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John Purcell

Stories by John

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New Scotland reviewing solar panel options

Company estimates photovoltaic system would be $93.6K savings over 20 years

Sunny days could be ahead for New Scotland if energy savings from a photovoltaic system are as much as an area company forecasts. The system would also provide more reliable energy costs.

State Police to conduct speeding crackdown

Weeklong campaign will also focus on aggressive and distracted driving

State Police will hold a “Speed Week” campaign from Thursday, April 17, through the following Thursday, which focuses on increased enforcement of speeding and aggressive driving violations. The campaign seeks to reduce speed-related crashes and improve traffic safety.

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Guilderland school board OKs $92M budget

Spending plan within tax cap, largely unchanged from superintendent’s initial proposal

The Guilderland Board of Education on Tuesday, April 8, unanimously adopted a 2014-15 budget totaling slightly more than $92.13 million, which increases spending around $1.1 million, or 1.22 percent. The budget holds a property tax levy increase of 1.94 percent.

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Lafarge breaks ground on plant modernization

Ravena facility renovation will replace kilns and cut emissions, retain jobs

Federal, state, and local officials and business leaders gathered on Friday, April 11, for Lafarge North America’s groundbreaking ceremony at its Ravena plant. The project will replace the more than 50-year-old equipment with “state-of-the-art” technology.

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Altamont budget keeps property taxes flat

Village board adopts 2014-15 totaling $2.14M, taps reserves

The Altamont Board of Trustees adopted a $2.14 million 2014-15 budget at the beginning of the month, which increases spending almost 1.65 percent or around $34,650. More general fund reserves are tapped to help ease the tax burden.

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Voorheesville schools’ budget gap shrinks to $176k

Overall state aid increases to $5.15M for district, contested cuts restored

Voorheesville Central School District will see an additional $144,000 of state aid, which was included in the recently approved state budget. The additional funding decreases its budget gap to around $176,500.

Public space, private business

Guilderland Library's ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ tutoring policy; neighboring libraries see less impact

Private tutors over the past several years have increasingly relied on public libraries as a space to meet up with students, according to some local library directors. How that use has affected libraries appears to vary depending on the amount of space available and the demand for it.

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GCSD: More money, same problems

Additional state aid will be used to cover increasing BOCES costs, gap nearly unchanged

Additional state aid was included in the recently adopted state budget, but the Guilderland Central School District budget will remain essentially unchanged.

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Voorheesville envisions master plan for trail’s end

Village officials eye state grants for Rail Trail enhancements, railroad museum

Voorheesville officials are looking to enhance its end of the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail and possibly build a museum to honor local railroad history, which has fittingly characterized the community.

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Trashed turf

Overflow parking tears up FMS field; repairs estimated to cost $6k

Athletic fields at Farnsworth Middle School were torn up after more than 1,000 people turned out for a state civil service exam and parking overflowed onto the grass.

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Voorheesville school budget talk draws concerned crowd

Parents express concerns over proposed cuts, increasing classroom size

More than 100 people turned out to the Voorheesville school district’s budget forum on Monday, March 24, and several parents expressed an overarching fear the community was losing its distinguishing characteristics.

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Police: Guilderland teacher stole more than $100k from union

District places middle school math teacher on paid administrative leave

A math teacher at Farnsworth Middle School allegedly stole more than $100,000 from the Guilderland Teachers’ Association, according to police. Guilderland school district has placed the teacher on paid administrative leave.

Troy man pleads guilty to BAC of 0.27 percent

58-year-old tried to enter closed diner, half-empty bottle of vodka in car

One drunk driver was intoxicated to the point that police were not able to get a booking photo of him, with officers having to constantly hold him up, according to police reports.

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Tech Valley High School makes its case

Guilderland school board hears presentation, more collaboration promised

Tech Valley High School Principal Dan Liebert on Tuesday, March 18, gave a presentation to the Guilderland Board of Education after some members had requested more information on the regional school. Some Guilderland board members had previously voiced concern over continuing to tap funds to send students.

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The stage is set

School plays offer entertainment, showcase talent

This weekend, prepare to take a journey with a mischievous cat, cheer for a take on America’s favorite pastime, witness a man’s morally questionable rise in business, and groove to a royal exploration of popular music.

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Disability advocates' encampment stretches on

Protestors occupy Nurses Association building, clash over nursing law

Around a dozen disabled people, with some leaving and others joining, have been living in the lobby of the New York State Nurses Association in Latham after the union and activists clashed over a proposed amendment to the Nurse Practice Act.

