Capital Region News

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute today announced a new university-wide initiative to tackle the challenges and opportunities of Big Data.

At a morning ceremony at the Troy campus, RPI officials christened it "IDEA" - the Institute for Data Exploration and Applications – the college’s $60 million initiative involves students and faculty from more than 12 departments across the five schools of the university.

UAlbany's School of Social Welfare is developing a National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services, devoted to improving services and support for homeless individuals throughout the United States. Assistant Professor of Social Welfare Heather Larkin explains the center will be launched over the next year, using donor funding to partner with homeless agencies around the country with the goal of making a national impact. John Records will serve as a Public Service Professor and co-Principal Investigator to co-direct the Center with Larkin.

Dave Lucas / WAMC

As another school year comes to a close, education and education funding remain among the top concerns for parents, teachers and public officials.

President Barack Obama's “Early Learning Days of Action” initiative was highlighted in New York last week as Congressman Paul Tonko read to 16 children enrolled in what's called "The Butterfly Class" at Albany Head Start. The pre-K students were delighted with Tonko's chosen work: "Welcome To Kindergarten" by Anne Rockwell.

It has cost the city of Saratoga Springs more than $61,000 to fire a city employee who earned $33,000 a year, and that employee in question is now suing the city for back pay.  

Lucian McCarty, city desk reporter for The Saratogian newspaper, has been following the story of Mary Zlotnick who was suspended for insubordination last august from the Saratoga Springs Accounts Department. He spoke today with WAMC’s Brian Shields.

WAMC News/Brandon Holmes

There were some tense moments Thursday on an area college campus.  The College of Saint Rose campus in downtown Albany was locked down for close to an hour after someone reported seeing a gunman enter a school building. School officials released a terse text alert, and many students took to Twitter, worried that more bad news was imminent.

WAMC / Dave Lucas

An Albany Mayoral hopeful fears voters may have resigned themselves to the notion there may be only one candidate with any chance of winning the coming Democratic primary.

City Treasurer Kathy Sheehan was endorsed last week by the Albany County Democratic Committee following Jerry Jennings' announcement he would not seek a sixth term as Mayor. But Corey Elllis, who gave Jennings a run for his money in the 2009 primary, is still up for the challenge, as is Marlon Anderson, who is advocating for proper vetting of all candidates.

Graphic courtesy America's Edge.

A new report says unless steps are taken immediately, New York is not is going to be able to fill the jobs of the future .  A report released in Albany Tuesday finds a “skills gap” exists in New York State – especially in the Capital Region, where high-tech jobs are growing as the area embraces its “tech valley” moniker with the expansion of chip fabrication and nanotechnology.  But at the same time, the report warns of growing numbers of "unprepared students and unprepared workers."

WAMC Photo/ Dave Lucas

This week, Albany was rocked by the news that longtime Mayor Jerry Jennings has opted not to seek a sixth term. But even before his official announcement Wednesday, the rest of the city’s political machine was already in motion.

Green Your Commute

May 17, 2013
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Today is the day to embrace "People Power" across the land.

That "People Power" is being expressed as "pedal power" - it is "National Bike To Work Day," celebrated annually coast-to-coast on the third Friday in May, which happens to be National Bike Month. The New York adaptation is "Green Your Commute Day" - it is being championed by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens.

Karen DeWitt

Gun shows have caused concerns and triggered protests in Saratoga Springs. But the events have been pared back for the coming year...

In the wake of last December's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, gun safety advocates have grown increasingly concerned with Saratoga Springs City Center's continuing to host gun shows.

(WAMC photo by Dave Lucas)

Twenty-four hours after Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings made public his letter stating that he will not run for another term after 20 years in office, the Albany County Democratic Committee gave its nomination to City Treasurer Kathy Sheehan in the race for mayor. The committee passed over former City Council member Corey Ellis, who ran against Mayor Jennings four years ago fir the Democratic nomination.

Wednesday on Midday Magazine, we heard from Sheehan. Today, we speak with Corey Ellis, who says the lack of the party's nomination will not affect his campaign.

WAMC/Patrick Donges

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings has formally announced he will not run for a sixth term in office, ending a political career spanning more than three decades.

There was no shortage of applause, glad-handing, and backslapping at Albany City Hall Wednesday morning as Mayor Jerry Jennings, a Democrat, publicly announced what he had previously revealed in an open letter sent to members of the press and city officials Tuesday night announcing his intention not to seek reelection.

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings’ announcement last night that he will not seek a sixth term in November came at a time when the city’s Democratic machine is already in motion as it gears up for a primary between announced candidates Kathy Sheehan, the city treasurer, and 2009 mayoral candidate Corey Ellis. Barbara Smith of the Albany Common Council  spoke with WAMC’s Alan Chartock as the city prepares for its first new administration in 20 years.

Northeastern New York is home to approximately 5,000 veterans who served in Iraq. This past February, President Barack Obama announced that another 34,000 American troops will return home this year from Afghanistan… And the drawdown will continue…   

Marsha Lazarus is the "LegUp Workplace Solutions Project Director" at MHANYS, the Mental Health Association of New York State. She says MHANYS is hosting a free forum Thursday afternoon at 2 at the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce. Lazarus is urging local businesses to take a hard look at hiring returning veterans.

