Thursday, April 30, 2009

T-U's Editorial on Audit Needed More Research

Here's a rather odd editorial from the Times-Union (no byline):

The category is: Bad government

Like the popular game "Jeopardy,'' a state audit of the city of Rensselaer's finances gives a bunch of answers. The trick is to guess the questions.
This relatively young community was founded in 1897 after breaking away from Albany. It's small by city standards, with just 7,500 people. But it spends like a bigger city. It has a $10.5 million budget that translates to $345 for every resident, the 8th highest per capita government tab among cities in the state, and the highest rate in the Capital Region. The next closest is 20th-ranked Saratoga Springs at $233, followed by Albany, in 23rd place, at $225.

I've never seen any evidence of Rensselaer "breaking away from Albany" (see Albany maps from 1770 and 1790's). Rensselaer was created by merging Greenbush and Bath-on-the-Hudson (1893 map). The northern part of Greenbush, (town boundaries defined in 1801), was commonly referred to as East Albany, but was not related by government.

I was more concerned that they didn't bother to give attribution for these government spending figures. Here's where you can go to see them yourself: See Through New York - Benchmarking New York. There are many other interesting numbers to compare (some of which certainly need improvement, both in Albany and Rensselaer). The "government tab" mentioned in the editorial is defined in See Through New York as:
"General Government Per Capita - Total amount of expenditures for services provided by the governmental entity for the benefit of the public or governmental body as a whole divided by population. This subcategory may include the following subcategories: administration, zoning and planning, operations, judgments, county distribution of sales tax, and miscellaneous general government."
The editorial does provide an indirect link for the audit (via Tinyurl). I don't like this practice (except perhaps in Twitter), as it disguises the actual address of the destination page (you can always right-click my links and check their Properties before following). Here's a direct link to the City of Rensselaer audit (it's a 23-page PDF file).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

St. John's All Class Reunion

Announcement from the Rensselaer, New York Facebook group, and the St. John's Academy Rensselaer NY Facebook group:

St. John's All Class Reunion

Spring has sprung! And with that came the spontaneous idea for a reunion of anyone who attended St. John’s Academy in Rensselaer. The idea has sprouted! We will meet on Friday, May 8, at 6:00 p.m., for an Italian buffet at Rudy’s V&R restaurant, 483 Broadway, Rensselaer, with St. John’s steeple in view. Plans include an after-dinner walk to our alma mater. Spouses and friends are cordially invited. Cost is just $20 per person, with cash bar. Reservations can be made and paid for in advance by contacting Kathy Nardacci, class of ’68 [full contact information in the Facebook posting]. Please spread the word! We hope to see as many of you as possible, and hope this will spur more gatherings in the future.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Audit Faults Rensselaer Finances

Troy Record: Comptroller critical of Rensselaer - again
A state audit has faulted the city’s management of its funds, the second report in four years to do so.

Released last week and spanning from August 2006 until July 2008, the report from the state comptroller’s office takes aim at the city treasurer for lax control over the city’s 49 bank accounts, as well as the Common Council that is tasked with overseeing the treasurer’s office.

Treasurer Susan Lupian, auditors wrote, “did not maintain custody of cash or even have a comprehensive list of all city-owned bank accounts and was unable to produce such a list upon our request.”

State auditors again critical of Rensselaer finances
All three audits noted the problems put city assets at risk because the disorganization and lack of monitoring make irregularities such as fraud hard to detect.

None of the audits, however, found evidence of missing funds, fraud or other wrongdoing.

Bird(s) on a Box

I've never caught the Rensselaer falcons in the process of changing places, but seeing each parent sitting in the same position really highlights the difference in their sizes.

Wikipedia says that females are larger than males, so Mama Falcon is probably the one on the top left, with the more pronounced markings on her wings. Her tail reaches almost to the outer ring scraped in the gravel.

Papa Falcon is below, with shorter wings and a tail that reaches nearly half way to the outer ring. He is a more uniform color.

If still images of a bird on a box are a little too boring, check out "2009 Utica Peregrine Falcons part 1" on YouTube (the Utica Peregrines have their own videographer).

