Police: Colonie man arrested with gun, threatened to shoot people

COLONIE – A Colonie man has been arrested on weapons possession counts after reports he threatened to shoot people, Colonie police said.

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Seth I. Buess, 32, of Colonie, was arrested late Sunday morning and charged with second-degree and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm, felonies. He also faces one misdemeanor count of criminal trespass.

The incident began at about 11 a.m. when police responded to a report in the area of Maria Drive of someone armed with a handgun threatening to shoot people, police said.

Officers soon found Buess near the Christ Our Light Catholic Church on Maria Drive. Upon seeing officers, Buess fled on foot. Officers gave chase and soon found him in a nearby residential back yard and took him into custody. Officers also soon located a loaded handgun they believe he discarded in the same back yard, police said.

Just prior to officers arriving, Buess had been involved in an argument at a nearby residence and left on foot, police said.

Buess was arraigned and ordered held pending bail. 

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Colonie Police investigators at 518-783-2754.

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Wednesday morning fire displaces six in Schenectady

SCHENECTADY – A Wednesday morning fire sent one person to Albany Medical Center, according to information at the scene.

The person was taken for treatment of smoke inhalation, according to the information.

The fire was reported shortly after 8 a.m. on Union Avenue.

Fire could be seen on the first floor and smoke billowed out of the front window.

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Lack of players sidelines B-P football for third straight week

BROADALBIN — Since it began, the season has been a struggle for the Broadalbin-Perth football team.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, those struggles continue.

For the third straight week, Broadalbin-Perth will be sidelined by a lack of available players and will forfeit this week’s Class B North Division home game with Hudson Falls.

“It’s been an interesting week here. Unfortunately, we will not have enough players to play this week’s game,” Broadalbin-Perth coach Jim Pelneau said. “However, we are getting a few players back from injury and quarantine, and are hopeful to have one more game next week.”

If the Patriots can return to the field, it will be their first game since a 46-14 loss to Gloversville on Oct. 8 in its homecoming game at Patriot Field.

Since that game, injuries and quarantines have forced Broadalbin-Perth to cancel a home game with Lansingburgh on Oct. 15 and last Saturday’s road game at Glens Falls.

After starting its season with just 22 players on its varsity roster and no junior varsity team, Broadalbin-Perth was forced to cancel its Week 0 game with Fonda-Fultonville on Sept. 3. After losing its opener, Broadalbin-Perth was able to play its next five contests without interruption.

The Patriots lost their first three games to Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk (32-7), Green Tech (12-7) and Mohonasen (42-13) before posting a 35-34 victory at Scotia-Glenville on Oct. 1. The following week’s contest with Gloversville marked Broadalbin-Perth’s last time on the field, a game that saw the Patriots begin the game with just 17 players – one above the 16-player minimum to start a game.

Broadalbin-Perth had planned to honor its seven seniors — Hayden Benton, Noah Bott, Sean Helfrich, Aiden Mussen, Patrick Pohl, Justin Rosario and Matthew Dunn — prior to this week’s game during senior night festivities.

“This season has been the most challenging I can remember as we navigate through with the low numbers we have,” Pelneau said. “The players have kept up hope to get another game in, and I hope we get one more shot to play and end the season on the field, especially for our seniors.”

If they are able to compete next week, the Patriots will learn their crossover opponent Sunday.

Including forfeits, B-P is 1-7 overall and 1-3 in Class B North Division play this season.

ENDORSEMENT: West best to take Saratoga Springs into the future

As they did to many cities, COVID and the racial-justice movement of the past 18 months delivered some body blows to Saratoga Springs, with BLM protests and clashes with police, trouble in the popular Caroline Street corridor and economic struggles due to the shutdown.

City residents are clamoring for an experienced, steady hand who understands with workings of City Hall, the needs of businesses, the challenges of dealing with the city’s homeless problem, and an understanding of what makes the city tick.

Among the three individuals running for mayor on Nov. 2, Heidi Owen West has the best handle of all on the obligations and limitations of the mayor’s office in the city’s unusual commission form of government.

West, for instance, is cognizant that businesses often have trouble navigating the sometimes complex rules and regulations. For that, she plans to appoint a business liaison to help businesses negotiate the labyrinth so they can operate and thrive.

She can use her business and management experience effectively to promote business through the planning, zoning and community development offices.