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Survey: Health care costs loom over businesses

Annual studies show area’s commercial climate positive despite challenges

Capital District businesses fear how much health care could hemorrhage its bottom line, according to recent surveys, but the overall outlook foresees a bright future.

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McCoy touts progress, outlines year’s agenda

State of the County lists accomplishments and continues goals

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy delivered his State of the County address Monday, March 10, with several county legislators and leaders, local officials and community leaders, listing a recap of accomplishments while laying out his agenda for this year.

Dolin: Target realistic commercial development

New Scotland zoning regulations reform could help growth; affordable housing

New Scotland officials will soon release a request for individuals interested in joining the new Economic Development Advisory Committee, but there is some debate over the process.

Guilderland Teachers Association funds missing

Police investigate alleged pilfering, union member suspected

Around $100,000 appears to be missing from the Guilderland Teachers Association’s funds, but no arrests have been made as police continue to investigate the incident.

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Fischer kicks off campaign to topple Tonko

Republican hopeful attacks big government and ACA

Jim Fischer, R-Ballston Spa, kicked off his campaign against incumbent Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, on Tuesday, March 11, at The Desmond Hotel in Albany.

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LeVie subdivision, barn conditions approved

Property owner and town agree on barn relocation timeline, 18 homes to be built

The New Scotland Planning Board on Tuesday, March 4, unanimously approved the final plans for an 18-lot residential subdivision on a 22.4-acre property located in an agricultural district off Maple Road. Country Club Partners and the town also agreed to conditions allowing local officials more time to secure funding to relocate the LeVie barn.

Guilderland proposes purchasing school buses

District would bond nearly $1M for vehicles, face voter approval

The Guilderland Board of Education on Tuesday, March 4, heard a proposal from district administrators to purchase eight school buses and a maintenance truck for almost $1 million, with state aid covering about 50 percent of the cost.

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A second wind

Region’s Patriot Flight program embraces 70th anniversary of D-Day

After a couple years of relative inactivity, the area’s Patriot Flight program is readying to take World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., and commemorate D-Day’s 70th anniversary.

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Fowl request spurs discontent

Guilderland man seeks OK for chicken coop; zoning code revisions expected

Guilderland’s zoning law may be silent on whether chickens are allowed in residential areas, but neighbors of one man requesting to raise the birds weren’t.

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Curb appeal: Guilderland Center sidewalks

Limited funding scales back Guilderland Center sidewalk proposal to pedestrian pathway

Hamlet residents were surprised to hear the sidewalk slated for Guilderland Center, which took several years from conception to construction, was technically going to be a pathway. The difference between the two comes down to a curb.

Villages at helm of low-key elections

Uncontested races the norm locally, some use paper ballots to keep costs down

Locally this month, there are elections in both the Village of Colonie and Voorheesville, with only the Colonie race seeing a contest. There is also a contested race in the Village of Ravena. Most village elections, however, don’t inspire the same political discourse of town, county or state races and the county Board of Elections often isn't involved.

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Guilderland schools eye $91.5M budget within tax cap

Superintendent proposes $1.8M of cuts, with middle school bolstered for boom

Superintendent Marie Wiles presented her proposed spending plan for next school year Thursday, Feb. 27, which totals nearly $91.5 million and stays within the district's maximum allowable tax levy increase of 2.17 percent.

Voorheesville waits for railroad safety study funding

Village officials say little progress made with county on accessing grant

Around three months ago, Albany County legislators unanimously awarded Voorheesville $27,500 to complete an engineering study outlining the installation of a quad gate at its railroad crossing. Village officials, though, are still waiting to get their hands on the money.

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LeVie barn sized up for relocation [Photo Gallery]

Expert estimates moving building as-is could cost around $500K, smaller scale options possible

Raising the LeVie barn was a townwide effort 115 years ago, and relocating the building will likely take a similar effort.

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Albany County Rail Trail enters third phase

Public hears about $4.1M plan for Albany-Bethlehem pathway portion

The Albany County Department of Public works held an open house Thursday, Feb. 20, on the third phase of the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail at Bethlehem Town Hall. The project as proposed is estimated to cost $4.18 million, with county officials needing to cut around $40,000 to stay within budget.

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The nature of art

Thacher Nature Center to host annual environment-inspired art exhibit, offering art classes

Artistic inspiration comes from a variety of sources, but one local art show is rooted in Mother Nature’s visual appeal.

Offsetting costs of public defenders

Albany County gets $656k grant for Counsel at First Appearance program

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy announced the county was awarded $656,000 of state grant funding for the Counsel at First Appearance Project on Wednesday, Feb. 19. The three-year grant will be used to provide legal representation during arraignment to those who cannot afford an attorney.

