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John Purcell

Stories by John

Can a law mend fences?

Neighbor complaints lead Voorheesville to draft changes to front-yard regulations

Voorheesville officials said several complaints about one home’s front yard fence spurred a local law to tackle the problem.

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Invasive trees being removed in Pine Bush

Commission set to clear 47 acres of black locust trees, reclaim landscape

Hundreds of invasive trees will be removed from the Pine Bush Preserve before next year, which will dramatically shift the landscape in preparation for a native habitat.

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Veterans push Albany County legislators on housing plan

Democrats draft last-minute amendment to clear step for Solider On project

Dozens of veterans spoke out against Democratic legislators proposing to stall Solider On’s housing project, which spurred a last-minute amendment to clear a procedural step.

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Taking a bite into fighting crime

Albany County Sheriff’s Office initiatives presented to Capital Region Rotary Club

Rotarians got an up-close look into aspects of the Albany County Sheriff’s Department, from a mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle to a transmitter that helps find those who wander.

UPDATED: Voorheesville set to harness solar power

Village signs contract with Monolith Solar for panels at two sites

Voorheesville is the latest municipality to enter a Power Purchase Agreement to reap guaranteed solar power savings as rebates making such proposals more appealing are dwindling.

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Drama outside theater walls

Eighth annual Helderberg Theater Festival features twist on classic, youth directors

The Classic Theater Guild Inc. and Indian Ladder Farms are teaming up again for The 2014 Helderberg Theater Festival, which will be held outdoors at the farm from July 17 to 27.

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Fowl are fair game in Guilderland

Zoning board precedent allows pet chickens, Town Board to weigh zoning revisions

Seeking to keep chickens on residential property in Guilderland will typically be much less of a public appeal — at least until any changes are made to the town code.

Court strikes down Albany County's cyberbullying law

State’s highest court rules statute unconstitutional, McCoy seeking new bill

The state Court of Appeals struck down the county’s cyberbullying law in a 5-2 decision Monday, July 1, with the majority ruling the statute as written was too broad and violated the First Amendment. Albany County Executive Dan McCoy vowed to work with legislators to draft a new law.

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Third time’s a charm for Jerry’s law

State legislature passes bill spurred by Voorheesville teen’s suicide

Three years after Jerry Clark’s grandmother began lobbying lawmakers to protect other families from the tragedy her family faced, state legislators approved a revised version of her bill.

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Altamont’s farmer [photo gallery]

Everett Rau discusses early days of farm life, agricultural passion

Altamont Archives and Museum volunteer Laura Shore interviewed Everett Rau about his life in agriculture Monday, June 23, in the community room at Village Hall.

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DOT cautious of Cumberland Farms plan

Guilderland Planning Board recommendation looms; site plan revised

Guilderland planners’ concerns over traffic impacts of a proposed Cumberland Farms at a busy intersection were not relieved after hearing a state official’s comments.

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Stable hands

Albany Therapeutic Riding Center seeking volunteers

Finding a sense of peace within the quiet, rural landscape below the Helderberg Escarpment likely is not difficult for most people. For more than 30 years, a local nonprofit has tapped into it to provide therapy for mentally and physically disabled individuals.

Altamont Elementary School awarded $75k grant

State designation spurs funding for professional development

Altamont Elementary School’s designation as a Reward School has led to the district receiving $75,000 to enhance professional development.

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Nugget of hope for chicken enthusiasts

Guilderland ZBA’s prior rulings could create pathway for fowl pets

Chickens could become a less public proposal in Guilderland if zoning board members determine past rulings set a precedent, despite prior claims against such ever being set.

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Study: Guilderland schools have too much unused space

District, board members mum on scenarios; school closure advised

Guilderland Central School District held a community meeting Monday, June 16, for consultant Paul Seversky to discuss findings from his building capacity study, along with some scenarios the district could pursue to reduce expenses.

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Growing a better future

Leadership Tech Valley project expands Patroon Land Farm’s growing capacity

The Leadership Tech Valley Class of 2014 formally unveiled its project Thursday, June 12, which included installing a high tunnel greenhouse and modern drip irrigation system at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York’s Patroon Land Farm

Albany County neuters unscrupulous pet dealers

Legislature adopts law strengthening state regulations, seller voices concern

Fido would likely be wagging his tail if he knew stricter laws were recently adopted to protect his four-legged brethren in Albany County.