Monday, April 27, 2009

District 6 - April Report

Here's the April update on County business from Rensselaer's representative, Mike Stammel. The County Officials and Services Directory for 2009 is posted on the County Legislature's site too.

Rensselaer Spring Clean Up

Spring Into Action
Rensselaer Earth Day Clean Up
Saturday May 2, 2009 (Rain Date May 3)

Rensselaer Revitalization Alliance

Litter patrols will be roaming the streets.
Do your part, clean a curb, help a neighbor.

Prize Patrol at City Hall 2:00 pm
(prizes for kids, tweens and teens)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lincoln's Ghost Train

At 10:55pm on April 25, 1865, President Lincoln's funeral train pulled into the Greenbush/East Albany station (this was before we became "Rensselaer"). The Great Funeral Cortage passed through 9 states on its way from Washington, DC to Springfield, IL, passing through New York City with great ceremony, and continuing to Greenbush, NY, the northern terminus of the Hudson River Railroad. On this leg of the journey the train was pulled by a locomotive named the Union and a pilot engine named the Constitution.

According to historic register documents, the Dearstyne Inn played a role: "Tradition has it that the body of President Lincoln was housed temporarily in the hotel in 1865 while awaiting ferry transport to the capitol at Albany." (The train went on to Troy to cross the river there.) What was intended to be a simple procession in Albany drew crowds of 50,000 or more.

It's no surprise then that legends sprung up around this momentous event, and a ghostly funeral train is said to travel the rails to Rensselaer. The Assasination of Lincoln quotes the Albany Evening Times as follows:
Regularily in the month of April the air becomes very keen and cutting. On either side of the tracks it is warm and still. ... Soon the pilot engine of Lincoln's funeral train passes with long, black streamers, and with a band of black instruments playing dirges, grinning skeletons sitting all about. ...."
On the site American Folklore, there is a great version of The Lincoln Death Train story, as retold by S. E. Schlosser:
There was a glowing orchestra of skeletons seated in a semi-circle. ...Then the orchestra was gone and another glowing headlight pierced the blackness. ... Another black crepe draped train was approaching. A funeral train, I thought. ... The only thing there was a single black-crepe draped coffin. But swirling in the air around the train were the ghostly figures of soldiers dressed in the blue uniforms worn by the North during the civil war. They lined up before my eyes, saluting the solitary coffin as it passed.

The next morning, all the clocks on the Hudson Division were six minutes behind and all the trains were running six minutes late. When I asked the stationmaster about it, he shook his head and told me not to worry. It was caused by the Lincoln Death Train, which had stopped time as it ran by in the night.

Friday, April 24, 2009

April 24, 1909 - Open Trolley Cars

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


Necessary to Get Permission of the City to Alter Grade - Permission of the Bridge Company Has Been Obtained as Well

Open cars are practically assured for patrons of the Cohoes Railway Co., cars (that do not operate in Cohoes, but 10 miles away in this city). However the management of the United Traction Company, which has a guiding hand in the affairs of the Cohoes Railway Co., assures The Rensselaer Eagle that the only thing that now stands in the way of open cars is the securing of necessary permission from the management of the Greenbush Bridge Co. and concession on the part of the city by which it will be possible to slightly alter the grade at the eastern end of the bridge.

When this permission is secured it will mean a saving of from three to five minutes on each trip that the Broadway and Third street cars make and during this season of the year it is a most important saving.
In these days when the draw of the Greenbush Bridge is opened several times an hour to permit the passage of boats the saving in time that it would be possible to make with the new curves installed will be appreciated, for often the matter of a couple of minutes means that a wait of 15 or 20 minutes may be avoided.
The United Traction Co. is having 50 new open cars of an improved type built at the Jones car works in Watervliet. They are to be ready for the summer traffic and it is hoped that Rensselaer will get half a dozen or more of the cars.
This J. M. Jones' Sons Trolley Advertisement showing open cars (vintage unknown) is from the Joseph A. Smith Collection, a treasure-trove of local rail photos. (Check out this 1865 train vs. open drawbridge picture: Green Island Bridge Train Wreck)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More Rensselaer Detours

A few more travel advisories of interest for Rensselaer:

On Friday morning, after rush hour, Rts. 9/20 Westbound will be closed between Broadway and Washington St. in Rensselaer. See the full advisory on CBS-6.

