Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To winning combinations. Last weekend, the love of reading was demonstrated at two venues. There were those dog-lover readers, more than 200 of them, who packed Gloversville’s SkyHeart Place. They all were eager to meet Tom Ryan, the author of “Following Atticus,” the book chosen for the Gloversville Reads program. Those attending enjoyed not only the author, but also his companions, Atticus and Will, miniature schnauzers. Meanwhile, in Johnstown, hundreds of people enjoyed playing miniature golf in the aisles of the historic 1902 Carnegie library. The large and diverse crowds at both local events were outstanding representations of the love of books and community. One can count on Dr. Seuss for great quotes:?”The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

JEERS – To ignoring law and the public. The Northville Central School District Board of Education approved a $10.2 million budget Tuesday without having copies available to the public or press. We remind the district and the public this is wrong. Public bodies such as school districts are required by state law to make available the documents they discuss during a public meeting. Members of the public should be as outraged as the press that public entities continue to blatantly withhold information discussed at public meetings. The purpose of the newest part of the state Open Meetings Law is simple: Those interested in the work of public bodies should have the ability, within reasonable limitations, to see the records scheduled to be discussed during open meetings.

CHEERS – To flushing them out. Twenty-four Fulton County residents recently were charged with welfare fraud. Thank you, investigation teams. One 30-something-year-old couple was accused of defrauding the hard-working taxpayers of more than $22,000. With the exception of one 23-year-old, all of the alleged abusers were in their 30s, 40s and 50s. They are old enough to know better and certainly young enough to work two jobs, just like many other people must do to support themselves and their families. Welfare fraud is a crime. If you suspect abuse of the system, don’t sit back; call your county’s Department of Social Services.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To responders. The images of heroic acts after the sickening Boston bombings are fresh in our minds. Meanwhile, we hear news of a massive fire in Texas and the death of a young boy who was hit by a pickup truck in Gloversville. These are the types of tragedies our dedicated first responders – professionals and volunteers – sometimes face. While first responders are trained to be prepared to handle emergency situations, they are not immune to the emotional effects of tragic incidents. These people deserve our thanks and praise for being there.

CHEERS – To world-class champions. How many can say they are world champions? Locally, the answer today is 16 Johnstown High School students: Carissa O’Brien, Rachel DeFrancis, Hannah Putman, Shayla Keba, Breanna VanValkenburgh, Tatyana Rosario, Tamara Thomas, Kaylee Hulsaver, Alexis Randolph, Casey VanValkenburgh, Travis Munson, Ashley Ostrander, Andrea Harris, Josh Scarpa, Haylee VanValkenburgh and Erin Glover. They are team members of the Varsity Winter Guard, which competed in the World Championships this month and finished 12th – in the world – in the Scholastic A Division. This comes off an undefeated season in the Mid-York Circuit. Congratulations to all involved.

JEERS – To poor communication. A Gloversville parent expressed her concerns at a recent Gloversville Enlarged School District Board of Education meeting about the district’s decision to change how fifth-grade students celebrate graduation. Instead of the typical ceremony at each building, the district will have a “transition day” at the middle school. The parent presented a petition to the board signed by some 60 other parents. The parent also was upset about not hearing about the change earlier. We aren’t weighing in on whether the change is good or bad, but the district should have given parents some notice sooner.

CHEERS – To young anglers. More than 120 local children grabbed a pole and went to a local fishing hole in Gloversville to participate in the city-sponsored fishing derby. Thanks to commission Chairman Jeff Ashe and all the members of the Recreation Commission for not letting this event get away. The big turnout may suggest there would be interest in more than one city derby each year. We are confident the community would support the efforts.

Cheers and jeers

JEERS – To unanswered questions. Kathy Dougherty’s decision to resign as interim principal of Park Terrace Elementary School in Gloversville should raise some questions in people’s minds. In her 35-plus years as an educator, Dougherty has been a professional with a passion for education. The reason for her resignation – differences of opinions with Superintendent Michael Vanyo – does not tell us what actually happened. Another question comes up with the announcement Mike DeMagistris, district athletic director, will share the responsibilities of Park Terrace principal with Frank Pickus, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum. Don’t these two people already have full-time positions and responsibilities? We don’t see how squeezing out time between their full-time duties can benefit the students and faculty. We also wonder why it has been so difficult for the district to find a permanent person for the principal position? Former longtime Principal Steve Pavone gave plenty of notice before he retired. Is there no possible candidate within the school district?

CHEERS – To a young entrepreneur. In the 2010-11 school year, Johnstown High School started the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. We applaud the continued effort and involvement by students, faculty and local businesses. Congratulations to this year’s winner, Monica Sweeney, who has a business plan for cupcake bouquets. She will travel to Rochester and compete with other innovative young minds. She will have the chance to win $25,00 for her business and a full college scholarship. Great program, Johnstown, and sweet job, Monica.

JEERS – To Tax Freedom Day. According to the Tax Foundation’s annual calculation of the day by which you have worked enough time to be able to pay this year’s tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels, Tax Freedom Day nationally will be Thursday, five days later than last year. Tax Freedom Day varies among states. In New York state, the day won’t come until May 6. New Yorkers will have worked for more than four months to make good on a year’s worth of tax obligations.

If you have a Cheers and Jeers suggestion, email it to pbeck@leaderherald.com

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To healthy kids, and to the adults who lead them in that direction. Today, the Fulton County YMCA is hosting a Healthy Kids Day with a wide variety of events – including a Bounce House, a Child’s ID Safe Kid program, music, workshops and vendors – all in one location. The event is free and open to the public. So, finish that second cup of coffee while reading the paper, get out of the chair and take a little bit of time out of your day spending it with the child or children in your life, in a positive, healthy way.

JEERS – To the spring bloom. It looks like we actually are getting our first glimpse of spring, a time of unfolding beauty. Unfortunately, the beauty is dotted with invading ugliness. The beauty comes from nature, while the ugliness pretty much belongs to humans. The ugliness, apparently accompanied by the lack of pride, comes in the form of paper and plastic cups, an array of other paper products and beverage bottles. They aren’t just on main highways. They also are on city streets and in yards. Now add in the outdated, faded signs that were stuck in the ground or nailed on a tree or pole. It’s important to keep our area clean.

JEERS – To a state tip line. A statewide tip line now offers a $500 reward for tips regarding illegal weapons. This toll-free line will be staffed by state police 24 hours a day to encourage residents to report illegal firearm possession. If information leads to an arrest, the person providing the tip will be awarded $500. According to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services memo, “While the state will provide the administrative support and fund the rewards, the investigation and validity of the tip will be up to each local department.” We suspect the state will receive calls from people who may know a neighbor has a firearm, but really has no idea if it’s legal or illegal. There has been no dollar amount reported on how much this is costing you, the taxpayer.