Another area under the mayor’s control is recreation. She said she plans to build upon the success of the city Recreation Department by expanding after-school and summer programming, increasing adult recreational opportunities and finding new space for new programming.

She’s got practical ideas for addressing the city’s homeless problem, in part through making more services available to those who need it through a drop-in center.

There are other problems beyond the mayor’s purview, including the controversial police matters and the Caroline Street problems. But from her role as the city’s mayor, West could provide guidance and coordination needed to resolve the issues.

Her opponents are longtime city businessman and former city Public Safety commissioner Ron Kim and current Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton.

Both have strengths that they would bring to the mayor’s office, including business acumen. But Kim’s ideas for a security area around the entertainment district and his planned active role in public safety matters demonstrates he may try to exceed his authority as mayor, further contributing to existing conflicts and division in the city.

Dalton also had some good solutions to city issues, including the homeless problem. But her questionable management of the city police response to the Caroline Street and BLM issues and her failure to be honest about her bankruptcy leave us with concerns about her ability to effectively manage the mayor’s office.

Of the three candidates, Heidi Owen West has the demeanor, experience and management skills to best serve the city as mayor.

Voters should cast their vote for West on Nov. 2.

Letters to the Editor Wednesday, Oct. 27

Vote no on partisan ballot Proposal 1

No doubt, you may remember learning about redistricting: The process of using census data once a decade to redraw legislative lines to reflect population changes.
Redistricting impacts our communities in every way.
History has shown that too often, legislative districts are carved up to benefit the party in power. Rather than drawing districts based on commonalities, legislative leaders engage in packing and stacking voters to protect partisan agendas.
The good news is unlike in past years when politicians drew those lines, more than 2 million New Yorkers voted in 2014 to give that responsibility to a new “Independent Redistricting Commission.”
This commission relies on input from citizens—not politicians—to decide how to divide districts while ensuring communities are fairly represented.
Unfortunately, the downstate-driven party bosses slipped onto this November’s ballot a constitutional amendment (Proposition 1) to roll this back.
If passed, it would continue to take New York in the wrong direction that’s led to the exodus from our state and impact our area’s balanced representation.
Redistricting shouldn’t be about what’s best for Democrats or Republicans but what is best for all New Yorkers.
I agree with the League of Women Voters and The Gazette Editorial Board: Vote “no” on Proposition 1.
Sen. Jim Tedisco
Glenville
The writer represents the 49th District in the state Senate.

Look deeper into politicians’ records

Claire Pelletier-Hoblock, in the Stefanik cheerleader’s Oct. 24 letter (“Stefanik brings home bacon to her district”), she inadvertently underscores the problem with politics in our country: We can ignore the record of our representatives as long as they line our pockets while they line theirs and strive for power.
As a people, do we look at whether a politician has worked for the benefit of all Americans? Have they followed his or her oath to support the Constitution of the United States? Have they offered solutions to problems, or just railed against the other party?
Where was Stefanik when the insurrection was orchestrated by the president in an attempt to retain power notwithstanding the popular vote? Has she condemned that attack on our Constitution? Or has she kissed the rings of the enablers who attacked the Republican watchdog of the Constitution, Liz Cheney, in order to replace her?
Many of these folks who blindly support their own representatives call for term limits. Apparently, that’s for other politicians, not our own, as long as they pay us off by “bringing home the bacon,” political slush funds of our tax dollars designed for the elected official to retain power.
The powerful Sen. McConnell, for example, brings his state far more money than his state tenders in federal taxes. He has no answers, just obstruction.
The fundamental term limit is the ability to vote. But that requires hard work. We must look at actual voting records, proposals to benefit all Americans, and whether that politician has taken his or her oath of office seriously.
Bruce S. Trachtenberg
Niskayuna

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Two Cuomos running for office. Neither is Andrew

Cuomo is running for a seat on the Schenectady County Legislature. He’s also running unopposed for a council seat in the town of Root.

We’re not talking about former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned from office this August after probes of a slew of sexual harassment allegations left him likely to be impeached.

No, we’re talking about two local Republicans who share no relation to each other or the former governor, other than a common surname. Yet even at a time when the ex-governor’s approval rating stands at 33% favorable and 60% unfavorable with New York state voters, according to Siena College’s most recent polling, sharing a last name isn’t likely to have much impact on the outcome of local elections, says Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.

