All 3 men charged in Arbery’s death convicted of murder

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Jurors on Wednesday convicted the three white men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the Black man who was chased and fatally shot while running through their neighborhood in an attack that became part of the larger national reckoning on racial injustice.

The convictions for Greg McMichael, son Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan came after jurors deliberated for about 10 hours. The men face minimum sentences of life in prison. It is up to the judge to decide whether that comes with or without the possibility of parole.

Travis McMichael stood for the verdict, his lawyer’s arm around his shoulder. At one point, McMichael lowered his head to his chest. After the verdicts were read, as he stood to leave, he mouthed “love you” to his mother, who was in the courtroom.

Moments after the verdicts were announced, Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., was seen crying and hugging supporters outside the courtroom.

“He didn’t do nothing,” the father said, “but run and dream.”

Ben Crump, attorney for Arbery’s father, spoke outside the courthouse, saying repeatedly, “The spirit of Ahmaud defeated the lynch mob.”

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, thanked the crowd gathered outside the courthouse and said she did not think she would see this day.

“It’s been a long fight. It’s been a hard fight. But God is good,” she said. Of her son, she said, “He will now rest in peace.”

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The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pickup truck to pursue the 25-year-old after seeing him running outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick in February 2020. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own pickup and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery.

The graphic video leaked online two months later. Though prosecutors did not argue that racism motivated the killing, federal authorities have charged them with hate crimes, alleging that they chased and killed Arbery because he was Black. That case is scheduled to go to trial in February.

Soon after returning to court Wednesday morning, the jury sent a note to Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley asking to view two versions of the shooting video — the original and one that investigators enhanced to reduce shadows — three times apiece.

Jurors returned to the courtroom to see the videos and listen again the 911 call one of the defendants made from the bed of a pickup truck about 30 seconds before the shooting.

The disproportionately white jury received the case around midday Tuesday and spent about six hours deliberating before adjourning without a verdict.

The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they armed themselves and jumped in a pickup truck to chase him. Bryan joined the pursuit when they passed his house and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery at close range with a shotgun as Arbery threw punches and grabbed for the weapon.

On the 911 call the jury reviewed, Greg McMichael tells an operator: “I’m out here in Satilla Shores. There’s a Black male running down the street.”

He then starts shouting, apparently as Arbery is running toward the McMichael’s idling truck with Bryan’s truck coming up behind him: “Stop right there! Damn it, stop! Travis!” Gunshots can be heard a few second later.

The graphic video death leaked online two months later, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case, quickly arresting the three men. Each of them is charged with murder and other crimes.

Defense attorneys contend the McMichaels were attempting a legal citizen’s arrest when they set off after Arbery, seeking to detain and question him as a suspected burglar after he was seen running from a nearby home under construction.

Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defense, saying the running man turned and attacked with his fists while running past the idling truck where Travis McMichael stood with his shotgun.

Prosecutors said there was no evidence Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants’ neighborhood. He had enrolled at a technical college and was preparing at the time to study to become an electrician like his uncles.

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Moreau Lake State Park adds 860 acres, is now among 10 largest state parks in N.Y.

MOREAU — Moreau Lake State Park has expanded by 860 acres, including a two-mile stretch of Hudson River waterfront.

State officials announced the expansion Wednesday, and said it brings the park to 6,250 acres, making it one of the 10 largest state parks in New York.

The newest piece, named Big Bend Point, is a former lumber stand whose logging roads could form the basis of a new trail system. The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation partnered on the acquisition of the site with the Open Space Institute, which spent two years restoring habitat to create a new home there for the endangered Karner Blue butterfly.

Over the past 20 years, OSI has added more than 4,200 acres to the park. OSI and its partners are now working to create a 13-mile recreational trail that will connect Moreau Lake and Saratoga Spa state parks.

The Big Bend Point tract cost $1.6 million to acquire, and was funded by the state Environmental Protection Fund.

The Parks agency is now working on a visitor site plan for 2022. A future car-top boat launch is planned. Hunting will be allowed on site, while motorized vehicles will not.

With its sandy soils, open meadows and distance from development, Big Bend is habitat for thousands of species of plant and animal life, and will add a new facet to Moreau Lake State Park’s nature education program.

