An Interview With… Deirdre Glenn, Stalwart Crusader For A Better Newburgh

(photo courtesy of the Newburgh Armory Unity Center)

By Mark Gerlach

Deirdre Glenn grew up in the Heights section of the City of Newburgh in the 1950s and ’60s. After working as an archeologist, living in Ireland and two unsuccessfully attempts at retirement, Glenn’s current mission is to navigate the city toward a blossoming renaissance.

Glenn, 71, works as the city’s director of planning and development. Her passion for helping Newburgh make smart development decisions is palpable, and visible in her eyes as she speaks. She has a deep-rooted relationship with the city, as well as durable admiration for its architecture, streets, history and people.

“Newburgh is very interesting, very diverse and has always been an urban center. We have to keep that quality about ourselves,” she said. “Not only do we have beautiful buildings and a beautiful landscape, but we have a very rich diversity in people.”

Glenn graduated Newburgh Free Academy, about 23rd in her class, and scored high on the Regents’ exams, she said. She was awarded a Regents’ scholarship, attended one year at Wells College in Aurora, N.Y. near the Finger Lakes and ended up at New York University, where she studied art history.

“I realized I wasn’t the country-schoolgirl type,” she said.

Glenn entered college thinking she’d be a social worker or lawyer. However, she was influenced by her godmother, who was involved in ballet, theater and worked as a librarian at the Museum of Modern Art. She spent “endless hours on weekends” at the theater and the museum, she said. “It never occurred to me that people majored in art history,” Glenn joked. As a liberal arts student she took an art history course, and then majored in the field.

To read the full article see the Friday, Dec. 2 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

An Interview With… Leonard Golino, Entrepreneur, Private Investigator

By Mark Gerlach

Ever since he was a child, Leonard Golino wanted to be a police officer. After a long NYPD career, the New Windsor resident now operates his own private investigation firm, is a consultant for TV news and published a book.

Leonard Golino. (photo by Mark Gerlach)

After graduating the police academy, Golino joined the NYPD in the mid-1980s. He worked in the Bronx, first for the 49th Precinct and later for the 52nd Precinct. Golino started as a patrol officer answering radio calls and retired as second-grade detective. During his career, he was a member of the quality of life, robbery investigation, anti-crime and homicide units.

One case that stands out in his memory involves a 14-year-old girl who was murdered doing laundry for her mother in a tenement building. The incident was about a decade-old cold case when Golino picked it up. He met with victim’s family, who was crying when he paid them a visit because, by a strange coincidence, he visited them on the girl’s birthday, and the family had just returned from the cemetery. After the visit Golino vowed that he’d solve the crime, he said. He eventually tracked down a suspect, who was incarcerated for another crime. The suspect confessed, and the investigation, which lasted about 1.5 years, came to a close.

“I didn’t get paid extra, it’s just the right thing to do,” he said of the substantial amount of work involved in solving the case. “We would speak for the dead when we’d go to the crime scene.”

To read the full article see the Friday, Oct. 28 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

An Interview With… Larry Hagberg, Blacksmith

By Eugenia Moskowitz

Larry Hagberg didn’t start out as a blacksmith.

“I was a kid shoeing horses,” he said, from his studio in Hamptonburgh. “Not farrier work, just horseshoeing. This was back when I finished high school in the 70s. I used tocount how many horses the guy I worked for shoed, to see if it was worth it.” It was, and Hagberg soon started shoeing carriage horses in New York City.

Born into a Swedish family in East New York, Brooklyn, he was raised mostly in Queens. “I was about to start shoeing horses for the NYPD,” he said, “but heard there was an ironworking job with the NYC Parks Department that paid more, so I took that. I had a wife and two kids to support, so I worked there for 30 years. Made lots of gates and railings. I made a beautiful gate for the Hamilton Fish pool in New York City, with a beautiful old-fashioned lock and key, lots of handwork on that key. The key ended up getting stolen.”

Hagberg took a moment to pound away at a red-hot iron rose he was making for me out of steel. The forge stands in the center of his studio and was handmade by him about four years ago. He also made allhis own tools.

“It’s how I work out my aggression,” he said, hammering the rose. He stuck the rose back into the fire. The forge burns coal, but heated coal with the tars burnt out becomes black granular lumps of coke, and coke burns hotter, about 3,000 degrees, so Hagberg prefers that. “I also did work on the Little Red Lighthouse, near the GW Bridge. The most recent thing I did was metal flagpole holders at the 9/11 Memorial at the Cyclones ball stadium in Brooklyn, with NYPD and FDNY patch shaped ornamentation all made from steel from the World Trade Center.”

He moved to Hamptonburgh in 1990 and built a wooden studio with iron dragons surrounding the barn-style doors. Inside, he sometimes uses a portable propane-fired mini forge that looks like an industrial strength toaster-oven and is used specifically for making horseshoes. “I’m not good at math or geometry,” he says. “I don’t draw out anything on paper first. I go right to the metal.” During the Christmas season he makes wreaths for the art show at the Central Park Arsenal. “Been doing that for years,” he says, plunging the iron rose into a vat of water. Steam hisses and shoots out of the barrel. “There’s a whole skill to tempering as well. Some steel is water-cooled, which happens faster, and some is oil-cooled, which is slower.” He turned the dripping rose around and stuck it back into the fire. Added more coke to the flame pit.

