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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,

Joshua Thomas
This cardboard cutout of a police officer has been a running joke in the Palatine Town Court, which takes place in a small room without adequate sight lines or deputy protection.

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Safety and size of town hall and court questioned

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - Updated: 9:50 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

PALATINE BRIDGE -- During the regular January Palatine Town Board meeting, questions were raised about the safety and size of the current town hall and court, which has recently been plagued with leaks, notably inside the courtroom, where a severe leak in the ceiling recently showered Justice Ron Dygert's desk and current court records with water.

At the town's organizational meeting, a desk covered with the soaked, separated documents filled almost the entire standing room court space. Dygert said that this was the second instance of a severe, damaging leak in the same spot in the courtroom.

At last Wednesday's meeting, during the evening's first public comment session, Stone Arabia resident Paul Daw asked "who is in charge of repairs on the building?," continuing, "What happens if inmates were in there and the ceiling comes down?" Daw wondered how such an incident could impact the town's insurance.

The board agreed to contact general contractors to view the situation to see whether the leak is roof or pipe related, with the goal of having it fixed as soon as possible.

Councilperson Shawn Cotton explained that a survey of the property was recently completed — the next step in a plan created in 2013 to figure out how the building would best serve the town, with the possibility that it be used specifically as a court or a town office facility. 

Currently, the building houses both.

During the meeting, the board selected a committee to review all plans related to a potential town building project, including Supervisor Sara Niccoli, councilmembers Betty Sanders and Cotton, Justice Dygert, the town's lawyer Robert Subik and a planning board member. Cotton volunteered to chair the committee.

The next step in the process of figuring out the best use for the current facility, and how the town should proceed, will be to hold a planning meeting and visioning session on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 9 a.m. The public is invited to attend.

During the first public comment session of the meeting, resident Paul Spencer spoke, regarding the small town courtroom, "We've had a problem with the judge's safety … if we can't use this building for a court and meeting room, why do it at all?"

He said, "with the fiasco we had here a couple months ago, with a man escaping and the lack of judgement of the judge chasing after a man at 65 years old," that he feels a deputy should be present in the courtroom.

"There's five other townships that do have deputies come in … the townships pay for these deputies," commented Spencer.

Daw asked, "We can't afford $25 an hour to pay a deputy for two hours? $25 dollars an hour — That's what your judge's life is worth?"

Deputy Supervisor Michele Whiteman responded, "That's something we have to look into. We've never had to cross that bridge before."

     

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