Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Just call me a political nothing

I am a nothing - politically speaking, that is.

Today, Primary Day, I am not able to fully participate in our electoral process since I am not enrolled in a political party.

That wasn't always the case.

Back when I was a senior at Keveny Memorial Academy in Cohoes, one of my proudest moments was the day my Urban Affairs teacher, Sister Alethea Connolly, took a group of us to the Albany County Board of Elections to register to vote. Sister Alethea was a terrific teacher who instilled a passion for the political process in her students. While we were at the Board of Elections, she urged all of us to consider enrolling in the political party of our choice so we could fully participate in the process.

To be honest, I wanted to be able to vote in primaries, but I wasn't sure in which party to enroll. In the end, I chose the Democratic party, and, over the next few years, I enjoyed voting in the various primaries and general elections.

As the years went by and I moved into leadership roles at The Record, I decided it was inappropriate for me to be enrolled in a political party if I was going to be directing local news coverage so I dropped my party enrollment.

I knew it was the correct decision, but when primary days rolled around, I found myself remembering how much I enjoyed participating fully in our electoral process.

When I took a buyout at the end of June after 39 years at The Record, I had a lot of things on my plate and it slipped my mind that I was now free to join a political party and vote once again on Primary Day. Oh well, there's always next year.

Today, there are many competitive races on the ballot throughout our region, and I can't wait to find out who wins.

In Cohoes, my hometown, Dianne Rigney Nolin and Shawn Morse are vying for the Democratic nod to become the city's next mayor since incumbent Mayor George Primeau decided against seeking re-election. I've known Dianne for a lot of years since we were classmates at Keveny; I met Shawn many years ago, too, through my job at The Record. Both candidates deserve praise for wanting to serve their fellow citizens and help keep the Spindle City moving forward.

In Troy, my longtime professional hometown, all eyes are on the Democratic primary for mayor. Incumbent Mayor Lou Rosamilia decided not to seek a second term, and political newcomer Ernest Everett Jr., TRIP executive director Patrick Madden and City Council President Rodney Wiltshire are seeking the backing of the city's Democratic voters to go up against Republican Jim Gordon in November with the winner becoming the next mayor of the Collar City.

There are also several Green Party, Working Families Party and Independence Party primaries on the ballot in Troy today for various city positions as well as a Republican Party primary for Rensselaer County Sheriff with Pat Russo and Scott Ryan vying for the GOP nod.

And that's just a quick look at a few of the contests on the ballot today.

Voter turnout for primaries is normally notoriously low and experts are already predicting today's results will be more of the same. Do me a favor: If you are enrolled in a party with a primary on today's ballot, please get out and vote. Defy the "experts," and don't be a political nothing like me.

P.S. Since I took a buyout from The Record, I've been asked many times if I miss my job. For the most part, I honestly don't. Yes, I miss my coworkers and the people I worked with in the community over the years, but I had a terrific career for 39 years and I sincerely was ready for a new challenge. Days like today, however, I find myself a bit envious of my successor, Charlie Kraebel, who gets to plan the Primary Day coverage and work with our wonderfully talented reporters. Or maybe I'm just missing that pizza we always ordered for the newsroom on voting days. I don't think so!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, August 29, 2015

May he rest in peace

On Friday morning, we gathered at Holy Trinity Church in Cohoes to say goodbye to one of our own.

Former Record photographer Jeff Couch died on Aug. 18 at Albany Medical Center Hospital at the age of 58 after a short illness.

A crowd of his family, close friends, former coworkers and Cohoes firefighters came together for a Mass celebrated by Rev. Lawrence McTavey in honor of Jeff's all too short life.

As I sat in a pew with The Record's longtime ski writer Dick Healy, I wondered what Jeff would think about the service and the turnout.

Part of me could picture him brushing aside the tribute, saying he didn't have time for such things as he headed out the door to take a photo, buy a pack of cigarettes, or stop at the firehouse in Cohoes to catch up on the latest news in the Spindle City. He wasn't one to wear his heart on his sleeve.

Behind that gruff, sometimes maddening exterior, was another Jeff, the one with the heart of gold.

