Cheers and jeers

JEERS – To not taking a vote. There may be no study on building a highway from Thruway Exit 28 in Fultonville to Route 30A near the Johnstown Industrial Park. The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday allowed a resolution for the study to die after no supervisor would sponsor it. Montgomery County wouldn’t have had to pay anything for the study, but its approval was needed because both it and Fulton County – which would have paid for the full local cost of the study – would have entered a joint application for the study’s funding. The supervisors apparently felt members of the public who attended the meeting and voiced concerns about the proposal knew more than they did. The fact is that many of the safety and traffic complaints about the proposed highway were based on conjecture. It is difficult to believe not one Montgomery County supervisor was willing to support a study that carried no cost for the county. Perhaps that is the case, but in our opinion, it should have at least been officially brought to the floor, with a vote taken and recorded. That is their job.

CHEERS – To moving forward. The city of Johnstown decided not to be involved in a Fulton County capital project to pursue grant money to complete the city’s end of the ongoing Rail Trail project. The city was going to be part of the county’s project to complete the trail. However, the city’s lack of participation is not going to stop the county from moving ahead. While we respect Johnstown’s decision based on what city officials feel would be financial restraints for the city, it is difficult to understand how in June a $63,165 trail-related contract was approved. That contract was for an engineering firm to do design work to repair existing parts of the trail. The Rail Trail should be completed and maintained – it is an asset for our community.

JEERS – To pure neglect. Two Amsterdam residents, Michael Murray and Jodiann McLeod, have been arrested and are facing animal cruelty charges brought by the Amsterdam Police Department. On Sunday, an emaciated female dog was found wandering Amsterdam’s streets and in need of emergency attention. Police said the puppy was diagnosed with a severe case of malnutrition; the puppy should have weighed 40 to 45 pounds, but only weighed 24 pounds. In the midst of this horrific act of neglect, we need to acknowledge the good people, like those at the Country Valley Veterinary Clinic who are caring for the physical and emotional needs of the dog.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To cleaning up. Many cheers to the Gloversville and Johnstown police departments, New York State Police, Community Narcotics Enforcement and Special Response Teams, all of which took part this week in local drug raids and the arrests of seven suspects. Gloversville Police Chief Donald VanDeusen’s statement after the arrests was on the mark: “Taking these people off the street is important to us because not only does it enhance the quality of life for the neighborhoods which they are living in and dealing in by getting rid of them, but it also eliminates their behind-the-scenes actions of intimidation and violence that they use to continue their efforts in the drug trade.”

JEERS – To unnecessary hurdles. The Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Sewer Board apparently needs to be reminded it’s a public entity, and therefore, the vast majority of its information should easily be accessible to the public. The Fulton County Board of Supervisors hired a company to design a system to possibly consolidate water and sewer services within the county. The sewer board decided the sewer plant will not release any more information to the “SMART Waters” system consultant without permission of both cities’ common councils and mayors. Sewer board member Kevin Jones – director of the Gloversville Department of Public Works – said the consultant was told by his city to file state Freedom of Information Law requests with the city clerk’s office. Jones said that’s a “reasonable” process for the sewer plant to follow as well. Forcing the consultant to file FOIL requests is a waste of time and an unnecessary hurdle.

JEERS – To the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Last weekend, the Toyota Bassmaster Weekend Series took place in the Great Sacandaga Lake. Last weekend may be the last time the tournament will take place there, thanks to the state. Businesses and people who were positively affected by the tournament can send notes to the DEC to express “gratitude” for fees charged for the tournament’s use of the state’s Northampton Beach and for the long turnaround time in providing the organizers with a permit. The tournament’s manager, Joe Angelone, told a newspaper the lake is a great place for fishing, but the tournament won’t be coming back for at least four years.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To allowing no barriers. Town of Broadalbin Code Enforcement Officer David Edwards recently received a complaint from resident Russell Dickson regarding the lack of fencing around an in-ground swimming pool on the property of Dickerson’s neighbor, Joe DiGiacomo. The code officer did his job, assessing the situation and issuing a citation to DiGiacomo, who is the town of Broadalbin supervisor. Edwards did the right thing, even if it puts him in an awkward situation. The supervisor’s failure to realize for 15 years a fence was required is a bit hard to believe. The state regulations are clear.