“With more people than ever visiting our parks, this acreage will expand options for outdoor recreation in the region and preserve open space in fast-growing Saratoga County,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a news release.

OSI President Kim Elliman also touched on the pressures of development in one of the few upstate counties that has gained population in recent decades:

“With this latest OSI addition to Moreau Lake, we are excited to say that we have now tripled the size of this fantastic outdoor destination that not only welcomes the public for exploration and enjoyment, but also serves as critical wildlife habitat in this fast-growing region.”

NFL 2021: Ken Schott’s Week 12 picks, TV listings

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy the day with your family and friends. Lots of turkey to eat, and some NFL games to watch.

We have the traditional Thanksgiving Day NFL tripleheader. There are a couple of interesting matchups with the Las Vegas Raiders visiting the Dallas Cowboys, and the Buffalo Bills playing the New Orleans Saints.

One matchup that won’t be very intriguing is the first game of the day, the Chicago Bears at the Detroit Lions. The Bears are 3-7 and have quarterback issues. They would be in last place in the NFC North if not for the inept Lions. Detroit is 0-9-1, and is looking like a team that will go 0-16-1.

Detroit has always hosted a Thanksgiving Day game. But how many of those times have the Lions been relevant, especially in the last decade? Why does the NFL continue to allow the Lions to play on Thanksgiving? Do we really want to watch bad football? If I want to watch bad football, I’ll watch the New York Giants (which I will Sunday when they take on my suddenly hot Philadelphia Eagles).

It’s time for the NFL to rethink the Lions hosting a Thanksgiving Day game. You want to have compelling matchups to watch while you’re preparing or eating your Thanksgiving dinner. It’s time for the NFL to move the Lions out of the Thanksgiving Day slot.

But for a league that’s more concerned about enforcing taunting penalties than hits to the head, I doubt the NFL will consider it.

After going 4-9-1 in Week 10, I had a great Week 11. I was 11-4 to improve to 97-69-1.

You can play the U Pick ‘Em contest by clicking https://dailygazette.com/football/?contestid=3#registration/login.

Here are my picks for Week 12.

THURSDAY

Chicago 6, Detroit 2

Dallas 30, Las Vegas 20

Buffalo 21, New Orleans 20

SUNDAY

Tampa Bay 28, Indianapolis 24

Houston 21, N.Y. Jets 10

Philadelphia 34, N.Y. Giants 13

Carolina 24, Miami 21

New England 28, Tennessee 21

Cincinnati 23, Pittsburgh 17

Atlanta 29, Jacksonville 15

L.A. Chargers 37, Denver 27

Green Bay 30, L.A. Rams 24

San Francisco 28, Minnesota 27

Baltimore 28, Cleveland 21

MONDAY

Washington 17, Seattle 14

WEEK 12 TV SCHEDULE

(Subject to change)

THURSDAY

FOX23 (WXXA) Chicago at Detroit, 12:30 p.m. (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews and Tom Rinaldi).

CBS6 (WRGB) Las Vegas at Dallas, 4:30 p.m. (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson)(Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, Melanie Collins).

NBC13 (WNYT) Buffalo at New Orleans, 8:20 p.m. (Mike Tirico, Drew Brees, Michele Tafoya).

SUNDAY

FOX23 Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants, 1 p.m. (Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Shannon Spake); 

L.A. Rams at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews and Tom Rinaldi).

CBS6 Tennessee at New England, 1 p.m. (Ian Eagle, Charles Davis, Evan Washburn).

DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket N.Y. Jets at Houston, 1 p.m. (Spero Dedes, Jay Feely, Amanda Balionis); Tampa Bay at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. (Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Pam Oliver); Carolina at Miami, 1 p.m. (Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Jen Hale); Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. (Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, Melanie Collins); Atlanta at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin);  L.A. Chargers at Denver, 4:05 p.m. (Greg Gumbel, Adam Archuleta, AJ Ross); Minnesota at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m. (Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Sara Walsh).

NBC13 Cleveland at Baltimore, 8:20 p.m. (Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, Kathryn Tappen).

MONDAY

ESPN Seattle at Washington, 8:15 p.m. (Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick, Lisa Salters).

Schenectady-Belmont cheerleaders hope to get to Florida, too

SCHENECTADY — Three teams from Schenectady’s Pop Warner Cheerleading program have qualified to compete at the 2021 Pop Warner Nationals in Orlando, Florida.