“I believe that in local races, the voters – and we know we don’t get huge turnout in odd-year elections – I believe that those voters who turn out know the candidates,” he said. “I don’t think in local races having that name is likely to hurt them, nor is there any chance it’ll help them.”

Yet using the famous name you were born with may be worth a try. Joshua Cuomo, who is running for the District 4 seat of the Schenectady County Legislature, has used his surname playfully on his yard signs. He said about 300 have been placed around the district, which includes the towns of Duanesburg, Princetown, Rotterdam and the village of Delanson.

His signs say, “The Right Cuomo.” Josh Cuomo says the name has largely helped him gain interest from voters, especially as a newcomer to politics who is facing incumbents Holly Vellano and Randy Pascarella.

“It generates a lot of talk and a lot of buzz,” he said. “It piques people’s interest.”

He said the signs have inspired some voters to look him up and learn more about his platform. Josh Cuomo said his faith as a devout Christian guides much of his political beliefs.

“I don’t like the direction our country is going,” he said. “I’m seeing America get away from its core values.”

Josh Cuomo said he is pro-guns and an advocate for small businesses. His family owns Cuomo Country Pools in Duanesburg, and he said, in his community, where he has lived all of his life, voters are probably more likely to associate his last name with the family business than the ex-governor.

Dominic Cuomo in Root in Montgomery County also said he doesn’t see his last name affecting voters in town. He said people in Root simply know him too well, because he has lived there 20 years, has raised two daughters with his wife and is currently seeking his third term on the Town Council.

“I often hear, ‘You’re the Cuomo we like,’” he said.

Other than a name, Dominic Cuomo said he doesn’t share much in common with Andrew Cuomo, particularly when it comes to politics. Dominic Cuomo describes himself as a conservative-to-moderate thinker who prizes fiscal responsibility. The town largely shares Dominic Cuomo’s politics. It has 631 registered Democrats compared to 1,052 registered Republicans, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Still, Dominic Cuomo said he doesn’t hate the governor and maintains the belief that Andrew Cuomo’s ouster was politically motivated, with New York state Democrats not wanting Cuomo to be the face of the party.

“I wonder about the way he was pushed out. I can’t help but wonder if someone like Andrew just maybe wasn’t serving a purpose,” Dominic Cuomo said. “Maybe he was more of a drag on the Democratic party.”

During the early days of the pandemic, Gov. Cuomo was a mainstay on national television, boosting his profile as a fair governor unafraid to speak frankly about the state of Covid-19. If that positive reputation had remained, Dominic Cuomo said, perhaps, it would have made sense to play up his last name.

After all, names can matter in politics, according to Greenberg, the Siena pollster.

As an example, he offered the following polling data from the bid to be New York state’s Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Greenberg said Rob Astorino, a former Westchester County executive, has a favorability rate of 17% to 16% with a rate of 67% unknown. Lee Zeldin, the U.S. representative representing New York’s 1st District, has slightly more name recognition, with 64% unknown, and a 17% to 19% favorable-to-unfavorable rating. Meanwhile, Andrew Giuliani, son of the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has a 27% to 49% favorable-to-unfavorable rating, with an unknown rate of just 24%.

“There is no way on this planet that just about 75% of New Yorkers have an opinion of Andrew Giuliani and that it’s virtually 2-to-1 negative,” Greenberg said. “Our people on the phone said, do you have a favorable or unfavorable view of Andrew Giuliani, and those people – the vast majority of people who had an opinion, either favorable or unfavorable – didn’t hear ‘Andrew Giuliani,’ they heard ‘Rudy Giuliani.’”

Regardless of the impact a name can have on polling, Dominic Cuomo says he is going to keep answering the question of “Cuomo? Any relation?” the same way:

“No, I’m on the Republican side of the family.”

High schools: Waterford-Halfmoon advances in Section II Class C girls’ soccer tournament

Addyson Galuski had two goals and an assist, and Waterford-Halfmoon advanced Section II Class C girls’ soccer quarterfinals with a 4-1 victory over Lake George on Tuesday.

Mia O’Brien also scored twice for Waterford.

In another Class C quarterfinal, Katie Kohn had five goals and two assists as Schoharie defeated Stillwater 9-1. Haley Drinon added two goals and an assist.

Maple Hill scored two second-half goals to snap a 1-1 halftime tie and beat Hoosick Falls 3-1 Alayna Fletcher led the way for Maple Hill (16-1-1) with a goal and an assist.

