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MALTA: Emotions run high at town meeting

"What's happening here is a lot of splitting hairs," said Ted Willette. "There have been things done that are malicious and disrespectful. Our town garage workers now have a union because they fear having their hours cut; it's gotten to the point where we feel we have to protect ourselves from one another. That's crazy."

Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione spoke as Sickels' supervisor in her second job in the evening.

"I went through Flo's timesheets, and out of all this commotion, Flo has put in 14 hours before 4 p.m. from January until now," said Marchione. "To me, this is a witch hunt. I'll be happy to let anyone see the records in my office."

Nolen, who was interrupted by audience members without the meeting being called back to order, countered that the board began looking into Sickels' hours in February, and that she may have been more careful working the two jobs after that time.

As an elected official, Sickels is not required to put in specific hours in the clerk's office, which is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"People hang out in her office for hours at a time; that office is a den of political activity," said Nolen. "You can't take money from two employers at the same time. There were a lot of people whose votes showed they are also concerned."

On Election Day, Sickels retained her post as Malta clerk with 1,485 votes against Democratic contender Cynthia Young, who proved a formidable challenger with 1,351 votes.

Duprey spoke in defense of the amount of work done in the office, including marriage and hunting licenses, death certificates, processing meeting minutes and serving as notary publics.

"You are caught in the middle of this, Linda, and I regret that," said Nolen.

Members of the audience frequently interrupted Nolen, jumped to their feet, and raised their voices in defiance of Robert's Rules of Order for fair and orderly meetings. The set of guidelines adhered to by most municipal boards include the provisions that "all remarks must be directed to the chair. Remarks must be courteous in language and deportment " avoid all personalities, and must never allude to others by name or to motives."

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