Carey Fiertz Interview:
This is File #54, cycle 2. This is Jean McMillen. Today’s date is June21, 2017. I am interviewing Carey Fiertz. He is going to talk about several things that interest him, including his business, the Salisbury Forum, SWSA, Friends of the Scoville Memorial Library, The Twin Lakes Association and anything else that his heart fancies to talk about. First we’ll begin with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
CF:Carey Daniel Fiertz
CF:March 15, 1957
CF:Glen Cove, New York
JM:Your parents’ names?
CF:Alden Fiertz, my father and Beverly Fiertz
JM:Do you have sibling?
CF:I do. I have 2 brothers Randall and Stuart.
JM:How did you come to the area? I want the whole story.
CF:My grandparents had retired to Lakeville in the early 1960’s. It turns out that they had been coming up to this area for quite a while before that. My mother and father spent their honeymoon in Egremont. The main reason why my grandparent came to Lakeville was that my grandfather was quite a sailor on Long Island sound and he wanted to sail on Lakeville Lake which he did. We were growing up in New Jersey and spent summers up here learning how to sail and race. We had a great old time. In 1968 Lakeville became our home away from home so we spent a lot of time here. My grandparents died in the early 1980’s. The memorial for them was held on the lawn outside the Scoville Library. By default we fell away from the area. My aunt and uncle had bought a house in Sheffield, Mass. f r a weekend house also in the late 1980’s. As they were up here all the time, we came up a few times. To cut a long story short, when it came time for Kim and me and our daughter to buy a weekend house, we came upon Salisbury, Six weeks after visiting we signed on the dotted line. We had a weekend house for about 5 years. We moved here full time about one week before 9/11/2001. Not a good time.
JM:What is the Export Risk Management Inc.?
CF:We are an insurance brokers specializing in receivables insurance, primarily overseas. If somebody sells a product whether it is a truck, a guitar, a box of chemicals or frozen lobsters, just to name a few customers I have, we give credit to the receiver to make sure they actually get paid.
JM:Oh I hope the person who ordered the frozen lobsters got them.2.
CF:They got them in this case, but they do not always do
JM:Your position is President.
CF:Yeah I am President.
CF:The primary staff is Kim, my wife, who works as an insurance consultant and is involved with all activity.
JM:How did you get involved with the Salisbury Forum?
CF:I was approached as we were starting to get the organization up and running. I was one of the first directors as I was one of the first people invited to join the board at the meeting to incorporate the organization. I was a regular board member for about 6 months and then I became Treasurer.
JM:Do you remember who invited you?
CF:I think it was Nina Mathus who invited me.
JM:Have you held any other positions besides Treasurer?
CF:Not formally. I was a board member and Treasurer.
JM:It began about 10 years ago so that would be 2007.
CF:Yes that’s right. We had very strict term limits imposed upon us after a while. The by-laws said you were allowed to have a six year term, but after that you had to get off the board for a while before you could get back on again. I haven’t gone back yet
JM:It is a possibility but you are busy. You never know. Can you name the founders?
CF: The principal mover behind it was Franck DeChambeau and Claudia Cayne, Director of the library. Those were the two chief actors; there were several others who came on the board.
JM:What is its purpose?
CF:The Forum brings speakers to the community to try to stimulate conversation about a wide variety of topics ranging from Constitutional law to environmental issues to adventure activities and a lot of things. The idea is to bring people who can speak well and entertain and amuse to stimulate the audience in Salisbury. You can be very sure it is successful to everyone and there is no admission charge. The schools Hotchkiss and Salisbury School and Housatonic all provide the space free of charge to us.
JM:They are very well attended.
CF:Yes, we have had a typical audience of 300 to 400, and we have had as many as 6oo to 700.
JM:How do you get your funding>
CF:Funding comes from a variety of sources, additionally the town kicked in some money through the First Selectman. Also the school donated Hotchkiss and Salisbury School donated money, Friends of the library donated on behalf of the library. We also asked for donations from the audience.
JM:How do you get your speakers?
