CHEERS - Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Dwight Schwabrow will leave his post after a brief but notable tenure. While only holding the reins since Jan. 20, 2011, he held them firmly, fairly and effectively. He came to the position with extensive experience in law enforcement, more than 40 years in volunteer fire service and an understanding of how the state operates in the public safety realm. He filled this part-time position with full-time energy and professionalism, facing some unexpected challenges with floods, tornados and topical storms. The county was fortunate to have someone in place who handled these critical times with calming action and made an excellent attempt at keeping everyone informed. When appointed, he stated, "I will do the best I can." You did Dwight, now we all wish you, Peri and your family the best as you experience Florida. They have hurricanes there, right?
JEERS - To a nightmare. New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has introduced a bill that would provide college financial aid to illegal immigrant families. His intentions were released a step behind the Federal government, putting into effect parts of the "Dream Act" that permit illegal immigrants to apply to work in the U.S. without fear of deportation for two years. Staying with college financial aid: How many hardworking families have applied for assistance through the state's Tuition Assistance Program and been denied? Part of the reason for these denials could be funding cuts in TAP in recent years. If this bill is passed, illegal immigrant families will be allowed to apply for grants, such as TAP, and other low-cost school loans. In our community, families are struggling and sacrificing to be able to fund their children's education, and right next to them stand college graduates who are struggling to find employment to be able to pay back high-interest loans taken as the availability of state loans was being reduced. Illegal immigrant students already pay the lower public college tuition for state residents, rather than the higher rate for those coming from outside New York. Before you vote in November, make sure you know where your candidate stands on this. This bill could be considered in January's regular session or in an expected special session after the November elections. There are those who call this a dream, while others will need to be awakened from the recurring nightmare caused by those placed in office.
CHEERS - To a good sign. The city of Johnstown, in July, issued 61 permits with a total estimated cost of potential projects totaling more than $1 million. Mayor Sarah Slingerland's response just about says it all: "The city continues to grow in a positive way." Those permits reflect more than the fees of $2,140 paid. It is a positive reflection of people employed, businesses ringing up sales, improvements of homes and commercial projects - all good signs.