CHEERS – To respecting the Constitution. U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin’s ruling the controversial New York City law known as “stop and frisk” is unconstitutional should be regarded with respect. Law enforcement may need a way to be able to detain or pat down a suspicious person, but this must be done without violating constitutional rights. In her ruling, the judge said the program amounted to “indirect racial profiling” by targeting blacks and Hispanics disproportionate to their populations. Authorities must balance public safety and preservation of people’s rights and freedoms carefully.

JEERS – To a lack of civility. During election season, we often see a degree of vandalism and theft of political signs. It’s happened already in the Gloversville mayoral race. A billboard placed by candidate Mike Ponticello was defaced in such an inappropriate, disgusting manner that we chose not to publish any photo of it. Whoever was responsible for the deed joins a group of degenerates who continue to blacken the image of our area with vandalism. We hope the culprits are foolish enough to brag about what they did. If they are caught, we suggest authorities not only level criminal charges, but put the perpetrators’ images on a billboard for all to see.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To a collective effort. Two organizations – Historic Fort Plain and Canajoharie’s Historic West Hill School Committee – agreed to merge their operations under the name Mohawk Valley Collective. The group aims to preserve two historic buildings and promote the area’s tourism and development. Today, the group is celebrating the grand opening of its new Tourism Information Center at 89 Church St. in downtown Canajoharie. The grand opening is part of a community festival to raise money for flood victims in Fort Plain. The Mohawk Valley Collective is a new group worthy of support.

JEERS – To wasteful spending. According to the state comptroller, the New York Power Authority has a private plane for employee travel and has pilots and travel agents on staff. Meanwhile, the public utility pays a third of its 1,636 employees more than $100,000 a year and offers them access to the state retirement system. The authority disputes some of the comptroller’s findings, but this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about public authorities spending heavily and paying exorbitant salaries. The public should take notice.

CHEERS – To a helping hand. Sometimes, state government provides valuable assistance to localities. We were pleased to see the state offering a hand to Fulton County recently regarding the Rail Trail, a paved walking and biking trail over the former FJ &G Railroad bed. The state is offering to take over the county’s effort to acquire rights-of-way needed to help complete the Rail Trail. The state Department of Transportation says it could maneuver through federal and state acquisition procedures more quickly than the county. The Rail Trail adds to the quality of life in Fulton County. We’d like to see the incomplete sections finally get finished.

CHEERS – To setting the record straight. For many years, a state historical marker in front of the former Fulton County Jail on East Montgomery Street touted that George Washington came to the site. Problem is, he actually never did. On Tuesday, Fulton County and Johnstown officials dedicated a new marker that says the site was visited by another famous figure – French aristocrat and military officer Gen. Lafayette. It’s important to record history accurately.

Cheers and jeers

CHEERS – To helping businesses. Unless you have been a victim of a horrific act of Mother Nature, you can’t fully understand the emotional and financial trauma associated with what people in Montgomery County experienced. The Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce is taking action to help businesses that are facing the loss of revenues, loss of inventory and the mounting cost of repair by creating a relief fund that will be available to qualified businesses in flood-damaged areas. We can all help in getting our neighbors back to business by sending a donation to the Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The moneys raised will help, but there is one more step needed to ensure local businesses get back on their feet when they are open: Patronize them.

JEERS – To two weeks. A simple question: Why did it take two weeks to learn about an act of vandalism and signs of possible theft at the former Tryon Detention Center, which Fulton County plans to turn into a business park? Making the public aware of crimes can help law-enforcement solve them. Sometimes, people can offer helpful information when they know about a crime. If it weren’t for the situation needing to be brought to the attention of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors, the public still may not have known about it. The description of the crime sounds like the perpetrators knew exactly what they wanted: copper. During these past two weeks, action has been taken to improve security at the “soon-to-be” property of the county. Officials were aware of the criminal act, but the public wasn’t notified.

CHEERS – To a strike-down. It seems New York City’s Board of Health, aka Mayor Michael Bloomberg, won’t be sending out sugar patrols, at least not for now. The halt comes from a unanimous opinion from a four-judge panel of the state Supreme Court Appellate Division. The judges rules the city’s Board of Health exceeded its legal authority and acted unconstitutionally when it banned 16-ounce soft drinks. The mayor says he will appeal the decision.

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