That Jeff played Santa during The Record's annual open house during the Victorian Stroll and was so good with the kids. That Jeff took my nephew Andrew under his wing when he used to come to The Record with me on weekends and never failed to keep up with him as the years went by and Andrew grew into adulthood. That Jeff took the photos at my Dad's 80th birthday party. That Jeff got help for my husband during a difficult time in his life, That Jeff couldn't wait to show me a copy of a firefighters magazine that published one of his fire photos. That Jeff would take the time to help a new reporter with an assignment. That Jeff enjoyed spending time in The Record's imaging center talking with fellow photographers Mike McMahon, Tom Killips and Jim Carras. That Jeff was proud to be an honorary member of The Uniformed Firefighters of Cohoes Local 2562 and serve as the department's official photographer. That Jeff loved spending time with his close friends Wayne and Mary Hamilton.

Something tells me THAT Jeff would have been pleased that his family, friends, former coworkers, fellow Cohoesiers and members of the Cohoes Fire Department came out to celebrate his life.

Rest in peace Jeff. I'll miss you.

Labels: , , , , , ,

The music is powerful in this park

The Refrigerators perform in Powers Park in Lansingburgh

The 2015 Powers Park Concert Series comes to a close tonight with ""Country Night" featuring Big Sky Country and Patsy Cline Experience with Courtney Shane.
If you haven't had a chance this summer to check out one of the free concerts in the park, located along Second Avenue between 111th and 110th streets in Lansingburgh, today is the day to catch the series' finale for this popular summer series.

The crowd is dancing at The Refrigerators Powers Park concert.

Two weeks ago, my family and I had a ball at the dance party concert featuring The Refrigerators. The popular band had the crowd up on their feet dancing to a variety of hits such as Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," Pharrell Williams' "Happy," and "Shout" by Otis Day and The Knights.

It got loud near the speakers for Ava and Alyssa
It was the first outdoor concert for my two youngest granddaughters, Ava, 6, and Alyssa, 4, and it was such a kick to see them dancing to the music, singing along to some of the songs and munching on the treats - cotton candy, ice cream and little hot dogs! - offered for sale by local merchants. I hope the fun they had at this event will spark a lifelong love of music in both of them.

Vito Ciccarelli at the concert.

The concerts have drawn big crowds all summer, according to Vito Ciccarelli, who is the musical mastermind behind the series, which this summer has featured such diverse performers as the Jimi Hendrix tribute act Jimi Graham, funk group The Getdown, hometown artist Al Bruno, indie rockers the Chris Dukes Band, rock group Emerald City Band, and Lady Strange.

And it's almost guaranteed that you will find a lot of familiar faces in the crowd at the concerts.The night I went to see The Refrigerators, I had a chance to catch up with Nora Dwyer, John Rustin and Jim Gordon
and meet Jim's  wife Melissa and their adorable son, Liam, who will be celebrating his first birthday on Sept. 11. What a cute little boy!

One of the best parts about living in the Capital Region is the variety of fun things to do here during the summer months. Don't miss today's Powers Park concert series finale. I guarantee you'll have a good time.

The members of The Refrigerators are introduced to the crowd at Powers Park in Lansingburgh

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, July 7, 2014

I'm missing Uncle Sam - Part II

A mule at Stewart's in Saratoga Avenue in Waterford
Back in May, I wrote a post on my blog about missing those Uncle Sam statutes that had been placed around downtown Troy until they were auctioned off in an online bidding process last  December.

I loved driving through the Collar City, checking out those patriotic gentlemen as I navigated the city streets.

Since they've been gone, it seems like I can't go anywhere without running into statues in other communities. Whether it's the squirrels in Olean, the frogs in Erie, Pennsylvania or the horses and ballet slippers in Saratoga Springs, seeing them just makes me miss those Uncle Sam statues even more.

In doing a little research for the blog post, I discovered that this worldwide public art craze for over-sized fiberglass statues start in 1999 with cows in Chicago.

Well, we can add another community to the list: Waterford.

Five life-size statues have been installed throughout the town to honor the animal's contribution to the history of the canal system and the 50th anniversary of the Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center.

According to a story by Record reporter Danielle Sanzone in today's print and online editions, the mules were designed by local artists and will be auctioned off in October to benefit the museum and cultural center.

I think they're kind of cute and colorful -- but I'm still missing my Uncle Sams!

Record Chief Photographer Mike McMahon found this mule statue at the Waterford Harbor Visitors Center.

