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John Purcell

Stories by John

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Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy receives $68.5K [video]

State unveils $1.4M in Conservation Partnership Program grants at local farm

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens on Thursday, April 24, announced the annual conservation grant awardees, which included 50 nonprofit land trusts statewide. The announcement was held at Indian Ladder Farms, with the property used as an example for conservation efforts statewide.

Voorheesville adopts budget exceeding tax cap

Village spending plan totals $2.047M; fund balance usage decreases

The Voorheesville Village Board of Trustees approved a 2014-15 village budget exceeding its state mandated property levy tax cap, which totals slightly more than $2.047 million. The property tax levy is increasing 4.5 percent.

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Fundraising for a friend helps the birds

Guilderland girl’s bluebird nesting houses supporting Tour de Cure team

Many have taken part in fundraisers before, but one local sixth-grade girl is going the extra mile and helping two causes with each birdhouse.

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Clucking continues over chicken proposal

Guilderland zoning board to rule on resident’s fowl request

Uncertainty still looms over a Guilderland man’s proposal to keep chickens behind his house, but it’s clear opinions on both sides haven’t swayed.

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Guilderland conditionally approves rezone for apartments

Town Board sends Wolanin project to Planning Board for site plan review

Several years after Wolanin Companies proposed rezoning property off Western Avenue for a luxury apartment complex, the request has been granted, conditionally. The contentious project still faces more hurdles before final approval.

Revisions eyed for Albany County Charter

Committee formed to tackle review commission recommendations

Albany County legislators have formed a committee to evaluate what recommendations from the Charter Review Commission’s report should be implemented.

Voorheesville plans to exceed tax cap

Village Board finalizes $2.05M budget, 4.5 percent tax levy hike

No residents on Monday, April 7, spoke during a low-key public hearing on Voorheesville proposed budget. Local officials, while not advertising the move, are looking to exceed the tax cap.

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Outdoor fire quelled near Farnsworth Middle School [photo gallery]

Cause of blaze remains under investigation, limited damage to area

More than two-dozen first responders were at the scene of a small fire near the edge of the Farnsworth Middle School’s baseball field. The fire started around 5 p.m. Monday, April 21, and was extinguished approximately a half-hour later.

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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.

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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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