Weekend in review
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Apr. 14 through Sun., Apr. 16:
The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance announced April 14 it has extended the hours of the Income Tax Call Center through the April 18 filing deadline to assist taxpayers. On Mon., Apr. 17 and Tue., Apr. 18, 518-457-5181 will be answered until 7:30 p.m. to assist taxpayers with last-minute tax return filing questions. The call center’s regular hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Go to www [dot] tax [dot] ny [dot] gov for more information on the tax deadline.
Steve Barnes reported in the Times Union thousands participated in the Tax March and rally held at the state Capitol, Sat., Apr. 15, in protest of President Donald Trump's continued refusal to release his tax returns. Approximately 150 gatherings were held nationwide on national tax deadline day demanding that Trump release his full tax information. He is the first U.S. president and first major party nominee in more than 40 years to refuse to disclose that material. "Had those taxes been released, there may have been a different result for the election," said Assembly member Patricia Fahy, Democrat of Albany, who was one of the speakers, Saturday. Fahy and fellow Assembly member Phil Steck, a Democrat from Colonie, are co-sponsors of pending legislation, which would require candidates seeking a ballot line in New York to release a full five years of tax returns. The measure is called the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public, or T.R.U.M.P. Act. Similar legislation has been introduced in 27 other states. "We need a real movement for change in this country," Steck said at the protest. "So many of my friends are involved and aware and passionate about what's going on in this country," said Greg Jusino, a 16-year-old from Slingerlands who was among the rally's organizers. "We're reclaiming patriotism, saying we're Americans, too."
Paul Kirby reported in the Daily Freeman U.S. Rep. John Faso will conduct a livestream interview Wed., Apr. 19, with that paper's staff, beginning at 9 a.m. Questions for the first-term Republican can be sent in advance to P Kirby [at] Freeman online [dot] com, or via the livestream link at www [dot] Daily Freeman [dot] com during the hourlong interview. Faso is advocating policies to increase opportunity for families and supports reforms to boost the economy and improve the quality of life for New Yorkers, according to his website. Faso says he has championed ideas to combat the heroin epidemic, treat Lyme disease and increase health-insurance coverage options for patients and small businesses. He has been appointed to the House Budget, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Agriculture committees. As a member of the budget committee, he was among those who voted “yes” to advance the troubled Republican health care bill. Faso has run afoul of many 19th Congressional District constituents for failing to hold traditional, in-person town hall meetings since he joined Congress in January. He also refuses to publish his schedule online, as his predecessor Chris Gibson did.
Karrie Allen reported in the Register-Star the last remaining building of the old State of New York Volunteer Firemen’s Home was demolished Fri., Apr. 14. The building stood at its location, off of Harry Howard Avenue in Hudson, for more than 110 years. The structure first served as the administrator's residence and later the administration building for the home, which provides specialized rehabilitation for former volunteer firefighters. “The former administration building on the campus has long outlived its usefulness and has been falling into a further state of poor health in recent years, all while costing the association tens of thousands of dollars a year to maintain,” Robert Leonard, executive vice president of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York said. The Firemen’s Home moved from the original building into its existing facility in June 2007.
CBS 6 Albany reported officials in Greene and Columbia counties have announced plans to form a task force to combat the spread of drug abuse in both counties. County leaders said the problem is escalating -- there have been at least eight fatal drug overdoses during the past month. On Wed., Apr. 12, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors received hands-on training with Narcan, the heroin overdose reversal drug, during the board's regular meeting. Speaking to WRGB-TV, Hudson Fourth Ward Supervisor Bill Hughes said county leaders on both sides of the river will now identify where there are overlaps and gaps in services. He said one issue is the lack of a local recovery or treatment center, so the long-range plan is to go in that direction. "Hopefully sooner, rather than later, depending on if the state can help," Hughes said.
Claire Hughes reported in the Times Union while the state Health Department and emergency responders says there is evidence of a shortage of Narcan, or naloxone [nah-LOX-sewn], advocates say the miracle drug is getting harder to acquire free of charge. Albany-based Project Safe Point, which distributes clean needles and other supplies by mobile van and trains people to administer naloxone, now prioritizes the distribution of the drug. Project Safe Point Director of Prevention Services Joseph Filippone said the group is more closely controlling distribution for a number of reasons, including inconsistencies in the state delivery system, and the rise in overdoses, especially from fentanyl, the powerful, synthetic, short-acting narcotic. The group recently learned it can take as many as 10 doses of naloxone to reverse a fentanyl overdose. Statewide, opioid-related deaths rose nearly 150 percent from 2005-2014, to 1,443 annually, and the trend is showing no signs of slowing. Chatham Police Chief Peter Volkmann has had no trouble getting naloxone to meet his department's needs. Volkmann said he does hear from people concerned about an impending shortage, but believes they may be needlessly scrambling to get a kit. "I'm just hearing we may not have it, and people are freaking out," Volkmann said. "It reminds me of the flu shot, when they said, we may not have enough. Then everyone went and got a flu shot."
The Chatham Courier reported the Chatham Area Business Alliance is now Chatham Area Business and Arts. Tom Chulak, co-owner of the Chatham Bookstore and the group's president, said the new name was chosen to reflect the growing importance of arts-related businesses and organizations in the Chatham area. The organization serves the village and town of Chatham, Austerlitz and Canaan. “The economic and cultural vitality of the Chatham area is interwoven with businesses and the arts,” Chulak said. “Our reorganization and new name reflect this reality.” Chatham Area Business and Arts sponsors three village festivals annually, and its Marketing Committee promotes the area through VisitChathamNY.com and social media, and hosts bi-monthly breakfasts for networking and learning. The organization is now in the process of establishing an Education Committee.