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John Purcell

Stories by John

New Scotland seeks to beef up commercial base

Town Board member preparing to form Economic Development Advisory Committee

New Scotland spans 58 square miles, encompassing seven hamlets and a village, and is home to more than 8,500 residents. Noticeably missing from the rural landscape is commercial development, but town officials are developing a group to tackle the disparity.

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Albany County kicks off Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative

Program seeks better outcomes for at-risk youths, save taxpayers money

Albany County announced on Wednesday, Jan. 22, it would be taking part in the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) aimed at reducing the number of young people placed in secure and non-secure detention facilities, along with enacting reforms to the juvenile justice system.

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Guilderland school district urges civility

Panel talks about interacting positively online and off

Guilderland Central School District, which recently dealt with an incident of cyberbullying, held a community conversation on how to use technology in a safe and responsible way.

Educators concerned over state funding

Cuomo touts focus on classrooms in speech, GEA absent from remarks

Local school leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have clashed on several issues during his three years in office, with state funding to schools being a major spot of contention. Cuomo’s recent State of the State address left some educators wondering if this year would bring any substantial change.

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Swazzle Dazzle

Puppet show aims to inspire through musical tale and colorful characters

Two twin brothers from Southern California who grew up admiring Jim Henson’s “The Muppets” are now following in his footsteps as they travel across the country with their handmade puppets.

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Guilderland looks to the sun for savings

Town Board weighs installing solar panels at up to 11 town sites

Solomon Energy Inc. on Tuesday, Jan. 7, presented the Guilderland Town Board with preliminary recommendations on installing a photovoltaic system across town-owned buildings, with the possibility of 11 potential sites generating up to 11.36 million kilowatt-hours.

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Jeweler leaves Crossgates to focus on Colonie store

New Wolf Road store generating most sales, spurs decision to leave mall

Hannoush Jewelers recently closed its original store in Crossgates after operating there since 1984 when the destination shopping center opened. The closing comes on the heels of the company opening its first freestanding store on Wolf Road.

Guilderland reaches settlement on Walgreens’ grievance

Walgreens reached an agreement with the Guilderland officials to reduce the assessed value of its Western Avenue store to $2.5 million, which is a reduction of $180,000.

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Giving the tax cap teeth alongside taxpayer relief

Cuomo pitches two-year property taxes freeze, local leaders plan to stay within cap

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced details of a $2 billion tax relief proposal two days before his State of the State address on Wednesday, Jan. 8. The proposals aim to reduce taxes and spur economic development, with homeowners benefiting directly from some initiatives.

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Cuomo outlines agenda for 2014

Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined several new initiatives and built upon existing ones during his State of the State address Wednesday, Jan. 8. Check out a highlight of some initiatives affecting local residents and businesses outside of the governor’s proposed two-year property taxes freeze.

Police: Drunk driver crashes into home, flees on foot

An Albany man allegedly crashed his car into a home while driving intoxicated and fled the scene on foot, but the homeowner was able to stop him in a field, according to police.

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Pair of Guilderland teens arrested for rash of vandalism

Graffiti tags Voorheesville High School sign and employee’s car, village library

A pair of teenage boys allegedly went on a vandalism spree, spray-painting bigoted wording and images, as well as cat faces, which caused damage estimated to total more than $8,000, according to police.

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New Scotland board outlines goals for year

Democrat incumbents sworn in before meeting amid snowstorm

Town Supervisor Tom Dolin, town board members Douglas LaGrange and Daniel Mackay, and Highway Superintendent Ken Guyer were sworn in Thursday, Jan. 2, in front of a few residents. The four incumbents, along with incumbent Town Clerk Diane Deschenes, faced no opponents in bids to keep their posts.

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Guilderland elected officials sworn in

Democrats thank supporters, say they’re glad to continue serving town

Hours before ringing in the New Year, Guilderland Democratic candidates celebrated successful campaigns and took the oath of office amongst family and friends.

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Calderone becomes deputy county executive

McCoy touts passion and experience for tapping outgoing Albany Deputy Mayor

Philip Calderone, who served as deputy mayor of Albany for 17 years, was sworn in Tuesday, Dec. 31, as deputy county executive, with Albany County Dan McCoy announcing his selection a few days prior. Calderone replaced Bradley Fischer, who is leaving for a job at the state Gaming Commission.

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Embracing the absurd

Guilderland native pens first book with a cast of zany characters and adventures

More than a decade after a local man started writing a book in college, he dusted off the novel of absurd comedy to see the words finally make it to the printed page.

