• Normanside Country Club in Delmar is purchased by an investment team made up of members from the Hostig family and Rafael Flores, after the previous owners filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Extensive renovations are put into the facility and restaurant, with memberships re-instituted at a reduced price.
• At a public forum, former Town Supervisor Jack Cunningham ends his bid to be appointed to the Bethlehem Town Board seat left empty by Mark Jordan. Cunningham says placing his name in the ring seems to be impeding the goals of Supervisor John Clarkson. The event is meant to give the public a chance to meet and speak with contenders for the appointment.
• An employee of the Bethlehem Central School District and her husband are arrested on drug charges after a joint investigation by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office and Bethlehem Police Department. School psychologist Maria Mangini is arrested along with her husband, Brian Mangini, after it was learned they were in possession of a large quantity of marijuana in their home through the couple’s babysitter. The charges against Maria Mangini are eventually dropped after her husband, an instructor at Blue Sky Music, takes responsibility for the drugs and additional paraphernalia.
• Elisabeth Smith is appointed the new interim superintendent for Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District to replace Daniel Teplesky, who left for a position downstate. Smith says she hoped to focus on graduation rates, and passing an acceptable budget given the state’s current fiscal challenges.
• Former board member George Lenhardt is sworn in after being selected for a one-year appointment to the Bethlehem Town Board by a unanimous vote. Lenhardt says he is shocked to received the call, but honored. The list of potential appointees included seven other people.
• New Bethlehem Republican Committee Chairman Fred Di Maggio says he wants to lead the town’s GOP in a new direction, after Republicans faired badly in previous election cycles. He feels national Republican races are off-putting to the public and are giving party members on the local level a bad name with topics that shouldn’t be discussed at the local level. Di Maggio aims to get in touch with the party’s base to work on recruitment and fundraising.
• A Bethlehem Central parent group asks the district to consider switching the high school’s eight-period day to nine, allowing students to take two elective courses and not have to skip lunch. The district said funding and contract negotiations are the main obstacles to implementing the change.
• Town Supervisor John Clarkson gives the annual State of the Town speech. He says his goals are for Bethlehem to become a role model for the rest of the state in fiscal responsibility, ethics reform and politics. Clarkson also says he wants the upcoming budget to be sustainable, and no longer wishes to bond for annual repairs like highway repaving and pension increases in the police force.
• The Bethlehem Central School District projects a deficit of nearly $4.4 million for the 2012-13 school year budget, even after factoring in the use of $1.75 million in reserve funds and a tax hike. School officials blame unreliable state aid funding, contract and pension obligations, and the newly implemented tax cap for the wide budget gap. Officials say the district will need to make up the funds from non-mandate areas like staffing and program reductions.
• The Postal Regulatory Commission re-evaluates the decision to close the Clarksville Post Office after Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says the closure could have an adverse impact on the Sheriff’s Office if it was to move into the the former Clarksville Elementary building. Apple wrote a letter to the commission saying a post office was needed nearby to send certified letters and packages on a daily basis, while the Postal Service maintains that keeping the location open is too expensive.
• Members of the Elsmere Elementary School PTA put together a proposal to purchase and construct a new playground for the school over age and safety concerns. Playground Committee Co-Vice Presidents Amy Cohen and Robyn Holstein expect cost of the project could run between $102,000 and $125,000, but if needed, new equipment could be integrated with the older equipment. Fundraising is set to begin later in the month.
• The Bethlehem Town Board appoints members to its three newly formed citizen advisory committees and gave each group its official charge. The Governance, Ethics and Budget Advisory Committees are each created to help the town board re-examine laws, codes and procedures on a temporary basis. All groups are expected to disband by the time the budget is passed.
• Jacob Bartfield, a 2002 Bethlehem Central graduate, appears on the hit television show “Glee” after his brother is unable to take the gig. Bartfield, 27, has a minor role as a bass player with the glee club’s backup band. He was unable to meet any of the show’s stars because of the way his segments were filmed, but did say he enjoyed the experience.