On Saturday, the ramp from Exit 5 of Rt. 787 Southbound to Rt. 90 Eastbound will be closed. Detour will be Westbound one exit on 90 to Rt. 9, and double back.

Who's the Dunn Bridge Named For?

The Private Parker F. Dunn Memorial Bridge crosses the Hudson River, connecting Rensselaer to Albany along Rt. 9/20. Google Maps shows the cool, spiral ramps on the Albany side. This bridge replaced the original Dunn Memorial Bridge in 1967.

The bridge memorializes Parker F. Dunn (1890-1918) of Albany, who was killed in the Argonne Forest in France in World War I, and awarded the Medal of Honor for "extraordinary heroism". From the military citation:
When his battalion commander found it necessary to send a message to a company in the attacking line and hesitated to order a runner to make the trip because of the extreme danger involved, Private First Class Dunn, a member of the intelligence section, volunteered for the mission.
He was killed by machine gun fire before making it across the field. He's cited in army publications as an example of "personal courage". The book Here Rests In Honored Glory has an extensive biography of Private Dunn.

Sloop Clearwater Visited Rensselaer

All Over Albany noted that the Sloop Clearwater was docked in Rensselaer yesterday. Check out their posting The Sloop Clearwater's in town for a great photo and more information. They say the Clearwater will be back in Rensselaer June 12-15.

For news and updates, visit: Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc.:
Clearwater is a 106-foot wooden sailing sloop designed after 18th and 19th century Dutch sailing sloops. In 1966, folk singer and activist Pete Seeger had the vision that the public would come to care for all of our threatened waterways by learning to care for one boat and one river. He inspired a group of dedicated people who made the dream a reality. Launched in 1969, Clearwater serves as a moveable classroom, laboratory, stage, and forum.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Traffic Cams [Were] Dark on Filming Site

UPDATE: At least two of the traffic cameras are back as of 9:15am

I just visited the Albany Area Traffic Cams site, and discovered that if you want a glimpse of the filming action or the resulting traffic, your only option may be the very distant Capital News 9 weather station camera on the Amtrak Station (click the Rensselaer tab). All three DOT traffic cameras that cover the 787/Dunn Bridge location are "unavailable".

Times-Union: Lights, cameras, detour
Curving Plaza ramps draw Angelina Jolie film; will it be worth the wait for busy commuters?

The attraction of the Empire State Plaza's ramps is their unique three-level configuration...

The brief chase scene in "Salt" will pump more than $500,000 into the local economy... While they are shelling out thousands for detour signs and engineering work, the film company only had to pay a $25 permit fee to the state for using the roadway.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Salt Cast & Crew: Visit Rensselaer!

To the cast and crew members who are in Albany filming scenes for "Salt", why not see both sides of the Hudson while you're here - come across and visit Rensselaer, NY!

Want a great restaurant? The following are my favorite Rensselaer spots:

Walk or run in our 5K race on May 3 - the Boys and Girls Club is raising money to move to a new building, more centrally located to the kids served. The detours through downtown Rensselaer were unanticipated, and I suspect the extra traffic may affect the turnout for this event, sadly.

You can also visit us online: take a virtual tour of our historic register sites, learn more about local railroad history, or flash back 100 years to the days of travel by steamboat.

If you're online during the daylight, check on the peregrine falcons nesting under the Dunn Memorial Bridge. (The chicks should be hatching by the time you're wrapping up.)

"Salt" Detours - Amtrak Station

Keep in mind that the "Salt" filming will detour traffic that normally goes to the Amtrak Station via Rt. 787 and the Dunn Memorial Bridge, through May 4th. Leave plenty of extra time!

Detours to train station during chase for Jolie film

Monday, April 20, 2009

Detours - Filming Chase Scene for Jolie's "Salt"

UPDATE - Times Union: Road closure dates set for Jolie movie
Drivers nearing downtown Albany might see more action than they are used to in upcoming days as film crews shoot car chase scenes for an action-thriller starring Angelina Jolie.
Times-Union (3/28/09): Jolie movie to shoot in Albany

Here's the schedule of Albany road closures for the "Salt" filming (from an e-mail making the rounds), which impacts Ramps to Rt. 787 and the Dunn Memorial Bridge starting Thursday. Traffic will be detoured down Broadway in Rensselaer.

