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John Purcell

Stories by John

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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.

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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