Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Falcon Cam Returns

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has the Dunn Memorial Bridge webcam working again. Their site said they had a bad transmitter earlier this month, but it seems to be fixed now, just in time for egg watching:

Dunn Memorial Bridge Falcon Nest - Larger View

Albany-Rensselaer, NY Peregrine Falcon Nest Site History
Albany, the state's capital, is fortunate to have a pair of endangered Peregrine Falcons nesting on the Dunn Memorial Bridge, which spans the Hudson River between the Cities of Albany and Rensselaer.
I'm quoting the DEC's 2008 summary for our Peregrines, as it doesn't seem to be linked from the rest of the site (the image is a screen capture I saved):
2008 was the fourth year in a row that a clutch of five eggs was produced, and egg laying began a couple of weeks earlier than has been typical at this nest site. Three of the eggs hatched on April 28th, and a fourth egg hatched on May 1st. On May 21st, four female chicks were fitted with metal leg bands and the single unhatched egg was removed from the nest box along with prey remains. During the fledging period in mid May, one of the four chicks was found swimming in the Hudson River by a tugboat crew. They removed the bird from the water, and Wildlife staff who found the bird to be well fed and without apparent injury, took it to the Rensselaer Riverfront Park to dry off and continue the fledging process. Although we do not know for certain, it is believed that the four chicks ultimately fledged from the bridge successfully.
She was just living up to her name - "peregrine" means "having a tendency to wander". According to Word For The Wise, peregrine falcons got the name because the young were captured while wandering from their nests, which were inaccessible to the falconers.

Here is the DEC's report on New York State Peregrine Falcons 2008 (great cover photo!). Here's a Times-Union article from Feb. 13, 2009, when the report was released:
Peregrine falcons fly to top in state
Reintroduced in 1983, birds produce record number of chicks, dominate East

Monday, March 30, 2009

Doane Stuart Remodeling

The Doane Stuart School's April 2009 Newsletter (PDF file) has a cover story called "The Transformation Continues, Finding the Soul of Our New Home". There are photos of the renovation of the former Van Rensselaer High School building [199 Washington Ave., Rensselaer, NY]

Press Coverage - Polsinello Fuels

Here's a nice business profile of Polsinello Fuels [241 Riverside Ave, Rensselaer, NY] from Sunday's paper:

Times-Union: Taking the long view
An established business grows by embracing new technologies

Louis Polsinello Sr. started Polsinello Fuels out of his parents' house while still in high school. The year was 1952, and oil was replacing coal as the preferred means of heating homes. ... It's 57 years later, and not much has changed. Polsinello Fuels in Rensselaer still installs and services heating systems, still delivers oil and gasoline, and still looks for every opportunity to expand and to embrace new technology.
"They really believe in making homes more energy-efficient and saving the earth," said Kara Faraone, marketing coordinator for Conservation Services Group of Albany, which works on behalf of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's Energy Star home-heating loan program. "They have gone above and beyond what most contractors in New York state have done."

Fatal Crash in Saratoga

Times-Union: Woman dies in crash in Saratoga Springs
SARATOGA SPRINGS - A 66-year-old Rensselaer woman died in a head-on crash Sunday night on Route 50... Elizabeth C. Martin, the lone occupant of the sedan, was pronounced dead at the scene... Police are continuing to investigate the accident, but said it appeared Martin's car crossed the center line for unknown reasons and drove into the truck's path.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Historic Register Sites

The city of Rensselaer, NY has a number of sites listed in the state and national historic registers. Here is a brief virtual tour.

Fort Crailo
10 Riverside Ave., Rensselaer

Crailo was a fortified colonial home on the Van Rensselaer estate of Rensselaerswyck. It is now maintained as the Crailo Museum by NY State, and will open this year on July 4th weekend. According to their site, "Crailo was built in the early 18th century by Hendrick Van Rensselaer, grandson of the First Patroon. Hendrick died in 1740 and his eldest son, Johannes, inherited Crailo. He remodeled the house and added an east wing in the Georgian style, reflecting the increasing influence of the English on the Albany-area Dutch."

