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John Purcell

Stories by John

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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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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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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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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Advocates urge Albany County to pass ‘Toxic-Free Toys Act’

Report: A dozen toxic toys sold in county, call for local legislation

The Albany County Legislature held a public hearing Tuesday, Nov. 25, on its proposed Toxic-Free Toys Act, which would allow the county health commissioner to inspect merchandise sold in stores and issue fines for toys found to have dangerous levels of, or banned, chemicals.

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Holiday cheer in full bloom

Guilderland Garden Club to hold annual Greens Show at Mynderse-Fredrick House

The annual Open House and Greens Show at the historic Mynderse-Fredrick House, located at 451 Main St. in Guilderland Center, will kick off on Friday, Dec. 5, from 4 to 8 p.m. The show continues through the weekend and is open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 6 and 7.

Survey highlights holiday spending habits

Siena Research Institute finds seasonal spending stable, gifts more practical

Siena Research Institute released its annual Statewide Poll of Holiday Spending on Monday, Nov. 24, which was conducted from Nov. 3 to 17. Approximately 59 percent of the shoppers surveyed are planning to spend about the same as last year.

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Voorheesville Elementary honored

School celebrates Blue Ribbon designation

There aren’t many times someone can say they’re having a blue day while sporting a big smile, but that’s exactly what Voorheesville Elementary School Principal Thomas Reardon recently did.

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Voorheesville fills school board vacancy

Board of Education appoints newcomer, who plans to run for full term

School board members appointed a local attorney to fill the vacancy created after a recent resignation, which comes as the board gears up to make some big decisions.

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Guilderland seeks solutions for schools

District projects $129k budget gap next year, while focusing on long-term vision

School district leaders again sought community input before budget deliberations begin, but this year, residents had new insight on the excess capacity of its buildings.

County nursing home set for nearly $2.5M in fixes

Several modernizations and improvements are scheduled for the Albany County Nursing Home, which will be bonded over the next two years for a total of $2.456 million.

New Scotland OKs $7.2M budget within tax cap

Spending plan holds 1.94 percent property levy tax increase

Town Board members adopted next year’s budget totaling almost $7.23 million, which stays within the tax cap while tapping about $70,000 less from fund balances.

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It’s a wonder

Voorheesville Middle School Drama Club to present a musical twist on a classic this weekend

Two years ago, Stefanie DeFronzo took a summer workshop at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham and played the white queen in the musical “Wonderland.”

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The man behind the wimpy kid

Author of popular series talks to Guilderland students

Three years after trying to get syndicated and years after the first draft was sketched out, a wimpy kid finally got his time in the spotlight. That light is still shining, too.

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Cumberland Farms rezone gets the OK

Guilderland Town Board will vote on change for Route 20 property, tied to DOT follow up review

Town planners have clashed with developers of a proposed Cumberland Farms at a busy intersection, but a compromise was reached to allow for the rezone.

Guilderland Central School District calls for bids on upgrades

Capital improvements proceed through fog of building study

Capital improvements totaling more than $17 million are proceeding as planned, despite uncertainty over whether Guilderland school district will continue using all its buildings.

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Hess wheels in its history [photo gallery]

Toy Truck Mobile Museum stops in Slingerlands, showcases its 50-year history

Fascination over Hess’ toy trucks seemed to hold an ageless appeal at a recent and rare showing of the entire collection.

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