Leah Valovic and Kaelin Thompson each scored twice as Northville defeated North Warren 7-0 in a Section II Class D girls’ soccer quarterfinal. Sophia Reidell added a goal and four assists for Northville (7-8-10), which will face OESJ in the semifinals at 4 p.m. Thursday at Gloversville High School.

In the Section II Class D boys’ soccer semifinals, Mason Snell scored twice, leading OESJ to a 4-2 victory over Loudonville Christian.

In the other semifinal, Connor Brockway scored late in the second overtime to give Argyle a 1-0 victory over Northville.

STILLWATER WINS WASAREN BOYS’ CROSS COUNTRY TITLE

Freshman Anthony Zazzaro finished first in 14:44.9 to help the Stillwater boys’ cross country team capture the Wasaren League title with 33 points, six more than runner-up Hoosic Valley.

Berlin won the girls’ championship with 35 points. The top runner was Hoosic Valley’s Sophia Squires in 16:56.2.

BOYS’ SOCCER
SECTION II TOURNAMENT
CLASS D SEMIFINALS
OESJ 4, LOUDONVILLE CHRISTIAN 2
Halftime score: OESJ led 1-0. Loudonville Christian scoring: Quadrini 2-0, Irish 0-2. OESJ scoring: M. Snell 2-0, A. Snell 1-1, Barnes 1-0. Goalies: Loudonville Christian: Keparutis, 15 saves. OESJ, Feagles, 8 saves.

ARGYLE 1, NORTHVILLE 0 (2OT)
Halftime: 0-0. Argyle scoring: Brockway 1-0. Northville scoring: None. Goalies: Argyle, Montello, 11 saves. Northville, VanNostrand, 5 saves.

GIRLS’ SOCCER
SECTION II TOURNAMENT
CLASS C QUARTERFINALS
MAPLE HILL 3, HOOSICK FALLS 1
Halftime score: 1-1. Hoosick Falls scoring: Perry 1-0. Maple Hill scoring: Fletcher 1-1, Hall 1-0, Hirschoff 1-0, Deso 0-1. Goalies: Hoosick Falls, Estes, 10 saves. Maple Hill, Szklenka, 4 saves.

SCHOHARIE 9, STILLWATER 1

Halftime score: Schoharie led 3-0. Stillwater scoring: Koval 1-0. Schoharie scoring: Krohn 5-2, Drinon 2-1, Sullivan 1-0, Ballard 1-0, Repscher 0-1. Goalies: Stillwater, Corraro, 10 saves. Schoharie, Bland, 13 saves.

WATERFORD-HALFMOON 4,
LAKE GEORGE 1
Halftime score: Waterford-Halfmoon led 2-1. Lake George scoring: Collier-Fisher 1-0, Frazier 0-1. Waterford-Halfmoon scoring: Galuski 2-1, O’Brien 2-0, McClement 0-1. Goalies: Lake George, Dean, 9 saves. Waterford-Halfmoon, Atwood 5, saves.

CLASS D QUARTERFINALS
NORTHVILLE 7, NORTH WARREN 0
Halftime score: Northville led 3-0. North Warren scoring: None. Northville scoring: Valovic 2-0, Thompson 2-0, Reidell 1-4, Edwards 1-0, Morgan 1-0. Goalies: North Warren, not reported. Northville, Monroe, 1 save.

BOYS’ CROSS COUNTRY
WASAREN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS
at Grafton Lake State Park
(2.75 miles)
Team scores: Stillwater 33, Hoosic Valley 39, Berlin 55, Mechanicville 91.
Individual results: Zaaaaro (S), 14:44.9; Clinton (Tamarac/Hoosick Falls), 14:59.0; Kalisz (B), 15:00.6; Sheldon (HV), 15:04.1; Patrick (S), 15:12.3; Kinnicut (HV), 15:19.0; Maleady (HV), 16:00.2; Lutz (S), 16:05.4; Kluck (B), 16:09.2; Ziehm (Greenwich), 16:13.2.

GIRLS’ CROSS COUNTRY
WASAREN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS
at Grafton Lake State Park
(2.75 miles)
Team scores: Berlin 35, Hoosic Valley 78, Greenwich 84, Emma Willard 85, Saratoga Catholic 118, Tamarac/Hoosick Falls 130, Mechanicville 145.
Individual results: Squires (HV), 16:56.2; Meizinger (B), 17:02.4; Czub (HV), 17:24.9; Cronin (SC), 17:35.7; Wright (G), 17:40.8; Locci (S), 17:43.4; Corbett (B), 17:49.2; Hanssen (S), 18:01.3; Giumarra (S), 18:17.8; Skiff (G), 18:20.5.

