Area woman meets president

A lot can happen in five days.

Just ask Delmar resident Karen Seward, whose job at Hudson Valley Community College landed her a handshake from and picture with President Barack Obama on his visit to the college Monday, Sept. 21.

According to Seward, the executive visit went from outside chance to logistical challenge overnight, and as executive manager of the physical plant at HVCC, essentially in charge of all facility needs at the college, she was in the thick of the planning process.

Seward jokes that her job is about keeping the toilet paper stocked (in reality, she's charged with keeping up with everything from new coats of paint to land acquisitionsanything that's needed at the school's Troy campus), but starting on Wednesday night, her job also became preparing the college for Obama's visit.

The White House's advance team was in the area on Sept. 16, to tour various locations around town, including HVCC. Seward was called to give the group a tour of the campus's power plant.

The event people really like it because it had green energy and that was kind of the focus of his talk," Seward said. "You could tell pretty quickly that there was no way they were going to use the power plant. The power plant's a pretty small building, relatively, and it's very noisyand the Secret Service was very concerned, because there's lots of things that go 'boom' in a power plant."

Seward went about her day, but the White House eventually settled on the Cogan Hall automotive lab, in which was placed symbols of HVCC's green energy and nanotechnology programs like miniature wind turbines and solar panels.

Seward received the news that Obama would be visiting on Wednesday evening, and while she knew there would be plenty of work to be done she doesn't remember the task being overwhelming.

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