Aiken House
Corner of Riverside/Broadway and Aiken Aves., Rensselaer, NY

William Aiken came from Dutchess County as a young man, and purchased land from Patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer III in 1810. Aiken divided his plot into building lots and re-sold them, becoming a founder of the Village of Greenbush, which was incorporated in 1815. Aiken built his home in 1816, and it was considered the finest on the east side of the Hudson. The house is now privately owned.

Beverwyck Manor
Washington Ave., Rensselaer, behind Franciscan Heights Senior Community

William Patterson Van Rensselaer [1805-1872] was a son of Stephan Van Rensselaer III, and inherited of most of Rensselaer County. William built the Greek Revival Beverwyck Manor in 1839. Beverwyck was known as the East Manor (the Van Rensselaer's West Manor in Albany has been demolished). The manor was purchased by Paul Forbes in 1850 as a county seat, and became known as Old Forbes Manor. It remained mostly unoccupied through 1910, and was finally sold to the Order of Franciscans for St. Anthony-on-the-Hudson Seminary.

Clark-Dearstyne-Miller Inn
11-13 Forbes Ave, Rensselaer, NY

This hotel and tavern was
built around 1791 near the North Ferry landing in Bath-On-Hudson, on a parcel granted to Jeremiah Clark by Stephen Van Rensselaer III. The second floor was originally a ballroom, but was later divided as living quarters for the tavern keeper. The guest rooms were in the half-story above. From 1839-1867, James Dearstyne was the owner/proprietor. The Dearstynes ran it until the 1890's, when it was the Dearstyne-Miller Hotel. It continued as the Miller Hotel until the 1920's, and was a neighborhood tavern from the 1950's to it's abandonment in the 1980's.

Patroon Agent's House and Office
15 Forbes Ave, Rensselaer, NY

The Casparus Pruyn House and Office was near the former ferry slip and the Dearstyne Inn. It was completed in 1839 for the rent collection agent of William Van Rensselaer, son of the last Patroon of Rensselaerwyck. Efforts by this generation of Van Rensselaers to collect manor farmers' rents (long ignored by their father Stephen Van Rensselaer III) precipitated the Anti Rent Wars and led to the end of the patroonship system in NY. The house and office are now separately and privately owned.

W.P. Irwin Bank Building

156 Broadway, Rensselaer, NY

This High Victorian Gothic building was constructed by William P. Irwin in 1873 as the East Albany Bank & Trust Company. Irwin had an estate in Greenbush Heights, and he owned flour mills, grain elevators and a malt house. Although it was successful, the bank was closed when Irwin died (a few years after it was built) and the building became the jewelry store of Max Hackel and Son. It is now owned by Terance M. Ruso, Certified Public Accountant.

UPDATE: A member of the Facebook group said that the Irwin Building housed the National Commercial Bank and Trust Company for a time as well.


Wikipedia's National Register of Historic Places listings in Rensselaer County, New York

National Register of Historic Places - Rensselaer County

New York State and National Registers of Historic Places Document Imaging Project [Click the Basic Criteria tab, pick Rensselaer for the County, and click the Results tab)

Strevell Scandal

Times-Union: Judge: No prison in $111,500 theft
Former state official gets probation as jurist cites cooperation with FBI, Internal Revenue Service
J. Felix Strevell, who was convicted of stealing more than $110,000 from state taxpayers during his scandal-plagued tenure as head of the former Institute for Entrepreneurship, was sentenced to five years probation Thursday in U.S. District Court.
Strevell currently runs a small automotive repair shop in Rensselaer with his brother Chauncey, who also had worked for the institute.
According to one of the many Comments here at the Times-Union Crime Confidential Blog, this garage is at Broadway and Columbia Street.

Older Story at the Times Union (May 1, 2007): Strevell admits to fraud at nonprofit,
Former CEO of the SUNY-affiliated Institute for Entrepreneurship faces up to 5 years in prison, fine
The former head of a publicly-funded program meant to help jump-start businesses admitted Monday to finagling a fraudulent $95,000 pay raise, using his corporate credit card for a trip to Disney World and insisting his father be included on two business junkets to China.