Labels: , , , , ,

They're moving on down the highway

Rebecca Haizmann
When she started with us as a correspondent for Latham Life, she was Rebecca Eppelmann.

Since that time, she has added a few more titles - both professionally and personally.

Leaving the world of independent contractors behind, she joined The Record staff and became editor of our various weeklies,  took on the responsibilities of copy editor, filled in as city desk editor, was named social media coordinator and audience engagement editor. Finally, she was named city editor while continuing to juggle her role as audience engagement editor.

In between juggling all those professional tasks, Rebecca took a few minutes to get married to her fiance Kirby, change her last name to Haizmann, buy a home in Colonie and walk her dog Bailey.

In June, Rebecca Haizmann joined the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District as communications coordinator, where she is responsible for the organization's traditional and new media communications.

 Frankly, it was time for the woman to go;  we were going broke getting her new business cards.

Despite this, we here at The Record do miss her and wish her well with her new position.


Andrew Beam shows off his farewell cake
City reporter Andrew Beam, too, has also moved on down the highway.

Specifically, Andrew has moved a few counties south of here, accepting a job with the Middletown Times Herald Record covering Sullivan County.

We referred to him as Team Beam, the name given to him by City Editor Rebecca Haizmann because he seemed to have too much energy to possibly be one person. He definitely was a force in this newsroom with his enthusiasm, his interest in learning, his love of music and his never-ending tales of how he spent his weekends. Knowing we were in for a few good laughs from Team Beam made coming to work so much easier on Mondays.

The Record's loss is definitely the Middletown Times Herald Record's gain. We all wish him continued success with his career.

P.S. Thanks for leaving the hat behind!

Wishing Andrew well on his last day are his fellow members of The Record City Desk: Lauren Halligan, left to right, Danielle Sanzone, Molly Eadie and Andrew.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, May 25, 2014

'Grandpa' hits the lanes for the flag

Bowling Friday night in the first Flag Day bowl-a-thon at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy was a blast!

It's been about 25 to 30 years since I last bowled, and let's just say that my bowl-a-thon scores reflected my lack of  any recent experience on the lanes. Can you say gutter ball? Say it a few times and you'll get really close to my scores.

There are two reasons why Friday night was such a blast: The people and the cause.

Nora Dwyer enters our team, 
"The Munsters,"  into the
 computer for scoring
We were bowling to raise money for this year's Flag Day Parade on June 8. For a lot of reasons, fund-raising for the 47th annual parade is lagging, and the bowl-a-thon was a new event planned by the Flag Day Committee to get the community involved in raising funds for this annual tribute to our nation's flag.

Tom Walsh, owner of Uncle Sam Lanes on Sixth Avenue, was only too happy to host the bowl-a-thon to help this hard-working group of people come up with the funding to put on the best parade they possibly can.

Cindy Bizaro Wilson and 
Jerry Weaver of the 
Flag Day Committee

Speaking of people -- the organizers, the bowling alley staff, the bowlers -- everybody there Friday night was terrific!

I don't think people realize how hard this committee works year after year to put on this parade. Once one parade is done, they're on to planning the next one, no matter what challenges they face -- and those challenges have been many in recent years.

When I walked into the bowling alley Friday, the first people I saw were Cindy Bizaro Wilson, secretary of the parade committee, and Jerry Weaver, committee vice president. I wish I had that woman's energy. She was greeting everyone, getting teams together, working with Tom Walsh and his staff, selling 50/50 and raffle tickets, and just genuinely having a good time. Jerry, her partner in crime, was only too happy to take on the greeting and selling roles when Cindy got ready to bowl. Later, he add the task of acting as MC during the games.

Record reporter Danielle Sanzone

One of the guys set to bowl in the lane next to us came up with the clever idea that each team should be named after classic TV shows. Soon we had the "I Dream of Jeannie" team bowling on one side of us, "The Addams Family" on the other side and "Welcome Back Kotter" was down a lane or two.

Our team was "The Munsters:" Nora Dwyer, who generously volunteers her time to work on a lot of community projects including the Flag Day and Uncle Sam Parades, bowled as the lovely "Lilly Munster, Record newsroom administrative assistant Sue Chasney was "Herman," and Record reporter Danielle Sanzone bowled as the beautiful "Marilyn." I got to be "Grandpa Munster," who was played by the late actor Al Lewis on the TV show during the mid-1960s.

