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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 28, 2006

To the resuce
Moody honored after 2,000 calls

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Western Avenue has seen a lot of change in 45 years. Back then, the two-lane road was more commonly known as Western Turnpike and the rescue squad that bears its name drove Cadillacs for ambulances.

Wesely P. Moody remembers, because he was there.

Honored as the longest-serving member in the rescue squad’s history, Moody was presented with a plaque commemorating his 45th year of service last Thursday.

At age 72, Moody doesn’t plan on leaving the halls of his beloved rescue squad anytime soon.

"As my general practitioner has said, ‘I’m only trying to keep you alive.’ And I’m trying to do the same thing," Moody said with a crooked smiled. "Fortunately, I’ve enjoyed good health."

Since 1961, Moody has been a proud member of the Western Turnpike Rescue Squad in Guilderland and has made many, many ambulance runs along Route 20 during those years.

"I’ve answered a lot of ambulance calls," Moody told The Enterprise. "Although I have never actively kept track of it"It must be between 2,000 and 2,500 calls."

Back in 1961, while he was working for the New York State Department of Transportation, one of Moody’s friends belonged to the McKownville Fire Department. Moody soon discovered that a member of the Western Turnpike Rescue Squad was going to be visiting the firehouse.

"He wanted to know if I’d be interested in meeting with him," Moody said.

After speaking with the rescue squad worker, Moody was hooked. Both he and his friend signed up.

Forty-five years later, Moody’s still working there and wearing his orange medic’s jacket with a Turnpike insignia and an Emergency Medical Technician patch on his arm.

"If I never went to that meeting, I never would have gotten here," said Moody. "I joined a crew that was a regular Monday-night crew"and I gained experience with them in terms of first aid and operating the equipment."

Moody has seen not only Western Avenue change, but his beloved squad as well.

"In 1967, the DOT was established at the federal level. It was that program that made the requirements for future vehicles and brought in the kinds of units that are commonplace today," Moody said. "Prior to that, the Western Turnpike Rescue Squad had Cadillac-type of ambulances."

With many changes over the years and rapidly-improving technology, Moody said the one thing that stands out as the most important is cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

"Everything evolves with experience, but one of the most notable things are the changes in CPR from ’61 to the present," said Moody. "Today it has significantly improved in effectiveness."

Moody said that one of the original rescue-squad members from 1941 showed him where their original building stood on Route 20.

"I took a picture of this building that was shared with the State Police," Moody said. "It’s long-gone now but I still have that picture."

The squad’s new building on Centre Drive is a vast improvement over its old station one building at 1851 Western Ave., said Moody. Since the building didn’t even have hot water, sanitation became a concern, he said. The rescue squad members used to go door-to-door for donations to keep their daily operations running, he said.

"I was responsible for the very last door-to-door drive"Our goal was $65,000, but we exceeded it by several thousand," Moody said.

"He’s still very much active with the squad," said Howard Huth, the squad’s chief of operations. "Not so much as riding with us as he provides counsel." Moody also said he oversees the squad’s insurance policies.

Moody rode ambulances for over 30 years as an active associate before switching over to become an associate member, a title he still proudly carries today. He was also the squad’s president for seven-and-a-half years, its treasurer, and he served on its board of directors.

"Time flies by," he said.

Nowadays, Moody and his wife have traded in their cold New York winters for warmer Florida ones, but he still makes time for the squad that he calls "absolutely one of the greatest."

SPARC starts program to keep kids from getting addicted

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — A new program aimed at preventing drinking and driving for youths while educating them about the risks of alcohol and other drug abuse is now available to the public.

St. Peter’s Addiction Recovery Center (SPARC), the Albany County Sheriff’s Department, and the Albany County Stop-DWI program have teamed up to create the Youth Assistance Program (YAP) for young adults between the ages of 15 and 22.

Once a week, in 90-minute sessions during a six-week period, those in the program will learn about addiction, how their behavior can lead to problems, and the consequences of such behavior.