Mechanicville, Schalmont to meet in Friday’s Section II Class B girls’ soccer championship game

STILLWATER — For all of regulation, Broadalbin-Perth and Mechanicville battled to a scoreless tie Tuesday in the Section II Class B girls’ soccer semifinals.

Less than a minute into the night’s first overtime, Anna Izzo changed that.

With the ball in Broadalbin-Perth’s end of the field, Izzo — a Mechanicville freshman — was able to control a loose ball that Broadalbin-Perth was unable to clear and gave her team a lead seconds later.

“It kind of got stuck in my feet,” a smiling Izzo said, “and I just finished it. It was really cool.”

In the next overtime, Izzo pulled off another cool feat, as she registered another goal midway through the session to provide all the scoring in Mechanicville’s 2-0 win to advance to Friday’s championship game back at Stillwater High School. That game will pit Mechanicville against top-seeded Schalmont.

“We’re all just so happy and excited,” Izzo said.

“We deserved it,” said junior Olivia Horan, who made 15 saves in the shutout. “We’ve worked so hard all season, and this was a huge win.”

Broadalbin-Perth (No. 3, 14-3-2) and Mechanicville (No. 2, 12-3-3) played an entertaining first half, with scoring opportunities for both squads. The teams entered halftime, though, tied at 0. The second half brought more of the same, with both teams threatening to score, including Broadalbin-Perth in the final minute of regulation.

In between Mechanicville’s overtime goals that Bella Raucci assisted, Broadalbin-Perth registered multiple scoring chances, but Horan and the Mechanicville defense were able to maintain the shutout. Broadalbin-Perth head coach Rob Klug said he knew his team would “fight right until the end,” which proved correct.

“This group as a whole is one of the most well-rounded teams we’ve had in a long time,” Klug said. “Everyone played together. We had no superstars; we had players that would make big plays in big times, and they played together as a team from top to bottom.”

Mechanicville co-coach Karl Gerstenberger said his club knew not to let up after Izzo’s first goal.

“You’ve got to play the whole game. No matter what the score is, you’ve got to finish it out. We pound that into their heads all season,” said Gertsenberger, who coaches Mechanicville’s team along with Val D’Aloia. “Finish out. If you’re getting blown out, play strong. If you’re winning, play strong.”

After its dramatic win, D’Aloia said Mechanicville will make sure its ready for its chance at a Section II championship.

“We’re going to take a deep breath after tonight,” D’Aloia said. “We’ll refocus our energy, get back to our roots and make sure we’re prepared for our next battle.”

SCHALMONT SURGES

Down a goal at halftime, Schalmont made sure its season didn’t end Tuesday with a dominant second half against Holy Names in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Stillwater.

“We knew we had to come back and fight for it,” Schalmont senior Gabriela Amoroso said. “They came out to play, but we wanted that win.”

Senior Riley Taylor scored for Holy Names (No. 5, 12-5-0) in the 38th minute off an assist from sophomore Anna Nichols. Schalmont (No. 1, 17-2-0) head coach Ryan Fries said he’d cautioned his team before the game that the first half would be tough since the club from Rotterdam was heading into the evening’s strong wind.

Then, he reminded them at halftime the Sabres had the advantage in the second half.

“It’s a one-goal difference. It’s not a big deal,” Fries said he told his club at halftime. “You’ve got 40 minutes to play, and the wind is at your back.”

It didn’t take long for Schalmont to get going after halftime. The Colonial Council champions received a goal from Amoroso off an assist from junior Simone Cassano in the 42nd minute, then Cassano scored the go-ahead goal in the 60th minute off an assist from senior Gianna Viscusi.

Junior goalie Georgia Clark made 10 saves in the win, while Holy Names junior Sofia Pantoja had 15.

After no Section II girls’ soccer championships were contested during the 2020-21 academic year due to restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Tuesday’s wins for Mechanicville and Schalmont set up a rematch of the 2019 Section II Class B final. Schalmont won that year’s championship with a 3-1 win for its fourth area championship in five years.