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A fair history will be displayed in Altamont

Village featuring photography exhibit to feature roots of Altamont Fair

Festivities at the Altamont Fair were far different 121 years ago when the inaugural event kicked off after a year of planning and preparations.

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Hands-on helpers

Kids at Voorheesville daycare are the youngest rail trail ambassadors

Some little kids have stepped up to take on a big role along a recently opened portion of the Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail.

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A mess for success

Guilderland to hold fourth annual Mud Mania at Tawasentha Park

Three years after the Town of Guilderland held its inaugural Tawasentha Mud Mania race through a muddy obstacle course as a fundraiser for park improvements, it had made enough money to pay for shiny new playground equipment. This year, the race is continuing due to its popularity.

Albany County cyberbullying law has its day in court

NYCLU challenges statute’s constitutionality; county attorney argues for revision

Albany County legislators may be forced to draft a new cyberbullying law if the state’s top court rules in favor of advocates arguing it violates the First Amendment.

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Royal times ahead

Capital District gets its own Renaissance Festival promising merriment for all

The NY Capital District Renaissance Festival will be held on Saturday, June 14, and Sunday, June 15, at Indian Ladder Farms in New Scotland, adding a brand-new attraction to the region.

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A chair to remember

Chair of Honor installed at Times Union Center, reminder of missing soldiers

A Rolling Thunder POW/MIA Chair of Honor on Wednesday, May 28, was formally installed at the Albany entertainment venue. It serves as a permanent memorial to missing military members.

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Albany County legislator proposes term limits

Loudonville lawmaker lobbies for limits to be included in charter revisions

Albany County legislator Peter Crouse, R-Loudonville, on Thursday, May 29, announced he had submitted a proposal to the county Charter Review Committee requesting term limits be included in the revised charter presented to voters.

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Living history, one last time

Guilderland students hold 11th annual Living Museum; program to be cut next year

The likes of Thomas Edison, Davy Crockett and Helen Keller will probably not be seen again in Guilderland High School.

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On the lawn of history

Schoolcraft House Lawn Fest offers look into town’s past, fun activities

About 170 years ago John Schoolcraft built his grandiose home in what was known at the time as the hamlet of Guilderland. After suffering years of degradation, a local group is returning the home to its original grandeur.

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Guilderland denies chicken request

Town Board could still revise code to allow backyard coops

Neighbors won the battle in one man’s request to keep chickens, but the war of backyard pet politics is not yet over in the Town of Guilderland.

New Scotland hears second solar proposal

Company touts larger estimated savings of $370k over 20 years

Competition is brewing for New Scotland’s bid into solar energy, with a second company claiming it could offer even more savings annually on electricity bills.

Albany County’s hotel occupancy tax distribution debated

Legislators propose shifting funds from convention center but fail to gain support

Some county legislators do not believe funneling more than $7 million annually toward Albany’s convention center and civic center is the best use of its hotel occupancy tax revenue.

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UPDATED: Voorheesville voters pass $22.7M school budget

District’s vehicle purchase and capital improvement plans approved; library budget passed

Voorheesville Central School District’s proposed $22.7 million budget was comfortably approved by residents on Tuesday, May 20, along with both propositions before voters.

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Albany County comptroller urges new course battling poverty

Annual address provides overview of county expenditures, revenue from last year

Albany County Comptroller Michael Conners believes the county is headed in a good direction, but it can’t leave behind those most in need.

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Guilderland Public Library continues tackling tutoring

Board members walking “fine line,” tutors could be tapped for input

Discussions over private tutors using space at the Guilderland Public Library and what procedures or policies should be implemented continued at the library Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, May 8.

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Guilderland police first to receive state heroin antidote funds [video]

A.G. Schneiderman kicks off Community Overdose Prevention program awards

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman kicked off the first round of awards at Guilderland Town Hall on Tuesday, May 6. Guilderland police received $2,100 to fully reimburse equipping and training 35 officers to use naloxone kits.

Watchful eye over Feura Bush Park

Rash of damage spurs park surveillance system in New Scotland

Delinquents beware — more than the birds will soon be watching over Feura Bush Park.