Parents, courts, colleges, and police can refer people with drug- or alcohol-related problems to YAP.

"This is really a diversion for those in trouble academically, socially, physically, emotionally and legally," said Denis Foley, administrator of Albany County Stop-DWI. Referring to sentencing for driving-while-intoxicated charges that requires offenders to listen to people who have lost those they love to drunk-driving crashes, Foley went on, "The number of youths increased who participate in victim impact panels"This program is for those youths who are either experimenting or have gotten into trouble."

Exact dates and locations for the program have not been announced by either SPARC or the sheriff’s department. According to Foley, many locations around the Capital District are available; more referrals are needed before the first sessions start sometime in October.

Referrals started coming in last Thursday after the press conference, Foley told The Enterprise this week.

Participants who test positive for a controlled substance will be referred for a professional assessment.

"There is one particular segment of the population that we have not been effective in engaging," said Robert Doherty, executive director SPARC, referring to the program’s targeted age group. "If we can inform this population effectively, we can positively affect their lives."

According to the 2005 Pride survey in the Guilderland School District, the number of ninth- and 10th-grade students who reported drinking beer in the past year exceeded the national average. In Guilderland, 44.6 percent of ninth-grade students and 50.7 percent of 10th-grade students drank beer compared to their counterparts nationally who reported only 40.4 percent and 48.3 percent respectively.

The numbers were similar for other drugs, too.

For 10th-graders using marijuana, Guilderland students reported a 33.8 percent use versus the 28-percent national average, and for hallucinogens, Guilderland students reported a 6.9 percent use versus the 5.5-percent average.

The Pride survey was created in 1982 by educators at Georgia State University in Atlanta to measure behavior on many issues affecting learning. A federal law in 1998 made the Pride surveys an official measurement of adolescent drug use.

The national averages were ascertained by the 2005 Monitoring the Future survey which was sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). According to NIDA, exactly half of all high school seniors today have tried an illicit drug by graduation.

"Albany County jail has the fifth-largest inmate hold in New York," Albany County Sheriff James Campbell said. "Jail should be the last stop"Underage drinking has become a problem.

"All of the area colleges are participating with the Stop-DWI program," Campbell added. He called the new program an additional option for Albany County residents looking to address alcohol- and drug-related issues.

The program was conceived last year as the brainchild of SPARC and the sheriff’s department.

"A year ago, Albany County noticed a problem in the community," said Debra Hendron, SPARC program coordinator. "We worked hard at targeting high schools and colleges and now we are opening to the general public"To refer somebody, all you have to do is call SPARC or Stop-DWI."

Before being open to the public, YAP was marketed to several Albany County school districts, probation officers, the New York State Employee Assistance Programs, and the Albany City Truancy Abatement Program, as well as the courts and law enforcement agencies.

To be admitted to the program, a youth must:

— Be between 15 and 22 years old;

— Be referred by municipal or county courts, college or high school judicial boards, police officers, parents, or concerned relatives; or

— Be sentenced from charges such as driving while intoxicated — especially for drivers under 21 years old —, illegal possession of alcohol, unlawful possession of drugs, or using forged identification.

The multi-media curriculum will include lectures, panel discussions, videos, PowerPoint presentations, and role-playing, as well as other tools for instruction and demonstration.

"There will also be a victims’ impact panel and an emergency room presentation, to show the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse, which can be fatal," Foley told The Enterprise. "We have funding from a lot of sources, including the Cohoes Savings Foundation; St. Peter’s Church; Albany County Department for Children, Youth, and Families Youth Bureau; and Albany County Stop-DWI"SPARC and Albany County Stop-DWI are donating time and staffing to the program as well."

The cost for the six-week sessions is $200, but scholarships are available for qualifying referrals.

The classes topics are: biological, psychological, and sociological model of addiction; the losses of addiction; a medical picture of addiction; a panel discussion on the criminal-justice system; learning the process of change in sobriety; and graduation.

