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Updated 08/05/2008

Log record ID: 12/10/05 17:20:19


Highway department flagman is hit by car

Published: Tuesday, August 05, 2008


WHITEHALL -- A flagman was struck by a car and injured while directing traffic in Whitehall on Monday morning, State Police said.

Craig Lennox, of Granville, was taken to Glens Falls Hospital with leg and arm injuries, Trooper Brian Callahan said.

His injuries did not appear to be serious, Callahan said.

Lennox, a Washington County Highway Department employee, was directing cars in a marked construction zone on county Route 12 at about 8 a.m. when the accident occurred, police said.

Fred Stark, of Fort Ann, was northbound on Route 12 in a 1995 four-door Buick when he entered the construction zone, State Police said.

Stark did not see Lennox or his raised stop sign, and struck the flagman, authorities said. Stark was ticketed for failure to obey a flag person, police said.





Merging police could be good for taxpayers

History in county shows merger could work without hurting coverage.

Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2008

They're considering it, and for all the same reasons every other government body should be considering it.

Whitehall and Granville officials are looking into merging their police departments, or seeking some other cost-cutting arrangement, that would allow them to save taxpayers money.

That's the kind of thinking that should be taking place all over the region, as rising prices for everything from fuel to salaries and pensions drive up the cost of government to the citizens.

The impetus for this discussion between Whitehall and Granville is a vacancy created in the Whitehall chief's office as a result of the incumbent failing to pass the civil service test.

Rather than hire a new chief, village officials in both communities are considering combining police departments under one administration to serve their combined 5,700 residents.

There's already a model for this kind of cooperation in Washington County that's working well.

The Cambridge and Greenwich police departments merged in 2004, with Cambridge Chief George Bell taking over the Greenwich force when the part-time Greenwich chief declined a full-time position.

Greenwich contracted with Cambridge for administration for less than the cost of a full-time chief. Eventually, the two departments merged under a single name to serve their 3,900 residents.

Chief Bell said Tuesday that the Greenwich-Cambridge arrangement has worked well and has saved taxpayers money over the past four years. He said he's able to have complete police coverage in both villages using full and part-time officers, and he has flexibility to move officers around as the need arises.

For instance, he said, he can have a part-time officer work part of a shift in Greenwich and another part of the shift in Cambridge if necessary.

He said it also came in handy when officers from both villages were able to be dispatched to the Jaliek Rainwalker search.

Bell said even more taxpayer money could be saved if he didn't have to operate the departments under two separate payrolls. Village attorneys and other officials have been working for the last month to see if they can get the departments working under one budget, he said.

The situations involving the municipalities are similar, too, in that the villages of Whitehall and Granville are roughly the same driving distance apart as Greenwich and Cambridge.

There are other options the villages could consider besides an administrative change.

They include contracting with the county Sheriff's Office for coverage. That, too, might be able to save taxpayers money without having a negative impact on police coverage.

Or they could do a combination of both.

The enthusiastic support from local officials for some kind of action with regard to police administrations is encouraging. Other police departments in close proximity to each other should consider similar proposals. Officials in these small communities should ask themselves if they really need their own individual police forces anymore.

The police stations in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward, for example, are about two miles apart, and there's a sheriff's station and county jail between them. Perhaps they could consider combining forces to save money and operate more efficiently.

Any time that government bodies, whether by choice or by circumstance, decide to look into consolidating services, the taxpayers win. Tradition and familiarity aren't a good excuse for maintaining an expensive and inefficient status quo.

Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Editor Ken Tingley, Editorial Page Editor Mark Mahoney and citizen representative Nancy Fitzpatrick






Village looking at police options

Officials weigh possibly disbanding or merging force with Granville's

By Don Lehman

Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2008

WHITEHALL -- Village officials are exploring the possibility of disbanding the village police force or merging its administration with that of the police department in neighboring Granville.

The discussions come as the Village Board is looking into hiring a new police chief after current Chief Richard LaChapelle was unable to pass the civil service test for the position.

The board plans to meet with a prospective candidate for the chief position today, but has also contacted Washington County Sheriff Roger Leclaire about the possibility of doing away with the Police Department and having the Sheriff's Office instead patrol the village.

Whitehall Mayor Patricia Norton said village leaders "are looking at different options to save money" when paying for police protection.

