Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To a great speller. Mayfield eighth-grader Maggy Lambo didn’t win the national spelling bee in the Washington, D.C., area this week, but she had a super showing. Lambo, who won the Fulton County Spelling Bee earlier this year, earning her a trip to the national bee, spelled all of her words correctly at the national bee. However, she was denied entry into the semifinals because she didn’t get enough points in the initial testing at the bee. Nonetheless, Maggy made her hometown area proud.

JEERS – To chimpanzee supporters who go too far. Last year, a New York court stopped the Nonhuman Rights Project from forcing a Mayfield man to free his chimpanzee. The group was fighting for “legal personhood” for Tommy the chimpanzee. Now, the group is at it again. Last week, it argued before a New York City judge over the rights of two other chimpanzees. The group wants the chimps to be freed from Stony Brook University and moved to a Florida sanctuary. A lawyer hoping to free the chimps said they’re “autonomous and self-determining beings” and should be granted a writ of habeas corpus. The judge has not yet issued a ruling.

CHEERS – To Angelina Caraco. Few of us will get the chance to live to be 104. Not only has Angelina reached that milestone, she also is able to share her memories with others. Her favorite memory, she said, is of the day she met Corrado Caraco at a ballroom dance in Johnstown in 1929. She would marry him six years later. The lifelong Gloversville resident, born in 1911, has been given the gift of longevity. She says she spends a lot of time with family, which is important in anyone’s life.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To efforts to fill the Estee apartments. Maddalone and Associates is the new property manager for the 39-unit Estee Commons, a downtown apartment complex owned by the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth. The Fulton County Crossroads Incubator Corp., the real-estate arm of the CRG, turned over its longtime management of Estee Commons to the property management firm in April. This was a good decision as the CRG gradually gets out of the property management business and focuses more on marketing the area to new business and industry. The Estee apartments are nice. We hope to see the property manager fill all of the units. This not only would be good for the apartment complex, but also the downtown area.

JEERS – To junk on properties. We’re seeing similar scenes in many of our local communities: junk sitting in people’s yards. This is a particular problem in the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown. Rundown properties in need of repair is a big, complicated issue, but cleaning up the junk and trash on property can be an easy task. Property owners and residents should take pride in their properties and throw out the junk. People have options and opportunities for cleaning up their yards. In addition to regular garbage pickup or going to the dump or transfer station, some communities offer periodic trash drop-off days and bulk pickups. For example, Gloversville’s next trash drop-off days will be June 13 and 14, when people can drop off junk behind the transit facility on West Fulton Street. People should take advantage of these opportunities. The quality of life improves when neighborhoods are kept clean.

CHEERS – To local parades. Several local communities scheduled parades to observe the Memorial Day holiday. Johnstown’s took place Friday night. Among others will be parades in Gloversville, Fonda and St. Johnsville on Monday. Memorial Day is a day to remember people who died while serving in the armed forces. It’s nice to see our localities offering parades and memorial services to honor soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We encourage people to remember that sacrifice when attending the events. We’d also like to point out that organizing parades isn’t easy. We tip our hat to the volunteers who took the time to do it.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To the Canajoharie High School Band. The band is competing today against other school bands from across the country in the Music in the Parks Competition in Sandusky, Ohio. The band members have been preparing all year for the festival. In addition to competing for awards, the bands will be evaluated by college music professors. School music groups don’t always get the recognition they deserve. The band members put in a lot of hard work to perform at a high level. We wish the Canajoharie band success in its effort.

JEERS – To quiet negotiations. Fulton County and Gloversville officials have been negotiating a deal for extending water services from the city to other parts of the county in what’s called the Smart Waters plan. Gloversville has a great water resource, and the county wants to expand the water access to encourage development. The negotiations, however, are taking place behind closed doors, and the public is getting no details. We have a problem with that. These negotiations involve local governments, not private developers or businesses that could pull out if proposed contract details were discussed in public. The closed talks may not violate open-government laws, but county and city residents and taxpayers should be aware of the revenue-sharing plans or other possibilities under consideration.

