Monday, March 21, 2011



Report of March meeting - 03/07/11. Called to order 7:10 p.m. by Zenie at Helderberg Lutheran Church (formerly St. Paul’s) in Berne. Many thanks to Jack Milner, our host, for shoveling the walkway and providing a tour of this beautiful old building. Present: Zenie Gladieux, John Elberfeld, Jane McLean, Jack Milner, Anna Wolfe, Amy Pokorny
  • Randy Grippin has a scheduling conflict, but wanted to advise us that the Berne Town Park may be available for weekly farmer markets; he has been speaking with Berne Supervisor George Gebe.
  • Cheryl Frantzen: The Second Annual Knox Conservation Council Fall Festival will be on October 8th, Columbus Day weekend, during the Albany County Firemen’s Muster being hosted by the Knox Fire Department.
  • Bonnie Kohl emailed that she won’t be able to do the squash wholesale growing project this year; the government requires a stiff fee for permits which she can’t absorb. Tom Gallagher, Cooperative Extension farm rep, won’t be able to assist her this year as his coverage has been extended to 9 counties due to budget cuts. She reported that the farmers who participated in the project last year did well.
WEBSITE: John has continued to work a bit on the site, but there has not been much activity. He will contact people who are on the site to discuss their web page. We discussed how we can continue to contact people to add to the site? We can seek articles in the Altamont Enterprise, the Greenville Pioneer, the Albany Times Union, and the Schenectady Gazette about the website after we polish it and make decisions about community calendar. Amy will send to John her spreadsheet with the names of local small businesses to be contacted. We can use community contacts to do a direct mailing to local organizations: a one page flyer describing our group and explaining how to use the information on our website to better publicize their own efforts.
COMMUNITY CALENDAR: We spent some time discussing the needs of a community calendar. John was asked if we could have links to community calendars of local papers? (Probably not). Can we set up a simple way for organizations to submit their information, such as a spreadsheet? (Possible, but our website format MediaWiki doesn’t automatically sort entries by date, which would make it impossible to group entries by date.) Mediawiki would allow entries to be set up by categories [ex. church, recreation] but not by date within categories. Date sorts would be by entry date and not by event date. To be useful the calendar must allow entry by the public, tie events to the correct dates and allow events to be grouped by date and possibly by category. John will check Hal Miller’s website to see how events are entered there and will check freeware sources for possible community calendars. (N.B. A sample calendar is being tested on the website as of 3/11; please check it out - Zenie)
COMMUNITY OUTREACH: We need to develop an “elevator speech” presentation about our group and ask to present it at the Town Board meetings in all four towns soon. Berne and Knox Historical societies already have historical drive-yourself tours which could be made available to the public quickly. Do Rensselaerville and Westerlo have something similar that we could use?
COMMITTEE FOR ACTIVITIES: The remainder of the meeting was devoted to discussion of the Proposed Areas of Interest [from last meeting]: which do we need and what should the responsibilities for each be? We decided that each area will be a committee; we will need a Chair and volunteers to work on each committee; the Chair of each committee will be a member of the Steering Committee. The Proposed Areas of Interest list from last meeting was evaluated for relevance and efficiencies. Some of the items on the original list have already been completed or are in process; these have been flagged as follows:
  1. = things we’ve accomplished;
    • = activity in process. Top priority items have been tagged. Volunteers will be sought to populate these committees; please call or email Zenie with your interest.
HILLTOWNS COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Chair Dawn Jordan, John Elberfeld, Zenie Gladieux
  1. Create website,
    • Create Hilltowns community calendar,
Develop a publicity kit for HHA,
    • develop a web page for each local business, with a link to any existing website
Help businesses develop own websites
Develop an “elevator speech” presentation to be put on disk,
1) Present ourselves to the town boards to urge cooperation in promoting and supporting Hilltowns activities
2) Develop and promote a ”buy local” campaign to the Hilltowns
AGRICULTURAL: Chair Amy Pokorny
  1. Farmers’ Market at Octagon Barn,
    • October Harvest Festivals in Knox and Medusa,
Help promote Heldeberg Market,
Reestablish a wholesale growing project (now inactive),
    • Develop a Farmers’ Market at the Berne Town Park
Explore establishing a community cannery,
Explore offering classes on home canning and freezing (in cooperation with Coop Extension?) Organize classes in farm activities (free help for farmers?)
2) Organize classes on designing home vegetable gardens
1) Identify public restrooms in the Hilltowns, put them on our maps & website
2) Identify lodgings, put on maps & website
Promote availability of weddings/family reunions/ business picnic catering by local businesses
Tie tours and events to existing local services and activities
Promote use of local products in restaurants
TOURISM: Zenie Gladieux
    • Develop maps and documentation for drive-yourself tours
Develop farm tours, perhaps by topics of interest, i.e. sheep-shearing .
1) Organize town-wide garage sales for each town
2) Organize open house studio/antique shop toursIdentify and publicize one or more “scenic byways”
Work with towns to set up visitor centers for maps and brochures
Organize weekly thematic tours during summer months: baby animals, alternative energy, fiber arts, fall foliage, maple products, pumpkins, Xmas trees, etc.
Improve local signage for businesses
Develop interface with Albany County Visitors Bureau
RECREATION: Gerry Chartier, Dan Driscoll, Jack Milner, Chad Jemison
    • Promote the Long Path and develop links with it from other areas
1) Develop a series of seasonal hikes
2) Develop ATV/snowmobile link on website
Arrange classes for hunting or fishing with other organizations
HISTORICAL/LIBRARIES: John Elberfeld, Jane McLean
  1. Genealogy Days in September and October 2010,
  1. Establish a link to Hal Miller’s website
1) Organize training class with experts for historical societies and libraries
2) Genealogy class for public
3) Organize school programs with historical societies: going into school with “suitcase” of information; (Helen L, Mary K, Carol W?)
Build an inventory of old homes in each town
  1. Hilltown Players, contradances in Rensselaerville
    • Contradances at Octagon Barn [Paul Rosenberg via Amy]
    • Star parties at Octagon Barn with Dudley Observatory
1) Hilltowns-wide “studio Open Houses” for artists and crafters
Band concerts
Arts and Crafts shows
NEXT MEETINGS - All at 7:00 PM:
  • 03/28: Knox Town Hall: John and Jane
  • 04/18: Westerlo at Dormansville Hiawatha Grange : Jack Milner
  • 05/09: Rensselaerville: Barb Husek
Respectfully submitted, Phoebe Beebe