Thursday, April 23 Road Closures:
  • 6AM - 4PM: South Mall Expressway eastbound Ramp to I-787 North (Ramp to I-787 South will be OPEN) DETOUR: Routes 9/20 Dunn Bridge east, right on Broadway in Rensselaer, right on Routes 9/20 Dunn Bridge west to ramp to I-787 north.
  • 6AM - 8PM: I-787 Northbound Exit 3 Ramp to Empire Plaza (NOTE: This Ramp may remain closed overnight on Thursday night) DETOUR: Route 9/20 Dunn Bridge east, right on Broadway in Rensselaer, to Dunn Bridge west to Empire Plaza.
  • 9AM - 8PM: I-787 Northbound Exit 3 Ramp to both Empire Plaza and Dunn Bridge. DETOUR: I-787 NB Exit 4; along corning preserve northbound, left on Colonie St, left on Water Street, south to South Mall Expressway westbound, to Empire Plaza. Motorists continuing to Rensselaer/Amtrak, continue through Empire Plaza to South Mall Expressway eastbound to Dunn Bridge.
  • 9AM - 8PM : Exit 3A I-787 Southbound Ramp to Dunn Bridge (Rt. 9/20 East). (Ramp to Empire Plaza will be OPEN). DETOUR: Ramp to Empire Plaza, South Mall Expressway westbound thru Empire Plaza to South Mall Expressway eastbound to Dunn Bridge.
Friday, April 24 Closures: (Detours as above if not specified)
  • 6AM - 4PM: South Mall Expressway eastbound Ramps to I-787 North & South. DETOUR: Routes 9/20 Dunn Bridge east, right on Broadway in Rensselaer, right on Rts. 9/20 Dunn Bridge west to ramps to I-787
  • 6AM - 9AM: I-787 Northbound Exit 3 Ramp to Empire Plaza (NOTE: This Ramp may remain closed overnight on Thurs., Fri. & Sat.)
  • 9AM - 8PM: I-787 North Exit 3 Ramp to Empire Plaza & Dunn Bridge
  • 9AM - 8PM: Exit 3A I-787 Southbound Ramps to both Dunn Bridge & Empire Plaza (Rt. 9/20 East & west)
Saturday, Apr. 25 & Sunday, Apr. 26 Road Closures: (All closures approx. 6AM - 8PM)
  • South Mall Expressway eastbound Ramps to I-787 North & South
  • I-787 Northbound Exit 3 ramps to both Empire Plaza and Dunn Bridge
  • I-787 Southbound Exit 3A ramps to both Empire Plaza and Dunn Bridge
  • Intermittent Closures: Water Street between Colonie and Pine Streets
Monday, April 27 & Thursday, April 30 Road Closures:
  • 6AM - 4PM: S. Mall Expressway east Ramps to I-787 North & South
  • 6AM - 9AM: I-787 North Exit 3 Ramp to Empire Plaza
  • 9AM - 8PM: I-787 North Exit 3 Ramp to Empire Plaza & Dunn Bridge
  • 9AM - 8PM: I-787 South Exit 3A ramps to Empire Plaza & Dunn Bridge
Friday, May 1 Road Closures:
  • 9AM - 8PM: Water St. between Colonie & Pine Sts. DETOUR: Colonie St.
Sat., May 2 & Sun., May 3: (All closures approx. 6AM - 8PM)
  • South Mall Expressway East Ramps to I-787 North & South
  • I-787 North Exit 3 ramps to both Empire Plaza & Dunn Bridge
  • I-787 South Exit 3A ramps to both Empire Plaza & Dunn Bridge
  • Water Street between Colonie & Pine Streets (NOTE: With Water Street Closed, an alternate detour will be used to access Empire Plaza
Monday, May 4 Road Closures:
  • 6AM-4PM: South Mall Expressway East Ramps to I-787 North & South
  • 6AM-9AM: I-787 North Exit 3 Ramp to Empire Plaza
  • 9AM-8PM: I-787 North Exit 3 Ramp to both Empire Plaza & Dunn Bridge
  • 9AM-8PM: I-787 South Exit 3A ramps to Empire Plaza & Dunn Bridge
(Dates subject to weather and production schedule. Rain dates are May 14-May 18).