MECHANICVILLE 2, BROADALBIN-PERTH 0 (2OT)

Halftime score: Tied 0-0. Broadalbin-Perth scoring: None. Mechanicville scoring: Izzo 2-0, Raucci 0-2. Goalies: Broadalbin-Perth, Mardsen, 9 saves. Mechanicville, Horan, 15 saves.

SCHALMONT 2, HOLY NAMES 1

Halftime score: Holy Names led 1-0. Holy Names scoring: Taylor 1-0, Nichols 0-1. Schalmont scoring: Amoroso 1-0, Cassano 1-1, Viscusi 0-1. Goalies: Holy Names, Pantoja, 15 saves. Schalmont, Clark, 10 saves.

Police: ‘Disturbing video’ leads to severely injured person in Schenectady; Multiple detained

SCHENECTADY – A “disturbing video” sent to Schenectady police by another agency Tuesday morning led to a severely injured person and the detention of multiple people for investigation, police said Tuesday afternoon.

The injured person was taken on to Albany Medical Center, where they were listed in critical condition, police said.

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The incident also led to lockouts at both William Keene School and Lincoln School, due to the nature of the incident and location, authorities said.

The city police response began at about 6:45 a.m. when city police were sent the video from another police agency downstate  “regarding an assault,” police said.

Police soon zeroed in on an address in the 1300 block of Albany Street, and had the two schools placed on lockout as a precaution, police said. The lockout lasted for about 45 minutes.

Albany Street was shut down in the area for a time, but has since reopened.

The scene remains active and the investigation remains ongoing, police said.

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Ballston Spa mayor quits, questions colleagues’ priorities; Village lawyer also resigns

BALLSTON SPA – Mayor Larry Woolbright tendered his resignation to the village clerk Monday, citing an increasingly fractured relationship with the Village Board of Trustees’ majority.

After the meeting, village attorney Stephanie Ferradino also submitted her resignation.

Both abrupt actions take effect at the end of business Friday.

Points of frustration Woolbright mentioned were the trustees recently overruling him in a 4-1 vote to spend $225,000 of the village’s surplus account on what the mayor said were nonessential items, rather than on basic priorities. 

Speaking for about 20 minutes from a prepared statement, Woolbright accused Trustee Liz Kormos of infringing on his authority by continuing to act unilaterally and implying that she represents the mayor and board. 

Woolbright then asserted Trustee Ben Baskin continually attempted to micromanage day-to-day operations of the village and its staff.

“My unproductive relationship with the Board of Trustees is the sole reason for this decision,” Woolbright said. “Since the March election, that relationship has become more strained and adversarial. The trustees block me at every turn, and their attitude towards community members and village staff is not always consistent with my idea of how the Village of Friends should operate.”

A Republican who was elected unopposed in 2019, Woolbright has two years remaining on his term. The board consists of four Democrats.

Woolbright said his priorities for the village didn’t align with trustees’, whom he said were focused on “niceties” amid the village’s problems providing basic services.

“In my opinion, we as a village are still in damage control mode,” he said. “We need two or three times our current fund balance [of $2.5 million] before I will feel secure about our future.” 

Woolbright said he prioritized the village’s financial health, along with water and sewer infrastructure, streets, equipment and buildings. 

The mayor said he wanted to make sure drinking water is safe while preventing sewers from backing up into residents’ basements. 

He said he wants residents to be able to get to the grocery store after a snowstorm, and that they have ample fire and police protection.

Woolbright said the village also needs places for its employees to work and store equipment.

In contrast, the mayor said, fellow board members’ priorities appear to be on bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, street trees and parks, which Woolbright said he wasn’t opposed to, but as lower priorities.

“I’m a walker,” Woolbright said. “Sidewalks and crosswalks are important to me. My wife is a cyclist. Bike lanes are important to me. I have a Ph.D in ecology. I certainly do not hate trees. And I’m a gardener who loves to spend time in parks.

“But what I’m saying is that these things are not the highest priorities for the village in its current circumstance.”

Kormos said her intention wasn’t to offend Woolbright, while Baskin said he appreciated what Woolbright brought to the position and accomplished.

Trustee Shawn Raymond, who wasn’t mentioned during Woolbright’s comments, said he would have liked for the mayor to make his feelings known sooner, and he saluted Woolbright for doing an “amazing job.”

Woolbright said his criticisms didn’t apply to Trustee Christine Fitzpatrick, whom he referred to as a “model trustee” and “great village servant” whose leadership and abilities in records management, health insurance and other employee benefits, labor negotiations and COVID-19 response were to be commended. 