The Schenectady-Belmont Cheerleading Program is the only Capital Region cheerleading organization sending three teams to this year’s national competition. 

“We are tremendously proud of all of our girls for accomplishing this feat. We began the year struggling to find an adequate practice location and practice time due to Covid-19 restrictions. It is amazing to see how far we’ve come. I cannot tell you how hard these girls have worked for this,” said Alysha Bredenko, assistant coach of the Schenectady Pop Warner Varsity team.

Bredenko’s team had an impressive competition run in order to earn a national berth. The Schenectady Pop Warner Varsity team placed first in the region’s local competition, state competition, and the Eastern Region Competition held in Trenton, New Jersey. The varsity girls plan to continue their Cinderella run at this year’s national meet. 

“For most of these girls this is their first time cheerleading and of course the first time most of them have the opportunity to go to nationals. We have a great team and a great routine. 

Since Jersey, we have been adding skills to our routine to compete with these other teams that have been here before. Our girls are very dedicated and want it just as bad as anyone else,” said Bredenko.

This is Bredenko’s first time taking one of her teams to the national stage. However, she has been actively learning the recipe for success from her mother, the varsity team’s head coach and program coordinator.

“My mom has been coaching for Pop Warner for about 20 years. Since June she has spent time working on something for the program every day of the week. She loves coaching and she loves these girls. This isn’t the first team she’s taken to nationals and it surely won’t be her last. She’s the very best at what she does and is a true pillar of the community,” said Bredenko.

Along with the varsity team, Schenectady Belmont’s “Mitey Mite” and “Tiny Mite” teams have also earned a spot to compete at nationals. The Mitey Mite team placed fourth at the Eastern Regional competition and is comprised of girls from the ages of seven to nine. The Tiny Mite team is the youngest of three and is made up of girls from the ages of five to six. Due to stellar performance by the Tiny Mite team, they received an invitation to attend the national competition.

“Our girls are very dedicated and want it as badly as we want it. It’s great that we have a winning team, but we are very lucky and blessed to have our younger teams here to support us. The varsity team gives the younger girls something to look up to,” said Bredenko.

Bredenko is extremely proud of the girl’s accomplishments, yet competition is not the sole mission of the organization. 

“We hear a lot of negativity about Schenectady and we are looking to change that. We have created a safe and fun environment for the girls, and are always looking to improve. This program is special as our girls not only learn cheerleading, but how to communicate, persevere, and be a friend. Our motto is ‘one team one family’ and we truly are,” said Bredenko.

In order to facilitate the trip to Orlando, all three Schenectady Pop Warner teams have engaged in community fundraising. The teams have held car washes, pool tournaments and raffles to raise the necessary funds. The program will be hosting a fundraiser from 10 a.m to 8 p.m. on Saturday Nov. 27 and 11 a.m to 6 p.m. on Nov. 28, at Colonie Center in Albany. 

Participants can look to win a 65” television, a $100 Stewarts gift card, or some other items. 

“The girls have been working tirelessly to raise money for the trip, but we are still behind. Some of these girls may not be in the position to travel outside the state with their families, so we are desperately trying to provide this opportunity for our girls. I myself have been doing everything from creating a Go Fund Me to collecting cans and bottles for these girls. We need all the community support we can get, and we will make sure to give back,” said Bredenko

For more information on how to donate to the Schenectady-Belmont Cheerleading Program, visit https://gofund.me/15c7bba7.

Amsterdam composer Riccio Bryce releases Christmas CD

Nothing stirs strong memories like the holidays, and for Maria Riccio Bryce nothing fires the imagination like Christmas.

“I believe that one of the most perennially evocative experiences of our lifetimes is Christmas,” said Riccio Bryce, an Amsterdam native and resident whose recently released CD, “Remember Me, Remember You,” consists of a few traditional holiday offerings along with several of her own original musical compositions.

“I’m beginning to feel very aware of the passage of time, and at this time of year, every year, it all starts to come back to me,” she said.

Recorded at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Schenectady, where Riccio Bryce has been the musical director for 25 years, the work includes performances from many Capital Region residents, such as vocalists John Allen, Judi Merriam and Gail Garrison, and Musicians of Ma’alwyck director and violinist Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz. Riccio Bryce is the pianist, while Sten Isachsen was the recording engineer.