Friday, March 27, 2009

March 27 1909 - Day Line Season

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

First Boat Will Reach Albany On Thursday, May 27

General Agent William B. Elmendorf of the Hudson River Day Line, announces that the first trip of the through line this season will be on Thursday, March 27. The boats will run daily except Sunday until Friday, October 25.

The steamer Mary Powell goes on the run between Kingston and New York, commencing Monday May 21, and running to September 23.

The steamer Albany, which will be put on the Poughkeepsie New York run, Saturday, June 26, will run until Saturday, Sept. 18, between Poughkeepsie and 42nd Street, New York city.
There is a good History of the Hudson River Day Line on the web site of the Hudson River Maritime Museum.
No one could claim to have seen America without seeing the Hudson River, and the only way to properly see the Hudson River was from the deck of a Day Liner steamboat.
The Mary Powell was famous for her speed. In this 1881 New York Times article "Rival River Steamers", there was great speculation about a possible race against the new, iron hulled Albany:
The Powell has for years been acknowledged to be the fastest boat on the river, and has become popularly known as "The Queen of the Hudson." When the Albany Day Line built their iron boat last season, however, they entered a protest against the claims of the Powell, and a sharp spirit of rivalry grew between the two lines and their respective friends.
"We cannot say which boat is the faster... If there is a race, the discrete man will not bet heavily either way."

Greenbush Records Found

Times-Union: Newfound books fill historical gap
Meeting notes from bygone town, dating back more than 200 years, discovered in box
He found the books contained meeting records of a bygone town called Greenbush. The records were from 1796 to 1802.
Before the city of Rensselaer and towns of East and North Greenbush were formed in the mid to late 1800s, the area that encompasses them was called the town of Greenbush.
If I had time during the day to do the research about Greenbush in this era, I'd go to the NY State Library and to see the Rensselaerwyck Manor Records 1730-1899. The description talks about a series of land surveys 1785 and 1805 and says that:
Greenbush included lands that are presently situated in the City of Rensselaer, East Greenbush, North Greenbush, and the western parts of Postenkill and Sand Lake.
The oldest map I've found online is from 1893 - see it in this earlier Vintage Maps posting. By 1893, "Greenbush" refers to the southern third of what is now the City of Rensselaer (the other two thirds being "East Albany" and "Bath").

I would suggest that these meeting books should be in the NY State Library for safe-keeping, with copies made for the local historian's offices (including Rensselaer).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chamber Networking at Casey's

The Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce is holding a NetworkingPlus Luncheon at Casey's Banquet House on Thur. April 2nd at 12pm. For registration information, see the Chamber Calendar.

The Chamber recently had a "Meet the Mayors" event. Mayer Dwyer was invited, but he didn't attend, so I didn't post about it. You can see a highlights video on the Troy Record site (the clips they used were mostly the mayors joking about the crow dispersal problem).

Free Tax Preparation

Free tax preparation is available from several programs including Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and AARP Tax Aide.

This flyer on the United Way site gives details and locations, which include Circles of Mercy and the Rensselaer Senior Center:
For families and individuals with an annual earned income below $41,000

DEC Chemical Collection

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation is providing free disposal for pesticides and other chemicals. The program is designed to reduce environmental contamination and eliminate chemical hazards. Check your garages, barns, and storage areas at home and at work for obsolete and unwanted chemicals, and be sure to register in advance.

Here's the web site with all the details: DEC's Clean Sweep NY

Collection dates and sites (pre-registration is mandatory):
April 6 - Hudson, NY, April 7-8 - Schenectady, NY, April 9 - Oneonta, NY

Cost: No charge to farmers. All others receive free 100 lb pesticide benefit. All non-pesticide disposal costs are on a per-pound basis at a nominal fee.

Here's the Press Release: State to Collect Thousands of Pounds of Pesticides and Chemicals in Capital Region Counties

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rensselaer Facebook Group

There is a Facebook group called "Rensselaer, New York" which is looking for members. The goal is to share memories, history, and old photos of the city. They have 56 members so far.

