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John Purcell

Stories by John

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Bethlehem Central School District finalizes budget proposal

School board members are focused on a 2015-16 budget totaling $94.16 million, which increases spending about 1.5 percent. The proposal does not tap any undesignated fund balance, while proposing an unusually low tax increase.

Redistricting proposal redraws town lines

Proposed map places Kuhn into a different Bethlehem legislative district, quelling primary bid

Another legal battle is looming over county legislature district lines, because Bethlehem Democrats claim the new plan submitted to the court unnecessarily shifts lines within the town.

County legislators OK fracking waste ban

Local law would prohibit disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste at landfills

Hydraulic fracturing is banned statewide, but county legislators want to ensure none of the waste produced from the natural gas extraction method enters local landfills.

Bethlehem Central finalizes budget proposal

Spending plan holds less than 1 percent tax levy hike, fund balance untapped

Bethlehem Central administrators on Wednesday, April 15, presented the Bethlehem Central Board of Education with an updated budget proposal for next school year, which holds a property tax levy increase of 0.45 percent.

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UPDATE: Mudslide along Normans Kill blocking water flow

County Executive declares State of Emergency for areas bordering creek

A mudslide has dammed up the Normans Kill, blocking water flow down the creek and resulting in a “high potential” for flooding, according to local officials.

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Show some love to a favorite park

Events at local parks highlight annual 'I Love My Park Day.’

Even a park could use a little bit of spring-cleaning before flowers bloom and wildlife roam, along with many eager trail-goers and bird watchers.

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Photo Galley: Bethlehem egg hunt

Cold weather did not dampen turnout for annual event

The Town of Bethlehem Parks and Recreation Department hosted its “Egg-stravaganza” event Saturday, April 11, at Elm Avenue Park. The main attraction, an egg hunt, featured more than 2,000 colorful plastic eggs placed across three areas at the park.

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Bethlehem Central School District budget outlook brightens

State aid projected to increase $2M; tax cap at 0.45 percent increase

District administrators presented an updated 2015-16 proposed budget to the Bethlehem Board of Education at its Tuesday, March 31, meeting. Bethlehem Central is slated to see an increase of nearly $2.3 million in state funding.

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Alternate substation sites reviewed

Zoning Board delays decision, town-owned land floated for facility

A decision on National Grid’s proposed substation has been delayed as town officials seek additional information from the company and await an independent consultant’s review of the proposal.

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Tobacco display ban touted [video]

Retailers support county bill to shield tobacco products; push back over compromise

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy and Legislator Mary Lou Connolly, flanked by supermarket and pharmacy store representatives, announced a local law prohibiting the display of tobacco in retail establishments with a pharmacy.

New event seeks to unite residents

Voorheesville to host Village Green Clean day featuring recycling collection and activities

Following a particularly long winter, a new initiative is hoping people are ready to get back outside and join neighbors in an effort to do some collective spring cleaning.

Albany County redistricting violated Voting Rights Act

Court rules county plan diluted power of black voters, orders new minority-majority district

County officials are barred from holding elections until a new redistricting plan is drafted after a federal judge ruled the recent plan dilutes the power of black voters.

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Turning the tables

Fundraising campaign seeks to help Four Corners Luncheonette owner with medical expenses

After years of helping out local charities and organizations, the owner of a community staple could use help of his own.

Bethlehem Central eyes restoring past classroom cuts

Several additions proposed for district’s instructional budget next year as funds increase

Classrooms will likely be spared from any reductions to educational opportunities next school year. Unlike recent years, several additions are being proposed.

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Sweet treats help raise awareness

Delmar man organizes Purple Day cupcake fundraiser, outreach efforts for Epilepsy aid

As a child, Stephen Piorkowski spent a lot of time at home because he suffered from epilepsy. As an adult, he learned to control his disability and is trying to help others suffering from it to receive needed support.

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Glenmont Abbey breaks ground

Senior housing development will feature 148 units, active lifestyle amenities

Shovels hit the ground on a new senior apartment complex last week in a bustling hamlet center, around a decade after the project was initially proposed.

