The Ulster County Legislature last month voted unanimously to approve a request by the Town of Ulster to rename the bridge where Sawkill Road spans the Sawkill Creek as the Chief Anthony E. Cruise Memorial Bridge.
At the opening of a meeting held on Wednesday, March 22, the legislature voted 23-0 in favor of renaming the recently rebuilt bridge in honor of Cruise, who retired in November 2015 due to bile duct cancer. Cruise passed away last Dec. 8, one day before the bridge reopened.
The town made the request in January; the bill was sponsored by legislators James Maloney and Dean Fabiano. Prior to the vote last month, Legislator David Donaldson said it was appropriate to name a bridge after Cruise.
“I first met Anthony when I was teaching at the Ulster County Jail,” said Donaldson, who was not in attendance at the meeting but spoke live via an Internet video feed. “I also happened to be a newly elected county legislator at that time. I was not well-accepted by the officers in that jail. They saw me as somewhat of an intrusion. It was Anthony that helped bridge the gap. He made the corrections officers realize that I was an asset to them. I’m not sure how he pulled that off, but he did that. That is what Anthony did. He helped build bridges, and I cannot think of a better tribute for anyone than by naming this bridge after Anthony.”
The Sawkill School Bridge, as it’s been known in the past, is owned by Ulster County, requiring approval by the legislature for it to be named in Cruise’s memory. The bridge, which was originally built in the late 1950s, was closed last May because of structural issues. According to Ulster Town Supervisor James Quigley III, it was rebuilt through an infrastructure initiative through the office of County Executive Mike Hein.
Cruise served as the chief of the town’s police department from 2012 until his resignation in mid-November 2015. He began his career in law enforcement as a corrections officer with Ulster County in 1988. After becoming a sheriff’s deputy, Cruise moved to the Town of Ulster Police Department in 1992.
Following the unanimous vote Ken Ronk, chairman of the county legislature, thanked Cruise’s family and colleagues who were in attendance at the meeting.
“Now that the resolution has passed we’re going to start putting together a dedication ceremony,” Ronk said. “And we’re going to make it special because Anthony was a special guy.”
Quigley this week said he expected the ceremony will take place sometime in May. “The date has not been selected yet,” he said. “We are waiting for clearance from the family so we do it at a point that his daughter is home from college.”
While Donaldson spoke of how it was appropriate to name a bridge in Cruise’s honor, Quigley said that bridge in particular was the ideal choice.
“It’s appropriate that the bridge is on the road that Chief Cruise traveled every day going to work and serving the Town of Ulster citizens,” Quigley said. “I believe it’s only fitting that those that are friends with him from the area where he lived will be reminded as they travel the road, as well as the rest of the citizens of the Town of Ulster when they have the opportunity to travel the road. And it gives access to St. Ann’s Cemetery where he is laid.”