Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To choosing the chamber of commerce. The Montgomery County Legislature this week decided to renew its arrangement with the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce to promote county tourism for another year. Some Montgomery County legislators were talking about possibly taking the promotion job away from the chamber and giving the duties back to the county Department of Economic Development and Planning. The Legislature made the right decision in staying with the chamber. The organization has been administering Fulton County’s tourism program for more than 20 years. It has the experience and ability to promote Montgomery County’s tourism effectively. In addition, there are advantages to the chamber promoting tourism for the two neighboring counties at the same time. The chamber already has had good success in promoting Montgomery County’s tourism this year. We expect to see further gains next year.

JEERS – To fighting a gas line. A coalition of environmental and citizen organizations is trying to put up roadblocks to stop a natural gas pipeline in the region. The project, in part, would involve expanding a compressor station in western Montgomery County. The project would provide additional supplies of natural gas to National Grid distribution areas, which, in the long run, could help save customers money. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the project would have no significant environmental impact, but the coalition is demanding the project be subject to a more thorough review by the state. Utility customers in New York state pay some of the highest rates in the country. Onerous regulations and unwavering opposition are part of the reason.

CHEERS – To smoke alarms. The detectors likely saved the lives of a man and his 6-year-old daughter when the Gloversville house they were living in caught fire around 2 a.m. Tuesday. The two lost all of their belongings in the fire, but they got out of their apartment safely, which is what’s important. The dad, Craig Rhodes, credits the smoke alarms. “Without those smoke detectors, I know I would not be here today,” he said. Smoke alarms save people’s lives often. According to the American Red Cross, The fire death rate in homes with working smoke alarms is 51 percent less than the rate for homes without this protection. With the changing of the clocks this weekend, now is a good time to check the batteries.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To demolishing run-down properties. The Fulton County Demolition Team, as part of Operation Green Scene, is demolishing dilapidated properties at 14 and 17 Park St. in Gloversville. The team, one of the county’s success stories, not only is getting rid of unwanted blight in Gloversville, it’s also doing it at no cost to the city. The project is being done in collaboration with the county Solid Waste Department and Gloversville workers. The Gloversville Fire Department and the Gloversville Water Department is helping with the project. The Demolition Team has completed more than 50 demolitions of dilapidated Gloversville homes in recent years. The effort is an example of municipalities working together to improve the area.

JEERS – To unsightly debris. The Beech-Nut factory used to be an impressive sight for people driving on the Thruway through Canajoharie. Today, it’s an eyesore. Demolition debris sits in piles at the property. The village of Canajoharie has issued citations against an Oklahoma-based construction company and a building owner over the debris left at the site of the former baby-food maker. The mayor said the village has had problems contacting the owner and the construction company about the mess. In addition, the owner hasn’t paid taxes on the property, Mayor Francis Avery said. The owner’s name is Todd Clifford of TD Development. The construction company is B&B of Broken Arrow, Okla.

CHEERS – To Angel Warner. This Northville Central School senior not only is named Angel, she also lives her life like one. Warner has gone above and beyond in her effort to help victims of domestic violence. She started a foundation in 2014 called Shelter’s Wings, which is dedicated to collecting and distributing donations to domestic abuse and homeless shelters in upstate New York. She’s delivered hundreds of items – such as personal products, baby supplies and clothing – to shelters. On Thursday, she was recognized by the Fulton County Domestic Violence Task Force with the Vision of Hope Award. Warner’s efforts are remarkable. She sets a great example for the rest of us.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To new development. We’re seeing nice progress in Vail Mills. CMK & Associates Real Estate last week broke ground on a 4,320-square-foot office building at the corner of Route 30 and Black Street. Across the street, the Wildlife Sports & Education Museum has proposed a 13,000-square-foot addition, and Fastrac plans to move its gas station and convenience store across Route 30 next year. These are all positive developments that will add to the tax base and boost the local economy.

JEERS – To a case of tit for tat. In 2014 in Canajoharie, Dominic Mazzarella gave a village police officer the finger while Mazzarella was sitting on a porch with his brother. According to a lawsuit later filed by the brothers, the incident set off a pattern of harassment by the officer, Brian Beardsley, against the brothers, who allege they received baseless tickets and were intimidated. In the lawsuit, the brothers claimed the officer’s actions violated their First Amendment rights. Last month, the brothers accepted an undisclosed financial settlement in their case against the officer and village officials. The officer’s actions, if true, were wrong, but giving a police officer the finger also was wrong. Such as gesture is another example of some people’s disrespect for law enforcement. Many confrontations between police and members of the public could be avoided if people show consideration and listen to officers’ instructions during traffic stops and police calls.

