Plan Approved for Woodstock Community Center’s bell

Removing the bell last year.

Removing the bell last year.

The Woodstock town board green-lit a permanent home for the cupola bell removed from the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center and took a verbal beating over a lack of access to the public television station among other items at a relatively short March 15 business meeting.

Historian Richard Heppner give a brief history of the bell and Lorin Rose described his plans for construction of a base where a tree once stood between the community and youth centers.

What is now the Community Center served as a Catholic church opened in 1922 to serve the thriving artist community. The bell, dedicated to stone cutter Peter Keegan, was donated to the church, Heppner said. The St. Joan of Arc Chapel opened in August of that year under the auspices of St. John’s Parish. The town purchased the building shortly after St. John’s opened its current church in West Hurley in 1975.


During renovation planning for the Community Center, architects were not confident the roof structure could support the cupola with its heavy cast bell. The town removed the bell with intent of preserving it but officials were unsure of its fate. In a Woodstock Times article last spring, Supervisor Jeremy Wilber even suggested readers could submit ideas.

Enter Lorin Rose, who has donated his time to design and build a base for the bell, which was cast by the Meneely Bell Company of Troy, New York. Bells of this vintage weigh an average of 600 or 700 pounds, according to Heppner, so it requires a substantial base.

The stump where the tree once stood will be removed and filled with stone to make up part of the base, which will be square shaped and constructed out of stone and wood.

Rose said he is not seeking funds from the Town Board, so he is seeking money and material donations from the community.

The bell will still be functional once set in its base so it can be used for community events and commemorations. To keep pranksters away, the wheel that moves back and forth to ring the bell will be locked, Rose said. Foam may be inserted to keep the bell from resonating if someone strikes it. The foam could be removed when it is used for formal occasions, Rose said.


Access denied?

In an emotional tirade, public access producer and Woodstock 104 FM operator Randi Steele said she is being shut out of the television studio at the community center because of her disability and accused Wilber and Councilman Bill McKenna of continued inaction.

“Bill McKenna, you’re a liar,” Steele shouted. “I’ve been locked out of the TV station. That’s your fault,” she said, adding she feels she is not wanted at the station, either because of content someone finds objectionable or another reason. “I’m trying to figure out why the hell I’m being oppressed this way.”

Steele turned her chair and faced her back to the meeting before finally leaving.

During planning stages of the community center renovation, handicapped access to the studio became problematic because water lines and other utilities prevented construction of a ramp.

McKenna had suggested a workaround where producers could sign out a key to both the studio exterior door and the front entrance to the community center, which has a ramp.

Wilber said that wasn’t properly communicated to the police dispatchers, who are responsible for providing access to keys to the various municipal buildings. McKenna suggested copies of the front door keys be made so that they can be put on the same ring as the studio key and avoid confusion. Wilber said he would speak with Dispatch Supervisor Laurie Hamilton to clarify who has access to which entrances.

Councilman Jay Wenk urged the public to engage with the board in a civil manner and said it can be done even when calling someone a liar.

Steele had left the building. but she wasn’t finished.

“I don’t know how to convey how I feel right now about the town board. Particularly Jeremy Wilber, Bill McKenna and Cathy Magarelli,” Steele said in brief on-air commentary at 9 p.m. before the regular rebroadcast of the Town Board meeting on 104.1 FM. “I’m just about to throw Jay Wenk in the mud.”

Steele said the town lied to get the certificate of occupancy for the community center by saying all of the TV producers would be given keys to both the studio and the front of the building.

“We and I in particular were made this promise by Bill McKenna,” she said. “The TV station’s been open for a couple weeks now. Not once has the key (to the front) been made available.”


Board gives nod for Kingston water repairs

The town board agreed with the City of Kingston’s lead agency status on a project to install a liner in a 1,600-foot portion of water main on Sawkill Road that connects to the treatment plant. The main, constructed in 1883, was taken offline after officials discovered last July that it was leaking 800,000 gallons per day. The repairs will allow the city of Kingston to have redundancy in case its other main servicing the treatment plant breaks.


Mayors for Peace

The board authorized Wilber to sign the Mayors for Peace registration form, entering Woodstock in the program founded in Hiroshima in 1982 with a goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons by 2020, the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As of January, 6,965 communities in 161 countries participate. The Church of the Holy Transfiguration’s Father John Nelson had urged the board to enroll the town in the program.