[WAMC photo by Dave Lucas]

It's been a hot-button issue: the continuing saga of what to do about the Albany County Nursing Home.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy has been on a mission to privatize the County Nursing Home, favoring a lease agreement with the Upstate Services Group, a company that provides administrative and operational support to affiliated skilled nursing facilities throughout New York. 

WAMC / Dave Lucas

Advocates gathered in Albany's West Capitol Park  on Friday in solidarity with the "Worldwide Lyme Disease Protest" to raise awareness and highlight the need for more recognition from government, science and medicine that Lyme Disease is a global concern.

Lyme disease is a growing public health concern throughout the Northeastern United States - the co-ordinated worldwide rally is all about getting the word out - with 30 states and 30 countries in all participating.

A Columbia County city plans to become the first community in New York state to purchase its electricity as locally-produced wind power.

Researchers say that with a little effort, New York could get the power it needs from wind, water and sunlight by 2030. The city of Hudson is leading the pack for now with the announcement it will purchase electricity through retailer Viridian Energy. Hudson Mayor William Hallenbeck hails the move as a "win-win for the environment and for taxpayers."

Photocomposite by Dave Lucas / WAMC

Mayor Jerry Jennings has announced a round of technological leaps for the city of Albany. It's a triple dose of innovation - first, a redesigned, more user-friendly city website... second, the city rolls out its second major app...  and third, a new information czar.

WAMC / Dave Lucas

Albany Common Council Member Anton Konev, who represents the city's 11th ward, talks about how redistricting is changing Albany city politics with Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas.

Basilica Hudson

The Basilica Hudson, part of a citywide renaissance that has taken hold in recent years, is kicking off its third season .  Artist-owned and operated since 2010, Basilica Hudson is a reclaimed 19th century factory converted into an art, performance, production and event space located next to the Amtrak station on the town of Hudson's waterfront. 

Creative Director Melissa Auf der Maur, known best for her days in the alternative rock bands Hole and the Smashing Pumpkins, says Basilica is gearing up for a new and busier season than ever.

WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

Smartphone technology is growing, with cutting edge apps aimed at drivers that are changing the way people drive — and will serve as liaisons between motorists, parking meters and vehicles.

Head to any downtown area and the first thing on your mind is "where am I gonna park?"  Parking always seems to be at a premium in cities from Saratoga Springs to Poughkeepsie...

Sidewalk chalk art is viewed as a public form of expression, but like anything else, beauty - and sometimes legality - is in the eye of the beholder.

If that beholder happens to be  a police officer who finds you with a piece of chalk in hand and your “art” on a public sidewalk, you might be in some trouble.

It’s one of those grey areas…

Albany Police spokesperson Steve Smith says there is no specific general city ordinance for using chalk on sidewalk.

WAMC Dave Lucas

University at Albany students staged a May Day rally Wednesday to protest several issues, including the installation of Sodexho as the campuswide food service provider.

WAMC / Dave Lucas

A day after veteran NBA player Jason Collins made national headlines by becoming the first active male athlete in the four major sports to come out as gay, state lawmakers, gay rights advocates and labor and law enforcement officials participated in Empire State Pride Agenda's annual lobby day in Albany.

Although New Yorkers are becoming more accepting following the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2011, activists and advocates want to ensure that gay rights and gay pride stay in the media spotlight.

UAlbany Cheating Scandal

Apr 29, 2013
UAlbany logo
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A cheating scandal at the University at Albany is raising eyebrows, and neighboring schools are taking note...

The story broke Wednesday in the college newspaper. The Albany Student Press carried the headline "Cashing in on cheating: Student-run operation charges money for completion of online assignments."

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Recent polls and surveys show a huge shift in religious identity in many areas across the country, with attendance at religious services lagging. According to one evangelical marketing group, the once faithful are now identified as "post-Christians," and Albany, New York is number one on a list of the most post-Christian cities in the United States.  

Is the nation moving away from Christianity and other forms of conventional faith?

Shots Ring Out In Albany

Apr 20, 2013

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Police in Albany say they're investigating a shooting that left one man dead and another wounded.  Officers responded to reports of shots fired 1:45 a.m. Thursday at Central near King Avenue and found two men with gunshot wounds. 26-year-old Darzee Reid of Troy was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital. Police say the other victim, a 22-year-old man, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.  Police are continuing their investigation.

© 2013 AP

3-Year Old Killed By TV

Apr 19, 2013

TROY, N.Y. (AP) — Authorities say a 3-year-old upstate New York girl has died from injuries suffered when a television fell on her. Troy police say emergency crews were called to a home in the city around 7:30 Thursday evening after an older model TV fell off its stand and landed on the child.  Alyssa Willett was taken to Albany Medical Center Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. 

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Citizens turned up the heat Wednesday on Saratoga Springs City Center, pressing officials to prove that the group holding gun shows there is properly insured.

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