CHEERS – To a new health-care facility. St. Mary’s Healthcare has opened a new facility next to the Amsterdam Memorial Campus on Route 30 in Amsterdam. The facility, named the Rao Outpatient Pavilion, features seven outpatient services, including medical imaging, cancer medicine, women’s breast health, pre-op teaching, outpatient registration, a laboratory and a centralized urgent-care facility. The multimillion-dollar facility, which has two stories and includes 40,000 square feet of space, is impressive. It’s certain to improve the area’s delivery of health-care services.

CHEERS – To an impressive music educator. DiAnne Mott, who teaches in the Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville School District, was named one of 25 semifinalists for the national Music Educator Award. The award is presented each year by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation. The recipient will attend the Grammy Awards ceremony and receive a $10,000 honorarium. Mott, a Mayfield resident, leads the bands and teaches music at Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville. We join the chorus of praise for Mott. Finalists will be announced in December.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To parading in pink. Students, staff and others from the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District organized the Seventh Annual Robin Blowers Patriot Pink Out parade in Broadalbin last week. Hundreds of people wearing pink showed up to raise money for breast-cancer research in memory of former Principal Robin Blowers. Blowers died of cancer earlier this year after a long, courageous battle. Since the event’s inception in 2009, it’s raised $20,000 for cancer research, organizers said. It’s comforting to see members of a small community coming together not only to remember and honor one of their own, but to support a worthy cause in the hope of helping others.

JEERS – To repeat DWI offenders. It’s bad enough when a person drives drunk once. Some make a habit of it. In one recent case in our area, a person was stopped by police for driving while intoxicated and released to the supervision of another person. Within a few hours, the person drove drunk again and was arrested. We contend whenever a person is stopped for DWI, he or she should not be released from custody until sober – perhaps longer. Sometimes, the person a drunken driver is released to isn’t responsible enough to ensure the offender stays away from a driver’s seat.

JEERS – To the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers’ season fizzled this week with their wild-card game loss to the Houston Astros. We at least would expect a vigorous playoff run from the team with the second-highest payroll in the major league. The Yankees’ payroll this year totaled $214.2 million, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose payroll was $227.3 million, according to figures posted by ESPN. The Astros’ payroll was $69 million this year. The Yankees’ highest-paid player, by the way, was CC Sabathia, who now is in rehab for alcohol use. He earned $24.3 million, according to ESPN. Maybe New York will get more for its money next year.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To adopting shelter dogs. People interested in getting a dog are making a good choice by adopting from an animal shelter rather than buying from a breeder or store. October is national Adopt-A-Shelter Dog month. We join area shelters in encouraging people to adopt from a shelter. The James Brennan Memorial Humane Society on Nine Mile Tree Road in Gloversville points out most dogs are in shelters because people were unable to care for them any longer or the animals were found wandering aimlessly. The society cites these benefits of adopting a shelter dog: you are saving the life of the dog you adopt and making room for another at the shelter; you are fighting pet overpopulation; you are supporting the fight against “puppy mills”; and you end up with a loving companion. For information on adopting a dog, call the humane society at 725-0115.

JEERS – Inadequate oversight of grade changes. A state audit showed student grades in five school districts were changed from failing to passing without proper documentation or supporting information. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office examined computer systems that tracked student grades in the Arlington, Elmira, Fairport, Freeport and Saratoga Springs school districts. During the audit period of July 2013 to May 2015, auditors reviewed 90 grade changes made by non-teachers at each district, and found 44 percent were not supported with written documentation from the student’s teacher. Half of the grades were changed from failing to passing. The audit showed lax monitoring by district officials and a lack of proper policies for adding system users and granting user permission. We suspect unsupported grade changes are occurring at many school districts. All of them need to take steps to safeguard student grades and make certain grades truly reflect what the students earned.

CHEERS – To a great trail. Last month, state Department of Environmental Conservation officials opened a rerouted section of the Northville-Lake Placid Trail in the Northville area. The change eliminates the need to walk on about 15 miles of road, putting that section of trail into the woods. Last year, the DEC also moved the trailhead for the southern part of the trail to Waterfront Park in Northville. The changes required a lot of work, but it was worth it. The 135-mile trail, which runs from Northville in Fulton County to Lake Placid in Essex County, is a jewel in our region. The trail was begun in 1922 by the Adirondack Mountain Club and was completed in 1924. The club donated the trail to the state in 1927. The trail attracts many hikers and visitors every year. It gives people the opportunity to walk through the heart of the Adirondack wilderness. People who choose to walk the entire distance enjoy a great adventure. In many cases, the hike takes 11 to 14 days. It’s proven to be a memorable experience for many, and the entrance is right in our back yard.