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Elma resident finishing updates to written record of town’s history

Kenneth Schaff, creator of Elma’s town newsletter, “Community Update,” is nearly finished updating the town’s history book, members of the Town Board announced Wednesday.

Schaff said the work has taken much of his time for the past four years.

An earlier book, written by Warren Jackman, covers the beginnings of the town as a settlement through the year 1901. That book was updated from 1902 through 1957 by Fred Sigman and titled “Centuries in Elma.” While it was reprinted in time for the town’s 125th anniversary in 1976, no written history update has been done since 1957.

Schaff wants to combine the old books with his new book, bringing the written history of Elma up through 2013-14.

Active in the Elma Historical Society, Schaff served as president of the society from 1985 to 1992. The Historical Museum, a former parsonage, was moved down the road to its present site on Bowen Road in 1991.

Schaff said he wanted to write an update to the two history books, which are almost out of print today.

”The only written history we have now,” said Schaff, “is old newspaper clippings.”

Schaff said he gets his accounts of history from people who have lived through it, including Town Historian Robert Newton and Historical Society President Marlene Baumgartner.

His book is based on historical records, taped recordings of interviews from the 1950s and present-day interviews and personal observations.

Schaff said he will continue to keep track of Elma’s history as long as he is able to.

In other business, Diane Rohl, Planning Board secretary, invited the public to a workshop from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 15 in Town Hall. The workshop will include representatives from the zoning, conservation, planning and town boards and from the multiple code commission. The workshop will focus on the past, present and future of the town. Schaff will offer a 15-minute overview of the town.

Topics discussed at the workshop will include Elma’s biggest challenges for committees, Town Board roles, the town’s most difficult decisions, suggestions for better communication among different boards, and what can be done to preserve Elma’s rural nature.

The board also set a hearing for 7 p.m. Oct. 2 on projects that could be funded by Community Development Block Grants; one suggestion was a handicapped ramp at the Historical Society.

Town Supervisor Dennis Powers said projects must meet an income criteria and must be something that poses a threat to health or welfare if it is not corrected. The town has already received $200,000 over two consecutive years for a large road-building project.

Councilman Michael Nolan pointed out that the town belongs to a consortium of several other small towns and that Elma may have to let another town with similar needs get the money this time.

A panel decides who gets the money each year.

In other news, the town will host a town hall meeting and drug drop-off night at 6:45 p.m. Oct. 16. Drop-off boxes, supplied by the Sheriff’s Department, will be in the lobby of the Town Hall for disposal of old drugs and needles.