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Odessa DPW chief Mark Candido climbs a Watkins Glen firetruck ladder with the star in hand.

Guest Column: Mayor Keith T. Pierce

“A new tradition”

ODESSA, Nov. 29 -- As many of you have no doubt noticed, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" in the Village of Odessa. I have always loved this time of year. It seems everyone is just in a better mood once all the decorations start going up.

A few weeks ago I started thinking to myself that Corning has its "Sparkle" and Watkins Glen has its Village Christmas, so why shouldn't Odessa have something of our own to mark the Christmas season? As many of my ideas go, I had great visions of lighting the entire Village, garland on all the poles; I tend to go a little overboard on my ideas. So after coming back down to Earth, I decided let's start slow and add on each year.

My first idea was of course a Christmas tree, that widely accepted, universal decoration of Christmas. I called an old friend in Bath, NY, Mr Joe Baron. Joe was for many years the Superintendent of the Bath Country Club. Joe now owns an old Christmas tree farm in Bath where he runs a small lumber mill. All of Joe's trees are overgrown and in need of clearing, so Joe was more then happy to donate a tree to our little Village. I, along with Fire Chief Mike Tomassi and DPW Superintendent Mark Candido met up with Joe one day last week and sought out the perfect tree.

A project like this can't happen without the help of many people. Our first helping hand came from Cookie's Construction. Travis Cook was kind enough to stop by with a backhoe and stand the tree up for us in front of the Odessa Municipal Building, no easy task with a 24-foot tree. It went off without a hitch thanks to Travis's expertise with his equipment!

Our next little helper came from CJ's Kustom Auto. Kevin Rounds (the company's owner) was "sure we needed a star on top of that tree," so he went about making one for us in his free time. Kevin was able to fabricate the star out of old Village stop signs and also applied several coats of gold paint to truly make it stand out. In this day and age, where no one seems to have enough time, I appreciate both of these gentlemen taking time out of their busy days to help us. Thank you both so much.

Our next head-scratching moment came when we started to think of how we were going to decorate this "giant," and most importantly, how would we get the star on top? As I said, I don't always think these things through! After exploring many possibilities, including renting a lift at $200, I called our good friends at the Watkins Glen Fire Department and inquired about their ladder truck. I spoke with Chief Smith and he said it just so happened that there were a couple of firemen at the station who were going to do some driver training and that they would come right up and give us a hand. So on Monday, Nov. 28, we got the star on and the lights strung. Our thanks go out to Watkins Glen and their dedicated members.

So, we've got lights and a star, but surely we need more than that! Back to the drawing board. I went back to our friends at CJ's Kustom Auto and begged to borrow a couple of tools, including a metal cutter. Using some steel I had laying around the house, we cut out about 50 round "ornaments." These will be painted and adorned on our tree soon.

As I stated earlier, my hope is that this can grow each year and truly become a tradition that can be passed down through the ages. Next year (when the planning will begin much earlier!) I would like to see the school children heavily involved in the process. My plan is to take all the ornaments we have made to the school and have the kids decorate them. I could also see having ornaments available at the Village office, where people could purchase them for a dollar, with all proceeds going to the Seneca Santa program. They could decorate them however they wanted and then place them on the Village Christmas tree.

I think it's a great idea for us to light this tree in a gathering of the Village residents with as many children as possible. This posed my next big dilemma, finding a day to do that, that didn't interfere with all the other going-ons around us. The best I can come up with is this Saturday (Dec. 3) at 5:00 p.m. It's not perfect, as this is the same day as the Corning Sparkle, but I didn't want to wait any longer. My apologies to those who can't make it, including my fellow board members who I just sprang this whole thing on this week! In the future I can see this being a wonderful family experience with Christmas carols and hot chocolate, but for this year we will have to be happy with just "starting" the tradition! I would also like to add that if anyone has old working Christmas lights or decorations they no longer need, feel free to drop them off at the Village office and we will try to put them to good use on the trees to come.

In closing, I again want you all to know what an honor it is to be your Mayor. I can not think of a better place to raise a family than our little Village. I look forward to many years in Odessa and hope that our Village Christmas Celebration continues to grow each and every year. Together with my family -- Kristi, Katelin and Sam -- I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Keith T. Pierce
Mayor, Village of Odessa

Photos in text: Odessa DPW Chief Mark Candido with the star and lights (top); Odessa Assistant Fire Chief Mike Hines (foreground) helps Candido string the lights around the tree.

Village Board members

Pictured below, from left: Mayor Keith Pierce and Village Board Trustees Peggy Tomassi, Timothy Hickis, Robin Thoman and Shawn Crane.

Mayor: Keith Pierce

Trustees: Peggy Tomassi, Robin Thoman, Shawn Crane, Timothy Hicks

Village Clerk: Kristi Pierce, 300 E. Main St., Odessa, 594-2100

Department of Public Works: Mark Candido

Village Justice: Ronald Goossen

Municipal Building: 300 E. Main St., Odessa, 594-3792

Dutton S. Peterson Memorial Library: 106 First St., Odessa, 5942791


Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Thomas Gifford, Dennis Fagan, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas Gifford, Montour Falls

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen

Stewart Field, Reading Center

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed

United States House of Representatives
1208 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
DC Phone: 202-225-3161
DC Fax: 202-226-6599

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 415, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2010
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869