Greenbush Records Revealed

Troy Record: Old books reveal town history

On April 5, 1796, it was crunch time for the government of the town of Greenbush.
Greenbush was comprised of what are now the city of Rensselaer, North and East Greenbush, and a small part of Sand Lake.
The documents provide interesting tidbits about which issues were of public importance more than two centuries ago.

Here's the older Times-Union Story, "Newfound Books Fill Historical Gap".

Saturday, April 18, 2009

MetLife's Data Center

Data storage is critical for an insurance company, and MetLife has their data center right here in the Rensselaer Tech Park. MetLife's IT gurus recently made news by significantly improving their data backup and recovery strategy. Disaster recovery strategy shift reduces data loss, recovery time
Under pressure to improve recovery time objectives and minimize data loss, IT veterans at MetLife Inc. took advantage of decreasing storage costs and an underleveraged data center to devise a multimillion-dollar disaster recovery strategy that met those goals, eliminated a security risk and will earn a double-digit ROI in five years.
MetLife previously backed up the mainframe onto data tapes, which were stored off-site. In the event of a major system failure, as much as 41 hours of data could potentially be lost, depending on the time of the last tape backup. MetLife turned their Scranton, PA data center into a mirror image backup site for Rensselaer, greatly improving recovery times and reducing potential data loss to 15 minutes. (They had to install an ultra-high-speed optical network line between the two centers to achieve this.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

April 17, 1909 - Rabies

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

Officials of the Department of Agriculture Are On Their Job Every Minute - How The Law is Being Enforced Elsewhere

The quarantine ordered by Commissioner R. A. Pearson, of the State Department of Agriculture, is being rigidly enforced in this city, and while there are some who do not believe that rabies could exist here, yet the Commissioner of Agriculture is taking no chances and his deputies are very busy.

All dogs that are found unmuzzled are being caught and disposed of, even though some of the owners of valuable animals do not seem to think that the department is in earnest. It will be recalled that about two months ago the first quarantine made on the city was withdrawn for no new cases of rabies had developed. Yet it was only a short time before a number of persons were bitten and injured by dogs and subsequent investigation showed that the animals were afflicted with rabies.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Neighborhood Notes

A few tidbits from the North End Neighborhood Association meeting tonight:
  • Everybody loves the city's new street sweeper and wood chipper
  • Firehouse construction should start back up again next week
  • Progress on the county jail expansion is good and on time
  • Rensselaer County is submitting projects for stimulus funding
  • Much info on the county web site: services, events, energy tips
  • Electronics Recycling is April 25, call DPW (462-9617) for coupons
  • The new court room at City Hall is nearly done - Open House soon
  • Friends of the Rensselaer Library will be having a book sale in May
  • Bids are due in May for renovating Dollar Store/future new library
  • Census workers have been walking the streets verifying addresses
  • The shopping dev't at Rts. 4 & 43 should break ground this spring
  • 12-year-olds arrested for throwing rocks through windows at homeowners - be aware
  • Lock your car, even in your driveway
  • The guest speaker at next month's meeting will be school superintendent Gordon Reynolds, just in time for the budget vote

Rensselaer Retirees' Health Benefits

CBS6 WRGB: Rensselaer retirees face pension changes

Different health care plan proposed

Proposed changes in the health insurance entitlement for employees retired from jobs with the City of Rensselaer have angered some of those former workers who believe the common council tried to quietly pass it. Council members say they thought retirees had been notified about either what the change would mean or when meetings would be held to have it explained to them. The proposed resolution is dated April 15 but the item was not taken up during Wednesday's council meeting because, according to Council President Charles Hall, the council thought retirees had been sent letters.
Four informational meetings are scheduled at city hall and Hall said more would be scheduled during evening hours. The scheduled dates are April 28 at 10 a.m.; April 30 at 2 p.m.; May 5 at 2 p.m. and May 7 at 10 a.m.