Wednesday, March 9, 2011



Report of February meeting - 03/07/11. Called to order 7:15 p.m. by Zenie at Rensselaerville Library, Rensselaerville, NY. Present: Zenie Gladieux, John Elberfeld, Jane McLean, Gerry Chartier, Jessica Duval, Barb Husek,Jack Milner
HELDEBERG MARKET: Sarah Gordon reported via email: recent week was the best week ever; products include produce, meats, eggs, and breads at 
CONTRACT GROWING: Bonnie Kohl reported via email: she met recently with Tom Gallagher, Ralph Douty, and her husband to review last season. She is seeking 25-35 farmers who want to be part of the group for the coming season. For more information, contact Bonnie at 797-3959 or
DUDLEY OBSERVATORY: Ron Barnell, Dudley Observatory Site Committee, reported via email: Dudley is looking at a site in Knox for their observatory, although their offices will continue to be off-hill. Ron has asked to attend April meeting to discuss plans, including rural land initiative and diminishing light pollution in the Hilltowns.
  • John has added info on how to do publicity for Hilltown events, including a comprehensive list of organizations to contact in various media complete with phone numbers and email addresses.
  • Gerry brought to our attention the educational program Division of Soil and Water is offering on how to work with the media, 9:00-4:00 on 03/24, at the Cooperative Extension center in Voorheesville. The program is free and designed for farmers and people in farm support organizations. It is an interactive, hands-on program: how to present positive benefits of agriculture to media, taught by professionals. Call Barbara Silvestri in Ag&Markets to register.
MISSION STATEMENT: Adopted: The Helderberg Hilltowns Association (HHA) consists of neighbors from Berne, Knox, Rensselaerville, and Westerlo working together to help preserve and promote local farms, businesses, and organizations. HHA is committed to:
- developing a unified Hilltown presence
- cultivating a vibrant local economy
- safeguarding our rural culture and heritage
- encouraging stewardship of our agricultural lands, forests, and open spaces.
ORGANIZATION STRUCTURE FOR 2011: After some discussion, it was decided to continue with steering committee format, rather than electing officers, at least for the present. The Chairs ofthe various areas of activities will form the steering committee. As special projects are undertaken, members of those committees can join steering committee on a temporary basis.
POTENTIAL AREAS OF INTEREST: At the meeting of 5/18/10, part of the meeting involved breaking the attendees into groups and asking each group to develop ideas for projects that might benefit their group. During subsequent meetings other ideas were added to the lists as well. Zenie passed out the original ideas; a copy is appended to the minutes.
Zenie has realigned these initial ideas into proposed areas of interest; a copy of that document is also attached to the minutes. During the ensuing discussion, other ideas were brought up, including:
- kiosks for maps/tours
- adding recipe exchange to website
- town-wide garage sales: Rensselaerville in May, Berne July or August?
- helping historical societies and/or libraries share resources
- each area committee set up two activities to be completed by 12/31?
- need improved communication to town governments about what HHA is doing
- how can we coordinate town activities?
- keep youth [middle-high schoolers] in mind, geocaching, clubs at school
- beekeeping class
- Dutch Barns
- energy tour: can HHA help Helderberg Community Energy during energy fest in April?
The “areas” of interest (subject to revision or change at this point) are:
- Hilltowns Community Support
- Agriculture
- Hospitality
- Services
- Tourism
- Recreation: Gerry will continue to work on trail project with trail committee
- Historical: John and Jane will chair this committee
- Cultural
- Classes
Volunteers to chair any of these other areas will be gratefully accepted.
  • 03/28: Knox: Monday, March 28, 2011, 7:00p-9:00p  Place TBA - Presentation by Dudley Observatory - Contact Zenie Gladieux at (518) 894-8589 for more info. 
  • 04/18: Westerlo: Jack will find place
  • 05/09: Rensselaerville: Barb will find place
Respectfully submitted, Jane McLean