To send in referrals, call Denis Foley at 720-8005 or Debra Hendron at 452-6750.

"You don’t want to see those people who are binge drinkers and heavy drinkers graduate to the next level of being arrested for DWI," Foley said. "Our goal is to help young persons who have shown early warning signs how to develop a healthy lifestyle and avoid later substance-abuse problems."

McKownville puts up zone defense against sprawl.

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — As commercial development and sprawl continue to threaten the residential character of McKownville, the neighborhood’s association has once again stepped up to the plate in its defense.

A zoning study committee presented its finding on the Western Avenue Corridor to the town board during last Tuesday’s meeting.

Neighborhood studies are part of the town’s comprehensive land-use planning; concepts from them can be incorporated by the board into law.

The committee was made up of five McKownville Neighborhood Association members: President Donald Reeb, board members Alice Porea and Laura Whalen, and members Mark Macomber and Steve Harausz.

Harausz could not attend the meeting because he was out of town on vacation.

The comprehensive study details current zoning along Western Avenue between Schoolhouse Road and the Albany city line, and includes suggestions from the association on some changes in the zoning layout, in order to improve and maintain the "residential quality of life."

The association members who wrote the study met weekly and all agree that the study was a crash course in town zoning law.

"We met quite often, the five of us, with Jan Weston, who was our resource person," said Reeb, referring to the town planner. "We learned an awful lot about zoning"McKownville is a very built-up area."

One of Guilderland’s oldest neighborhoods, McKownville has had two major highways, the Thruway and the Northway, a shopping plaza and a university built in its midst.

"The study’s goal was to keep Western Avenue as residential as possible," Reeb continued. "We realize that Western Avenue is a mixed-use road, but we don’t want to see it go full-blown commercial."

Reeb said he was very pleased to present the town board with the official report.

His colleagues and the board members all agreed.

"I’d like to thank the town board for giving our community an opportunity to do this study," said Porea. "We want to keep it a hamlet instead of a highway".McKownville is a nice old-fashioned residential part of Guilderland."

The town supervisor, Kenneth Runion, along with his fellow board members thanked the association members in return for their hard work.

"I want to thank the committee because I realize the amount of time they spent on the report," Runion said. "I found this report very enlightening"very detailed and oriented at improving the quality of life for residents."

Runion said the report will go far to prevent the "commercial creep that has started to intrude into the residential nature of the community," and that this is "not going to be a report we are going to put on a shelf."

The board will look over the report over the next few weeks, Runion said, and then vote on local laws to enact on behalf of the report’s findings.

Fellow board member David Bosworth, who lives in McKownville, called the report and the other work the association has accomplished a "renaissance for McKownville."

Councilman Michael Ricard added, "I think you did a fantastic job"I’ve seen so many professional studies"This is very detailed."

Other business

In other business, the town board unanimously:

— Appointed Eileen T. Magenis to the Department of Water and Wastewater Management and Susan M. Merkley to the Guilderland Police Department as keyboard specialists off of the Albany County Civil Service list;

— Appointed Stacia Smith-Brigadier as personnel administrator off of the Albany County Civil Service List;

— Awarded a bid to All Industrial Services Inc. for the demolition and removal of the Depot Water Tank based on the recommendation of the Department of Water and Wastewater Management.

All Industrial Services was the lowest of three bidders at $31,868, with the third bid coming in at over $131,000. The second bid, was just under $49,000, and the bidder disputed the winning bid, stating in a letter to the board that the lowest bidder should be disqualified. The town’s attorney, Richard Sherwood, said the allegations against the lowest bidder "has no impact on the bid," and advised the board to award the bid to All Industrial Services Inc.;

— Awarded a bid for the repair and painting of the Westmere Water Tank on the recommendation of the Department of Water and Wastewater Management.

"It won’t take them very long, it will probably take a couple of days," the department’s superintendent, William West, told the board. "You get about 25 years out of a paint job."