Read the article for full details.

Hollywood Drive-In Opens

If the nice weather makes you nostalgic for the days of drive-in movies, you're in luck. The Hollywood Drive-In on Route 66 in Averill Park has just opened. The movies this week are "Fast and Furious" with Vin Diesel and "Knowing" with Nicholas Cage. All Over Albany has an interview with owner Frank Fisher.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

City Hall Roof Work

Times-Union: Bids sought for City Hall roof work
RENSSELAER — The city is seeking bids to replace the roof on the building that became City Hall about two years ago.
Mayor Dan Dwyer developed the plan to move city offices to the community center and the Police Department to the old post office on Broadway shortly after taking office in 2006.
Dwyer said officials knew when they inked the deal for the building it would soon need roof work.
It's refreshing to see some reporting on Rensselaer city government, even if it's a last minute article about a bidding process that ended today. (Citizens were much better informed 100 years ago when the Rensselaer Eagle reported weekly on city council matters.)

I'm also baffled about why Rensselaer doesn't maintain a web site to keep the citizens informed about issues like this. It need not be as ambitious as Watervliet, Cohoes, E. Greenbush, N. Greenbush, Schodack, etc., but a basic site with public notices and city council and planning board meeting agendas and minutes is desperately needed.

Fame: Tia Bates

Here's another famous local woman: Anna Monteith, also known as Tia (Aunt) Bates, a renowned innkeeper in Arequipa, Peru, who hosted the likes of Clark Gable and Noel Coward. A Letter to a Friend in South America (1949) describes a "charming, hospitable, scandalous, autocratic, capable, generous, vituperative old lady":
The journalists have reported that she was born Ana Monteith in what was then called Bath-on-Hudson in upstate New York. She went to South America with her father, a railroad engineer, who had an assignment in the Chilean nitrate fields.
There was controversy over whether Tia Bates was even American, but our 1880 Census lists 12-year-old Anna Monteith whose father was an engineer. The ages match the 1953 obituary of the "Legendary Innkeeper" in Time Magazine. A letter from a guest, also in Time, says:
There was always some kind of ruckus in progress, usually a battle between the fiery old mistress and the servants, accompanied by strikes, walkouts [and] petty jealousies . . . Tia, with her salty tongue, was a joy to listen to. She'd fire half the force, and hire them back next morning.
Here's a sample of Noel Coward's lengthy tribute poem "The Quinta Bates":
Tho' Tia is completely kind,
She has a keen and lively mind,
And when things seem too hard to bear,
She'll soundly and robustly swear
She's learned her life in Nature's School
And isn't anybody's fool.
(From Noel Coward Collected Verse - I don't recommend buying it unless you want a lot more of that kind of poetry - I'll donate my copy to the Rensselaer library.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Crailo Archeology Talk

Archeological Excavations at Crailo Historic Site, 2007 & 2008
Sunday April 19, 2009, 2:00 PM
Contact: 477-7476
Location: East Greenbush Community Library, 10 Community Way, East Greenbush, NY
Noted archeologist Paul Huey, will present a talk at the library as part of the Hudson River Quadricentennial. Mr. Huey, who led the 1970-71 excavation at the Fort Orange site in downtown Albany, will discuss intriguing archeological discoveries at Crailo State Historic Site as well as the early history of Crailo in the 17th century. Please call the library to register for this free talk.
See more events at the East Greenbush Library's Calendar

Monday, April 13, 2009

North End Neighborhood Meeting

The North End Neighborhood Association meets this Thur., April 16 at 7pm. The guest speaker is Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimono.

Meeting are held in 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).

Wal-Mart Theft

Times-Union - Rensselaer man charged in Wal-Mart theft
John W. Halacy of 25 Lindberg Ave. allegedly shoplifted a hand tool from the Route 4 store Friday afternoon, police said.