“When I look back at the long, blessed path of all my years, I hear the music of all those Christmases,” said Riccio Bryce. “The beautiful innocence of childhood; the glorious romance of the years when you’re a young woman, madly in love with life; the excitement when you’re a young mother and recreating Christmas for your own children.”

A graduate of Amsterdam High and Manhattanville College, Riccio Bryce spent a few years in London playing music before returning to the Mohawk Valley to produce “Hearts of Fire” in 1990, a musical that marked the 300th anniversary of the Schenectady Massacre.

In 2001, Riccio Bryce composed “The Amsterdam Oratoria,” 16 songs dedicated to different aspects of life in the Amsterdam area, and over the next two decades she produced two other major works, “Mother, I’m Here,” and “Swan Song.”

Riccio Bryce put together “Remember Me, Remember You” primarily for her grandchildren.

“I had the idea to create an album that captures those sounds for everyone I love, especially my grandchildren,” she said. “I love putting the whole thing together. I don’t do a lot of solo playing normally, but there’s a lot of me on the album, just me and the piano. I chose some of my favorite carols, and I created my own arrangements of them. As I worked on them a parade of images flooded my mind — of seemingly every Christmas I’ve ever known — making their way straight into my hands.”

She also produced her own original material for the CD, including two Christmas favorites from “Hearts of Fire,” along with some numbers she wrote for a Christmas special at Proctors back in the 1980s.

“I resurrected a few of those songs, and I formed a chorus of local people to sing them,” she said. “Some are very dear friends who have participated in many of my projects over the years, and I also have my two sons and one of my sisters on the CD. We all rehearsed at my home this past summer.”

Riccio and a few of the “Remember Me, Remember You” musicians will be performing in the annual St. Luke’s Christmas Concert on Dec. 17. The event starts at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Copies of “Remember Me, Remember You” are $10 apiece and can be purchased at the Amsterdam Library or by sending a check for $12 to Riccio Bryce at P.O. Box 66, Amsterdam, 12010. The CD is also streaming on Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, iTunes and YouTube.

Watervliet Police: Ballston Spa woman charged connected to newborn’s remains; Faces felony concealment count

WATERVLIET – A Ballston Spa woman has been charged in connection with remains of a newborn baby found buried in a Watervliet yard in June, police said.

Kyleigh J. Sawyer, 23, of Ballston Spa, was charged with one count of concealment of a human corpse, a felony.

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The charge marks the conclusion of the investigation, police said.

The investigation began June 25, when police received credible information that a newborn baby had been buried in the yard of a residence on 13th Street in Watervliet, police said.

Police evidence technicians, along with the state police Forensic Identification Unit then methodically searched the yard and exhumed several small bones from a shallow grave, which appeared to have been there for an extended period of time, police said.

Forensic analysis then determined the remains were those of a newborn child, police said.

An “exhaustive investigation” then ensued and resulted in the charged filed against Sawyer, whom police determined to have been the baby’s mother.

Sawyer was arrested Tuesday, arraigned and released to return to court later.

“Although the investigation has concluded, the healing surrounding the death of this precious newborn will continue for a lifetime,” Watervliet Police Chief Joseph L. Centanni said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the particulars regarding this baby’s death may never be known but the devastation it caused throughout our community is unquestionable. The Watervliet Police Department will continue to work tirelessly to bring those responsible for these types of unconscionable acts to justice.”

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Troopers: Halfmoon gas station employee stole nearly $4K from business

HALFMOON – A gas station employee in Halfmoon stole nearly $4,000 over the weekend from the business where he worked, state police said.

Michael A. Burdick, 52, of Valley Falls, was arrested Monday and charged with one count of third-degree grand larceny, a felony.

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Burdick worked at the Xtra Mart in Halfmoon and he is accused of taking more than $3,800 from the store, troopers said. He is believed to have taken it following a shift Sunday, state police spokesperson Trooper Kerra Burns said.

Burdick then reported the crime himself and turned himself in to state police, Burns said.

Burdick was processed and released to appear in court later.