It was nice to see that the fund-raiser drew the support of students from both Russell Sage College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Even parents of a graduating RPI student in town from St. Louis for the commencement took part in the bowl-a-thon.

"Lily Munster" aka Nora Dwyer
Suffice to say you won't be reading about our bowling efforts in an upcoming edition of John Craig's bowling column for The Record, but we did have a good time. We laughed at the gutter balls and we cheered the spares and strikes -- even "The Munsters" had one or two of those!

Jerry did a great job announcing the raffle winners. Even some of "The Munsters" were lucky enough to walk away with a door prize or two. I particularly like the BellaRyann bracelet that I won with the flag charm; the item was donated by MarEle Boutique Accessories. Kudos to Cindy for all the great door prizes she was able to collect for the event.

Sue "Herman" Chasney, left, cheers on
 "Jeannie" during the Flag Day Bowl-a-thon
Flag Day Parade Committee President Ed Manny was on hand to pick the winning ticket for the 50/50 drawing at the conclusion of the evening.

My thanks to "The Munsters," members of the Flag Day Committee, Tom Walsh and his staff and everyone who participated in the bowl-a-thon for a truly enjoyable evening.

Here's hoping the event raised a lot of money for the 47th annual Flag Day Parade, which steps off at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 8. This year's parade will feature a variety of veterans groups and drum & bugle corps from throughout the Northeast and it has the Marine Corps Band New Orleans as its headliner.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tea anyone?

Bush Memorial Hall in Troy

The YWCA of the Greater Capital Region Inc. really knows how to put on a fundraiser!.

On Sunday, at Bush Memorial Hall on the Troy campus of Russell Sage College, the YWCA hosted "Victorian Tea in Troy" to benefit its various programs.

Those programs include Supportive Housing, Community Meal, Sally Catlin Resource Center, Food Pantry and My Sister's Closet as well as the various Jamison-Rounds Ready for Work, School and Life programs.

YWCA board member Theresa Moroukian, at right
An array of beautiful hats were worn by many of the women attending the benefit. Some of my favorites were those worn by Lisa Lagon, president of the YWCA's board of director, and my fellow board members Davia Collington, Meghan Keenholts, Theresa Moroukian, Colleen Paratore, Rhe Potenza, Lori Quigley and Beth Walsh. Also looking quite fashionable were YWCA Executive Director Daquetta P. Jones and Malissa Pilette-McClenon, the organization's director of fund development, as well as YWCA "godmothers" Phyllis Conroy and Mary Ann Willett.

Truly Rhe hat display at YWCA tea
I carried a hat into the event, but it remained on the seat next to me. Somehow, it looked so much better on the chair than on my head. I could have done so much better if I had stopped by Truly Rhe on Broadway in Troy to find a hat rather than digging one up from the back of my closet. Rhe had a terrific collection of hats, fascinators and other accessories on display at the event.

Sue McLane as "The Victorian Lady" did an admirable job speaking with us about all things tea.

Kudos to Sweet Sue's on River Street in Troy for its delicious assortment of sweets, fresh fruit, canapes and finger sandwiches. The array was beautiful to look at and even better to taste.

It was nice to share a table with Kathy Sheehan, registrar for the Rensselaer County Historical Society, and Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam. Kathy was on hand to conduct the trolley tours of Troy offered to tea-goers at the conclusion of the event.

Congratulations to Kathy who was recently appointed historian for the city of Troy. There is no finer choice for the post than this lovely, knowledgeable lady!

Also on hand at the event was Kathy's co-worker, Stacey Draper, curator for the Rensselaer County Historical Society. Stacy brought a mini exhibit to the tea highlighting some of the YWCA's milestones in the city of Troy. Some really interesting items were on display.

One of the teapot centerpieces
The raffle prizes were amazing and I loved the teapots that decorated each of the tables. Board President Lisa Lagon, among others, worked hard to find these beautiful pieces of china that were filled with fresh flowers and raffled off to raise money for the YWCA.

The YWCA of the Greater Capital Region does a lot to improve the quality of life for area women and children and I'm proud to be a member of its board of directors.

Stay tuned as more good things are ahead for this organization!

"The Victorian Lady" Sue McLane
Tasty treats offered by Sweet Sue's of Troy

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,