The tank will be painted inside and out, with the inside being particularly important, West said, because the rust that occurs there can cause "irreparable damage";

— Waived the building permit fee for premises located at 464 Church Road due to damage by fire; and

— Authorized the submission of a grant request, for the amount of $24,800, to the Capital District Transportation Commission for the Community and Transportation Linkage Planning Program for 2007-08, to create a Guilderland Center neighborhood master plan.

Verizon antenna gets ZBA okay

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Despite concerns raised by area residents, the zoning board approved a special-use permit for Verizon to install a cellular telephone antenna on the Fort Hunter water tower.

The board’s chairman, Peter Barber, told The Enterprise last month the board was following all federal and state guidelines in making its decision.

Concerned residents and parents complained that they did not want the cell towers, which are located directly behind the Fort Hunter Fire Department on Carman Road, close to the Pine Bush Elementary School.

Barber said there was "concern with the cumulative effects of radio frequency."

Federal and state agencies, including the Federal Communication Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and the New York State Department of Health, say there is no scientific evidence showing radio frequency from cell towers to be harmful to humans.

Volmer Associates, brought in by the town to conduct assessments, found Verizon to be in full compliance with its cell-phone tower application.

Last week, The Enterprise ran an article outlining the possible dangers of excessive cell phone use, and both Daniel Driscoll, an electrical engineer, and Louis Slesin, publisher of Microwave News website, said that the towers are not the concern, but that the actual cell phone is.

Towers produce very low levels of electromagnetic radiation and they are high in the air and far away from human contact, unlike the cell-phone, which is usually held against the user’s head.

At low levels, microwaves cannot heat tissue as it would in a microwave. However, the long-term effects of low-level electromagnetic radiation debate still continues.

There are already several cell-phone antennas on the Fort Hunter water tower, but it will be Verizon’s first in the area, according to Barber. Guilderland’s Water and Wastewater Management Department currently receives rent from cell phone providers using the water tower to place antennas.

The rent money is factored into the departments annual town budget.

The antennas currently on the Fort Hunter water tower are rectangular in shape and are fairly small — standing between two and four feet high.

Other business

In other business, the zoning board unanimously:

— Approved a special-use permit for Deborah Beatty at 804 Rainbow Drvie;

— Approved a special-use permit and an area variance for Jennifer McClaine on 2093 Western Ave.;

— Amended a special-use permit for Lou Lansing on 1753 A Western Ave.; and

— Approved a Days Inn sign for Ray Sign at 1230 Western Ave.

School board mulls priorities, pays more for cops

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — As school board members discussed their priorities for the year, technology, early foreign-language study, health, distance learning, and integrating the teaching of history and English were all contenders.

The new board president, Richard Weisz, had pushed the eight other members to come up with a few items to guide staff — a first for the board. He’d like the group to reach consensus next month.

Board Vice President John Dornbush recommended beginning a long-range planning process for science, math, and technology.

Given the local Tech Valley initiative, he said, "We owe it to our students to be preparing them for the kind of training they need...We are being tromped by other countries...Most of our engineers are coming from other countries."

Catherine Barber spoke of the widespread support for starting foreign-language study in the elementary schools. She also spoke of teaching languages other than the traditional French, Spanish, German and Italian, such as Chinese and Arabic.

She urged, "Don’t abandon it just because it’s difficult."

Thomas Nachod said distance learning is "really critical," especially since high-level courses could be taught that way through BOCES or with universities.

He also suggested summer school could be more than remedial, offering honors courses or other courses so students could avoid scheduling conflicts during the regular school year.

Peter Golden said he had found a qualified Chinese teacher. Foreign-language study has to be done seriously, he said, and he did not favor teaching a child a song once a week.

Referring to discussions going on among members of the social studies and English departments, Golden said he’d like to see writing expanded in history classes rather than reduced in English classes.

Denise Eisele suggested distance learning that would involve mentoring. She said, for instance, that students could partner with nanotech companies in the area.

