City of Poughkeepsie officials held a dedication ceremony Tuesday in honor of late New York state Assemblyman Frank Skartados. Skartados secured the funding for new fire apparatus and police vehicles, which were on display for the dedication.
Republican Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison spoke at the city’s busiest fire station, at 505 Main Street. It’s where two new fire trucks and a police vehicle were parked on each side of the mayor.
“Without the generosity of Assemblyman Skartados, we would not be here today looking at these two brand new fire trucks, which are so important to the safety of not only our residents but our firefighters,” says Rolison.
Rolison said the late assemblyman of the 104th District helped secure $1 million for the new fire trucks that cost around $1.4 million. The city council agreed to borrow most of the remainder knowing that the bulk would come from the state. Rolison says Skartados also had a hand in helping to fund the replacement of half of the city’s marked police cars.
“And when you go from having a police fleet that was patched together on a weekly basis, and cars out of service, to get 10 new police cars in one year is nothing short of extraordinary,” Rolison says. “And Frank helped that, too.”
Poughkeepsie Fire Chief Mark Johnson says Skartados was a great friend both as a lawmaker and property owner contributing to the city. He says the station in the Public Safety Building at 505 Main handles some 4,000 service calls a year.
“Last week, these two pieces of equipment had three fires in six days,” Johnson says. “They’re already well broken in, though as much as they don’t look that; they’re nice and clean this morning.”
He says both fire trucks have dedication plaques in Assemblyman Skartados’ name. Mayor Rolison:
“Every time these rigs go out, they’re going out with Frank,” Rolison says. “And he is still responding to the concerns and needs of the people in the city of Poughkeepsie.”
Skartados’ brother George attended the ceremony with his spouse Tina.
“Very proud,” Skartados says. “I wish he was here to see this.”
Johnson says it had been seven years since the city acquired a new piece of firefighting equipment. And both he and Rolison spoke about visiting Skartados after the Assemblyman was hospitalized with pancreatic cancer, bringing him a helmet for his newly conferred status as honorary fire chief. Here’s Johnson.
“When Frank put on a helmet, he saluted us and wanted us to know how he looked as a fire chief,” Johnson says.
Skartados died in April. Democrat Jonathan Jacobson is Assemblyman-elect for the 104th District.
“There can be a new assemblyman, but nobody can replace Frank Skartados,” Jacobson says. “And Frank was, he was quiet, but he was forceful and effective. And I hope I can live up to that standard.”
The 104th Assembly District straddles both sides of the Hudson River. In addition to Poughkeepsie, the district includes the cities of Beacon and Newburgh.