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Substation strife sparks on

National Grid presents project to Bethlehem school board

National Grid representatives presented plans for its Van Dyke Road Substation Project at the Bethlehem Board of Education meeting Wednesday, March 18.

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Unraveling a storied past

Bethlehem native’s genealogy research leads to historical fiction on kidnapping case

More than 80 years after the kidnapping of prominent leader in Albany, a Bethlehem native has brought the incident more clearly into focus.

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Planting a seed for STEM to grow

Local resident donates funds to bolster educational opportunities at Bethlehem Central

A local man is hoping his monetary donation not only enhances STEM education at the school district, but also encourages other community members to open their wallets.

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Historic barn may align with Rail Trail

Local officials in talks to relocate Hilton Barn within New Scotland

Preserving the Hilton barn through relocation appeared to be an unreachable solution, but tying it to another regional development could be the historic building’s savior.

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Bethlehem Central eyes bolstering athletic programming

District weights lifting funding burden off booster clubs, cutting freshman football

After years of looking towards school sports for potential budget reductions, district leaders are proposing to increase overall funding to athletic programming.

Voorheesville schools eye $71k gap

Guilderland Board of Education faces $130k gap, targets 3 percent tax hike

Voorheesville district leaders welcomed a much smaller budget gap than in recent years, with next year’s shortage falling to around $71,000. The preliminary budget should total around $23 million.

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Turning challenges into opportunities

BCMS students listen to speakers discuss thriving with disabilities

Feeling uncomfortable in your own skin is a common experience for many people during their youth. John Robinson felt similar, but his discomfort stretched long past his teenage years.

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Bethlehem Central School District outlines spending

Governor’s delay causes strife on district budgeting for next year

School board members heard proposals over what money needs to be spent next year to address several issues outside of the classroom.

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Educators: Cuomo is failing us

Regional forum rallies for equitable education funding, local control of classrooms

Many education advocates over the last few years have criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not supporting public schools. Now some question if he’s intentionally working against them.

$50K to soldiers

Hannaford gives back to Wounded Warrior Project

Receiving a backpack might seem like a small gesture, but one veteran credits that initial act of compassion followed by ongoing support for saving his life.

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McCoy eyes a healthier county

County executive focuses on nursing home, veterans, heroin scourge initiatives

County Executive Dan McCoy recently delivered his fourth State of the County address, which emphasized last year’s accomplishments and introduced new initiatives for his administration.

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Capturing wastewater’s wasted potential

Pilot program in Guilderland explores waste as energy source

ClearCove Systems, a Rochester-based company, showcased its New York State Energy Research and Develop Authority funded pilot site in Guilderland to Rep. Paul Tonko on Wednesday, Feb. 18.

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Hail Mary possible for historic barn

New Scotland official hopeful Hilton Barn will be persevered as interest surges

Daniel Mackay had conceded a miracle was likely need to relocate the Hilton barn locally, but a miraculous solution could be closing in.

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Vista eyes cashing in county’s $1M grant

Promised funds tied creating 500 jobs, legislators must release funds

Vista Technology Campus developers are looking to cash in on a more than decade-old agreement with Albany County for $1 million.

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Embossing accessibility

Bethlehem Public Library offering braille library cards, volunteer effort on braille book labels

Receiving a library card is a milestone for some children, but for Kelly Cusack the moment had little fanfare since she could not read it.

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Bethlehem Central School District kicks off budget talks

Bethlehem Central School District’s 2015-16 budget is assuming state aid will remain flat at roughly $23.35 million.

Report: Schools fiscally de-stress

Guilderland still susceptible to fiscal stress, South Colonie drops designation

Budget gaps and potential reductions might be looming for many school boards, but a recent report found most local school districts are not fiscally stressed.

UPDATE: Voorheesville schools bomb threat was false alarm

A bomb threat was found this morning at the Voorheesville Middle and High School building but proved to be a false alarm, according to school district officials.