“She is the only one of the four who consistently asked me what she can do to help and then does it,” Woolbright said.

Woolbright won unopposed in 2019 and succeeded John Romano, who retired from village politics after 28 years.

Woolbright ran on a platform of wanting to solve the village’s financial crisis, which he said he accomplished. 

“In addition to closing the books and filing the mandatory state reports for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020,” Woolbright said, “I have also taken the village from a $300,000 deficit to a $2.5 surplus – $200,000 of which was taken as income in the current year for use on the Village Hall project.” 

Woolbright said he improved the village’s financial circumstances while keeping tax increases minimal, doubling the village’s paving budget and advocating for thousands of extra dollars to replace obsolete equipment. 

“The board’s had no hand in this, other than approving my budgets and approving the expenditures,” Woolbright said. 

The mayor took exception to Kormos’ recent comments about the village’s surplus fund being excessive. The board member had also said there was a need to “rein” in Woolbright.

Woolbright said: “When you have a water tank that the state has told you needs to be replaced at a cost of $2 million, a 100-year-old sewer system that experiences sewer line breaks multiple times a year, 35-year-old vehicles, and buildings that are falling apart I do not think that $2.5 million is an excessive surplus.”

Woolbright said the board had also been an obstacle in his efforts to redevelop Ballston Spa’s downtown, which is plagued by vacant parcels and abandoned or underused buildings.

In 2019, the mayor launched an economic development planning process that involved hundreds of residents and gave the village a blueprint for its downtown.

The process drew in directors of state development programs, both to meet with property owners, and to hear pitches from Woolbright about Ballston Spa’s potential as a good place to invest state resources. 

Woolbright said at least five “major regional developers” called asking for tours of the downtown and to discuss goals. 

But Woolbright said the board refused to consider his request to update its zoning code so that it would be helpful to the property owners who were trying to develop their properties. 

As a fallback, Woolbright said he asked Ferradino, the village attorney, to draft enabling legislation that would have allowed developers to propose concepts that might not fully comply with village zoning.

The proposals would have been subject to approval by trustees.

“The board refused to consider that and then brought forward a proposal for a moratorium on development,” Woolbright said, incredulously. 

“Fortunately, community outrage prevented it from being adopted. However, it certainly undid most of my work in convincing the property owners that we wanted to support them in developing their commercial properties and to outsiders who no longer believe that Ballston Spa is open for business and a good place to invest their money,” he said. 

Ultimately, the board adopted the enabling legislation.

But trustees refused to let Ferradino, who was on retainer, put together the legislation for free, and hired another lawyer, which was another point of contention for the mayor. 

Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.

 

Longtime Amsterdam newsman Sam Zurlo, part of local history, dies

AMSTERDAM — Sam Zurlo became a part of local history while covering the city and Mohawk Valley for decades as a long-time reporter for The Daily Gazette and hosting a radio show on WCSS.

“He was there as the mills moved out covering that story … He covered the creation of the downtown mall and reconstruction of Amsterdam in the 70s and 80s,” recalled Bob Cudmore, local historian and former radio host.

Zurlo’s career as a newspaper reporter and radio personality spanned over 60 years. He got his start in radio at a small station in Lumberton, North Carolina in 1953 before entering the Army and working for Armed Forces Radio. Following his service, he returned to his hometown of Amsterdam and worked at WCSS.

Zurlo became a reporter for The Daily Gazette in the Amsterdam bureau in 1958 and remained with the paper until his retirement in early 1993. Yet, he continued working in radio until retiring from WCSS at the end of 2017.

Zurlo, who was described definitively as “the reporter” by former colleagues, died on Monday at age 90.

“When I came to the paper in 1976, Sam was sort of a legend up the Mohawk Valley. He was ensconced in Amsterdam,” said Jim McGuire, former Daily Gazette reporter covering Fulton County. “He probably covered the Mohawk Valley better than anybody who ever claimed to be a reporter. It was a lot of fun to work with him.”

Stephen Williams, who retired from The Daily Gazette in June, first met Zurlo while working as a cub reporter at The Recorder. Although Zurlo was technically a competitor, Williams remembers the seasoned senior reporter was generous in sharing his hard-earned knowledge.