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Letters to the Editor Wednesday, Nov. 24

Lower road, raise bridge as solution

New York State DOT promises to give truckers an excuse for striking the Glenridge railroad bridge. “They were confused and distracted by intense flashing lights and didn’t see the bridge clearance signs.”
Lower Glenridge Road by two feet and raise the bridge by a foot and you will solve the problem.
Still, the DOT proposal will not solve the problem.
Changing the relative elevations of bridge and road to provide 14-foot 2-inches clearance is the only reliable solution.
Brian Gain
Niskayuna

We’re losing sight of what’s important

Interesting times these. We were so sure we were an exceptional country … a “City on a Hill.” We were ‘’Tough on Crime.” We were likened to a ‘’Thousand Points of Light.” It was only recently “Morning in America.” Yet, for all our bravura and self-acclaim, here we are — losing sight of the tenuous threads of a democracy in an era where corporate news outlets as well as monetized online connectors profit on our divisions.
Like children, we’re arguing the fine points of whether smashing public buildings is a criminal act or an act of patriotism. (Who smashes something to show their respect for it?)
In our efforts to prove the rightness of our opinions, we’re losing sight of the real threat. Our sense of community is shredding and with it our power toward unified action. It’s a very useful old tactic — divide and conquer.
It was useful in ancient Rome and it’s useful to the wealthy 1% who benefit from our divisions today. Our choices are global domination by a wealthy few or a now-weakened tenuous link to an imperfect democracy that has its faults, but still has some representatives holding out for the needs of the working class.
We don’t have the time or luxury of divisions. We’d better hold on to being Americans together in support of the crucial needs of those who have been hit hardest.
Joanne Mann
Schenectady

Do more to stop impaired driving

A recent article about former Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III’s intoxicated driving crash offered a wakeup call. With so many health and safety risks that are difficult to prevent 100% of the time, as our justifiable concern about covid and our ongoing efforts to prevent or cure cancer and heart disease, we have lost sight of impaired driving.
Ruggs was driving 150 mph with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of twice the legal limit, crashing and killing a 23-year-old woman after her vehicle burst into flames. This is a recurring 100% preventable issue that takes the lives of over 10,000 people every year, averaging one every 52 minutes.
Alcohol and other drugs, whether legal, over the counter, prescription or illegal, can impair our ability to drive safely.
Marijuana does impair safe driving performance, namely tracking, motor coordination, visual functions and tasks requiring divided attention. Cannabis is legal in New York. Local dispensaries and bars will have high potency edibles and concentrates that for frequent users can stay in the body over 30 days.
What is successful? New York has a bill to raise the threshold for DWI to 0.05% BAC. University of Chicago studies found that a 0.05% BAC limit would prevent 11% of fatal alcohol-related crashes each year saving about 1,800 lives.
The Utah Highway Patrol found a 7% drop in arrests 0.05-0.08. after Utah’s 0.05 BAC limit was passed. Utah’s brew pubs, nightlife and the tourism industry has not been hurt.
By never driving impaired with alcohol or other drugs, we can prevent impaired driving related injuries and deaths by 100%.
Renee’ Barchitta
Roxbury

 

Mainstream media to blame for our woes

If it wasn’t evident before the Rittenhouse trial, it sure is now: lies are all lies.
CNN and MSNBC would not know the truth if it hit them in the face. Who is responsible for the non-stop hate, racial unrest, fear and influencing elections based on lies? It is the major news media outlets; we know who they are.
Who is truly responsible for the mess we are in now? Unchecked inflation, oil dependency, the horrible debacle in Afghanistan, four years of non-stop Russian collusion, the incitement of violence? The mainstream media.
Don’t forget Facebook, Twitter, etc. They are never held accountable for all the lies and omission of the true facts, even as Kelli saying “Let’s Go Brandon” when we all heard what is really being said.
CNN says protests are peaceful as buildings burn in plain sight. Maxine Waters can order you to find every Republican you can and get them wherever they are, but be a parent at a board meeting and you are a domestic terrorist.
Nick Sandmann, Jewell, Rittenhouse all convicted by the press, all wrong. The FCC should sue them all for pushing lies on the American people to push their agenda of Marxism.
Rittenhouse did not kill any Black people, did not carry a gun across state lines (He picked it up at a friend’s house in Wisconsin.) and is not a White Supremacist. Look out Biden for calling him that and the press was happy to repeat that lie over and over again. One big lie after another.
Denise Crisci
Altamont

 

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State: Clifton Park’s IT resources problematic in 2019; Supervisor refutes

CLIFTON PARK – Town Supervisor Philip Barrett reacted strongly to a state audit report that revealed four problematic findings with regard to Clifton Park’s information technology resources during 2019.

