By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO August 27, 2004 Monticello received a jumpstart to its 200th birthday bash on Tuesday when a new, 14-foot-tall village clock was erected by the Monticello Post Office, followed by a groundbreaking ceremony for the new firehouse.
They were the next part of a bicentennial celebration which kicked off August 20 with the opening of the Monticello Museum.
The opening acts of the Bicentennial celebrations began at 9 a.m. as Village of Monticello Department of Public Works staff teamed with Mike Feinstein, owner of Sullivan County Monument and Sullivan County Crane Service, who donated his crane and services to help install the new village clock.
The clock was donated by the Monticello Rotary Club. The total cost was $8,500, including shipping.
Les Kristt of the Monticello Rotary, one of the individuals responsible for purchasing the clock, said the idea originated with Rotary member Bill Tochterman.
Kristt believed the clock will signify a new beginning, a beginning of the next 200 years. He added that the addition of the clock will be a positive change for the village and will prove that Monticello really does something.
Mayor James Barnicle called the clock the first mark of the next 200 years. This will be the legacy of the era to come.
Monticello Rotary Club President Orshii Boldiis was also on hand to witness the event.
It takes you back to a simpler, quieter time when towns had this kind of thing, he said.
He credited the realization of the huge clock to a fundraiser held by the club. He said that Tochterman and Kristt did all of the legwork and called the clock amazing.
Village Justice Josephine Finn was one of several who stood in front of the post office as DPW employees and others worked hard for more than a half-hour to lift the clock from a truck with a crane and then properly install it into the ground.
This is small town America at its best, said Finn. It is a nice-looking clock . . . very pretty.
Village Manager Richard Sush, who is also a member of the Monticello Rotary, called the event really exciting. This is a nice addition to the village. It represents all the new things coming to the village.
Dennis Diuguid of Monitor Electric also had a part by installing the wiring for the clock.
The new, long-awaited firehouse groundbreaking brought smiles to the faces of the Monticello Fire Department as shovels hit the dirt at the site on Richardson Avenue.
Dressed in full uniform, the department was joined by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, New York State Senator John Bonacic and officials from the village, the Town of Thompson, Sullivan County Sheriff Dan Hogue, and Sullivan County legislators Leni Binder and Sam Wohl.
Mayor Barnicle pledged that the firehouse is only a part of whats going to be. [It] will be a monument of our celebration.
Bonacic said, This is an exciting day because we have our priorities straight.
He called the firefighters heroes. He also said he was glad the state was assisting in the cost of the project, as the firehouse is expected to run to a maximum of $4.2 million. The state will be supplying about $1.88 million, and the town and village will split the remaining expenses.
Bonacic said the people who risk their lives deserved the best facilities and the best equipment.
Monticello Fire Department Chief Michael Bastone said, Its been a long time coming.
The department had outgrown its current facility, he explained. The New York State Department of Transportation will also be widening Pleasant Street, thus cutting into the departments driveway. The new firehouse will give the department some room, he said. There will be drive-through bays, so that the trucks can enter and exit from both sides.
Michael Bernstein, president of the Monticello Fire Department, agreed, Weve been waiting a long time for this.
He called the groundbreaking exciting.
Both Bastone and Bernstein said the new firehouse was a culmination of tireless efforts by various fire chiefs and presidents over the years.
Sush said he had been involved with the project for three and a half years. He simply called the new building exciting.
Gunther said the building was important for a town that is growing. Her late husband, Jake, was a volunteer firefighter.
Town of Thompson Supervisor Anthony Cellini said the firefighters deserved the credit. The firehouse will last forever, he said.
Town of Thompson Councilman William Rieber said the firehouse would be a monument to the future and future generations.
The 200th anniversary of Monticello will continue today with the Schmidt Family Concert on the courthouse lawn from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The loaded birthday weekend will continue on Saturday at noon with the dedication of the repaired clock at the courthouse and the dedication of the new flag and pole from the village to the county. At 1 p.m., there will be a large Firemens Parade down Broadway, including antique fire engines, tractors and cars, as well as a street fair.
The festivities will draw to a close on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. with Family Day at de Hoyos Park in honor of Robert and Selma Green. Games, refreshments, a turkey fry-off, music, animals and an airplane finale with the release of balloons will conclude the celebration.