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Chef’s cuisine drawing lines after school

New take-out program generating additional revenue for district

Balancing the books of a school’s food service program amid more strict federal lunch guidelines has led some districts to opt out of the new requirements and lose the funding tied to those guidelines. Voorheesville Central School District though is coming closer to getting out of the red without the federal funds with meal options for students and families.

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Local projects win big in REDC awards

Rail Trail comes closer to being completed; arts venues receive grants

Nearly $83 million will flow to the Capital Region through the latest round of Regional Economic Development Council awards, and nearly 30 projects in Albany County nabbed funding. Most of them focused on highlighted projects, but several local priorities were also granted funding.

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Police: Teen shoplifter used pepper spray

An Albany teen allegedly pepper sprayed two loss prevention officers, a Macy’s employee and a shopper while attempting to steal merchandise from the store, according to police reports.

Albany County budget within tax cap

Legislators amend proposal to fund nursing home through 2014

Albany County lawmakers adopted its first budget within the state mandate tax cap amid an amended proposal to continue funding the county nursing home through next year.

Guilderland music program receives accolades

High school selected as Grammy Signature Schools semi-finalist

Guilderland Central School District announced its high school was selected as a 2014 Grammy Signature Schools semi-finalist on Friday, Dec. 6. The Grammy Signature Schools program recognizes public high schools making an “outstanding commitment” to music education.

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Crossgates expansion clears another hurdle

Rendering unveiled alongside revised site plan; World of Beer coming to mall

Crossgates Mall developers heeded concerns of Guilderland Planning Board members and revised its site plan to more clearly show impacts of the proposed two-story addition, along with a more attractive exterior design.

Voorheesville voters approve $2.7M project

Severe snowstorm leads to sparse turnout at school’s polls

Fewer than 200 people cast a ballot Tuesday, Dec. 17, on Voorheesville’s proposed $2.7 million bond project, which passed with 131 votes in favor and 52 votes against.

Savings unclear for Guilderland's reduced substitute rate

School board debates reduced pay-rate amid rising costs for long-term subs

Guilderland Superintendent of Schools Marie Wiles presented an update on substitute teaching expenses at the Board of Education’s meeting Tuesday, Dec. 10. Wiles stressed concrete conclusions could not yet be drawn on the affects of reducing the pay-rate.

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More fallout from ‘Guilderland sophomore rap’

Lawyer says cops overzealous in publicizing cyberbullying arrests

A lawyer for one of the four Guilderland teens charged under Albany County’s cyberbullying law said he is concerned with the way the Guilderland Police Department publicized the arrests, although police said the incident was handled the same as the department would any other case.

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Crossgates Mall ready to make room for more

Expansion would include space for two restaurants and two entertainment attractions

A small expansion at Crossgates Mall is planned to make way for two new restaurants and two entertainment attractions, but Guilderland planning board members were concerned about the lack of information provided at a recent meeting.

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Voorheesville voters to decide $2.7M project

District proposes reconstructing roof, upgrading technology for future demands

Voorheesville school officials are hoping a scaled-back capital project targeting what it has deemed to be essential improvements will be approved by voters.

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Albany County Styrofoam ban becomes law

McCoy announces green initiatives alongside signing bill, looks to expand ban past chains

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy signed the Food Service Waste Reduction Act into law Thursday, Dec. 12, at Bethlehem Town Hall flanked by local officials. The law bans polystyrene foam food containers and requires such businesses using disposable food service ware to use a “suitable, alternative product” that is compostable or biodegradable.

UPDATE: Minor crash delays Altamont school bus

Altamont Elementary School students on bus route 46 were involved in what district officials called a “minor accident” on their ride home, but there were no injuries reported.

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Safety program gets cars fitted for the road

CarFit helps older drivers stay safe behind the wheel

CarFit volunteers converged at Westmere Fire Department on Wednesday, Dec. 4, to make seniors aware about vehicle safety equipment and to fit cars to each individual. Information is given to enhance driver safety, too, along with recommending certain items that can be purchased to make driving safer.

Making way for Western Avenue walkers

Business sign must move for Route 20 sidewalk, several acquisitions along roadway

Before pedestrians step foot on newly installed sidewalks along Western Avenue, several property acquisitions must be completed. For one building housing a few businesses, that means moving its sign and making up for lost parking spaces.

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Altamont a holiday hot spot

Community group to host annual Victorian celebration

The village will be transformed into a festive hot spot during Altamont Community Tradition’s 12th annual Victorian Holidays Celebration on Sunday, Dec. 15, from noon to 6 p.m.