The state pointed out in its report that town employees visited websites the auditor deemed “questionable,” while 14 former workers had access to email accounts long after they had left the town’s employ, the office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement Monday.

However, Barrett refuted each of the claims, and countered that the auditor’s scrutiny used “boilerplate language”  for “headline purposes.”

DiNapoli’s office said Clifton Park officials hadn’t adequately safeguarded IT resources, and, despite paying an IT service provider more than $98,000 in 2019, officials did not define the provider’s responsibilities.

Also, DiNapoli said Clifton Park officials hadn’t established a comprehensive IT policy, nor monitored employee Internet use, nor did they implement comprehensive procedures for managing and monitoring user access to the town’s network and computers.

DiNapoli said 14 user accounts belonged to former employees of Clifton Park who had left the town from one month to 15 years before the auditor’s review.

Finally, the state comptroller’s office said Clifton Park officials did not have a written contract with the town’s IT provider that described specific services to be provided. Sensitive IT control weaknesses were communicated confidentially to officials, the audit read.

Barrett provided The Daily Gazette with a copy of his written response thanking DiNapoli’s office, yet disputing the audit’s accuracy.

The supervisor said the actual expenditure for IT consulting services to ABS Solutions during the audit period was $48,100 – not $98,000 as the auditor claimed – with the remaining funds spent on hardware, software, cloudbased backup service and installation expenses.

Barrett said the town’s consulting arrangement with ABS Solutions is comprehensive.

Throughout the towns six-year relationship with ABS Solutions, the vendor consistently provided prompt, reliable and affordable IT services, and Clifton Park can terminate the agreement with 30 days’ notice if it is dissatisfied with their performance, solutions offered, or response times, Barrett said.

An informal survey of surrounding municipalities showed the town’s spending on IT consulting services compares favorably with its peers, in some cases significantly, he said.

The auditor’s claim that the town did not have a comprehensive internet policy also was inaccurate, according to Barrett. 

Clifton Park’s internet policy is included in the employee manual, which was prepared by the town’s human resources consultants, who have “scores” of municipal clients throughout the Capital Region, Barrett said.

“The policy in our manual is standard to the vast majority of our consultants clients and is consistent with those entities,” Barrett said

The town’s relationship with ABS Solutions during the 2019 audit period was defined by purchase orders for specific projects and a clearly defined hourly rate, according to the town

Finally, Barrett said a number of the identified formeremployees remain active with the town, and many of those accounts that were deemed unnecessary were disabled.

The email accounts for those individuals were not operable and none of those individuals had remote access to the towns system. Any usage affiliated with their account would need to be accomplished through electronic devices that had been secured by the town, the supervisor said.

In 2019, the town began to implement a system that automatically disabled an account that was not used. Barrett said the town will review accounts quarterly to ensure none are unnecessarily active

The town also implemented “Barracuda Total Email Protection,” which provides the town with Microsoft 365 backup and monitoring. Any email sent through Barracuda has Safelink Technology that “sandboxes” all web links.

Advanced antivirus software with application control is also in place

Barrett said the majority of the websites the audit report had found questionablewere determined to be “useful and reasonable” for town employees to use during the course of conducting business.

Purchasing activities, financial tasks, travel and trip destination research and many other normal town functions require the usage of the related websites, he said, while acknowledging the town periodically sends reminders to employees about phishing attacks and other issues involving computer use.

“Do we closely monitor the usage of each employee on a regular basis? No. Do we monitor and survey computer usage when we believe there is a reason to do so? Yes. We record all web traffic,” Barrett reacted.

The town also has a product that blocks all webmail access through town computers, eliminating the opportunity to use the system for personal email, Barrett wrote.

We understand the use of boilerplate language in the audit reports for headline purposes,” the supervisor said of the audit’s findings. I am pleased there was nothing identified in the audit that would cause alarm, or place the Town systems in a compromised position, nor has the door been opened to abuse or unwarranted entry.”