CF:That is done in a variety of ways. Someone on the board knows someone whom they think would be good, or people do research on a topic; I think we should cover this topic and who can we find to cover it? There is a lot of research on U-tube. We can be assured that the speaker is capable of speaking. We have had a few who were great intellects and great minds, but not great speakers.
JM:Yes, I can understand that. Is there anything else you would like to say about the Salisbury Forum before we go on?
CF:It is a great organization due to the founders. I attend all the programs and enjoy them.
JM:SWSA? How did you get involved with that one?
CF:AT Dartmouth College I was pretty involved with the Outing club. At the time we operated all the ski races. I was in charge of alpine racing for 2 years, Alpine racing being my passion. As part of that we also owned and operated a ski jump. I did this and that, measurer as one of the officials, but it was not my passion. When we moved to Salisbury and I found out or was reminded that there was a ski jump here if I had known about it as a kid. That sounds like fun. Someone said you should check it out. It turns out the same kind of people that used to run the outing club except a little bit older and greyer. It was a wonderful feeling to be part of this unusual and terrific tradition.
JM:It has been going for a long time.
CF:92 years now.
JM:You have been involved with it since you came here.
CF:Pretty much yeah. I have been a board member for12 years, and been secretary for 12 years.
JM:It all blurs after a while.
CF:They made it very clear that a directorship at SWSA is of life time importance. I don’t really mean that.
JM:But practically speaking it is so.
CF:There are no term limits there.
JM: There are a lot of volunteer positions in this town that have no term limits.4.
CF:That is true.
JM: When the 70 meter ski jump was built, how was it funded?
CF:This is sort of good timing. In the late 2010 period we decided to try to raise ¾ of a million dollars to build this ski jump that is used 2-3 times a year at most. We did it. It was extraordinary. The directors were all involved in raising funds. We pitched and asked for money from townspeople here. One of the big selling points was we taught your kids how to ski, so now it is time your time to give back to your community. Our biggest single donation was only 10% $50,000, so we had to raiser a lot of money from a lot of different sources. We also ended up taking out a loan from the Salisbury Bank & Trust which was guaranteed by the town. I remember writing the pitch for the town meeting when it got approved. I think last week we paid off the debt entirely in full. We were very excited about that.
JM:Wonderful! You should be. It was a very large endeavor successfully completed.
CF:If we had any idea how much money it would cost, we never would have done it. Again we had no clue as to what it would take, what it would involve, and how we were to do it. We just started doing it. I give all credit to Ken Barker who has been President for the past 7 or 8 years. He did a fantastic job.
JM:Everybody works together. With the other interviews that I have done on SWSA, the volunteers come out of the woodwork, do their job, and go back into the woodwork, but they are there when needed.
CF:That is true. A lot of work gets done and people show up. It is really great. It is a great organization.
JM:Is there anything else you want to say about SWSA?
CF:It is probably one of the bigger contributions made to the community here. It is really terrific and I am glad to be part of it.
JM:Friends of the Scoville Memorial Library. How did you get involved with that one?
CF:Well it was my first volunteer position in Salisbury. I was quite excited to be asked to do anything.
JMN:Oh silly man!
CF:Yep, Judy Linscott was the perpetrator of that. She was vice president at the time and approached me about it. They had been operating informally for 2 or 3 years. I helped among other things get their 501c3 tax status which was very exciting to communicate with the IRS. We had to make some changes in our program. I was first just a board member and quickly became treasurer.
JM:I wonder why. How long were you involved with them?
CF:I would say 5 or 6 years.5.
JM:What is the purpose?
CF:The purpose has actually evolved. It is basically doing things that the Board of Trustees could not or would not undertake. Additionally there were things like the newsletter which the Friends wrote and published, but that eventually went by the wayside. We became more involved in raising money for projects that the board could not afford to do and things that could be called “frills” or extras. We did a lot of work in decoration the children’s facility. We bought rugs and shelving and things like that. We sponsored a number of speaker programs that the board could not afford just then. We did have the money and sponsored the speaker programs.
JM:When I was on the board and I was only on for 2 years, a lot of money went into the children’s programs which were very beneficial.
