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Friends set local benefit

Music isn't Bill Healy's profession, but the longtime area bookstore owner has gotten a lot of enjoyment out of playing his mandolin nonetheless. Handled properly, the unique stringed instrument can liven up any band, but it is most frequently mixed in with a country or bluegrass sound. And Healy's playing is no exception.

He's spent most of his life making music in one way or another, and for the past three months he has been an active part of the Lockhart Mountain Boys, a local group that's been making the rounds for years.

I've been performing on and off for a good 40 years, Healy said. "For about 14 of those I was part of the String Dusters. It has always been a lot of fun."

In between running his bookstore, Bibliomania, on Jay Street and operating his Web site, Healy has also been picking up gigs for the musical group he is the newest member of. The latest of those appearances takes place this week when the Lockhart Mountain Boys bring their musical talents to Moon and River CafE in downtown Schenectady on Friday, Dec. 28, as part of a celebration sponsored by the Friends of Stanford Home.

An organization of local activists who are fighting to block construction of a multi-million dollar shopping mall on the corner of State Street and Balltown Road, the group won a big victory earlier this year when state Supreme Court Judge Joseph Sise ruled in their favor. Both the developer and the town are currently appealing the ruling, but Linda Champagne, the president of the group, said she still expects a festive mood.

"We're going to be celebrating our win and having a real good time in the spirit of the holiday season," she said. "We are going to have a new town board sworn in on Jan. 1, and we are getting close to the time when we will have a board that is committed to exploring having a limited building moratorium that will preserve historic places and open spaces."

Added Champagne, "This can be a really important time for Niskayuna and we are looking forward to very positive new year. And we just want people to come out and enjoy some real friendship."

The Dec. 28 benefit banquet in the Moon and River CafE, 115 South Ferry St., starts at 7 p.m. While the event is free, donations will be accepted at the door.""

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