Renaissance festival coming to New Scotland

Planning Board OKs special use permit, Indian Ladder Farms hosting event

The New Scotland Planning Board on Tuesday, May 6, unanimously approved NY Capital District Renaissance Festival LLC’s request for a special use permit to hold the two-day historical themed event on two parcels of land Peter Ten Eyck owns.

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Albany County legislators mull pet sellers regulations

Law would strengthen state rules, establish permitting and fines

Legislators Gary Domalewicz and Bryan Clehanan on Tuesday, May 6, unveiled their proposed local law requiring the permitting of cat and dog sellers, along with regulating breeders. The bill would establish standards and allow for regular enforcement.

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A century of faith, friendships

St. Peter Women’s Guild to commemorate 100th anniversary with dinner

Many things were different 100 years ago, with modern technology seeming more like science fiction. At least one thing remains unchanged — the dedication of a faithful group of women.

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Clarkson University to honor Voorheesville educator

Former student nominated Selkirk man for inspirational educator award

Physics teacher Ted Simons left a lasting impression on at least one former student, but Simons said his dedication is no different than that of his colleagues at Voorheesville Central School District.

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Wildflower is no wallflower

Pine Bush Preserve to hold annual Lupine Fest, with recreation opportunities

There are 3,200 acres of gently rolling sand dunes in Albany County providing a thriving home for a globally rare ecosystem. The recreational opportunities are rather extensive, too.

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Voorheesville school board adopts budget

Property taxes would increase 2 percent; state aid boost restores cuts

The Voorheesville Board of Education on Monday, April 21, unanimously adopted a spending plan totaling $22.89 million, which remained essentially unchanged from its March 31 meeting.

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Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service contract signed

Town hands over reserve funds to VAAS, village holds onto reserves

This year’s Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service contract signing with the village didn’t go quite as smoothly as predicted months ago, but it’s still around two months earlier than last year.

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Thacher Park awarded $3.8M for visitor center

State and private funds tapped for key step in park’s master plan

John Boyd Thacher State Park nabbed $3.8 million in state funding to build a new visitor center, which was a main element in the park’s recently completed master plan.

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Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy receives $68.5K [video]

State unveils $1.4M in Conservation Partnership Program grants at local farm

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens on Thursday, April 24, announced the annual conservation grant awardees, which included 50 nonprofit land trusts statewide. The announcement was held at Indian Ladder Farms, with the property used as an example for conservation efforts statewide.

Voorheesville adopts budget exceeding tax cap

Village spending plan totals $2.047M; fund balance usage decreases

The Voorheesville Village Board of Trustees approved a 2014-15 village budget exceeding its state mandated property levy tax cap, which totals slightly more than $2.047 million. The property tax levy is increasing 4.5 percent.

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Clucking continues over chicken proposal

Guilderland zoning board to rule on resident’s fowl request

Uncertainty still looms over a Guilderland man’s proposal to keep chickens behind his house, but it’s clear opinions on both sides haven’t swayed.

Revisions eyed for Albany County Charter

Committee formed to tackle review commission recommendations

Albany County legislators have formed a committee to evaluate what recommendations from the Charter Review Commission’s report should be implemented.

Voorheesville plans to exceed tax cap

Village Board finalizes $2.05M budget, 4.5 percent tax levy hike

No residents on Monday, April 7, spoke during a low-key public hearing on Voorheesville proposed budget. Local officials, while not advertising the move, are looking to exceed the tax cap.

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New Scotland reviewing solar panel options

Company estimates photovoltaic system would be $93.6K savings over 20 years

Sunny days could be ahead for New Scotland if energy savings from a photovoltaic system are as much as an area company forecasts. The system would also provide more reliable energy costs.

State Police to conduct speeding crackdown

Weeklong campaign will also focus on aggressive and distracted driving

State Police will hold a “Speed Week” campaign from Thursday, April 17, through the following Thursday, which focuses on increased enforcement of speeding and aggressive driving violations. The campaign seeks to reduce speed-related crashes and improve traffic safety.

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Lafarge breaks ground on plant modernization

Ravena facility renovation will replace kilns and cut emissions, retain jobs

Federal, state, and local officials and business leaders gathered on Friday, April 11, for Lafarge North America’s groundbreaking ceremony at its Ravena plant. The project will replace the more than 50-year-old equipment with “state-of-the-art” technology.

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