MARCH 29 UPDATE: Wow - already up to 349 members!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kent's Sugar House

It's maple syrup season, and I highly recommend a drive out to Kent's Sugar House [2529 Plank Rd., Berlin, NY] to taste the local product.

Kent's is Rensselaer County's lone participant in the New York State Maple Producers Association "Maple Weekend" festivities, which are happening this weekend and next (Mar. 21-22, Mar. 28-29, 2009).

(The folks at Kent's say if you drive by during the week and see by the clouds of steam that they're boiling syrup, you can always stop in anyway.)

Most of Kent's trees are far from the road, but the sugar house is easily accessible. They tapped a nearby tree to show the sap, which comes out in a fast drip and looks like water (tastes like water too - barely sweet at all).

Trees are at least 30 years old before they can be tapped. The dark scars on the face of this maple tree cross-section are old tap marks from many decades. (Click images to zoom in.)

It takes about 45 gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup. The wood-fired evaporator senses when the syrup is ready, and automatically fills buckets full of steaming syrup. The sugar house smells amazing.

The hot, fresh syrup was the best I'd ever tasted. We bought lots of Dark Amber syrup, and wish we'd bought more.

You can try these Maple Recipes, or learn about Replacing Table Sugar with Maple Sugar.

I plan to make lots of real Buttermilk Pancakes and Waffles- from scratch - it doesn't seem right to pour something this amazing on box-mix pancakes or frozen grocery waffles!

County Leg. Report - March

Here's Mike Stammel's March legislative report. The big topic is the requirement for a commercial drivers license to drive fire equipment. Here's the Majority Press Release on the same issue. Frankly, I was surprised that there was any exemption at all. Requiring a CDL seems like a good idea to me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Albany Steamers

Imagine seeing this view across the river? This 1905 postcard shows the steamboats Ursula of the Catskill Line and C. W. Morse of the Hudson Navigation Company's Night Line. (Click to enlarge.)

The C. W. Morse was a paddle wheel steam ship built in 1903 as a luxury overnight cruise ship, between Albany and New York. She was the longest side wheel steamer afloat at the time - 427 feet. She had a steel hull with 8 watertight compartments. But she had a draft of only nine feet when loaded, to navigate the shallow waters near Albany.

There's a great description in "Old Steamboat Days on the Hudson River". Here's a sample of her luxury appointments (but there's a technical description too, of the engines and propulsion).
The main staircase leads from the lobby to the grand saloon, which is twenty-eight feet high with a domed ceiling in white and gold and surrounded with two galleries having highly ornamented guard rails of mahogany and bronze. Staterooms with brass bedsteads and parlors deluxe with bath rooms and toilets can be entered from the saloon direct or communicating corridors, richly carpeted. There is also a passenger elevator on the boat. In all there are four hundred and fifty of these sleeping apartments furnished in varying degrees of elegance. She is licensed to carry two thousand passengers.
She was named for Charles W. Morse, "the Ice King", who purchased the steamer line with the ill-gotten profits of an attempted monopoly on ice in New York City and stock manipulation of his ice holding company. He later tried to corner the stock of United Copper, triggering the "Panic of 1907" and causing nation-wide financial turmoil. He was eventually jailed for violating federal banking laws, imprisoned, and successfully faked illness to get a pardon.

When his steamship company went bankrupt, the receivers changed the name from the C. W. Morse to the Fort Orange.

Heroin Arrests

Troy Record: Two in Rensselaer arrested for heroin
Tuesday, a search warrant was executed by the Rensselaer County Drug Task Force, the Sheriff’s Department and the city Police Department at 1205 Second Street.

Authorities arrested Gerald D. Vroman, 36, and Jessie Peluso, 26. Officers confiscated 186 packaged of heroin, electronic scales, $3,000 in cash, a 12-gauge shotgun, police scanners and surveillance cameras. ...

