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Jordanna Mallach was sworn in as supervisor of Harrietstown earlier this year at a ceremony she attended while serving in the army in Kosovo. She said the soldiers around the world she served with made her sworn “unique and special”. About a hundred people attended. (Photo provided)

SARANAC LAKE — Now that Harrietstown Supervisor Jordanna Mallach is back in the country, after spending the first three months of her tenure 4,400 miles away with the U.S. military, she wants to meet anyone and everybody.

The newly elected supervisor said her goal was to be “Affordable and accessible.

Since her deployment in June 2021, she has stayed in touch with people back home through email, phone, social media and by reading the Enterprise every morning. But she missed being in town, getting the universal vibe of the residents by meeting them in the city.

She said some people didn’t even know she was out of the country – phones and email are common means of communication these days. But she had to put off some conversations and meetings until she got back.

Mallach now has a list of community leaders she wants to meet in person. But she also wants to meet anyone in town who wants to talk.

Harrietstown supervisor Jordanna Mallach holds the American flag that flew outside her base in Kosovo on the last day of her deployment there. Mallach returned to town and to the post she was elected to overseas earlier this week. (Business Photo – Aaron Cerbone)

cake time

When Mallach was in Germany, she said she got to experience a sweet cultural tradition – afternoon cake time. It’s a tradition she wants to bring here to Harrietstown.

Prior to her departure, when she announced her campaign for the job of supervisor, Mallach had said she wanted to introduce a weekly “working hours” event with an open-door policy for anyone to attend and speak with her about issues in the city. Now she plans to do this on cake

“Fridays at 3 p.m. will be cake time here at Harrietstown Town Hall,” Mallach said.

She’s a skilled baker – known for bringing sweets to city council meetings before the coronavirus pandemic – so some of these cakes she’ll be baking herself. Others will come from local businesses.

What was Mallach doing in Kosovo?

Mallach was deployed to Kosovo with the Vermont National Guard as part of Task Force Mansfield, a mission to maintain a “safe and secure environment” in the countryside.

She worked at Kosovo Force Headquarters with soldiers from around the world. Mallach’s role was in logistics and supporting NATO troop-contributing countries.

Working two jobs makes for long days, especially since Harrietstown is five hours behind Kosovo. She would finish work at 6 p.m. – 1 p.m. our time – and immediately start checking her emails in Harrietstown.

The bimonthly meetings of the municipal council have made long nights. They started at midnight, her hour, and she worked until 2 or 3 in the morning before getting some sleep.

“I felt tired but I don’t think I ever really felt exhausted because those were two things I was very passionate about.” Mallach said. “I wanted to succeed.

“I’m not convinced that I could have endured it any longer” she added laughing, “But for me, burnout is when you don’t want to do something anymore, and I’ve never felt that.”

Mallach paid tribute to the town hall staff and his “active advice” to succeed in his absence.

“We wouldn’t have accomplished anything without Beth (Bevilacqua) and Sabrina (Harrison) and Judi (McIntosh) and (Theresa Callahan)”, she says.

She met Bevilacqua and Harrison once a week.

And while she was abroad, she was thinking of ways to improve her work as a city overseer when she returned home.

Other goals

On Tuesday, Mallach was talking with Bevilacqua about ways to cut costs.

“I think it’s the mother in me, I’m always looking for ways to save money,” Mallach said.

For example, the city has three sanitation contracts – for City Hall, the airport, and Dewey Mountain. The sanitation company didn’t realize they were all hooked up, and Mallach said the city could get a cut price on their contracts. Because they’re a big customer, the city has more bargaining power, she said.

Mallach said the funds saved could be spent on introducing new youth or community programs.

She also wants to set up an employee appreciation program. When things are going well, she pointed out, no one notices.

Mallach kept his eyes on the recent village election from afar, in which Jimmy Williams was elected mayor, Kelly Brunette was re-elected to the village council and Matt Scollin joined the council as a new trustee. Mallach said all three mayoral candidates reached out to speak to her. She was calling City Hall via Councilwoman Ashley Milne on election night.

Mallach wants to be more connected with the village and sees this new direction as an opportunity to improve their collaboration.

Mallach said transparency was a visibly big issue in the race, and she wants the city to address that as well. In addition to speaking regularly with townspeople, she plans to update the town’s website and continue to offer board meetings on Zoom.

Trying to help families in times of conflict

As US troops finished withdrawing from Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban quickly took control of the country. Mallach had deep ties to the Afghan people who had aided the US military, which was trying to evacuate the country, fearing retaliation from the Taliban.

Mallach had served in Afghanistan in 2010 as the brigade’s supply and services officer, and in the past year many people from the companies she contracted with asked for help obtaining visas. special immigration to leave the country. They needed letters from their contract representative – it was Mallach.

“They served the United States. They did it honorably. They did so at the risk of their family. In some cases, they provided us with vital supplies and services,” she says.

Mallach took it upon himself to call senators, congressmen, nonprofits, and spend hours on hold with the State Department trying to help those who had helped the United States.

“I did my best to help them. In the end, I failed, which was really heartbreaking and really frustrating,” she says. “I couldn’t get them out before the initial push.”

Why have American allies been left behind?

“It’s way above my salary,” Mallach said.

Many factors and decisions were made at high levels.

Most of these families still live in Afghanistan, where they face reprisals and a country facing economic desperation and starvation under an oppressive regime.

Mallach said a family she knows have arrived in Pakistan, fleeing the border and currently awaiting proper immigration papers.

But for the rest, life under the Taliban is tough, and they have no flights to fly on. Costs have skyrocketed, there are supply shortages and banking operations are inconsistent.

“The opportunities that existed for the next generation are now gone,” Mallach said. “It’s not good.”

When Russia invaded Ukraine last month, Mallach again asked, “How can we help?” She served with Ukrainian soldiers and used her connections to plug into humanitarian supply lines in Europe.

She thought she would turn to Facebook to do a little fundraising to buy more supplies. The answer was “completely overwhelming.”

“I never considered the outpouring of support” Mallach said.

On March 12, a truck full of approximately 35,000 euros worth of materials – 300 boxes of formula milk, 500 boxes of baby food, clothes, 250 packs of diapers, 60 blankets, 20 field beds, flashlights, batteries, chargers and socks – went en route to Ukraine. The response was so massive that Mallach realized they had to buy in bulk. Instead of emptying pharmacies and shops in Kosovo, she worked indirectly with distributors.

Mallach said another truck will leave later this month with around 20,000 euros worth of supplies.

To look forward

Mallach said this will likely be his last deployment.

“In the army, you never say ‘never'” Mallach said.

But she hopes she will be there for good. Today, Mallach will celebrate her birthday with her husband, Joe Gladd. This will be the first in four years that she hasn’t been stationed on a military base somewhere.

She is also looking forward to participating in community events again.

“During the winter carnival, I was sad” Mallach said.

She found it fun trying to explain the Carnival and the Ice Palace to her fellow soldiers around the world. Their response was often, “What why?”

Mallach said that at the upcoming Winter Carnival, she hopes some of the soldiers she has worked with can visit and experience it for themselves.

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Toya J. Bell