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

Hiring of deputies for Saratoga Springs mayor, commissioner posts will be ‘open’

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The quartet of Democrats who recently won jobs as mayor and three commissioners aren’t waiting to appoint their respective deputies, and have set a Dec. 3 cutoff for accepting applications in what they promise will be an “open” hiring process.

But because the new mayor and city council members won’t be sworn in until January, the four elected officials in waiting are using personal email accounts to receive candidates’ materials.

In a joint statement, Mayor-elect Ron Kim and the three fellow winners of council seats in the Nov. 2 city election pledged an open process to review, consider and hire their respective deputies. 

Salaries for deputy commissioner posts are $80,818 with a competitive package of benefits.

Kim asked applicants who are interested in serving as deputy mayor to email their resumes to [email protected] or mail them to Ron Kim For Mayor, P.O. Box 318, Saratoga Springs NY, 12866.

Finance Commissioner-elect Minita Sanghvi invited qualified candidates to apply to be her deputy, to help with day-to-day operations and new initiatives via email at [email protected]

Commissioner of Accounts-elect Dillon Moran is accepting a cover letter and resume from applicants at [email protected]

Public Safety Commissioner-elect Jim Montagnino said he wants to hire someone with a background in law enforcement, fire and rescue and other emergency services. Send a letter and resume to [email protected].

“We have no staff,” Kim said in an interview, “so it’s trying to do this while I’m also trying to do my regular job (as a lawyer) and also meet with a lot of people who obviously and understandably want to meet with the new mayor. So that’s the only way we can do this.”

The city’s commissioner form of government divides roles. For instance, the mayor’s office oversees human resources, and Kim said the city’s HR staff has been “absolutely great” providing Kim and his colleagues with information about salaries, benefits as well as clarifying that deputies must live in Saratoga County.

Kim didn’t directly answer a question about whether Mayor Meg Kelly, who did not seek re-election, is helping with his transition.

“We’re chugging along,” said Kim, who added that he drew upon connections he had already made with some city staffers, from when he served as public safety commissioner.

“I met with staff Monday. I have had experience at City Hall and it’s a little bit of a different staff since then. But they gave me a very optimistic view of what we’re going to be able to do because it’s a good staff.”

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

Rev. Phil Grigsby, longtime head of SiCM, dies; Remembered as ‘heart of Schenectady’

In the mid-1990s Rabbi Matthew Cutler of The Gates of Heaven Congregation and Rev. Phil Grigsby stood outside of Proctors chatting. 

Cutler recalled the city was just beginning to pick up economically, but that he told Grigsby he couldn’t see how Schenectady would climb back and survive.

It was then, Cutler said, that Grigsby put his arm around him and said “We will get through this and we will thrive.” 

The two walked back to their cars that day and remained friends ever since. 

On Tuesday, Schenectady Community Ministries announced that Grigsby had died that morning.

Grigsby began working at SiCM, formerly Schenectady Inner City Ministries, in 1986 as the executive director and urban agent. 

His dedication to serving the community had no bounds. 

Grigsby would serve as the SiCM’s leader for 33 years before retiring in October 2019. During his time at the organization he oversaw the expansion of SiCM’s campus on 837 Albany St., which houses various community support systems like a community learning kitchen and Ellis Hospital clinic, according to a release from SiCM. 

In addition to his commitment to the SiCM food pantry, Grigsby also worked diligently to abolish racial divides in Schenectady County. As the executive director of SiCM, he fostered a program dedicated to providing a safe environment for youth and adults to challenge issues relating to race and diversity called “Schenectady County Embraces Diversity.”

He didn’t stop there though, finding any way he could to support the community, including establishing the now 27-year-old summer meals program for youth and children.

“Phil Grigsby’s commitment to justice and community extended well beyond SiCM’s mission and engagement,” states the release from SiCM. “His leadership sought to address the needs of vulnerable citizens in response to the issues articulated by the community (and) led him to engage in local, regional and state-wide collaborations including Community Crises Network, leading a Social Justice addressing police-community, criminal justice and related issues in Schenectady City and County, participating in the establishment of a Policy Community Review Board, facilitating Schenectady County Embraces Diversity – study circles to strengthen communities through dialogue on racism and related issues with a focus on youth. His engagement in these and other  community initiatives highlighted the pressing needs for community-based access to health, food, housing,  green spaces, a clean environment, quality public education, and political enfranchisement.”