Fox23: Rensselaer Drug Arrests (mug shots)

A big "oops" to the Times-Union (Pair arrested for alleged heroin sales), which datelined the story from Troy, not Rensselaer - possibly because the county jail is in Troy. Their story doesn't say Rensselaer, so it reads like it happened in Troy (which normally would be a safe bet...). The Record beat them to the story by an hour, so they could have taken a few extra minutes for proof-reading. (I checked on whitepages.com - they guy definitely lives in Rensselaer.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Slower Staff-Up at GE

Business Review (Full text of article is subscribers only)
Health Care: GE’s digital X-ray center will mean 100 new jobs at $65K a year

Even so, sluggish demand means North Greenbush plant won’t be fully staffed for two or three years

GE Healthcare’s new $165 million manufacturing center in North Greenbush will open in a few months, but slowing demand for digital imaging equipment means it will take longer to ramp up its staffing and production.
Initially, it looks like 50 people will transfer from Niskayuna when the site opens. Up to 100 more jobs are planned, but it will take until 2011 or 2012 to get everyone on board, with new jobs phased in as demand returns.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Homeless Kids, Basketball Award, Kitten Recovers

Here are a few stories that happened while I was offline with bronchitis...

Times-Union - Homeless N.Y. kids in thousands
Shelter space is scarce, affordable rentals hard for families to find
"The numbers are growing exponentially higher," said David Rossetti, executive director of St. Paul's Center in Rensselaer, a homeless shelter for single mothers with children.

Times-Union - Award choice was a real slam-dunk
Teenager honored for her work with disabled in basketball league
The league has four teams and plays two games at each session at the Rensselaer Boys and Girls Club.

Times-Union - Kitten's recovery looking good
Reece's heart surgery got a big hand from Capital Region donations
Capital Region residents gave more than $10,000 to help pay for surgery for Reece, the 7-month-old foster kitten who needed open heart surgery.

Friday, March 13, 2009

March 13, 1909 - Personal Column

100 Years Ago Today: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].
Every week the Eagle had an accounting of what everyone in the neighborhood was doing - they beat Facebook to the "Status Update" idea by almost a century...


Frank J. Lyons is able to be out again.

William Connolly, the B. and A. conductor, has returned from North Adams.

John J. Carroll is visiting in Philadelphia.

Mr. Paul Clark entertained his father at his home in this city during the week. Mr. Clark, Sr., comes from Rochester.

Mr. D. R. Cooper is in New York on a business trip.

Mrs. Jacob Heller is confined to her home with a severe illness.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

County Preps for State Budget Cuts

Troy Record: Guest Columnist: Steps to limit negative effects of state budget

By Kathleen M. Jimino, Rensselaer County Executive
Recently, I met with both majority and minority members of the Rensselaer County Legislature to discuss the potential impact that the governor’s proposed state budget will have on Rensselaer County residents as well as steps that I propose we take to assure that our residents are not adversely affected.

Arrest for Albany Muggings

Capital News 9: Police make arrest In Morris Street robberies
Albany Police have arrested a man for two armed robberies on Morris Street over the weekend.

Police say man was middle-of-night mugger
Police arrested a 20-year-old Rensselaer man for allegedly committing two strong-armed robberies on Morris Street early Sunday.

Justin Adams of 380 Broadway was charged with two counts of second-degree robbery for the incidents in which he allegedly told police he targeted people who were obviously intoxicated.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Governor's Rail Plan

Here's the round-up of Governor Paterson's new Rail Plan, announced today in the Amtrak station here in Rensselaer, NY.

First off, go launch a window to watch or listen to the recorded press conference for a while - it's good. (I had to smile when the Governor started with a history lesson about the 1831 Mohawk & Hudson Railroad - maybe he reads my blog.)

Times-Union: Paterson touts $10.7B overhaul of N.Y. rail service. Comment at The Buzz: Business News: Rail plan includes plans for growth even as state cuts support


NYS Department of Transportation: State Rail Plan

Paterson at Amtrak Today

Governor Paterson will be making an announcement about rail service at 10 am this morning, at the Amtrak station in Rensselaer.

Check out the following article, which helpfully includes the wrong pronunciation for "Rensselaer" (it's "RENNS-ler", pass it on...).