CF:Yeah I think that was a real need for that and we felt that that was an area where we could make a big difference. We did.
JM:How do you fund your projects?
CF:The Friends work is all funded by donation. We have a couple of fund raiser events, but the book sales are our main fund raiser. We developed an opening cocktail party the night before the book sale. You pay $25 or so to cover the cost and given them the rights to buy books that were donated to the library.
JM:There are a lot of books downstairs.
CF:The event is coming up soon (June 23, 24, 2017). There are a lot of books to be moved.
JM;Oh yeah I remember that part of it. Anything else you would like to add?
CF:No, I think they do a fine job. My wife has taken my position on the board. She has been on the board ever since so the work continues.
JM:Wonderful. Tell me about the Twin Lakes Association?
CF:Yes, I have been President of that for just 3 years now (2014-2017). The reason it seems like a long time is that their by-laws require that you get nominated 2 years before you take office. You get elected before you take office. When you finally take office it seems a long time. Who knew what is going on anymore? I was of the board for a couple of years. We own land on west Twin and spend a lot of time in east Twin so we know the area pretty well. I minored in Environmental Studies at Dartmouth so nature has always been close to my heart. It seemed to be a great opportunity to lead the organization in a different direction that it had been in before. We have been making a lot of changes and improvements to the system.
JM:How many years have you been involved?
CF:I would say 7 or 8 years.6.
JM:What is the purpose of the Twin Lakes Association?
CF:Basically to be the voice of the community. We are the official representative to the town for people who are interested in the lake. Our main purpose is to perpetuate the lake as much as we can so it continues as is for generations to come.
JM: You have several initiatives as President.
CF:Yeah we are doing a number of different things. Our main activity for the past decade or so is to arrange and facilitate the herbicide treatment to control the milfoil (See File # Jack Silliman) which is an invasive plant. 15 years ago it choked up the east Twin entirely which made it very unpleasant for swimming. My predecessors on the board were able get permission from DEP to treat the lake with an herbicide 12 years ago. The big challenge is to keep those permits coming and to make sure the work happens. I have overseen that. We have also engaged two years ago a limnologist which is a fancy word for Lake Scientist. I felt that we had a lot of well-meaning people on the board, but none of us knew what we were doing scientifically anyway. I felt it was important to have someone with a PhD. after his name who could advise us what to do.
JM:What is the limnologist’s name?
CF:His Name is Mark June-Wells. We hear about him through the Lakeville Lake Association. (See file #34 Bill Littauer). I met him and I am pretty much working with him. He is terrific. He helped us obtain a grant from DEP to help manage our invasive species and turn that into a management plan which was just delivered this past January. So far we are proceeding on all the recommendations. It seems to me we are going in the right direction. Fortunately the lakes are in pretty good shape. There are no problems like a lot of other lakes in the state. We are doing pretty well. The herbicide helps a lot. We don’t prefer not to use the herbicide.
JM:It is better than the harvester.
CF:Yes, there is no other option. The harvester is not practical for us; the lakes are too big, the access is too difficult so it just not make any sense. The herbicide is it. The question is where to use it and how to use it. We are controlling it a bit; we are taking back control. In the past it was a case of our contractor would apply for a permit and we would have no control over where and what they were doing, just put herbicide everywhere you can. They did that, but I am not sure that that was the best job for the community. One of the initiatives we are doing is to work with Curtis Rand, the first Selectman, to get our range forming a rare plant survey of the lakes so we can know exactly where these rare plants are. We obviously wish to perpetuate those. We have to be very careful with herbicide in those areas. We have to have a survey in about 15 years. Before it is due we anticipate that DEP will require it anyway. Once we get the survey it will allow us to know where to put the herbicide. Other things we want to do is clearing out that area to give access to the lake which we can’t do until we know where the rare plants are.
JM:Do you use herbicide in the channel?7.
CF:No, it is not permitted there and also it is not appropriate as there is not much milfoil there.
JM:So it is just the two lakes?
