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Cheers and jeers

JEERS – To holiday season scammers. ‘Tis the season for scams, unfortunately. Amid the hustle and bustle of the season, be careful about the hustle. Remember, some people are out there trying to steal your money. There are many types of holiday thievery. For example, in the “grandparent scam,” rip-off artists target the elderly with desperate calls or emails from “stranded” grandchildren claiming they need money wired to them. In another scam, a fake charity that sounds like a legitimate one asks for a donation. The best way to avoid holiday fraud is to learn what scams are out there, and be careful.

For more information on this topic, go to the Better Business Bureau website at www.bbb.org.

CHEERS – To the volunteers. Some of them fight fires, some deliver meals to the needy, some help the sick. This holiday season, let’s take time to acknowledge the many volunteers in our community who are offering their time and effort to help others. Among the volunteers from our area who made a big difference recently were volunteer firefighters from Broadalbin.

They traveled to the Buffalo area to help people affected by the major snow storm. On Thanksgiving morning, volunteers showed up at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Gloversville to deliver turkey dinners to people who are less fortunate. Many of our neighbors are volunteering every day. We should take the time to thank them, especially at this time of year.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To watchdogs. Some Fulton County government officials may not care to hear from them, but members of the Solidarity For A Better County Government serve a notable role in the government process and our local democracy. The members attend meetings of the county Board of Supervisors and bring issues to the attention of the board and public. We applaud the group’s intentions. We need more local citizens to step up and question local government, criticize decisions and suggest changes. Their ideas may not always be right or practical, but their involvement is important. Elected officials should embrace the participation.

JEERS – To tough parking bans. Our views on the overnight winter parking bans in Gloversville and Johnstown haven’t changed. The on-street bans are about to go into effect, and with them will come winter-long headaches for many residents. We continue to call for alternate-side overnight parking rules in the winter rather than all-out bans. The bans force some residents who have no access to a driveway to either rent parking somewhere near their home, park in a public lot blocks away from home or pull their vehicles onto lawns, creating a mess in the spring. Some motorists simply violate the ban and risk getting parking tickets all winter. The bans make it easier for plows to clear roads overnight – on the nights they actually plow – but create problems for many citizens. Seeing how the cities are struggling to keep good people in the area, why not try to make their lives a little easier?

CHEERS – To tourism events. Tourism is a big industry for Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton counties. The area offers many attractions and events that bring in visitors, who spend money at hotels and other local businesses. It’s important localities support these tourism sites and events. The Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce is promoting a number of major local events for 2015, such as a walleye fishing derby in January, an outdoorsman show in February, a woodworking show in July, a triathlon in August and many festivals throughout the year. And that’s just a sampling. We encourage people to be cheerleaders for local tourism in 2015.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To a parade. What better way to kick off the holiday season than with a parade? The Johnstown Holiday Parade will take place again this year at 7 p.m. Nov. 21. Thanks to organizer Karen Coppola’s efforts, local residents will have a chance to see a line of holiday floats, emergency vehicles and local youths and groups make their way through downtown Johnstown. We encourage people from all over the area to bundle up and head to Johnstown to see this parade.

JEERS – To more warning labels. A New York state assemblyman from Brooklyn wants the state to require warning labels on sugary drinks because ingesting too much sugar can lead to obesity and health problems. Under Brooklyn Democrat Karim Camara’s proposal, the size of the label would increase based on the size of the drink. This proposal would elevate the “nanny state” to yet another level. People know soft drinks have a lot of sugar in them and that too much sugar is bad for your health. Many products contain potentially unhealthy amounts of sugar and other ingredients. If we put warning labels on soft drinks, do we also put them on hot dogs, candy bars, juices and countless other food and drink products? The assemblyman’s plan would put further burdens on the beverage industry. Give it a rest.