Tiny Trees & Shrubs

Rensselaer County Soil & Water Conservation District

Annual Tree & Shrub Sale

Landscaping on a budget? Check out the County Tree and Shrub Sale. You'll get great prices, if you don't mind waiting a few extra seasons for them to grow. Here are some examples (many more on the Order Form):
  • Five 12"-18" 5 yr. Arborvitae transplants for $16.00
  • Five 18”-24” 3 yr. Pagoda Flowering Dogwood seedlings for $11.00
  • Ten 18”-24” 2 yr. Rugosa Rose seedlings for $13.00
  • Five 24”-36” 2 yr. old Forsythia seedlings for $10.00
  • Fifty Pachysandra rooted cuttings for $18.00
  • Fifty Periwinkle (Myrtle) Clumps for $27.00
The trees and shrubs will be seedlings, (skinny sticks - not fluffy shrubs). If you don't need five or ten trees, you could share with a neighbor.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

5K Run in Rensselaer May 3

Thanks to Kathy for posting this in the Facebook Group: Rensselaer Boys and Girls Club is sponsoring a 5k Run/Walk (HealthyKids / Healthy Rensselaer) on May 3rd at River Front Park.
WHEN: Sunday, May 3, 2009
WHERE: Riverfront Park off Broadway, Between 3rd and 5th Ave, Rensselaer, NY
RACE DAY: Registration is from 8:30AM-9:45AM in the park, Race starts at 10:00AM (walkers follow runners), Awards at 11AM, 1 Mile Kids Run at 11:30

The Registration Form (PDF) has all the information, including a route map. You can also Register Online. 100% of proceeds will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Rensselaer to promote nutrition, physical activity and healthy lifestyles.

“Healthy Kids, Healthy Rensselaer”
is sponsored by the University at Albany School of Public Health and CORE Public Health Leaders of Tomorrow. They will also be holding a Health Fair in River Front Park on the same day (May 3). Attractions include: Music, Tae Kwon Do Exibition, Games, Face Painting, Food, Bouncy Bounce, Raffle and Prizes, Blood Pressure Screening, Fire Trucks, and Bowling.

Lost Brother Found

Times-Union: After 51 years, sister finds brother in obituary
Mary Mayou had not seen her brother for more than 50 years when her daughter handed her the Times Union last week.
After his death, operators of the shelter discovered that the tireless kitchen worker and chain smoker they knew for 38 years and called the "hermit" really was Gene Rollin Poffahl, who grew up in Rensselaer.

Friday, April 10, 2009

April 10, 1909 - Telephone Service

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


Home Telephone Co. Will Begin Setting Poles at That Time

The Home Telephone Co. will begin setting its poles in Rensselaer on Monday and the work will be hurried along to completion. It will take several weeks to get all the poles in position, and then a big gang of line-men will commence stringing the wires. The cables and conduits will arrive in due season and will be installed as soon as possible.

Every day the company is receiving voluntary offers of patrons who wish to use its service as soon as it is ready for the public. Thus far nearly 300 [?] subscribers have been taken [?] and many more will follow when the lines are in operation.

It has not yet been decided whether there will be a "central" office located in Rensselaer or not. Officials of the company say it will expedite the installation of the local service to have a direct connection with the Albany "central" office and it will also mean an even quicker service. This would be accomplished by the laying of a big cable under the river. The company now has its request before the War department, and as soon as a determination is reached at that department the matter will be definitely decided.

The prospects for the new company are exceedingly bright.

Little League Makeover

Capital News 9 interviewed Tom Burgess, president of the Rensselaer Little League, and has a story and video about rebuilding the ballfield after last summer's flood:

Time to play ball in Rensselaer
It's time to play ball in Rensselaer. And this season is a long time coming, after a game last year that Mother Nature played and won, causing thousands of dollars of damage.
Eight months and a hundred volunteers later, it's a brand new season.
“The community comes together... They can change a lot. They did a lot of work and we're back."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Four Falcon Eggs

Here's an image I captured on Monday morning. I haven't been able to see the eggs again this week, but so far they have four.

I've added a quick link on the sidebar, which will take you right to the DEC's webcam. I could show a current image, but you can't see much when it shrinks that small, so I just made an icon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Facebook Group: 500+ Members

In the last two weeks, the Rensselaer, New York Facebook Group has grown from about 50 people to over 500 members. Started by Kathy Nardacci, this group is designed to share photos, history, and memories about growing up in Rensselaer. If you're not on Facebook yet, this might be a good reason to join.