CF:Yes we also do some herbicide, but a different product, to treat some water lilies in west Twin. We were hoping to ramp up some of the mechanical harvesting for the water lilies which seem to be worse. It seems to be getting worse each year. Another initiative we are doing is citizen testing of the lake water. I just took delivery of 2 suitcases full of very fancy looking unpronounceable equipment that we will be using to drop into the lake to take water samples from 30 feet down and things like that. We shall have it analyzed so we have a better idea about how the chemistry might be evolving. It will save the town a significant amount of money about $5,000 compared to the herbicide. We will get better data, most timely. More control, and more efficient. It also gets more people involved. We use some volunteers to do this work so we are excited.
JM:The more people you get involved the better it is for the preservation of the lake.
CF:We’ll have better data. Mark is a real neat nerd, and he loves analyzing the data. I don’t know what anything means that he is talking about.
JM:That is alright, he does.
CF:I rely on his knowledge .It is great to have the data in one place so that in ten years or 20 years or 200 years from now, we will know what happened and what was going on and what was the situation back then in 2017 verses some later date.
JM:Do you have to monitor the level of the lake?
CF:No actually that is not under our control. The level of the lake is determined by the dam on Taconic Road. The control of the dam is under the first Selectman. I am quite happy that he has that responsibility and I don’t because the lake is either too high or too low. I shall tell you a funny story. About a month and half ago I was driving around east Twin with a friend who lives of the lake and he said, “Oh Carey the water is so high here it is going to be a problem.” I thought about it and said, “Yeah, yeah sure.” I went back to my house, turned on my computer and I was getting e-mails from people from west Twin saying, “Carey, disaster, the water is too low.” It blew my mind. It turns out that beavers had built a dam under the bridge on Between the Lakes Road so it clogged up. The water was not leaving east Twin. It was filling up there and was not bleeding into west Twin. Curtis Rand had to b=get special permission from DEP to move the beavers. You can’t kill them, you have to move them. You can’t move them during mating season either which would involve their health. Happily he got that accomplished.
JM:Some of the things you have to content with!
CF:I tell you when I found out this, I had no idea about what I was getting into.
JM:is there anything more you would like to say about the Twin Lakes Association. 8.
CF:We are very fortunate we have a great resource in so many terrific people in helping out. I think the association is working very well. I look forward to it.
JM:Everybody seems to be content that the water level is now equal without the beavers.
CF:Today it is ok. But I am sure I’ll hear more of it.
JM:Now you do something for Dartmouth/
CF:I do. I am the District Director for Litchfield County. I am responsible for recruiting and supervising interviewers who are alumni in the area to contribute applicant to Dartmouth. Dartmouth does not have staff to do interviews so they rely on the alumni to do that. There are a lot of applicants from the two prep schools here in town, Hotchkiss and Salisbury School for boys. In terms of alumni in the Salisbury area there aren’t many. I end up doing as much as 25 to 30 interviews a year because of the schools’ enrollment.
JM:Is Dartmouth singe gender?
CF:It is mixed; it is co-ed. It has been co-ed since I was there. I interview some amazing kids. I will be doing some from Housy this yea; r in past years no one came. I do what I can. With fewer than 10% of the applicants get in. They do recruit athletes which is one of the options.
JM:They are not always aware of what is available unless there is somebody like you to explain it to them.
CF:I try and do as much as I can to reach out to recruit.
JM:What does an interview involve?
CF:It is basically one half hour for the prep school kids. For the public school kids who do not have as much preparation I take one hour. I try and help the admissions office make an evaluation of the candidate so part of my job is to provide information to the admissions office as to what my interpretation of the candidate is. I have been interviewing for 25 years so I have seen more than a few so I can compare these kids to those I have seen before and give an idea of how they will do. The other part of my job that I see as is to help the kids understand why they should or should not go there. Is it an appropriate school for them? I answer any questions they may have and be sure if they have the opportunity to go, they say yes for the right reasons.
JM:Is there anything you would like to add to this interview in general before we close?
CF:I am flattered to be part of this project which is terrific. I look forward to coming back in a couple of years and adding more information.