CHEERS – To local cleanups. In recent weeks, local organizations and individuals have been out in force picking up trash along roadsides and public places throughout the area. These people are volunteering their time to make the area more pleasant and appealing. In addition, area municipalities are conducting trash drop-off programs, giving people an opportunity to get rid of trash and unwanted items they can’t easily put out with the regular garbage. All of these efforts are important to making our communities cleaner and better places to live in.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To helping the library. Gloversville native and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo, along with New York State Teacher of the Year Charles Giglio, a Gloversville Latin teacher, are using their name recognition and celebrity status to support the Gloversville Public Library’s fundraising campaign. Both appeared at a library event this week to encourage people to donate to the library’s effort. The event was highlighted by a Gloversville Teachers Association contribution and the Gloversville school district’s participation. Russo and Giglio understand the importance of libraries, which have played a role in the success they’ve achieved in their careers. They don’t have to help the library; they choose to help because they believe in the cause.

JEERS – To a lack of candidates. When people go to their local school district polls later this month, they’ll choose candidates for school board. Unfortunately, in many local districts, voters will have few candidates to choose from. In many cases, the people running for election are unopposed. This is no surprise, however. It’s a problem we see every year. People like to complain about their local school districts, but few actually take the step to run for school board. Granted, the job comes with no pay and plenty of criticism from the public, but it’s an important role in the community.

CHEERS – To Sawyer-mania. Local residents came out in droves this week to rally for Glen’s Sawyer Fredericks at the Fonda Fairgrounds. Fredericks, now among the final five contestants on the NBC show, “The Voice,” thrilled thousands of people Wednesday by appearing onstage and performing a few songs. Later in the day, he performed at the Palace Theatre in Albany, where nearly 3,000 people watched him. The 16-year-old is bringing a lot of welcome publicity to the area and brightening the spirits of many. If you’ve joined the band wagon and are rooting for Sawyer, good for you. Following Sawyer’s journey is fun and exciting. He’s giving the area a huge positive boost.

Cheers and Jeers

CHEERS – To a winning essay. Thanks to an essay written by Broadalbin-Perth fifth-grader Sophia Renaud, the daughter of legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson came to the school this week for a visit. Sophia was one of 10 winners across the country in the Breaking Barriers Essay Contest, and Sharon Robinson, founder of the program Breaking Barriers, came to the school to recognize Sophia. The fifth-grader wrote a touching essay about how she, like Jackie Robinson, overcame an obstacle. The ball player overcame the color barrier. Sophia overcame a health barrier. In part, she wrote, “Back when I was 5, it took two months to figure out what I was diagnosed with. Then one day Shriners Hospital for Children called and said I had [juvenile idiopathic arthritis]. I could barely walk for those two months. It was hard to keep up in sports, but that is what I love so I didn’t give up. I ended up taking some medicine that helped little by little. … By fourth grade I could keep up, and now in fifth grade I’m one of the fastest kids.” Sophia showed strength and courage. The recognition for her essay was well-deserved.

JEERS – To Medicaid waste. This is a problem that won’t go away. We’ve heard many reports in recent years about improper Medicaid payments. Last week, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli offered another one. His office’s audits identified $513 million in improper Medicaid payments and untapped revenue opportunities over a four-year period. Auditors identified another $361 million in questionable transactions that will require further review. “Work done by my auditors has found waste throughout the system,” DiNapoli said in a news release. Obviously, better state oversight is necessary.

CHEERS – To equal pay. New York state government is strengthening the state’s law guaranteeing equal pay for women. New York already prohibits gender-based pay differentials, with certain exceptions. The new bill will prohibit exceptions based on different workplace locations within one region, and it would triple damages for violations to 300 percent and forbid employers from requiring workers to keep their pay rates secret. The pay gap is real. Gender-based pay discrimination must be eliminated.