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Grocers raise concerns over Styrofoam ban

McCoy holds public hearing on proposed law, most residents urge approval

Leading supermarket chains voiced qualms over the Albany County Legislature’s recently adopted Food Service Waste Reduction Act, but not over the most contentious proposal banning Styrofoam containers.

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Voorheesville ambulance contract talks stabilize

Village and service company near agreement after sheriff intervenes

Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service members and village officials have locked horns for months over contract differences, but in recent talks, the atmosphere has become surprisingly civil as next year’s agreement deadline nears.

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One for the books

Colleagues praise retiring Voorheesville Library Youth Services director’s passion and creativity

Connecting with young readers of all ages is what attracted Joyce Laoisa to Voorheesville Public Library around 16 years ago. Although a library’s role has changed over time, her mission to inspire children remained steadfast.

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On the right path

Party set to celebrate Rail Trail portion opening; further improvements eyed for bicyclists

Friends of the Rail Trail will celebrate the official opening of a new three-mile section running through New Scotland as efforts continue toward expanding the trail’s size and usage.

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Dance series aims to bring crowds to their feet

Old Songs hosts monthly gatherings featuring simple moves and a social element

Dancing isn’t everyone’s favorite activity, but one local man bets he can get even the most reluctant of dancers off the sideline and moving in no time.

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National Grid braces for season’s storms

Company spending $3B to upgrade electric infrastructure

Tackling some of what the worst winter storms inflicts has National Grid “hot stick” workers preparing for the chilly reality of living in the Northeast.

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Thacher Park enhancements plan finalized

Rock climbing, caving, mountain biking and more trails pitched for park

A series of improvements are being planned for John Boyd Thacher State Park and Thompson’s Lake Park. Capital improvements and operational enhancements will occur during the next 10 to 15 years.

New Scotland’s $7.16M budget within tax cap

Town Board adopts spending plan raising taxes 1.7 percent, reserves tapped for $334k

The New Scotland Town Board on Wednesday, Nov. 13, unanimously adopted next year’s budget totaling almost $7.16 million and holds an overall property tax levy increase of 1.7 percent.

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Holidays bring identity theft and counterfeit currency

DA's Office provides tips for consumers and retailers to combat crimes

Albany County District Attorney David Soares is warning people to be aware of the potential for identity theft and counterfeit currency as the holiday shopping season kicks off.

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Burn off that bird

Local events let people run, walk or dance away those Thanksgiving calories

With Thanksgiving a few days away, some people are looking for ways to keep themselves off the couch and the calories at bay.

Flag law honors fallen Guilderland native solider

Flags lowered to half-staff at the State Capitol in honor of a fallen soldier will be given to loved ones at no cost through a new law named after a Guilderland native.

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UPDATE: Guilderland students arrested for ‘vulgar’ YouTube rap

Police charge four teens under Albany County cyberbullying law

Four Guilderland students allegedly involved in the explicit rap song posted online, which detailed alleged sexual encounters of students, have turned themselves in on criminal charges.

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Styrofoam banned at chain food businesses

Albany County Legislature makes decision amidst community support, industry outcry

The Albany County Legislature on Tuesday, Nov. 12, approved the Food Service Waste Reduction Act by a vote of 24-12, which prohibits usage of polystyrene foam containers, commonly known as Styrofoam, at chain food service businesses. The ban will be effective in six months.

Lafarge modernization plan moves forward

Final approval granted for extension to build new kiln, strengthened pollution standards

Lafarge North America has received the final approval on an amended settlement granting additional time to construct a new kiln while further reducing pollution at its Ravena cement plant.

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Thanks comes naturally

Thacher Nature Center holds annual celebration connecting families to natural gifts

Fast approaching is the mad dash to retail stores for once-a-year deals on the hottest merchandise, but there’s one event coming up that allows people to slow down and connect with nature before the big feast that kicks off the holiday season.

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All the trimmings close to home

Give thanks to area farmers, businesses by buying local ingredients

A bounty of area businesses and markets make shopping local for all the ingredients of a customary Thanksgiving dinner a relatively easy task.

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Guilderland Chamber names interim leader

Membership drop forecasted as business owners shift to state health insurance exchanges

The Guilderland Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday, Nov. 7, its membership and program manager, Erika Gauthier, was selected as interim president. Gauthier will lead the Chamber for approximately six months as its board of trustees searches for a new president and strategically plan the direction of the organization.

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Guilderland school voters OK $17.3M proposal

Second referendum fails, sidelining football field light replacements and auditorium upgrades

Guilderland Central School District on Thursday, Nov. 14, presented residents with two building project propositions totaling $18.17 million. The first proposal totaling $17.32 million passed, but the second proposition, totaling around $845,000 failed by a narrow margin.

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