Monday, July 11, 2011

Good job Danielle!

Record reporter Danielle Sanzone was recently selected to participate in the 2011 Video Boot Camp sponsored by our parent company, Journal Register Company.

The camp, which will be held Aug. 16 and 17 at JRC headquarters in Yardley, Pa., is expected to be an intensive session to improve video technical and storytelling abilities, and to prepare individuals to train their newsroom colleagues.

Training leader will be Chet Rhodes, former assistant managing editor of news video for The Washington Post.

Record website regulars are already familiar with Danielle's video work. Since JRC adopted its "Digital First" philosophy in covering the news on its various platforms, Danielle has easily integrated the use of video to tell the various stories she uncovers on her beat here at The Record.

All boot camp attendees were chosen based on demonstrated skill and enthusiasm, so I am particularly pleased that Danielle's efforts are being recognized by JRC.

We at The Record recently recognized Danielle for producing the most videos during our newsroom video competition.

Congratulations Danielle!

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She was someone to admire

Friday night I was back in our sports department talking with Record Sports Editor Kevin Moran, when reporter Andrew Santillo told us he had just read on Twitter that former first lady Betty Ford had died.

While I moved quickly to help the copy desk get the story up on our website, out on our social media accounts and in print, I thought about how much I had admired Mrs. Ford over the years for her candor and her advocacy work on behalf of millions of Americans.

She first caught my attention in the mid-'70s when I was off attending college in western New York and she was debuting on the national stage as our first lady during the difficult, post-Watergate era. While I have always been fascinated with politics and the ways of Washington, D.C., I found myself intrigued by this first lady who openly spoke her mind -- regardless of whether her husband or the national Republican Party agreed with her.

I don't think I truly appreciated the grace and dignity she showed in publicly battling breast cancer until I was faced with the same diagnosis more than 30 years later. I know my own diagnosis inspired many of my friends and relatives to go for overdue mammograms, but can you imagine the countless number of women Betty Ford inspired to seek breast examinations and possibly saved their lives?

She has left a lasting impact on the women of this nation.

Perhaps former President George H. W. Bush best summed up Betty Ford's legacy: “She was a wonderful wife and mother; a great friend; and a courageous first lady. No one confronted life’s struggles with more fortitude or honesty, and as a result, we all learned from the challenges she faced.”

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

‘Troy Night Out’ a good night in

The Record participated in its first “Troy Night Out” in June.

For the uninitiated, “Troy Night Out” is a monthly arts and cultural event held the last Friday of every month in downtown Troy from 5 to 9 p.m. Organizers say the special event regularly draws more than 1,000 people to the Collar City to enjoy art, music, restaurants and shops throughout downtown.

First, let me offer my thanks to Elizabeth Young, executive director of the Troy Business Improvement District, for helping us host the event in our Community Media Lab, located on the first floor of our building at the corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in downtown Troy.

Elizabeth is a terrific lady to work with and her energy and enthusiasm are contagious.

Our TNO event featured a photo exhibit by ASlyerImage Photography and a performance by area musician Greg Guba.

The photo exhibit, which features the work of Charlie and Gina Slyer and their daughters Toni and Amanda, is still on display in our Community Media Lab, which is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through the end of this month.

We invited you to stop by and check out the work of this talented family and consider purchasing one or two or three of their reasonably priced photos.

Our thanks also go to Greg Guba, a local musician with more than 30 years of experience, who performed a variety of musical styles throughout the evening.

Everyone who stopped by to visit us that night commented on how much they enjoyed Greg’s music and the photos taken by the Slyer family.

Stay tuned for a schedule of future “Troy Night Out” events planned in our Community Media Lab.

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Dwyer Award dinner a special night

Let me offer my belated, but no less sincere, thanks to the Tribute to John R. “Jack” Dwyer Committee for presenting me with its 10th annual tribute award in early June.

The committee – which includes the late undersheriff’s two daughters, Nora and Susan, as well as Jim Tompkins, Lou Desso, Greg Cholakis, Frank Merola and Nick Nicholas – is a great group of people, and I was truly humbled by the award they gave me.