CHEERS – To an online hiring resource for veterans. The state has launched a new online portal that helps veterans connect with temporary employment opportunities offered by the state. The website enables job seekers to upload resumes and designate geographic preferences, which state agencies use to consider candidates for open positions. Director of Veterans Affairs Eric Hesse said the service should be especially useful as service members transition from the service to the job market. The online portal can be accessed through the Department of Civil Service’s website at www.cs.ny.gov/vetportal. This is a worthwhile service. We encourage veterans to visit the site.

Cheers and jeers

JEERS – To keeping the press out. The Leader-Herald was prohibited by the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District from attending a meeting this week between a couple of Board of Education members and members of the public who are concerned about the future of the district’s marching band. As it turned out, about 30 people showed up to talk to the board members about the issue, according to the school district. Closing the meeting to the press may have been legal, but with so many people showing up, the meeting became one of public interest. The media should have been allowed to cover this event so the views of the concerned members of the public could have been reported. This paper was interested in hearing the public’s opinions, and we encourage people who attended the meeting to contact us. The school district released its own report about the meeting, but the public deserves to hear both sides of the issue reported by the press.

CHEERS – To a group effort at Knox. Students at Knox Junior High School in Johnstown came together to support eighth-grade teacher Jennifer Sweeney’s effort to raise money for a charity by running in the New York City Marathon. Many students and parents joined the teacher in her training sessions after school on Wednesdays in September and October at Knox Field. Sweeney, a member of Team Ritter, which represents the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health, ended up running in the marathon, which was Sunday. The Knox community showed overwhelming support, and the students learned the importance of giving back.

JEERS – To low voter turnout. If you’re among the more than half of the eligible voters who failed to vote in Tuesday’s election, you shouldn’t have much to say about the results. Statewide, only 34 percent of the eligible voters decided who should be our leaders, according to unofficial results from the state Board of Elections, based on the number of ballots cast in the gubernatorial race. Midterm elections traditionally have a lower voter turnout than the presidential elections, but 34 percent is particularly sad. In Fulton County, about 40 percent of eligible voters cast votes in the governor’s race, according to unofficial results. In Montgomery County, about 47 percent turned out, and in Hamilton County, about 50 percent voted. We wonder, is the non-voting majority happy with the decisions made by the voting minority?

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To ending a Nazi loophole. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is introducing legislation to close a loophole that has allowed Nazis expelled from the United States to collect Social Security benefits. An Associated Press report showed dozens of Nazi war criminals have received Social Security benefits years after being forced out of the country. It was shocking to hear American taxpayers are paying for the retirement of people guilty of one of the worst atrocities in history. We encourage quick passage of the senator’s proposal.

JEERS – To inconsiderate riders. Some people need to use wheelchairs and some people choose to ride bicycles, but they should follow the rules. We often see people riding their wheelchairs in the middle of traffic instead of on the sidewalks, and we see bicyclists – some wearing headphones – crossing in and out of traffic and getting in the way of cars, oblivious to their actions. People shouldn’t ride their wheelchairs in the middle of the road, and bicyclists are supposed to follow the rules of the road. Those who don’t are putting themselves and others at risk.

CHEERS – To the memory of Jumpin’ Jack. Fulton County native Jack Johnston, who was known as Jumpin’ Jack, only lived to age 33, but he packed remarkable accomplishments into those years. After graduating from Gloversville High School in 1974, Johnston joined the International Freestyle Skiers Association tour and won an event during his 1974-75 rookie season. In the mid- to late 1970s, he won several freestyle and aerial skiing championships. He later became a ski industry model and a trampoline gymnast, performing at half-time during Utah Jazz NBA games. Tragically, Johnston died after a diving accident in Utah. Local resident Mike Hauser and others who truly care about the area’s local sports history are keeping Jumpin’ Jack’s memory alive. They plan to dedicate a historical road marker to Johnston at the Royal Mountain Ski Area, where Johnston used to ski, in a ceremony Nov. 9. Jack lived a dream, and his legacy continues to inspire others to pursue their dreams.

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