"We're just putting some feelers out. I'm open to everything at this point," she said. "Obviously with the cost of fuel everything is coming to a head quickly."

She said the Village Board is to meet with a chief candidate Tuesday, and Norton planned to meet with Granville Mayor Jay Niles on Thursday to discuss the two villages sharing a police chief.

Under that scenario, Granville Police Chief Ernest Bassett would serve as chief of both departments, with the two villages sharing the cost of his position. Bassett referred comment on the situation to Niles.

"We have to find ways to save taxpayers money," Niles said. "They (Whitehall officials) approached us on it, and it's something we're seriously looking into."

Leclaire acknowledged he had been contacted by Norton, but he said he had not been asked for a formal proposal to take over policing of the village.

"We haven't done anything with it. I'd have to see what they want" before determining how much it would cost, Leclaire said.

LaChapelle would return to his previous rank of sergeant when Bassett, or someone else, is appointed chief.

LaChappelle said the arrangement would seem to be similar to that of the Cambridge-Greenwich Police Department, where then Cambridge Police Chief George Bell took over police chief duties for both villages.

Sandford, who is the police chief of Fort Edward, said he favors keeping a local police department, and he said many residents "like his (LaChappelle's) services" as chief of the department.

The Whitehall Police Department has five full-time officers, one of whom is out on long-term injury disability, and 10 part-time officers.

LaChapelle said he has been asked to cut patrol car miles to save money, and he had concerns that village leaders would seek to cut a police officer position, which he believes would affect public safety.

LaChappelle said the village would not get the same level of service if patrolled by the Sheriff's Office without a station in the Whitehall area.

"You need to keep local service," he said.

LaChappelle said he is looking into other ways to save the village money, such as putting fewer miles on the department's patrol cars and using more foot patrols.





Singer: Drug arrest saved my life


By Don Lehman

Published: Thursday, June 19, 2008

FORT EDWARD -- Former Phish frontman Ernest "Trey" Anastasio said Wednesday that his December 2006 drug arrest saved his life.

Anastasio's remarks came as he graduated from Washington County Felony Drug Treatment Court, along with 10 other participants in the program.

Anastasio said he remembered thanking Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle the night LaChapelle and his fellow Whitehall Police officers arrested Anastasio on drug possession charges during a traffic stop.

Anastasio was arrested for illegal possession of heroin and prescription drugs and driving under the influence of drugs.

"I remember thinking, 'My life is being saved,' " the Richmond, Vt., resident told the dozens in attendance for the graduation.

Anastasio invited LaChapelle to the graduation, and the chief was in attendance as the famed musician thanked him.

"It's good to see someone who is serious about addressing their drug issues," LaChapelle said.

The 44-year-old lead singer and guitar player completed the intensive program of supervision and treatment in 14 months. He will spend 3 years on probation following the completion of the drug court program.

Anastasio's remarks were part of an emotional ceremony that saw the 100th person graduate from the county's drug court program, which is in its sixth year.

In addition to thanking the police, he and the other graduates also praised drug court staff members Melanie Vaughn and Charles DeVries and county Judge Kelly McKeighan for their roles in helping them get sober.

"I can go on and on about how they changed my life," said graduate John Bedford.

One of the graduates, Daniel Wasielewski, who spent 27 months in the program, composed a moving song about his experience, which got him a standing ovation from the packed court gallery.

"I stand before you living proof, because if I can do this, anyone can do this," he said.

Drug court participants are required to complete extensive rehabilitation and counseling programs, do community service and take frequent drug and alcohol tests.

One graduate, Richard Schulz of Granville, joked about the frequent tests.

"I know when I wake up tomorrow morning and have to pee, I don't have to call (drug court) first," the 62-year-old said. "At my age, that's important."

No statistics were available as to how many of the drug court graduates have re-offended since the first group graduated in 2003, but Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said it's only a handful.

"It's proven to be a very good program," he said.






UPDATED -- Missing Whitehall man found


Updated: Monday, June 9, 2008 11:43 AM EDT

 WHITEHALL The elderly Whitehall man who disappeared this morning was found in a car at a car dealership late Monday morning, officials said.

Harold Huzzy Martell, 82, was found seated in a car behind the repair shop at Ross Chevrolet, police said. An employee of the dealership had seen him walking in that area around 8 a.m. and notified police, who found him in a car, police said.

Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle said it was unclear why he was in the car, but he appeared unhurt.