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Altamont Rescue Squad expansion approved

Third bay will be added for town paramedic vehicle, construction bids sought

The Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday, Feb. 19, gave the final approval needed for Altamont Rescue Squad to start soliciting bids for an expansion. The squad’s building project required a special use permit and variances from the town.

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A core concern

Forum focuses on Common Core problems facing special education

Senators Cecilia Tkaczyk and Neil Breslin and Assembly members John McDonald and Phil Steck listened to comments from several speakers Tuesday, Feb. 11, discussing how implementation of the Common Core curriculum has exacerbated challenges for students with special needs.

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Altamont senior van commemorated

Village waited several years for state funding after purchasing vehicle

Seniors had cheered years ago at an Altamont Board of Trustees meeting upon hearing a new van would be bought, but the mayor recently was the one cheering after state funds for the purchase finally arrived at Village Hall.

New Scotland public works commissioner becomes salaried

Board members surprised by lack of timecard system, retroactive fix being implemented

New Scotland is tweaking the pay system for its recently created position of public works commissioner, but a resident questioned how hours were being maintained and some board members were surprised to find the system lacking.

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Legislators appoint county nursing home LDC

Some supporters weary of shifting operations, McCoy wishes board selected sooner

The Albany County Legislature approved creating the nursing home LDC by 27-10 at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 10, with votes split across party lines, and appointed its board of directors.

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Albany County GOP aims to build unified voice

Benedict steps down, but returns as deputy to ease party's transition

Albany County Legislature Minority Leader Lee Carman announced Monday, Feb. 3, that Christine Benedict was appointed as deputy minority leader, along with two new positions within GOP caucus.

Western Avenue apartment complex plan resurfaces

Guilderland to hold public hearing on development, feedback scaled back proposal

The Guilderland Town Board approved holding a public hearing Tuesday, March 4, on the proposed rezoning of more than 20 acres behind Seventeen Hundred Designer Residences located off Western Ave. The rezoning would make way for 210 apartment units.

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Harmony reached over historic barn

Developers appear agreeable to allowing time for LeVie Barn relocation

The New Scotland Planning Board on Tuesday, Feb. 4, returned to Country Club Partners’ application seeking an 18-lot residential subdivision for a 22.4-acre property, which holds the 115-year-old barn town officials are trying to relocate locally.

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E-cigs banned from Albany County-owned buildings

McCoy signs executive order citing health concerns, lack of regulation

The growing popularity of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigs, has not gone unnoticed by Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, who signed an executive order Thursday, Feb. 6, banning the use of the devices to match restrictions placed on tobacco smoking on county property.

Voorheesville ambulance contract being finalized

Mayor expects agreement signed this month, hiccup over reserve account

Voorheesville officials have not reached an agreement with its local ambulance service provider for this year, but negotiations are progressing without the contentious debates of prior years.

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Split primaries costing Albany County $200K

Tkaczyk proposes moving primaries to June, or state covers $50M price tag

Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, held a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 29, to highlight a bill she recently introduced, which would move state primaries to coincide with federal primaries. The legislation also puts the onus on the state to cover state primary costs if the date is not moved.

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Educators demand end of GEA

Forum focuses on effects of lost state aid to schools, rallies for funds to be returned

The regional forum, “NY Schools Still in Fiscal Peril: Our Kids Can’t Wait Another Year,” drew around 1,000 people to South Colonie High School on Thursday, Jan. 30, with a gym opened as an overflow room to broadcast it.

Voorheesville schools eyeing $630k gap

District projects $22.75M spending plan, small state aid increase

Staying within the state-mandated tax cap means the Voorheesville school district will have to cut around $630,000 from next year’s spending plan, and where those reductions are made will be decided in the coming months.

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Guilderland schools facing $1.8M gap

Forum allows comments on potential reductions and additions

The Guilderland Central School District offered community members a chance to weigh in on more than $2.3 million worth of potential reductions to next school year’s budget before board members pare down the list.

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New Scotland hopes to save historic barn

Town officials granted access to site after several years, push to relocate structure begins

A reignited proposal to create an 18-lot residential subdivision adjacent to the Colonie Country Club has New Scotland officials scrambling to save the historic LeVie barn.

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Guilderland to review solar options

Consultants will assess town rooftops and properties for panel installation

Guilderland is moving forward with a “risk free” assessment of the town’s potential to harness solar power across a variety of sites, with infrastructure and aesthetics likely playing a role towards possibilities.

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Smart House opens doors

Living Resources unveils state’s first barrier-free home

Living Resources unveiled the Smart House, located off Ardsley Road in Guilderland, on Tuesday, Jan. 21, which harness technology to allow residents to maintain an independent lifestyle.

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