His commitment to providing for the community in any way he could inspired people like City Councilwoman Marion Porterfield, who worked with Grigsby in the 1990s at SiCM. 

Porterfield said he was a man well ahead of his time.

“A lot of the things that he did were innovative and hadn’t been done before,” she said. 

She said Grigsby was a mentor to her in her role as a public servant focused on community work.

“He treated everyone with dignity, regardless of what they’re situation was,” she said. 

Porterfield said she will remember Grigsby fondly for how he continued to stay in contact with her mother Rev. Diana Fletcher even after she retired from working at SiCM. 

“That to me was important, that he didn’t forget about the work that she had done,” Porterfield said. 

Cutler described the local leader the only way he could — extraordinary. 

“Grigsby was the heart of Schenectady,” Cutler said. “He was the guy I went to when I needed spiritual guidance. For me he’s the voice of consciousness I’m going to hear down the road.”

His passing is a loss for many, but his legacy lives on in his successor Amaury Taňón-Santos, Cutler said. 

He said he has had big shoes to fill when it came to taking over as the executive director of SiCM. 

But Grigsby helped make the transition easier, Taňón-Santos said. 

“Phil made himself available to me immediately,” he said.

Taňón-Santos said he remembers feeling overwhelmed with all the work that SiCM was doing in the community and recalled Grigsby telling him all the people he needed to know in the community and then turning around and getting him into contact with those very people. 

“He welcomed me as a colleague and shared with me readily and with little prompt his wisdom, his passion for the city, his passion for the people of the city and the work that lies ahead,” he said. 

Grigsby is survived by his wife, Dr. Janet “Jan” Grigsby, and his sons Matthew “Matt” Grigsby and Christopher “Chris” Grigsby. 

Information regarding a memorial will be forthcoming, according to SiCM’s press release.

College to lease gym, offices at former Schenectady YMCA

SCHENECTADY — The last remaining piece of 13 State St. still resembling its days as a YMCA will be converted for use by SUNY Schenectady County.

The old high-ceiling gym will become practice, performance and exhibit space for the college’s arts and music programs, and is anticipated to also host public events. The former YMCA staff offices nearby will be used as college faculty and staff offices with an available conference room.

The college announced the plans Tuesday along with Norstar Development USA, the company that redeveloped the rest of the YMCA into senior apartments, and with the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, which helped advance the sale of the building to Norstar and helped bring the apartment project to fruition.

Norstar completed conversion of most of the 104,000-square-foot building and welcomed tenants into the 61 below-market-rate apartments in early 2018. 

The building soon was full, and today there is a waiting list.

Soon after in 2018, Metroplex announced a tenant for the 8% of the building that was awaiting renovation: The gym, fitness center and offices.

That tenant was SUNY Schenectady County. 

But the college and Norstar couldn’t agree on final details, Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said Tuesday, and the two sides suspended talks. The plan went into limbo as Buffalo-based Norstar focused on projects elsewhere.

More recently, the college and developer began negotiating again and reached an agreement.
“SUNY Schenectady is located so close to 13 State St. that leasing this wonderful space so close to the college was an easy decision,” SUNY Schenectady President Steady Moono said in a news release.

Norstar to date has spent more than $18 million on the renovation of the building. Bonacio Construction of Saratoga Springs will complete the final portion at a cost of nearly $600,000. Metroplex will provide an $18,000 grant for that work.

“We appreciate Norstar’s great work in restoring 13 State St.,” Gillen said. “We wanted to restore the gym and have it serve as another attraction on lower State Street. We also appreciate Norstar providing a below-market lease rate, making the space very affordable for SUNY Schenectady.”

Metroplex is more directly involved in this project than in many others: It holds a long-term lease on the 8,000 square feet of vacant space in the former YMCA, with rent amounting to about $40,000 a year, and it is subleasing it to the college. 

This type of master lease is one more tool in the development agency’s toolbox, and in this case, it helped fulfill requirements for Norstar’s tax credit applications, Gillen said, adding that it has been used on some other downtown projects.

Norstar did not charge Metroplex for the four years the space sat unrenovated and vacant.