Happy Birthday Mike Sampone – On the morning of September 11th, 2001, Amsterdam’s Mike Sampone was supposed to have been meeting with staff in the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance office that was located on the 86th floor of Tower II of the World Trade Center. A last minute change of plans is quite likely all that kept Mike from being one of the 40 employees in that office who were killed in that morning’s infamous attack. Not only were several of these victims direct reports to Mike, they were also his close friends. I will never forget hearing Mike tell this story the first time and seeing the sadness in his eyes as he did so. What helped him recover was his appointment to the Governor’s group that was put in charge of making sure the millions of dollars of donations that were sent to the state on behalf of the families of the 9-11 victims, were fairly and properly distributed. I have valued Mike Sampone’s close friendship for over 40 years. During that time we have played softball together, bowled together, golfed together, watched almost every Super Bowl played and enjoyed a beer or two along the way. He is the kind of person who would do anything he can to help a friend and I’ve seen him do just that so many times since I’ve known him. Now retired from the State, Mike sells commercial real estate. I wish him the happiest of birthdays and I thank him for all of the great memories he’s contributed to my life. Happy Birthday Soups!
Happy Birthday Bob Purtell – Coincidentally, today also happens to be the birthday of another good friend of mine who also happens to sell real estate. His name is Bob Purtell. I met Bob nine years ago, when I was initially asked to serve with him on the Board of Directors for Liberty/Montgomery County ARC. I liked him immediately. He’s the kind of guy who speaks up for people who can’t or don’t do a very good job of speaking up for themslves. He also loves this community and is willing to do anything he can to make it a better place to live. For example, if it wasn’t for Bob Purtell’s persistence and intense hands-on work, there would be no Land Bank program in Amsterdam. When Hurricane Irene hit this area, Bob spent huge amounts of his time helping area residents clean up and recover from the destruction. Whether its helping out the Amen Soup Kitchen, organizing the team of volunteers to Clean Up Amsterdam every spring, or representing his constituents as a district legislator in Fonda, he’s the type of guy you want on your side when the going gets tough and I consider myself privileged to have his friendship. Happy Birthday Bob!