• The Bethlehem Police Supervisor’s Association sues the Bethlehem Police Benevolent Association in Albany County Court seeking funds it claims were jointly raised. According to the Supervisor’s Association’s lawsuit, the group came to an agreement with the PBA in 2008 to conduct joint fundraising. According to the Supervisor’s Association’s responding lawsuit, the two groups were supposed to be splitting just the current fund balance in 2008, not the balance of each year going forward.
• Amir Salman and Faiza Warsi are forced to close their business on Delaware Avenue after the couple stops carrying Getty Petroleum fuel because they are mandated to charge different prices for cash and credit customers. The larger corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December and changed their practices to raise funds. Without gas, customers stopped visiting the couple’s convenience store.
• Police say the number of calls to Glenmont Walmart is pretty low considering the store’s size and traffic. Records from 2010 and 2011 show the police department answered a total of 727 calls from Walmart Glenmont address out of about 100,000 to the department spanning those two years. Only 123 of those calls related to larceny or shoplifting.
• The Guilderland Central School District projects a deficit of $2.6 million, according to Superintendent Marie Wiles. To close the gap, options suggested include switching the Farnsworth Middle School to an 8-hour day, reducing the number of class sections available to students in the high school and increasing the number of classes taught by teachers. The budget could also have an impact on close to 30 full-time equivalent positions.
• A 30-year plan for the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Dinmore Road was presented to the Bethlehem Town Board, capping off a two-year Department of Public Works study. The study was performed with the help of two consulting firms, Clough Harbour & Associates and CDM Smith. Ten years from now, upgrades are expected to cost $20 million to meet demand.
• Residents in South Bethlehem say an abandoned home on Willowbrook Avenue has fallen into disrepair and is dangerous. Town Building Inspector Gil Bouchard said he has been contacting the owner of the home, James Albertine, since he took over the job in 2008. The town eventually took Albertine to court, who agreed to make immediate repairs to make the property safer while he tries to sell it.
• Officials at the Bethlehem Food Pantry say use of their services has grown since the recession with numbers tripling since 2009. Employees and volunteers are now looking for a place to expand their efforts, hoping to partner with a local church or community organization to store food and supplies. They would also like the means to store perishable items like other similar groups do.
• The Bethlehem Central school board votes to adopt a spending plan for the 2012-13 school year that challenges the state tax cap. The adopted plan calls for $88,203,000 in spending for the coming school year and a tax levy increase of 3.99 percent. The district uses $1.7 million in reserve funds to balance the budget, with more than 56 full-time-equivalent positions eliminated.
• The United States Supreme Court denies a petition to review the 2006 murder conviction of Christopher Porco. The appeal has centered on the fact the jury was allowed to hear testimony from police that Joan Porco, then badly injured, had identified Christopher as the assailant with a head nod in response to questions from police.
• Parishioners of St. Matthew’s Church in Voorheesville celebrate the 50th anniversary of being granted their own congregation through the Catholic Church. To honor the occasion, various celebratory events are planned into the month of June.
• A new partnership between the Town of Bethlehem and the YMCA aimed at promoting a healthier lifestyle for residents results in the first Delmar Duathlon. The race is held at Elm Avenue Park and consists of a 2-mile run within the park, a 10-mile bike ride through town and ends with another 2-mile run back through the park.
• State Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Bethlehem, announces he will seek a ninth term in the Legislature at an event outside of the Capitol building in Albany. Although for many years he represented the 46th Senate District, his new bid would have him running to represent Bethlehem, Colonie and the Cities of Albany, Troy and Rensselaer, all in the newly created 44th district against opponent Albany County Chairman Shawn Morse.
• A proposal to build a waste-to-energy plant is met by opposition from Bethlehem residents after an initial presentation on the project is made to the Town Board. Representatives from Kentucky-based Recycling Solutions Technology provided information about its waste gasification process and the types of recycled end materials that are created as a result. So far, only one other plant exists in the country using the company’s technology.
• The Bethlehem Reform Democrats group is formed out of frustration with the current party and its nomination process. Members feel the party is disconnected from the town’s actual Democratic residents. Not looking to become their own party, the group wants more ay in the current party and a more transparent process, later holding an informational meeting for the community.
• Contract negotiations between the Bethlehem Central Teacher’s Association, the Bethlehem Principal’s Association and the school district come to a close. The BCTA contract results in a $2.7 million savings over four years through a restructuring in salary scale and health insurance contributions.
