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Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To reducing polling locations. The Gloversville Enlarged School District is considering reducing the number of district polling places utilized during budget votes and school board elections. There are currently six polling locations and it is being suggested this be scaled back to two. With less than 750 votes cast in the May 2013 budget vote, it is quite clear the apathy in voter turnout can be handled in two area locations within the district. The best thing that could happen is that turnouts for school elections skyrocket in the years to come and the need would arise to go back to numerous polling places! For now, the district should go with two polling places.

CHEERS – To getting on the dance card. We are not sure how the dance will end, but officials in Montgomery County are taking the right steps to make sure the county is on the dance floor for the chance to be tapped for one of four upstate sites for the development of a commercial casino. Both the county Legislators and the city of Amsterdam Council have passed resolutions recognizing the potential economic and fiscal benefits a casino could bring to the region. We encourage town of Florida officials to follow the lead and make it a supportive consensus showing strong interest.

CHEERS – To a success. Our community college continues to offer more programs and success stories than the average citizen can possibly imagine. The most recent involves Smart Scholars, a program that gives selected students the opportunity to attend FM beginning in their high school freshman year. The students must be the first generation in their families to attend college. It appears the recent participates are about to make history in their families. Each student in the program plans on continuing their college education and will be transferring to their new institution of higher education with as many as 36 college credits. This program has changed the lives of 10 students who entered their high school years with little or no direction, perhaps never imagining that they would some day be accepted into college. Each of these Amsterdam students should be very proud of themselves.

CHEERS – To a change in landscape. For some time now, the landscape on the corner of East Fulton Street and Elmwood Avenue in the town of Johnstown has displayed the remains of a former gas station. Now, with plans to construct a 1,890-square-foot convenience store and gas station, it will change. Yes, in a small way it reverts back to a resemblance of what was there; but the alternative would be the property sitting there and becoming a visual second cousin to the former Loblaws store nearby, which has been abandoned for decades. We welcome a positive addition to the neighborhood.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To one round of appointments. This week, the Gloversville Common Council approved the appointments of four Ethics Board members, leaving only one vacancy. The method of appointing residents to the Ethics Board was changed via a public vote in the general election last November. The council now has the authority to appoint the members. The remaining vacancy must be filled by someone who has no affiliation with the Republican or Democratic Party. This is the time for an independent to step up. Unfortunately, efforts to fill vacant city Zoning Board seats by the mayor, with council approval, remain unsuccessful. The majority of the council has expressed concern that longtime member Karen Smith was not one of the mayor’s appointees. The mayor now has the option of submitting two more names, plus an alternate, for consideration.

CHEERS – To a centennial year. The community’s Glove Theatre is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. We applaud those who continue to strive to keep the theater a vital part of our community. If every resident gave just $1 to continue the renovations, what a tremendous difference it could make. What a tribute it would be to Dr. Henry Cady and George Dartch, who built the theater in 1914, and to the Schine family, who made the Glove known throughout the country. We’re looking forward to some exciting events during this yearlong celebration. We all should get out and support the theater.

JEERS – To no explanation. This week, the Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School District Board of Education voted to give board President Sue Sammons and the district’s attorney the authority to request information from Superintendent Laura Lawrence, who has been on “unexplained” paid leave since November. We realize this is all part of a legal procedure, but it’s still simply wrong that the public cannot get an explanation for why the superintendent was put on leave and continues to receive her $108,000 salary – paid by taxpayers.

CHEERS – To a savings. The village of Northville and town of Northampton already are saving taxpayers money this year. According to town Supervisor James Groff, each municipality will save approximately $25,000 by sharing one treasurer. This is a great example of the benefits of sharing municipal services. Apparently, it isn’t stopping there, as officials are looking at a number of other possible areas. Supervisor Groff and village Mayor Debra Ellsworth have started out the year in a cooperative, progressive way. We encourage them to continue along this road.

Cheers and jeers

Publisher’s note: A colleague of ours, Mitch Allen, who lives in Ohio, wrote the following. We cheer him for his insights, and we also mourn the direction our country has gone in this regard. Cheers to Mitch for reminding us.

JEERS – To how we decide who’s a “celebrity.” “In the first two decades of the 20th century, America’s list of top celebrities included many inventors, explorers and scientists. But by the time we got to the second half of the century, our celebrities had become almost exclusively entertainers – actors, singers and professional athletes.

“Our interest in the Nobel Prize was replaced by our interest in the Oscar, the Grammy, the Lombardi Trophy, and now, the ‘American Idol.’

“Superstar celebs from 1900 to 1920 included Wilbur and Orville Wright, Louis Bleriot (first flight across the English Channel), Marie Curie (Nobel Prize in physics), Robert Scott (Antarctic explorer), Henry Ford, Sigmund Freud, Albert Schweitzer (Nobel Peace Prize) and Albert Einstein.

“Superstars from 2013 included Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian.

“Why can’t we make celebrities out of the women and men who are working to cure cancer or create energy from the movement of the tides? Why can’t we cheer for these people the way we once cheered for Amelia Earhart and Neil Armstrong? Why can’t we see on the red carpet someone who has walked on the red planet?

“Even our so-called ‘journalists’ are becoming entertainers, desperate shock jocks who exist to froth our fears and direct our attention like a circus ringmaster.

“If our nation doesn’t start teaching our children the importance of math and science, we are destined to become mere exporters of entertainment to the rest of the world – until they grow tired of us, tossing the Statue of Liberty aside as if she were some aging chorus girl. And when that happens, there will be a race to the bottom: ‘What? You no longer like our singing? Well, then watch us twerk.’

“The single greatest threat to the United States of America is not our moral decay; it’s that we no longer think it’s cool to be smart.”

Cheers and Jeers

JEERS – To an elected bully. After the president’s State of the Union address, U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm from Staten Island was approached by a reporter for his thoughts about the address. The reporter also tried to ask Grimm about allegations regarding his campaign finances. Grimm turned and walked away, but then returned and told reporter Michael Scotto: “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this [expletive] balcony.” When Scotto replied, “Why? Why? It’s a valid question,” Grimm said, “No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.” This was all caught on tape. The reporter was doing his job. Grimm’s conduct was inexcusable. If he can’t handle reporters’ questions, he shouldn’t be in Congress. Grimm threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony. The voters should throw Grimm out of office.

JEERS -To an illegal meeting. Last week, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., met with Montgomery County’s new legislature. We always applaud Schumer’s visits to our area, but his most recent visit raised the ire of open-government proponents like us. Schumer, eight of the nine legislators, the county administrator and mayor of Amsterdam met behind closed doors before coming out for a news conference. The meeting appeared to violate the state’s Open Meetings Law. A quorum of elected county legislators was present, and many in that room were aware of it. The meeting should have been open to the public, and someone at that meeting should have spoken up and demanded the law be followed. We hope Andrew Santillo, who has been hired as the communications specialist for Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort, will encourage the county to adhere to the Open Meetings Law. He is a former reporter with a degree in journalism.

CHEERS – To warmth. Hundreds of local children are warmer because you cared. They are warmer because the community provided generous monetary donations, the Gloversville Salvation Army provided assistance and volunteers gave of their time. A special thank you to our 2013 shoppers: Michelle Ellis, Shannon Smith, Vicky Skiff, Beverly Kazala, Linda Hallenbeck, Nancy Davidson, Anita Ashelman, Andrea Moran, Patty Franco, Markie King, Audrey Kline, Pam Miller, Bonnie Valachovic, Bonnie Peters, Anita Hanaburgh and Lynn DeMarco. You all made such a difference.