To read the full article see the Friday, Oct. 7 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

An Interview With… Captain John “Duke” Panzella

Captain John Panzella, aka “Captain Duke.” (photo by Thomas Pappalardo)

Captain of the Newburgh waterfront’s River Rose

By Thomas Pappalardo

Even before he was born, Captain John Panzella, better known as “Captain Duke” of the River Rose, was on a path to become a boat captain.

His father, Frank, was in the Navy and served aboard the USS Missouri during World War II from 1941 to 1946. In 1942, Panzella was born. He didn’t meet his father until after the war, but his mother, Thelma, imparted a love for boats and sailors in the bathtub. His father strengthened Panzella’s love for boats with tales of the battleship he served on.

“It’s all he would talk about,” Panzella said. His father dubbed him “Duke,” a nickname that has stuck ever since. He bought his first boat at the age of 7 for $3. The boat was a “junker” that “leaked like heck,” Captain Duke said. “But that was the beginning of the beginning.”

Being a boat captain requires more than taking several tests to obtain a license, Captain Duke, now 74, said. There are many qualities a captain must possess. “A lot of hours, experiencing situations – good days, bad days, storms, the wind, the tide… and you got to have common sense. Without common sense you can never be a captain,” he said.

After captaining a number of private boats, he purchased his first commercial boat in 2000 – the striking River Rose. Built in 1984, the River Rose is a twin-paddle, stern-wheeler gambling boat from New Orleans.

On private vessels, Captain Duke had to handle responsibilities himself, he said. Whereas now he has other captains, first mates, caterers and bartenders on hand. He can occasionally relax and enjoy himself with the extra help.

To read the full article see the Friday, Sept. 30 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

Interview With… Matt Thorenz: Revolutionary War Historian

Matt Thorenz, the Moffat Library’s head of reference and adult services, is also a historian specializing in early American history and Revolutionary War reenactments. (photo provided)

By Eugenia Moskowitz

Matt Thorenz wears many hats, including a tri-corner Revolutionary one. Head of reference and adult services at the Moffat Library in Washingtonville, he’s also a historian specializing in early American history, and this passion for the past is what drives his involvement with Revolutionary War reenactments, which he said brings the past to the present.

Originally from Riverhead, Long Island, he was always interested in history. At age 11, his father, often away in the military, took him to a Revolutionary War reenactment in Brookhaven. “Dad said it was a good excuse not to mow the lawn, and off we went,” Thorenz said. “Little did we know it would make such an impact on both of us.”

In 2001, he took part in the Southampton July Fourth Parade and started doing major reenactments in the northeast, such as the 225th anniversary of the American Revolutionary War. When he moved to the Hudson Valley in 2006 for college (he holds a bachelor’s in history from SUNY New Paltz and a master’s in Library Science from SUNY Albany), he worked for seven years as a seasonal park employee at the New Windsor Cantonment, and found there was something about putting on a historical uniform that transported him. “Dressed in period uniform, I learned to load and fire working muskets and cannons, studied blacksmithing and early medical treatment, and figured out how to explain these things to laypeople and school-age children, as well as history buffs,” he said. During his stay, the cantonment redid its visitors’ center and Thorenz is featured in a large painting, as well as in postcards, in the gift shop.

He worked at Knox’s Headquarters in New Windsor and has been in interpretive films for the 1780-81 encampment. “Bringing history to life brings home why people did what they did,” he said. “Why wear wool and two layers of linen in the summer? Full-body covering was pragmatic at a time when there was no bug spray or sunscreen.” Thorenza said what often seems silly or archaic to us really made a lot of good sense to people at the time.

To read the full article see the Friday, Sept. 16 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post. 

Courageous Teenager Stares Down Rare Blood Disorder

An interview with… Daniella Seymour, a brave 13-year-old battling a rare blood disorder called  hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia.

By Mark Gerlach  

When she was 11 Daniella Seymour wasn’t feeling well. She was having nose bleeds and was feeling tired.

“I kept telling her I was going to take her to the doctor’s, but she kept saying ‘no, no, no, I feel OK,” Paula Roberts, Daniella’s grandmother, said. Roberts went to pick Daniella up at Leptondale Christian Academy, which has since closed, and all of the other kids were running around; Daniella had her head down. Roberts knew her granddaughter needed to see a doctor.

But doctors didn’t know what was wrong with her and kept prescribing her nose sprays.

Roberts asked a doctor to test the child’s blood because her biological mother, who Daniella has no contact with, has low iron. The next day the doctor called Roberts and instructed her to pick Daniella up from school and take her to the emergency room. She needed a blood transfusion.

Daniella was diagnosed with a rare form of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, or HHT, in 2014. She had to undergo a procedure to have numerous polyps removed from her colon. Further tests were run to see if she had arteriovenous malformations, or AVMs, in her lungs, brain, and elsewhere. One was detected in her brain. She was told to come back and it could be taken care of when she was older. However, doctors underestimated the severity of the situation.

To read the full article see the Friday, Sept. 9 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.