Whitehall and Skenesborough firefighters, Whitehall Police and state forest rangers were searching for him when he was found.

Martell had last been seen at his Boardman Street home about 6 a.m., LaChapelle said.

Martell, a former Washington County fire coordinator, has health problems that include not being able to move well. LaChapelle said relatives last saw him early Monday, and there were no plans for him to go anywhere.



Man driving motorized cooler faces DWI, other charges

By Don Lehman

Published: Tuesday, June 03, 2008

WHITEHALL - In case you were wondering, a motorized cooler on wheels is a motor vehicle under state law.

A Whitehall man learned that on Memorial Day, when he was charged with driving while intoxicated after police pulled him over for swerving and driving on the sidewalk on a four-wheeled, motorized cooler known as a "Cruzin Cooler."

Leslie J. "Bomber" Marr, 57, could face felony DWI and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle charges because of prior arrests and convictions in drinking-and-driving cases, said Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle.

The electricity-powered Cruzin Cooler that Marr was riding contained 14 beers, the chief said.

LaChapelle said Whitehall Police Patrolman Andrew Mija stopped Marr at about 7:45 p.m. after the officer saw Marr swerving and preparing to cross William Street on the motorized cooler.

The machine has handlebars, and its operator sits on a seat atop the cooler, LaChapelle said.

"We were told it can do up to 12 mph," the chief said.

Marr had apparently just left the nearby American Legion Post 83, but it was unclear where he was going, LaChapelle said. He was not headed toward his Lafayette Street home, and he refused to take a breath test, the chief said.

Marr had apparently been working at the American Legion post earlier in the day, according to police.

Marr was charged with misdemeanor counts of DWI and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and also was cited for operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

He was released pending prosecution in Whitehall Village Court.

The Cruzin Cooler was seized by police, the chief said.

No listed phone number for Marr could be found Monday.

Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said the scooter is considered a motor vehicle under state law.

"They tell us he's been riding around town on that cooler for years," Kortright said. "You can't cruise around on your cooler if you're intoxicated."

Cruzin Coolers generally run on 300-watt to 500-watt motors similar to those used on other motorized scooters, but there are some models that run on gasoline.

The company's Web site boasts the vehicles can travel up to 13 mph and pull up to 400 pounds. Price-wise, they begin at about $300.

They are legal in New York, according to the company's Web site.



Police make arrests in alcohol sting


Published: Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Two store clerks were arrested Wednesday after they sold alcohol to underage volunteers who were working with police. The arrests included one clerk who sold to two underage people in a span of five minutes, police said.

Katina Davis, 21, of Whitehall was charged with two counts of first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child, a misdemeanor, after she allegedly sold beer to two 19-year-olds in a span of a few minutes while working at the Stewart's Shops store in Whitehall.

The arrest was part of an effort to check businesses in Whitehall, Fort Ann, Kingsbury, Hudson Falls, South Glens Falls and Fort Edward to see if they would sell alcohol to the 19-year-olds, who volunteered to work with police.

Police had success only at the Whitehall Stewart's and at Fort Ann Super Stop, where Nicholas Butler, 19, of Fort Ann was charged with unlawfully dealing with a child for allegedly selling alcohol to one of the teens, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Police checked 16 stores in all, including Stewart's in Kingsbury, Hudson Falls, Fort Edward and South Glens Falls, Cumberland Farms in Whitehall, Hudson Falls, Fort Ann and Fort Edward, CVS, Hannaford and Kingsbury Liquor in Kingsbury, Deli Mart and Hess in South Glens Falls and Sunoco in Whitehall, but staff at those stores did not sell alcohol to the 19-year-olds.

Davis was released pending prosecution in Whitehall Village Court, while Butler was released to appear in Fort Ann Town Court.

The sting was part of an effort by the Sheriff's Office and police in Whitehall, Hudson Falls, Fort Edward and South Glens Falls.




Four charged in jumping on freight train



Published: Tuesday, May 20, 2008

WHITEHALL - Police early Sunday arrested four people who had hitched a ride on a freight train from Vermont, the second time in about a month that freeloaders who jump on freight trains were caught in town, officials said.

Washington County sheriff's officers arrested four Vermont residents about 12:30 a.m. Sunday after getting a complaint from Vermont Rail officials that trespassers had boarded a freight train heading into Whitehall from central Vermont, Sheriff Roger Leclaire said. At least one person had apparently made it into one of the engines pulling the train, Leclaire said.

