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Weekend in review

Sep 21, 2015 12:02 am
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Sept. 18 through Mon., Sept. 20

Andrea Sears reported for Public News Service the New York State Board of Regents has approved emergency regulations that will expand the right of teachers to appeal negative evaluations based on student test scores. Some teachers have seen their evaluations swing from "highly effective" one year to "ineffective" the next, ratings that can affect their careers. Karen Magee, president of New York State United Teachers, said giving teachers the chance to challenge those ratings is an important step forward. PLAY. The teacher's union still has objections to the state test scores being used in teacher evaluations at all. Magee said any number of variables contribute to how well students perform on standardized tests that are outside of a teacher's control. PLAY. The union said it will continue to work with parents, educators, the Board of Regents and lawmakers to develop an evaluation system that is fair and meaningful.

The Daily Freeman reported Wayne Speenburgh, an 11-year member of the Greene County Legislature and its chairman until late last year, died Thu., Sept. 17, at his Coxsackie home. Speenburgh, 71, had battled cancer since 2013. In a statement released Friday afternoon, the Greene County Chamber of Commerce acknowledged the chairman's death, calling Speenburgh, "a one-of-a-kind leader and great champion for Greene County." He is survived by his wife, Debra, five children and six grandchildren.

Emilia Teasdale reported in the Columbia Paper Chatham trustee Adrienne Morrell has resigned from the Village Board. The board is now accepting letters from residents interested in filling the seat until village elections are held in March, when Morrell's term ends. The board will review letters of interest and appoint the new member of the board. Morrell has a new job, which now keeps her away from the village several nights a week and unable to attend meetings. The board is also conducting a search for a new deputy clerk. The board will make an appointment to fill that position later this month.

John Mason reported in the Register-Star on the near-final results of the Sept. 10 primaries held in Columbia County, following the tabulation of absentee ballots last week. In Hudson's First Ward, Michael O'Hara bested incumbent alderman Nick Haddad for a spot, along with Rick Rector, on the Democratic line in November. The Democratic primary in the city's Fourth Ward between Lauren Scalera and Rich Volo, remains undecided. In Kinderhook, Debora Simonsmeier and Timothy Ooms won the two Independence Party lines in the town board race. In the contest for the Greenport Town Supervisor seat, Ed Nabozny was the big winner. His name will appear on the Democrat, Independence and Working Families lines on the November ballot. Nabozny handily beat incumbent John Porreca in the Independence primary, as well as Tim Shook for the Working Families Party line. In New Lebanon’s supervisor race, incumbent Michael Benson won the Republican line by defeating Colleen Teal. All results are still unofficial.

Jim Planck reported in The Daily Mail the popular stone-carving class sponsored each summer by the town of Hunter was forced to turn people away this year after funding for the program was reduced. The Hunter Stone Carving Seminar is supported by solely by grants and equipment donations. It is free to attendees and typically lasts for two weeks. The primary funding for the workshop comes from state funding granted every year through the Greene County Council on the Arts. As a result of statewide budget cuts to the arts this year, funding for the seminar was reduced by 25 percent. Despite the loss of an instructor, tools and one full week of the class itself, the program worked with 70 students and 197 visitors. Hunter Town Supervisor Daryl Legg said the town board values the seminar, but fiscally, the town does not have the means to make up for the lost state money. He is encouraging the program organizers to "look farther afield for financial support."

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