Newsday: NY gov to make statewide rail service announcment

North End Neighborhood Meeting

The North End Neighborhood Association meets this Thur., March 12 at 7pm. A representative from the Rensselaer County Department of Aging will discuss issues of interest to local senior citizens.

The meeting location is the basement meeting room of the First Baptist Church at 1101 Washington Ave, Rensselaer, NY. The North End Neighborhood Association covers the 8th and 9th Wards (represented by Rich Mooney and Pat Jackson).

County Historical Society Finances

The Rensselaer County Historical Society is asking for financial assistance from the City of Troy to keep the Society's doors open and allow it to "begin a period of 'rejuvenation' creating a broader base of public support".

Times-Union: History group at risk of closing
Money woes may force Rensselaer County Historical Society to shut

Financial difficulties may force the venerable Rensselaer County Historical Society to close, officials confirmed Sunday.
The RCHS had operating losses totaling $395,204 from 2005 through 2007, according to the nonprofit's financial reports.

When I started the blog, I visited the RCHS looking for information on the City of Rensselaer, but found almost nothing. Most of the collection (and events) seem to be about Troy. Improving coverage across the County would be a good strategy to help broaden their public support.

Friday, March 6, 2009

March 6, 1909 - Cream Nut Bread

100 Years Ago Today: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

This advertisement for "Harlander's Cream Nut Bread" sounds yummy. My best guess for a comparable recipe would be a Sour Cream Nut Bread, or this version with spices and raisins.

Harlander's Bakery
With a full and complete line of Cakes, Pies, Rolls, Buns, Bread and Cookies.

"Harlander's Cream Nut Bread."

Washington Ave. and Fourth St., Rensselaer, N. Y.

Port Management

Times-Union: Council wants more port authority
Albany city lawmakers ask the state to give them more input into commission appointments
In the wake of questions about management of the sprawling complex in the South End, the Common Council has asked the state Legislature to grant it the power to confirm the mayor's nominations to the five-member Albany Port District Commission.

The appointments are made by the governor on the recommendation of the mayors of Albany and Rensselaer — four of the appointments come from Albany, one from Rensselaer, whose seat is vacant.

Times-Union (2/22/09): Port gets hard look
The arrest last year of three former port workers has led to a broader criminal probe of Albany's waterfront. Top port officials have pledged cooperation and say tips to police triggered the investigation.
Times-Union (2/11/09): FBI, State Police raid offices at port
Businesses' records seized in probe into bid-rigging allegations


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lego My LiteBrite?

The enterprising and creative tenants at the Odd Fellows Hall on Broadway are putting out an open call for submissions to an art show. The theme is "Lego my LiteBrite" and pieces should use or be inspired by those classic toys.

Read all about it in their Open Call for Submissions (more here with photos) on Craigslist, and see a few images from their last show on Flickr. They will be open for the exhibit on the 25th and 26th of April and then move the show to a vacant artist spot in Troy. You should be able to see it on May 29th at Troy Night Out.

If you're not artistic but think it would be a cool way to get rid of a Lego or LiteBrite set, they'd welcome donations. Deadline for artwork submissions is April 22. For more info, including information about selling or buying pieces, please e-mail silleeeputteee@gmail.com.

Ice Storm Disaster Declaration

State and local governments will now be able to access federal money for ice storm repairs.

Newsday.com: Disaster declaration for Dec. 11 storm
President Obama has declared a disaster in nine upstate New York counties struck by severe winter storms between Dec. 11-31.

Capital News 9:
Federal money available for ice storm damage
Federal money is coming to help with the devastation caused throughout the region by the December ice storm.

MORE: Troy Record: More FEMA funds flowing to area to aid victims of December ice storm

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Quad Grants

Poughkeepsie Journal: Grants awarded for Quadricentennial projects

Fourteen grants totaling $50,000 have been awarded for projects throughout the Hudson Valley in preparation for the Hudson Fulton Champlain Quadricentennial.