I normally don’t like being the center of attention, but it’s hard to say no to Nora. Anyone who knows Nora knows that once she sets her mind to something, there’s no turning back.

Maureen Baxter, nurse manager at New York Oncology Hematology, left, Nora Dwyer, center, and me, Lisa Robert Lewis.

Also, as a breast cancer survivor, it’s hard to say no to anything that helps those battling cancer. Proceeds from the Dwyer dinner benefit the Capital District Cancer Resource Foundation, which helps provide funds for daily living and support services for local residents undergoing cancer treatment.

And while I stick to my stance that I don’t like being the center of attention, I have to admit I had a ball at the dinner and enjoyed being with a terrific group of people.

There are so many people I need to thank for making this a special night.

First, there’s Nora, who nominated me for this honor. Frankly, I adore the woman. I am grateful for her friendship and I have a lot of respect for all she does for this community. In fact, I told her it’s too bad she can’t receive the award because I am sure her Dad is proud of all she does for the community he loved.

Thanks also to Jim, Susan, Lou, Greg, Frank and Nick for going along with Nora’s nomination.

I am grateful also for the beautiful plaques and certificates I received from our state and local representatives – state Senator Roy McDonald, state Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino, Rensselaer County Legislator Lou Desso on behalf of Legislature Chairman Martin Reid and the rest of the county legislature, and Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian – and the John R. “Jack” Dwyer Award itself.

The Dwyer committee actually found three people to speak on my behalf -- Sue Chasney, The Record newsroom’s administrative assistant and my friend; Amy Jupin, my sister, and Jerry Weaver, vice president emeritus of the Flag Day Parade Committee. Kathy Jimino, Lou Desso and Nora also offered kind words on my behalf during the program.

Stepdaughters Christie Harris, left, and Melissa Coons, right.

No one could ask for a better Master of Ceremonies than Neil Kelleher. The man is charming, witty and so naturally funny.

Special thanks, too, to the staff of the American Legion on Main Avenue in Wynantskill for that wonderful Italian dinner!

One of the best parts of attending such an event is sharing it with old and new friends.

I was happy to have my current and past co-workers with me that night including Sue Chasney and her husband Ken Villeneuve, advertising director Heather DeForge, former night editor Jan Shields, former city editor Nick Cantiello and his wife Pat, former photographer Tom Killips, former reporter Rich Crist, and Barbara Lombardo, managing editor of The Saratogian, The Record’s sister newspaper in Saratoga Springs. It was also great to see my former boss, Kathy Condon, who now runs Condon Communications, and her husband, longtime area radio personality Joe Condon. Accompanying them at the event was Bob Wolfgang, former Albany Police Chief and president of the Albany Aqua Ducks. Few people probably know this, but Bob, who was also honored that evening at another event, served an internship at The Record while he was pursuing an advanced degree.

That Pat Cantiello is one classy, generous lady. She won the evening’s 50/50 benefit and promptly donated her winnings back to the Capital District Cancer Resource Foundation.

My thanks also go to the Carras family: Jimmy for taking photos at the event for The Record, and his wife, Jeanne, for her help in producing the evening’s program as part of her responsibilities at Alchar Printing on Pawling Avenue in Troy.

It meant a lot to me that many people I have dealt with over the years were able to attend the event including Kay McCarty and Betty Owens of the St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary, Kathy Sheehan of the Rensselaer County Historical Society, Sharon Smith, executive director of the Troy Boys & Girls Club; Joe Killeen and Cindy Bizaro Wilson of the Troy Flag Day Parade Committee, Record "Investors Corner" columnist Ray Osterhout and his lovely wife Carol, and Carmella Mantello, who I’ve known since her days as a city councilwoman in Troy.

What made the night particularly special was being able to share it with my family: My sister Amy, her husband Andy and their children Jared and Meighan; my brother Mike, his wife Lisa and their daughter Elizabeth; my brother Dave, and my stepdaughters Melissa Coons and Christie Harris.

State Senator Roy McDonald, R-Wilton, speaks with my dad, Col. John P. "Jake" Robert.

Most of all, I was proud to share the night with my Dad, Colonel John P. “Jake” Robert, who showed me by example the importance of a strong work ethic and being involved in your community.

Thanks Dad!

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