Certain things you sometimes take for granted. The sun will rise in the east, it will snow in January and, of course, death and taxes. In Hoosick Falls, you took it for granted Niel Stowell would be in his post with the Department of Public Works.
Niel served the village for 35 years, the last 23 as superintendent of the DPW. Thursday, Jan. 26 will be Niel’s last day on the job as he heads into retirement. A special luncheon will be held that afternoon with family, friends and area dignitaries to celebrate Niel’s long career in the village.
At a special meeting of the Village Board on Tuesday, Jan. 24, the board members approved a resolution honoring Niel for his service and presented him with a proclamation from the village and the NYS Conference of Mayors.
Mayor Rob Allen spoke briefly about all the sacrifices Niel has made, be they with water main or sewer breaks, floods and snowstorms. The countless nights, weekends and holidays he has spent on the job and away from his family, all without complaint. Niel’s DPW crews were also responsible for the annual outstanding Christmas decorations erected each year throughout the village.
Niel, of course, has myriad memories from his tenure. One took place many years ago when they had a major water main break and of course had to dig it up. He said it was a rather large hole and as fate would have it, one of the people working on the site managed to fall in. Niel said all you could see of the man was his arm sticking up holding his wallet in an effort to keep it dry. He was of course quickly rescued with no ill effects. Niel also told the FreePresshe could not have accomplished anything without the support and cooperation of his DPW personnel. He said it was always a good atmosphere; they knew when to work hard and knew when to laugh.
Through the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Village Board continued to hold its meetings, first virtually and then again in person, but all attendees had to sign in and have their temperatures checked. These meetings were held in the Highway Department Garage to allow for spacing. The man at the door taking care of that chore was Niel. As those in attendance Tuesday night entered the Highway Garage, Niel was still there at the door, holding it open and greeting all who entered “his house.” That is a gesture many of those who are so fond of Niel will miss.
The current wastewater treatment plant operator, Ken Holbrook, will take over as the DPW superintendent.
New village attorney
Last November, village attorney Andy Gilchrist announced he would be leaving that post, though he is completing some of the major environmental projects that are underway.
At the special meeting the board appointed Alaina Finan as the new village attorney. She is currently the attorney for the Town of Niskayuna in Schenectady County and works with the City of Troy as well.
Because the new attorney has some scheduling conflicts with the second Tuesday of the month, the typical meeting date for the Village Board, the next three Trustees gatherings will take place on the second Wednesday of the month, Feb. 8, March 8 and April 12. The meeting dates for the rest of the year will be determined at the April organizational meeting.