than it needs to."

Tkaczyk informed present veterans that they can spread the word about the legislation by speaking with members of other VFWs from around the state, or by writing to local newspapers to bring the issue to the attention of more people.

Fort Plain Central School Board Member and Vietnam Veteran Louis "Rusty" Capece noted that as of Dec. 21, veterans are now eligible for reductions in school taxes (legislation Tkaczyk voted to approve). The initiative has to be approved by each school board before the benefits are extended to veterans, including a 15 percent discount on school taxes, with combat veterans receiving a 25 percent discount, and 50 percent disabled veterans receiving a 50 percent exemption (all in addition to STAR exemptions).

Capece implored fellow veterans to attend the Fort Plain Central School Board meeting scheduled for Wednesday, wherein the FPCS BOE voted regarding the tax exemptions. "It's worthwhile for you guys to show up and get them to approve this, because our school taxes are some of the highest in the state."

During the meeting, Capece had a decorated fellow Vietnam veteran make a presentation to the school board.

Tkaczyk was questioned regarding potential growth in Montgomery County, and what avenues should be pursued to bring jobs, to which she stated that she feels farming and education are extremely important. She said that FMCC and the high number of operational farms are both important assets essential to local growth.

Of farmers, Tkaczyk stated, "they're generating a lot of economic activity locally, calling the support of the agricultural industry "a number one priority."

She said that to foster growth, we must ask "where are the opportunities?" There are opportunities in education, said Tkaczyk, stating, "Education is really important. We have some really great assets we can build on."

She explained that even jobs that decades ago may not have required extensive educational training now do. One of the most important things that manufacturers look for is highly skilled, educated laborers, as manufacturing facility employees are often required to operate or work in the vicinity of multi-million dollar machinery.

"I think there are opportunities here that we have to connect our young people to, and we've got to create opportunities … I see education as one of those places we can grow in this county and create jobs in that field," Tkaczyk said.


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