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Weekend in review

Aug 01, 2016 6:00 am
Some of the stories that made the news Fri., Jul. 29 through Sun., Jul. 31:

Kesha Clukey reported at Politico New York that despite efforts to thwart the opt-out movement in New York, the number of refusals actually increased this year over last. More than 230,000 students sat out the state standardized exams, according to data released Fri., Jul. 29, by the state education department. In 2015, New York state led the nation in the number of standardized test refusals with more than 20 percent of eligible students opting out. This year, 21 percent of approximately 1.1 million eligible students in grades 3 through 8 refused to sit for the combined math and ELA tests this spring. Of those who opted out, 50 percent had also refused the exams the previous year. New York State Allies for Public Education said the rate will likely continue to rise in the future. Allies for Public Education is an anti-Common Core statewide coalition of parent groups that helped lead the test refusal movement.

Greg Hudson reported in The Daily Mail in response to resident concerns about pedestrian safety in the village of Tannersville, officials have formulated a plan to construct new sidewalks. Village Mayor Lee McGunnigle said some roads with high pedestrian traffic have no sidewalks, so the village engineer has put together a proposal to install them on Park Lane, Railroad Avenue, and Spring, Tompkins and South Main streets. Main Street is owned by the state Department of Transportation, making it responsible for repairing or replacing that sidewalk. McGunnigle said the total cost of the project will not be known until the village receives bids for the work.

William J. Kemble reported in the Daily Freeman the Ulster County Fair will welcome the return of chickens during the six-day event that begins at 4 p.m., Tue., Aug. 2. The state ban on fowl has been lifted, and fair General Manager Gary Newkirk said the members of 4-H are especially pleased to show off their work with all farm animals. “We built a new poultry barn last year and were never able to use it,” he said. The state ban included just about anything with feathers, namely chickens, pigeons, turkey, pheasants, guinea fowl, bantam poultry, geese, and ducks. The prohibition was deemed necessary by the state following outbreaks of avian flu in the Midwest. Headliners scheduled to perform during the 129th annual event this week include Hod Rod, The Cadillac Three, Lee Greenwood, Branch and Dean, Courtney Cole and Craig Wayne Boyd.

John Mason reported in the Register-Star the Hudson Senior Center will officially open Monday morning, Aug. 1. The center is situated on the second floor of 51 N. 5th St., upstairs from the Hudson Area Library. The county Office for the Aging will manage morning programming, and the city will manage afternoon programming. Lunch will be served at noon daily. Meals must be reserved a day in advance via phone or a signup sheet. The site will be open weekdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Chelsea Diana reported in the Albany Business Review KeyCorp has closed on its acquisition of Buffalo-based First Niagara Financial Group. The acquisition will add 300 branches to KeyBank's network in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The merger will also add about $29 billion in deposits and total assets of $40 billion to KeyCorp. The merger makes KeyCorp the 26th largest bank in the country. KeyBank will communicate directly with First Niagara clients about conversion plans, and branch closures will begin in October. First Niagara branches in Catskill, Nassau and Ravena are among the first to be closed this fall. Gov. Andrew Cuomo lobbied federal officials to kill the acquisition, arguing the deal would have an adverse impact on the retail banking market in the Buffalo area. The merger will consolidate one-third of all deposits in that region into the hands of just one bank.

Katie Kocijanski reported in The Daily Mail GNH Lumber has received the financial assistance it needed to move to higher ground. The Greene County-based building supplies company has received a $235,000 grant through the Flood Hazard Mitigation Implementation Program. The award will allow GNH to purchase a 6.8 acre parcel on Route 23, on the east side of town and out of the flood plain. The land will be the location of the company's new Windham facility. Historically, GNH has suffered major flood-related losses in Windham. The most significant loss occurred in 2011, as a result of Tropical Storm Irene. Relocation to the new facility is expected to take place within the next 15 months.

Diane Valden reported in The Columbia Paper the Ancram Town Board passed a local Right to Farm Law at its July 21 meeting. The town already passed an Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan in 2011 for the 17,017 acres farmed in Ancram today. Agriculture is the town's largest employer with 15 percent of the town’s households working farms. The board intent in passing the law is to “maintain and preserve the rural traditions and character of the town, to permit the continuation of agricultural practices, to protect the existence and operation of farms, to support the initiation of farms, farm enterprises and agribusiness, to promote and encourage the use of Agricultural Best Management Practice Systems.”

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