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New Scotland weighs regulating storage containers

Zoning broadly defines accessory structures, allows PODS on residential property

Storage containers are facing an uncertain future as town officials weigh if additional regulations are needed for use on residential property.

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School leaders bemoan governor’s proposals

Cuomo unveils education reforms tied to funding increase; state aid runs absent

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed several initiatives targeting K-12 education during his joint 2015 State of the State address and budget presentation Wednesday, Jan. 21. Cuomo offered increasing funding to school districts statewide by $1.1 billion, but only if all of his education reforms are enacted.

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From helping horses to harmonious hymns

Bethlehem man ordained as deacon later in life, seeking priesthood

Many people try to find, and fulfill, what they believe is their true calling in life. A local man, however, feels he found his second calling later in life.

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A hero’s honor

Tonko rewards local man’s fight to honor another soldier

A local Korean War veteran’s elation was only beginning to subside two days after attending the 2015 State of the Union address, with him proudly pulling his gold-tinged ticket out an envelope.

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‘Miracle’ needed to preserve barn

Relocation of former LeVie barn seems unlikely before nearing deadline

Only photographs and other documentation are likely to remain as evidence of the historic Hilton barn after this summer. Relocation costs are proving too great for the massive post and beam structure.

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Hello, Birdie

Bethlehem Middle School students ready to perform ‘Bye, Bye Birdie, Jr.’

Audience members will likely leave with a happy face after watching an upbeat, humorous tale featuring a rock ’n’ roll heartthrob crooning sock hop tunes.

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'Toxic-Free Toys Act' signed into law

Local lawmakers defied calls from toy industry representatives to let state or federal officials draft changes to what levels of chemicals are allowed in children’s products.

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Year in Review: Looking back

There was plenty to speak about in 2014

A look back at the year that was in the towns of Bethlehem, New Scotland and Guilderland.

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From newsprint to law and order

Former Spotlight office renovated, becomes hub of attorneys’ offices

The Spotlight’s former office got a lot more than a new coat of paint before several attorneys moved into it.

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Police: Berne teenager kills 5-year-old cousin, falsely reports abduction

A Berne teenager allegedly killed her 5-year-old cousin and disposed of his body, before falsely reporting the boy was forcefully abducted from her home, according to police.

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New Scotland parks study outlines $1.3M improvements

Town likely to tackle projects in phases; local little league hopes for home field

New Scotland Town Board members heard a presentation Wednesday, Dec. 10, from consultant Ted Kolankowski of Barton & Loguidice on potential renovations and enhancements to Stephen P. Wallace Swift Road Park and Feura Bush Park.

Albany County Legislature reduction advances

Public hearing to be held on contentious downsize, some question timing

The Albany County Legislature voted 22-14 in favor of holding a public hearing Monday, Dec. 29, at 7:15 p.m., on amending the county charter to reduce the amount of legislators from 39 to 29 members.

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Albany County Legislature OKs ‘Toxic-free Toys Act’

Lawmakers approve ban on children’s products with known carcinogens

The Albany County Legislature on Monday, Dec. 8, voted 34-4 to approve Local Law J, known as the Toxic-Free Toys Act. The new law would ban the sale of children’s products containing benzene, lead, mercury, antimony, arsenic, cadmium and cobalt within the county.

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Jerry’s Law is on the books

V’ville teen suicide victim's family hopes legislation will spare others from tragedy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed “Jerry’s Law” last month, which ended the three-year crusade of Mary Clark to get a state law passed to help other families avoid the same tragedy her family faced.

Albany County Legislature could be shrinking

Albany County Legislative Chairman Shawn Morse and Democratic Majority Leader Frank Commisso introduced a local law Thursday night, Dec. 4, during a Democratic caucus. The legislature will set the date for a public hearing on the proposal at its meeting Monday night.

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Indoor kart racing facility reopens under new company

K1 Speed takes over former Fastrax Raceway in Crossgates Commons

K1 Speed opened its doors Friday, Nov. 21, at Crossgates Commons and has since rebranded the inside of the indoor kart racing facility, with plans to make changes to the track.

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