Veggie Garden Classes

Due to high demand, the Cooperative Extension has added another set of vegetable gardening classes to their schedule.

The "Garden 4 Eating" seminars will be held at the Cornell Cooperative Extension offices, 61 State St. Troy, NY.

  • May 4 * Secrets to Successful Vegetable Gardening *
  • May 11 * My 2009 Garden... and How I Got There *
  • May 18 * Getting the Most "Green" From Your Garden! *
  • June 1 * Raised Beds and Container Gardening *

For more info, download the brochure, or check out this Craigslist posting.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fame: Edmonia Lewis

I discovered Mary Edmonia Lewis while reading up on the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago (she was the only local artist who exhibited). Edmonia claimed she was born in Greenbush, NY on July 4th, 1844, but this may or may not be true. There's a discussion of her New York State connections in the Hudson River Bracketed blog: Inventing Edmonia Lewis and Inventing Edmonia Lewis II.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library says of her:
Riding the crest of the neoclassical revival in the 1870's, sculptress Edmonia Lewis attracted wide notice in a field generally dominated by men. She was, in fact, the first African American sculptor to achieve international distinction.
See some of her sculptures in this Smithsonian online exhibition: Cleopatra Lost & Found. ("Cleopatra" currently is displayed on the second floor of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where we snuck this cell phone photo).

Cleopatra's story is told in Smithsonian magazine, September 1996: The Object at Hand:
The circuitous route of Edmonia Lewis' masterwork, a controversial portrayal of Cleopatra at the moment of death, included stints as decor in a Chicago saloon and as a grave marker for a racehorse
Another lost Lewis sculpture, "Veiled Bride of Spring", was found a few years ago in a public library in Kentucky (check your attic - you never know!).

UPDATE: See article "City of Rensselaer Awarded “Honor Roll of Abolitionists” on the last page of this PDF file of the Sept. 2007 The Informed Constituent.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Stimulus For Water Infrastructure

Times-Union: $432M for clean water
Federal stimulus cash to fund rebuilding of sewage systems polluting state rivers, lakes

Throughout the state, aging sewer systems can be overwhelmed during periods of heavy rain or snow melt, causing sewage to bypass sanitary sewer lines and spill directly into the Hudson River.

In the Capital Region, the cities of Albany, Troy, Rensselaer, Watervliet, Cohoes, and the village of Green Island are preparing repair plans through the Capital District Regional Planning Commission...
Half the federal aid will be provided as a grant that will not have to be repaid, while the other half will be a low-interest loan that must be repaid to the state loan fund.

Friday, April 3, 2009

April 3, 1909 - Paving 2nd Street

(Almost) 100 Years Ago: There was no April 3, 1909 issue of the The Rensselaer Eagle in the microfiche [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173]. I'm using a story from April 10, 1909 instead, which is appropriate for pothole season.



Under the Lansing Bill Which Will Doubtless Become a Law Work Could be Done By City and Charged to Property

Every citizen of Rensselaer is interested in the new paving which is soon to be started in this city and which will mean the improvement of many of the streets that now have no paving whatever.
The proposition to pave Second Street from Partition to John Street a distance of two blocks is one of the things that it is hoped may be accomplished this summer.
As Harrison avenue is to be paved from Broadway to Third Street the improvement of Second street would mean that the driver with a heavy load could go up Partition street to Second and then over and up Harrison avenue and thus avoid the grade from Harrison avenue to Partition street on Third. It would also eliminate what is now a mud hole and would mean the improvement of property in that vicinity. ...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

FujiFilm Processing Plant Closing

The Business Review: Fujifilm closing Rensselaer plant
Fujifilm USA is closing its Rensselaer plant and eliminating all 145 jobs. The film manufacturer said the plant, located at One Power Way, Rensselaer, will be closed by July 1.

Comment at The Buzz: Business news: Fuji closing East Greenbush film plan
"Fujifilm has for some time been consolidating wholesale photofinishing operations due to the shift from film processing to digital imaging...."

UPDATE - actually 193 jobs: Times-Union: Fujifilm revises layoff number upward