(Left to right) The late Robert J. Creifelds. Photo provided by Armer Funeral Home; Ballston Spa Fire Department Chief Bill Lewis, Volunteer Apprentice Tess Davidson-Brown, Second Assistant Kevin Krogh and Volunteer Apprentice Zachary Greenspan; and National Bottle Museum Board Director Ellie Dillon, Director Gary Moeller and Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano. Photos by Larry Goodwin.
BALLSTON SPA — Village leaders mostly avoided the heavy topic of budget problems Monday night, as the name of a respected volunteer firefighter flashed in red letters on a digital sign outside.
After dark the Eagle Matt Lee firehouse sign brightens up a part of Bath Street, and it is visible through the windows of the Ballston Spa Village Board’s meeting room.
In light of recent events, Mayor John Romano decided to reverse the board’s agenda items and start with “new business.”
He offered praise to Tess Davidson-Brown and Zachary Greenspan, both area teenagers, who were approved by the board as volunteer apprentices in the Ballston Spa Fire Department. They had appeared for the occasion together with Chief Bill Lewis and Second Assistant Kevin Krogh.
Before introducing Davidson-Brown and Greenspan, Romano took a moment to honor Robert J. Creifelds, who passed away the weekend of March 4 after serving as a firefighter in the village for nearly 60 years.
“He’s the epitome of what volunteerism is all about,” the mayor said.
The firehouse’s digital sign continuously scrolled the letters “R.I.P.” for Creifelds.
Lewis reported that Creifelds, in previous years, had served in Rotterdam’s Carman Fire Department and volunteered elsewhere, too.
Romano also paid homage to the work of Gary Moeller, director of the National Bottle Museum at 76 Milton Avenue, which was presented with a $1,200 check from the village.
The museum, according to Romano, preserves the history of Ballston Spa as a producer of bottles that were then shipped worldwide, as a means to distribute the area’s famously healthy spring waters.
A more graphic description appears on the website http://nationalbottlemuseum.org: “Exhibits inside of the National Bottle Museum allow visitors to view thousands of glass bottles that were produced by strong men who toiled in intense heat for 12 hours a day, six days a week, when the demand for glass containers was staggering,” reads one account. “It was an era when vast commercial empires rose and fell. In many cases, only the bottles remain as witness to the drama.”
“We appreciate what you do,” Romano told Moeller, before giving him a second “surprise” gift: a symbolic key to the village. It was earned by Moeller’s dutiful efforts at the museum.
“His job is, for sure, under-appreciated,” Romano added.
“I have to say, I’m a little touched,” Moeller responded.
When visitors ask about tourist attractions in Saratoga Springs, Moeller explained, he instead recommends they go see places that are much closer. “You can go to Saratoga, if you want,” he tells tourists. “Ballston Spa is a cool village.”
The mayor thanked as well Ellie Dillon, the National Bottle Museum board director, who had accompanied Moeller to the March 12 meeting.
As the village board members proceeded through their regular agenda items, which were recently updated to include specific budgetary information, Trustee Noah Shaw requested to see even more details about $3,500 of expenditures in the Department of Public Works.
In relation to the village’s ongoing effort to address shortfalls in its $4.1 million annual budget, Shaw said every public meeting agenda should “identify the amounts” of money deducted from each separate account.
During its meeting in late January, the board voted to take out a short-term loan of $600,000 from Ballston Spa National Bank to cover a number of current expenses.
But Romano insisted this week on ending the discussion as it started, with a focus on more positive aspects of life in Ballston Spa.
He predicted that weather would not be a factor for the upcoming Easter Egg Hunt that is popular among local families.
The annual event, sponsored jointly by the village and the Town of Milton, is scheduled to take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 25 at the Milton Community Center on Northline Road.
“It’s a good way to run off the pancake breakfast,” concluded Trustee Robert Cavanaugh.