January 26, 2023
Dear Cornwall-on-Hudson residents, neighbors, and friends:
This is a message I dread having to share. This morning, at approximately 5:15 a.m., our Head Mechanic, Jim Sebesta, passed away. Surrounded by loving family at Westchester Medical Center, he fought a short, heroic battle for life. I have been in contact with both of his sisters – Paula Sebesta-Howard, our Deputy Village Treasurer and Kristen Sebesta-Boyle, who served our community for years as a first responder and president of COVAC. Suffice it to say, our Department of Public Works employees who knew Jim well and worked alongside him for many years, are devastated and distraught.
Jim was hired by the Village on April 10, 2000. For almost 23 years, he served our community with honor and distinction. As our Head Mechanic, he turned enough wrenches and made enough critical mechanical decisions across decades to keep our vehicle fleet safe and operational -- in order to deliver services that Village residents have become accustomed to and which they richly deserve.
My experiences in this position with Jim are related to CSEA union matters when he acted as a delegate and would respectfully come see me to discuss a contractual matter. He was a fierce advocate for “the men” – as he referred to his colleagues. And no matter how passionately he argued a point, he was respectful and civil. His last words to me several weeks ago: “Okay, Boss, I hear you. However, you know I have to speak up for my guys.”
THAT, was the essence of Jim Sebesta.
We, as a Village team are reeling. And we will honor our fallen member.
At my direction, flags within the Village have been lowered to half-mast. They will remain in this posture until our brother has been appropriately buried. Black and purple mourning bunting has been applied to the outside of Village Hall and to a vehicle in front of our DPW Building on Shore Road.
I’d like to personally thank Town Supervisor Josh Wojehowski and Highway Department Superintendent Tommy Gschwind. At the Supervisor’s direction, Town of Cornwall flags have been lowered to half-mast, as well, to honor Jim Sebesta. As Tommy told me today in a message expressing his condolences – “We are ONE Cornwall.” I will keep everyone apprised -- once funeral arrangements and services have been scheduled by the family.
With heavy heart,
James A. “Jimmy” Gagliano