The train stopped in Whitehall and sheriff's officers caught all four, although two fled from police and were caught after a brief foot chase, the sheriff said.

"Apparently it's some kind of game they were playing, jumping on the train to hitch a ride," Leclaire said.

Nicholas J. Welch, 21, of Wallingford, Vt.; Michael J. Manfredi, 28, of West Rutland, Vt.; Troy M. McCullough, 27, of West Rutland, Vt.; and Diana L. Bessette, 29, of West Rutland, were each charged with third-degree criminal trespass, police said. They were arraigned before Whitehall Judge Richard Gordon, who sent Manfredi and Welch to Washington County Jail for lack of bail, while McCullough and Bessette were released pending prosecution.

Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle, whose agency assisted the Sheriff's Office with the case, said the arrest was the second of train freeloaders in five weeks.

On April 11, three people were caught trespassing on railroad tracks off Broadway, he said. One was from California, the others from Connecticut and Rhode Island, and they told police they had been on trains together from Buffalo headed east, said LaChapelle.

"They said they just hopped on and went from place to place," the chief said. "They climb into a box car and off they go."

They told police they were trying to get to Vermont. They were charged with trespass, a noncriminal violation, and released.

Dave Wilson, president of Vermont Rail, said trespassing on freight trains has long been a problem, but it doesn't seem worse now than usual.

"It's an issue that's still out there. We have trespassers all over the place," he said. "Until the states step up and do something to make more penalties, it's going to continue."

The criminal trespass charge filed in Sunday's case is punishable by up to 90 days in jail.




Two men charged in steel theft


Updated: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 8:54 AM EDT

WHITEHALL -- Two men who allegedly stole 84 pieces of scrap steel from a railroad storage area were arrested Monday as they drove to a scrap yard to sell it, police said.

The duo was spotted driving from the Broadway railyard with the pieces of metal, which weighed about 130 pounds apiece, in a pickup truck Monday morning, said Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle.

Police got a good description of the pickup from witnesses, and minutes after the truck left the railyard, Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Don Jett spotted it in Kingsbury, LaChapelle said. The men were on their way to Eastside Auto's scrap yard to sell the metal, the chief said. The metal, old pieces of railroad track, was worth about $600, LaChapelle said.

Charged with petit larceny, a misdemeanor, and the non-criminal violation of trespass were Jeremy J. Hicks, 20, of Dresden and a 16-year-old from Queensbury whose name is being withheld because of his age. The Post-Star generally does not identify those under 18 charged with misdemeanors or less.

Both were released pending prosecution in Whitehall Village Court.




Police: Street fight leads to broken jaw, felony assault charge for Whitehall man


Published: Sunday, April 13, 2008

WHITEHALL -- A dispute over a woman prompted a Whitehall man to attack an acquaintance Thursday night and break the man's jaw, police said.

Charles A. DeGroff, 19, of Saunders Street was charged with second-degree assault, a felony, in the 11:50 p.m. altercation on Main Street, said Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle.

Michael Rozell, 19, of Whitehall suffered a fractured jaw and was taken to Glens Falls Hospital for treatment, LaChapelle said. Police were told the injury will likely require surgery, the chief said.

The two men had dated the same woman and were embroiled in a dispute over her, police said. DeGroff is accused of punching Rozell in the face.

DeGroff was arraigned in Whitehall Village Court and sent to Washington County Jail for lack of $5,000 cash bail or $10,000 bail bond.

Whitehall Police Patrolman Craig Fifield made the arrest.



Man arrested after allegedly burning woman's face with cigarette


Updated: Friday, April 11, 2008 3:03 PM EDT


WHITEHALL -- A Whitehall man was arrested on a felony criminal contempt charge Thursday night after he allegedly burned a womans face with a cigarette, police said.

Andrew A. Lane, 38, of Molineros Trailer Park, was arrested after police received a call at 7:30 p.m. about the womans injury, said Whitehall Police Chief Richard LaChapelle.

The woman was not seriously hurt and refused medical treatment for a minor burn, the chief said.

Lane was charged because an order of protection had been issued in Whitehall Town Court barring him from abusive conduct toward the woman.

In addition to a charge of first-degree criminal contempt that accused Lane of violating the order of protection, he was charged with second-degree harassment, a non-criminal violation. An assault charge may be filed as the investigation continues, LaChapelle said.

