Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To a great example. The Amsterdam-Gloversville-Johnstown branch of the American Association of University Women hosted the 14th Sister-to-Sister event. That itself deserves a loud cheer. This year’s theme for middle school girls was science and technology. Not that long ago, girls received little encouragement to pursue higher-level math and science courses in high school or beyond, but with today’s technologies touching every aspect of a person’s life, advance knowledge in these areas can be an exciting goal in a young woman’s life. Those attending the summit heard firsthand from a local professional engineer – a woman who was educated locally, graduated from college, went on to get her engineering degree and returned home and secured a professional position in our region. The organizers of this year’s successful event couldn’t have chosen a better person than Chandra Casline Cotter, Johnstown’s city engineer, to speak and interact with tomorrow’s leaders. Thanks to our local AAUW for once again providing this opportunity to challenge and build confidence.

JEERS – To a proposed law. You just knew it was going to happen. Two New York state lawmakers, Assemblyman David Wepin, D-Fresh Meadows, and Sen. Toby Stavisky, D-Flushing, have presented a bill that would prohibit smoking in cars in which minors younger than 14 are passengers. If passed, drivers in volation of the law would be fined $100. The need for this apparently has nothing to do with safe driving, but with secondhand smoke. With all the laws involving driving a vehicle, law enforcement soon may be able to simply sit on the corner, pull over car after car and fill the state’s coffers with fine money.

CHEERS – To community spirit. In March, Johnstown Mayor Sarah Slingerland appointed a six-member committee and pledged $1,000 to ensure Main Street once again would feel the beat of the drums in a Memorial Day parade. Friday night, to the delight of many, it happened. In our area, the Johnstown parade was the kick-off to a weekend of Memorial Day events. On Monday, it is Gloversville’s turn to wow spectators with its popular Memorial Day parade, thanks to the efforts of Robert Perrella and Linda Bullock’s organizing committee. To all participants, thank you for making this a great day for all who enjoy the fruits of your work.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To reaching out. We have always had a disdain for the act of vandalism in our own community and elsewhere. In neighboring Saratoga County, just days before a state rowing meet where more than 3,000 high school students will compete, someone decided it was necessary to slice a number of buoys that are key to the competition. We have no idea how representatives from our own Taylor Made Products heard about the vandalism, but they did and are helping by donating a buoy for each one that was destroyed. One of the coaches involved said, “He [a person from Taylor Made] just saw it and said, ‘I’m in a position to help.'” Thank you, Taylor Made, for reflecting the compassionate people in our region.

JEERS – To being the highest. According to a recent report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy, western New York property owners pay the state’s highest effective tax rate, which includes school district, municipal and county tax rates. That may not surprise you, but you may be surprised to hear the city paying the highest property tax rates found in any city in New York state – excluding New York City – is Gloversville. The effective rate is $52.40 per $1,000. For the median home in Gloversville valued at $70,600, the owner pays $3,699 in school, county and city taxes, the report says. All candidates for the upcoming local elections need to have a plan of action as a top priority. Forget all the polished words and politicking, leaders need to lower the tax burden in Gloversville before it’s too late.

CHEERS -?To 98. That’s the number of local high school students who took advantage of the Early Admissions Program at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. This opportunity gives high school students an option to study at the college on a part-time or full-time basis. A real vote of confidence should be given to them for making such an investment in their education and realizing the value it will hold for them. There are some superb students in our region.

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Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To an excellent choice. As a part of Law Day, each year, the Fulton County Bar Association awards the Liberty Bell to a person who gives of himself or herself to community service. The selection of the Rev. R.W. Williams is a true reflection of what the award stands for. Some may think community service automatically comes with his chosen profession. That is not the case. As with anyone, his community service comes after his “job” and includes serving as chaplain at the Mountain Valley Hospice, working with the Fulton County Mental Health Crisis Prevention program and the sounds of his voice on the airwaves of radio station WENT-AM. Congratulations, the Rev. Williams.

JEERS – A sad reality. In the May 4, 2000, edition of The Leader-Herald, a headline read, “Pastor’s vision of new church a reality.” The story said the Rev. Robert A. Lair had a vision in which hundreds of members the Church of God of Prophecy would meet in the former First United Methodist Church in Bleecker Square. The Church of God of Prophecy of New York had purchased this beautiful piece of architecture in April 2000. Unfortunately, that vision has become an eyesore where there should be a perfect downtown setting for Gloversville. It’s a shame; this should not have happened. Today, 13 years later, the former stained-glass windows are plywood, and the spots where the plywood has come apart are entrances for pigeons. There have been legal actions and court orders, but the eyesore remains.

CHEERS -?To the White House. Not the one in Washington, D.C., but the building at Knox Field that 10 years ago became home to the Johnstown School Museum. Thanks to the vision and energies of many in 2003 – including William Pollak, Kathryn Zayjicek, Phil Conner, Noel Levee, school administrators and the Knox Foundation – thousands have walked through the door and into rooms filled with interesting history. Ten years ago, we encouraged people from this region and beyond to explore the rich history of the city and its school district by visiting the museum. If you haven’t visited, the good news is you still can.

JEERS – To spreading the negative word. Some people found it necessary to place a quirky local news story on Internet sites that accelerated the process for it to “go viral.” The charges surrounding the “turf war” between two local ice cream vendors put those of us who live here in an unwelcome light. The instant, widespread publicity this story garnered reflects the power of today’s electronic media, but may we suggest those who make something go viral pick a news story that gives our area the positive recognition it deserves?

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