Putnam County's 200th birthday drew residents—young and old—to the Historic Courthouse on Gleneida Avenue Tuesday morning.
About 150 people came out to witness the opening of a 50-year-old time capsule, and to watch fellow community members receive distinctions. County Legislator Richard T. Othmer, Jr., who represents the Town of Kent District 3, was awarded the second annual Major General Israel Putnam Award for his service in the military and the community.
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Sheriff Donald B. Smith gave some background into the award, of which he was the first to receive. He told folks about the general, for whom the county is named. He lived from 1718 to 1790, and served as an American Army general. Smith said two of his greatest qualities were his "reckless courage" and his "fighting spirit," and that those are traits Othmer possesses, too.
"He loves the people of Putnam County," the sheriff said, adding that Othmer, who spent six years in the service, is someone who fits the phrase "salt of the earth."
County Historian Denis Castelli, one of the officials leading the event, handed out several other awards, too. One of them went to Southeast resident Steven Mattson, who Castelli said "made history tangible" for others with his book, .
But before the distinctions, and after County Executive MaryEllen Odell read a proclamation to the crowd, Dr. Eugene Boesch opened the capsule. It contained banners, film, pieces of correspondence and several editions of The Putnam County Courier newspaper. A few town directories from 1962 were in the capsule, too.
Sol Kroll, now a 93-year-old California resident, was in attendance. He served as Putnam County attorney in 1962, and one of the letters in the capsule was his. He read the piece aloud.
"To the citizens of Putnam County in the year 2012 AD," Kroll began his 50-year-old letter. He wrote that it was his "deep and sincere hope" that those who read the letter shall "live in a world of peace, in a free civilization in a world united and thriving for the betterment of mankind."
Elliott Kroll, Sol's 59-year-old son, was there with his father. He originally thought the note was meant for him and his siblings.
"It looks to me like he really wrote it to everyone," Elliott Kroll, a New York City resident said.
Officials are slated to close a new time capsule on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, of this year.
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