Lane was arraigned before Whitehall Town Justice William Redmond and released on his own recognizance, with a no-contact order of protection issued.



Whitehall approves social host law


Published: Wednesday, March 05, 2008

WHITEHALL -- In an effort to curb beer-soaked underage drinking bashes, village officials Monday approved a measure that would punish anyone over the age of 21 for hosting parties where alcohol is served to minors.

"I know that there have been some where there seems to be some partying with not necessarily with the parents present. But they might be in another part of the house," said Village Mayor Patricia Norton. "It is becoming a problem."

The law, which the Village Board approved unanimously, is similar to measures passed in Hudson Falls and Warren County.

Known commonly as a social host law, the measures are designed to punish parents or guardians who knowingly allow underage drinking parties to go on in their homes.

The law would take effect upon filing it with New York's secretary of state.

About 50 communities around the state have passed social host laws.

"I think it will make the young people aware of the fact that partying is not going to be tolerated and there are consequences to that partying," Norton said.

Offenders could receive a maximum fine of $250 fine and up to 15 days in jail.

Village Attorney Tony Jordan said the law would be applied judiciously.

Parents who are truly unaware that their teenagers are throwing an alcohol-fueled party would escape prosecution, he said.

"For instance, if I'm out of town, my kids have a party -- that's not what this case deals with," Jordan said.

The law, he said, would go after repeat offenders.

"I think it begins to defy credibility, however, if someone cries ignorance a third time," Jordan said.

Like many communities, underage drinking parties affect the quality of life, he said.

Whitehall officials discussed a social host law in November, when a 27-year-old man was arrested after being found in a vehicle with a bottle of liquor, containers of beer, an 18-year-old woman and a 16-year-old girl, both of whom had been drinking, police said at the time.

"They're experiencing the same issues every community I think is experiencing," Jordan said. "I don't think it's any different anywhere else. There's this problem, there's a way to address this problem, why don't we look at it?"

It's already illegal for adults to purchase alcohol for minors to consume.

But the social host laws take the issue a step further, said David Saffer, executive director of the Council for Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse of Warren and Washington Counties.

"It's another tool for law enforcement to make parents responsible, to make property owners responsible for what happens on their property," he said.



Caller ID leads police to suspect who fled scene


Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WHITEHALL -- A Vermont teen's attempt to flee from police early Tuesday was foiled by caller ID.

The 18-year-old, Alexander Jakubowski of Castleton, Vt., hid his car in a Poultney Street driveway after Whitehall Police Patrolman Craig Fifield tried to pulled him over at 1:45 a.m. for attempting to pass in a no-passing zone, said Whitehall Police Chief Dick LaChapelle.

Jakubowski and two passengers in the 2000 Audi sedan he was driving ran from the car when Fifield pulled in behind it, the chief said.

Fifield caught a 19-year-old woman, Katelind Rowe, of Fair Haven, Vt., seconds later, but the two men got away.

Jakubowski, though, wound up in custody about 45 minutes later after he entered a home on Mountain Street and used a phone there to call Rowe's cell phone while she was at the Whitehall police station.

Police, suspecting it was him, traced the call to the Mountain Street home through caller ID and arrested Jakubowski as he hid in the front doorway of the home, LaChapelle said.

"We didn't pick it up, but we had dispatch trace the number and give us the address when he called," LaChapelle said.

Occupants of the home were sleeping upstairs when the teen went into the home, and were not aware he was there until police arrived, LaChapelle said.

Jakubowski was charged with the felony of second-degree burglary for entering the home and the misdemeanor of petit larceny for taking the cordless phone from the home, and was also issued several traffic tickets, LaChapelle said.

He was arraigned before village Justice William Redmond and sent to Washington County Jail for lack of $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 bail bond.

Rowe was charged with the noncriminal violation of unlawful possession of marijuana and released on her own recognizance.

Police on Tuesday afternoon were still seeking the other passenger who got away.

He was identified as Adam Spanos, 22, of Castleton, Vt., but LaChapelle said it did not appear he would be charged. He is on probation in Vermont, the chief said.

The group was headed into Whitehall to buy beer, police said. Stores and bars in Vermont stop selling alcohol at 1 a.m.

So why did Jakubowski, who was driving his father's car, flee from police?

"He said he was scared," LaChapelle said.


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