“I was coming from out of state and knew nothing about Amsterdam. Sam was very patient and kind in answering my questions. He was definitely easy to get along with and good to young reporters. I drew encouragement from Sam at a point when I’m sure I needed it,” Williams said.

There are no hard feelings for all the times Zurlo beat the newcomers to The Recorder to a story.

“We were constantly getting scooped by Sam, but they were very good scoops. He sat through all the school board and city council meetings. He knew the inner workings of the Amsterdam city council like nobody else,” Williams said. “No matter where you went, it seemed like Sam was already there.”

Zurlo seemed to know everyone and enjoyed connecting with people during his career in radio, Cudmore recalled.

“He stayed in touch with a lot of people, would help them out and offer advice and information,” Cudmore said. “I think anybody you talk to will say Sam was approachable, he was honest and was really kind of a joy to know. He really made the world a better place for having been in it.”

By all accounts, Zurlo was a consummate professional who treated callers, sources and anyone he encountered with respect. Although he never shied away from telling the whole story.

“He would try to find out the motivations of people. He was not afraid to speak truth to power. He wasn’t afraid to confront the different political leaders over the years about what they were doing and why,” Cudmore said.

Zurlo’s sources never dried up, McGuire said, because of the way he treated them.

“I had enormous respect for Sam. It’s only grown over the years as I progressed through journalism and I realized the amount of dedication he had to put into it to make it his lifelong work,” Williams said.

U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-Amsterdam, expressed sadness on hearing about the death of the long-time reporter who covered him throughout his political career from its beginning on the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.

“Sam effectively informed and inspired people through the media as a news reporter and a talk show host. He provided a stage through which people could share their concerns and comments—always leading with respect and dignity, never serving to deny or divide the community but always building the area he called home with intense passion. That passion will be sorely missed,” Tonko said in a prepared statement.

Sam Zurlo walks in downtown Amsterdam in 1984. Provided

While acquiring a deep knowledge of the city throughout his long career, Mayor Michael Cinquanti said Zurlo became a part of local history.

“No one could surpass Sam’s knowledge of all aspects of our city,” Cinquanti said.

His voice was also a part of everyday life for many city dwellers during his time at WCSS.

“As soon as he said good morning Amsterdam, everybody knew who was there he didn’t have to say this was Sam Zurlo,” Cinquanti said. “He was a local treasure.”

For every resident who felt they knew Zurlo after listening to him over the airwaves for years, Diane Keller, his daughter, said they more or less did.

“He was pretty much an open book,” Keller said.

Keller herself was a frequent listener from her home in Connecticut, streaming the radio show online during its later years.

“What a special thing to be able to start your day listening to your dad who is 175 miles away from where you live, but still being able to hear him and start your day like that. It was one of my favorite things,” Keller said.

Listeners and readers might not have known of her father’s sense of humor taking in his work. Or the amount of effort he put into researching various subjects to be able to have an informed discussion.

“He knew a little bit or sometimes a lot about everything. At night he would say he was going to do his homework. He would research things so he was well versed the next day so he could have an intelligent conversation,” Keller said.

Although he spent much of his career working multiple jobs to provide for his wife and kids, Keller said family was always the priority for Zurlo. He was married to his wife, Harriet, for 65 years until his death. They had three children: James Zurlo, Debbie Clements and Keller.

“He was the most amazing father, there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for any of us three kids. He was hard-working, sometimes working three jobs to make sure we were never wanting,” Keller said. “It didn’t matter if you called in the middle of the night, if you had a problem Dad was always there he was 100 % your supporter.”

Zurlo was home for dinner most nights, often coming home from the office before heading back out to cover a meeting. In the morning, he would see his children off to school. Despite the long hours, he always maintained a positive attitude.

“I never heard him talk negatively,” Keller said. “He did work so hard and never complained.”

Keller said he made his children’s significant others feel a part of the family and was delighted to welcome his grandchildren.

“His family was his pride and joy from his children to his grandchildren. Now he has a great-grandchild,” Keller said. “That was like the cherry on top for him.”

“He was a wonderful man,” she added. “He was one in a million.”

A concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial will be held for Zurlo on Friday at 11:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church at 111 Third Ave., Tribes Hill. Burial with military honors will follow at 2:30 p.m. at Gerald B.H. Solomon, Saratoga National Cemetery.

Relatives and friends are invited and may call prior to the Mass beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the church. Masks are required. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Zurlo’s memory may be made to the Foundation of the Montgomery County Office for Aging.

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.