Spring Gardening

It's garden catalog time, and I've just ordered an unmanageable selection of seeds (again). Last year's best results from seed were the zinnias:

Here are some upcoming events for other incurable gardening optimists:

Spring Garden Day, March 14 (Cornell Cooperative Extension); Tamarack/Brunswick High School, Troy; Workshops are Sold Out, but you can still pay $10 at the door to see Margaret Roach speak at 2pm on "Making a 365 Day Garden" (check out her blog A Way To Garden)

Capital District Garden and Flower Show, March 27-29th; Hudson Valley Community College, Troy; $10 at the door, $8 advance tickets at Price Chopper

Here's a hot topic: Rain Gardening with Master Gardener Sue Perzzola, April 7, 6pm; East Greenbush Library; (See the ultimate Rain Garden Manual from the Univ. of Wisconsin.)

The Capital District Community Gardens have a Spring Brunch at HVCC on May 3. Check the link for details. CDCG's gardens include the "Rensselaer Family Farm" on Fifth St. near Fowler, and an employee community garden at the Tech Park.

Check out Cornell Cooperative Extension's online Gardening Resources, and once things start blooming, be sure to take a short drive out Rt. 43 and visit their Demonstration Garden at the Robert C. Parker School.

My latest quest is to find a local retailer selling rain barrels. Anybody know a source?

Monday, March 2, 2009

1000 MW of Wind

Press Release: NYISO Marks Wind Power Milestone
Total output reaches 1,000 megawatts
Rensselaer, N.Y. – The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) recently observed a milestone in the expansion of wind power generation in New York. At 6:00 pm on February 19, 2009, the combined total output of all wind plants in New York reached 1,000 megawatts (MW).
At the time when wind output reached 1,000 MW, it provided nearly 5% of the roughly 21,000 MW of total system demand.
Choose renewable power for your home at National Grid by choosing a provider like Community Energy, EnviroGen, Green Mountain Energy, or Sterling Planet.

Hybrid Buses

Times-Union: CDTA to buy 40 buses
Agency board expects to receive $15.7 million in federal stimulus funding expected stimulus funds

RENSSELAER — The Capital District Transportation Authority board voted Wednesday to use an expected $15.7 million in federal economic stimulus money to purchase 40 new buses.

Daily Gazette:
$15.7M in stimulus money will enable CDTA to pay cash for buses
... The new buses will be a combination of diesel-electric hybrid and clean-fuel diesel that has yet to be determined, said CDTA Executive Director Raymond Melleady.

Editorial: CDTA should use some stimulus $$$ for fare mitigation
For awhile it looked as if the Capital District Transportation Authority would have no choice but to use any stimulus money for capital purchases. But in the final legislation, Congress wisely gave bus service providers discretion with the funds, allowing some to be used for operating expenses. Unfortunately, CDTA has decided to use all of its $15.7 million allocation to buy new buses and none to mitigate fair [sic] increases, one planned for April and another under consideration for 2010.

The Daily Gazette stated in an earlier article (CDTA, riders happy with hybrid buses) that CDTA's hybrid buses cost about $475,ooo ($150,000 more than a conventional diesel bus), and get about 4.8 miles per gallon versus 3.8 mpg for a conventional bus. This 2007 CDTA press release said that they had 280 buses and operated about 7.2 million miles each year.

Using those figures, the average miles per bus would be 25,714. Reducing mpg from 4.8 to 3.8 for one bus would reduce the gallons used from 6,767 to 5,357 gallons per bus per year (a savings of 1,410 gallons per bus per year).

Given the higher cost of the buses, fuel prices would have to triple for CDTA to break-even (not counting the cost of battery replacement), but I think this is the right thing to do. A state grant will help offset about a sixth of that cost, and not paying interest to finance the purchase will save a great deal of money (I haven't found the information yet to let me estimate how much).

This white paper "Hybrid Bus Benefits - a Gillig Persepective" discusses the difficulty of estimating fuel efficiency on diesel buses, but points out the added benefits of cleaner emissions and quieter operations. (CDTA will be buying the bus from Gillig Corporation, but this white paper wasn't on their site, but on the site of a Michigan customer.)