CHEERS - To a growing community bank. Patriot Federal Bank opened in 2005 in Canajoharie, then came to Johnstown in 2007, and now is building a branch in Amsterdam. Last year, the bank moved from a building it was leasing in Johnstown to a new building on Route 30A. At that time, Gordon Coleman, chief executive officer of Patriot Federal Bank, said a community bank has several advantages over a regionally owned bank whose decisions are made out of town. He said Patriot Federal's loan rates are competitive, and the decision-makers are in the local branches. So far, their decisions have resulted in positive growth. The new Amsterdam branch is expected to open in March.
CHEERS - To great young voices. The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education recently recognized two Johnstown High School chorus members, junior Kevin Ammann and senior Helaina Stergas. Ammann is headed to the 77th Annual New York State School Music Association Conference in Rochester for rehearsals and a performance at the Eastman Theater. Stergas was selected as an alternate for the conference. In addition, Lindsey Howard, a Gloversville High School senior, will perform at the conference in Rochester. We join in singing high praises of these students' accomplishments.
JEERS - To another possible Fulton County tax increase. The county is working on a 2013 budget proposal that would raise the average property-tax rate by nearly 8 percent and exceed the state-imposed tax-levy cap for the second year in a row. The budget proposal would carry a tax levy - the amount of money raised in property taxes - of more than $30 million. We understand state-mandated costs pose a difficult challenge for county leaders, but they can find ways to stay under the tax cap. Property taxpayers, suffering through a down economy and years of municipal and school tax increases, can't afford to keep paying more. The county Board of Supervisors is considering using money from the fund balance to lower the tax increase. That certainly would help. Incidentally, the county tax levy 10 years ago - in 2003 - was $23.2 million.
CHEERS - To rising from the ashes. The new Mayfield Presbyterian Church is making steady progress and could open in two or three months, thanks to the dedication of its members. The congregation was dealt a major blow on April 28, 2011, when lightning struck the church's steeple and the building burned. But members didn't give up. They raised money and continued to meet at another location. The new church, at the site of the old one, is taking shape. It will be able to seat more than 200 people. We salute the church's pastor, the Rev. Bonnie Orth, and all the members who persevered and worked hard to rebuild their place of worship.