• A Bethlehem budget projection for 2013 shows the town is facing a possible $3.5 million budget gap for the coming year once the Selkirk Cogen energy plant goes back on the tax rolls. The loss of the decades-old Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement, set to expire in December, will cost the town between $1.5 and $1.7 million in revenue for the next year. The town also expects 3.4 percent expenditure increase over the 2012 budget.
• An Albany County jury finds Bethlehem police officer Christopher Hughes guilty of criminal possession of a forged instrument, a felony, for submitting a forged police retirement identification card in order to receive a retirement badge. Hughes was on medical leave at the time of the incident. The court decision resulted in Hughes getting kicked off the force and probation.
• Residents in the Bethlehem Central School District approved a 2012-13 school year budget that challenged the state tax cap. Nearly 63 percent of voters approve the $88,203,000 spending plan, with 4,035 voters in favor of the budget and 2,405 voters against it. Despite exceeding the tax cap, cuts to programming occur and positions lost.
• Bethlehem Town Supervisor John Clarkson endorses the Bethlehem Reform Democrats group during an informational meeting held on Tuesday, May 22. At the same time, Bill Reinhardt also announces his bid for election to the town board seat soon to be left open by appointee George Lenhardt.
• Albany County Legislature Majority Leader and presumptive party favorite Frank Commisso drops his name from the race for representative of the newly formed 109th Assembly District. The move opens up room for his son, Frank Commisso Jr., to run in his stead among a large field of six other candidates. Albany County Democrats opt not to endorse a candidate in response.
• The Town of Bethlehem and Albany County announce new contract agreements that will save taxpayers and the town money in providing Advanced Life Support services to residents. The contracts now allow Albany County to directly bill Medicare when it provides paramedics during emergencies. The agreement is thought to save about $200,000.
• After six months, the Bethlehem Central Board of Education officially approves the leasing agreement that would allow the Albany County Sheriff’s Office to use the former Clarksville Elementary School as its new substation. The proposed lease includes an initial five-year period with the district receiving $30,000 in rent for the first year. Each year the rent will increase by $6,000, ending with a rent of $54,000 in the final year.
• After months of debate the Bethlehem Town Board has approves changes to the town’s ethics and sign laws. Changes to the former town ethics code were introduced after an ethics committee was formed in January. Many of the recommendations followed those established by the state Comptroller’s Office, but some were changed after several board members felt they did not match the needs of the town. The sign law was changed because previous wording was vague and had poor enforcement. Signs could not be placed in the right-of-way of any road owned by the town, county or state, but may believed otherwise.
• The Parks and Recreation Department present to the Town Board a list of possible budget eliminations that was created with the help of the Budget Advisory Committee in hopes of reducing the town’s possible $3.5 million budget gap. Ideas include closing Colonial Acres golf course or the skating rink, eliminating a night ranger position and instituting a carry-in/carry-out policy for trash in parks. They also suggest letting non-residents purchase passes to use the Elm Avenue pool and creating a “Friends of the Bethlehem Parks and Rec” group.
• Four new buildings are proposed for the Vista Technology Park in Slingerlands, including a medical building, two mixed-use buildings and an eye care practice. Developers seek sales tax and mortgage abatements on all the new buildings. They also are asking for a tier II PILOT agreement from the IDA, which provides tenants with 50 percent off their taxes in the first year, and diminishes to 5 percent by the 10th year of the agreement.
• Guilderland voters soundly turn down a plan to add a new $12.9 million expansion onto the library.
A referendum to bond the entire cost of the project was put to a vote on Tuesday, June 26. The plan was voted down 3,428 to 1,191. Library officials are disappointed, saying the repairs and space are needed. Opponents say the cost is too much considering the economy and already high tax rates.
• The state Education Department reviews allegations that voter fraud occurred during this year’s Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District budget vote. Two petitions are sent to the Education Department’s commissioner containing various accounts of what residents believe to be fraud. The school district acknowledged the complaints were submitted to the state, but said no formal investigation is underway. The Education Department said the complaints are being looked into to see if a formal investigation is needed. No actions are taken in the future.