Police Commissioner and preschool teacher/director leave their mark on community

police chief shakes hands with mayor
Mayor Ernest Martin and the Stillwater Village Board of Trustees honor retirees Police Commissioner Dennis Latham.

The Village Board recognized two important retirees at its June 17 monthly meeting — Stillwater Police Commissioner Dennis Latham and Beginnings Preschool Director Dianne DeMidio, both of whom helped to shape Stillwater as it is today.

Latham was presented with a plaque and award of appreciation for 30-plus years of dedicated service, devotion and support to the community.

mayor presents plaque to man and woman
Mayor Ernest Martin and the Stillwater Village Board of Trustees honor preschool teacher/director Dianne DeMidio.

DeMidio received a special Village Board proclamation for working 28 years as a preschool teacher/director and making “lasting contributions by interacting with students and serving as a friend and role model to them throughout her career.”

Police Commissioner Dennis Latham

Dennis Latham will step down as Stillwater Police Commissioner on June 30 after 30 years in that position at a law enforcement department he helped found 38 years ago.

Latham was born and raised in Saratoga Springs and graduated in 1969 from Saratoga High School. As a high school student he worked part time on traffic detail from the Saratoga Spring Police Department, and shortly after graduation, he enlisted in the Army National Guard where he served for eight years. He moved to Stillwater in 1972. In 1975, the Stillwater Town Board voted to establish its own police force manned by part-time officers and Latham was one of the men who worked to get it done.

He enrolled in a six-month training program at the New York State Police Academy in Albany. The department’s first office was in the former Town Hall building in Willow Glen; then it was moved into quarters in the School 4 building in Riverside, which has now become the new Stillwater Town Hall. It would eventually move into the Town Highway garage in the Village.

Latham told The Express newspaper that he is proud of the innovations his department has put in place over the years, which have included police K-9, mounted, bike and foot patrol units, as well as a neighborhood watch program.

In addition to his police duties, Latham is a board member at Stillwater United Methodist Church, a long-time member of the church choir and well-known tenor, singing at community functions and events. He was recently elected to the Stillwater Library’s Board of Directors. He has also been a long-time participant in the Parents As Reading Partners program, and is a founding member of the National Police Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Dianne DeMidio

Dianne DeMidio was a preschool teacher for 28 years and director of Beginnings Preschool, which was the first tenant at The Stillwater Area Community Center when it opened its doors in 1991.

She started as a teacher in 1986 and worked out of the Stillwater United Church. In September, 1991 she bought Beginnings Preschool and moved into the newly formed Stillwater Area Community Center in the former Palmer Street School. This allowed for an increase in class size while still following the voluntary guidelines for nursery school programs, as stated by the New York State Education Department.

As enrollment increased more classes were added. A Pre-K class was introduced in September, 2003. Under DeMidio’s direction, the school has continued to grow while developing an excellent reputation for its curriculum as well as cooperation in working with the public school districts and other programs, such as the Blockhouse, Head Start, Helping Hands, Vo-Tec, and Hudson Valley Community College. It has become a model for other prospectus in the area.

According to the village proclamation, DeMidio has shown “exemplary pride in every phase of her job. She did whatever was necessary to assure that the community center was just the way it should be for the benefit of all. Her service to Beginnings Preschool was exemplary and worthy of special notice.”