"I’d like to see it not only with the gifted and talented students but also with the students doing vocational-type things," said Eisele. "I think people would step up and help us."

Barbara Fraterrigo continued to voice her long-term support for early foreign-language study and also said of technology, "We’ve got to get ahead of the curve on that."

Colleen O’Connell favored technology as a long-term goal and recommended distance-learning courses shared with other Suburban Council schools.

O’Connell, who served on a committee that came up with the district’s wellness policy, also said, "We’ve got to continue to be serious about healthy choices...We should continue to make it meaningful."

Hy Duboswky said exercise is a part of the school day and work day in other countries. He urged, "Practice what we preach."

He also talked about linking technology studies with local institutions to meet the needs of industry in five or 10 years. "Instill that as a culture," he said, concluding, "The real accomplishment in learning is doing."

"Now comes the hard part of coming up with an order of priority," said Weisz, after he had called on each board member. "Your next homework assignment...is to rank the most pressing, for one or two this year."

Police in schools

The district will be paying a larger share of the costs of having Guilderland Police Officers stationed in the schools.

As part of the School Resource Officer program, Carl Duda is stationed at Farnsworth Middle School and Brian Forte is stationed at Guilderland High School.

When the program started, a portion of it was funded by a Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) grant through the United States Department of Justice. Guilderland Supervisor Kenneth Runion told The Enterprise this week that the funding from that grant ended last year; it had covered about half of one salary, he said.

The total cost for the two officers — both benefits and salaries — is about $151,000, Runion said. The school district this year is paying $5,000 per officer, as it has in years past.

The school board agreed Tuesday to increase that amount to $15,000 per officer next year, and, in 2008-09, the district will pay $25,000 per officer.

The school board discussed the School Resource Officer program in executive session at its August meeting, but had little public discussion of the matter at its September meeting, when it passed the fee schedule as recommended by the superintendent.

Vice President Dornbush said, "Having these two officers available has been a real positive."

Runion said that the town, too, is pleased with the program. "There’s a lot of literature on how it’s beneficial for a community to have police officers in the school," he said. "There’s a rapport issue that’s good. There are problems that can be solved that are difficult to deal with in other ways. It’s beneficial to all of us."

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Heard from Superintendent Gregory Aidala that the school year had a "smooth opening." Total enrollment is 5,435, down from 5,551 last year, and less than the 5,512 the district had predicted.

There are 47 new teachers this year. A third of them are long-term substitutes, mostly for teachers on maternity leave, said Aidala;

— Heard from Nancy Andress, assistant superintendent for instruction, that results are not yet in on state-wide tests for students in third through eighth grade.

"Parents won’t be able at this time to access student records on-line as we thought," she said. The process has been slower than expected because of the "vast data-warehousing system across the state," said Andress;

— Appointed two board members — Cathy Barber and Barbara Fraterrigo — to a task force on the school day. Four board members were interested, so Dornbush drew names to decide on the appointees.

Last year, the board hired a consultant on transportation efficiency; the report recommended looking at restructuring the school day.

After a lengthy discussion, the board decided to have two, rather than one, school-board member on the task force, bringing the total number of committee members to 16.

Superintendent Aidala said that the high-school student who two years ago, as a sophomore, spoke to the board about research showing high school students do better if they sleep later will serve on the committee as a senior;

— Heard from Fraterrigo, who chairs the policy committee, that the committee recommends keeping the rules the same for voting at board meetings. If six of the nine board members agree a vote can be taken on a motion at the same meeting where it is first proposed, the vote goes forward.

Weisz had recommended changing the rules. He said, "I don’t think we look our best...when we have pop-up motions. I don’t think we help ourselves or our constituents".I would urge everyone to make the process meaningful; it’s helpful to us all to know ahead of time what motions will be made."

Barber said that, with the current system, if the majority of the board members are surprised and don’t know what a motion is about, they won’t agree to vote on it.

"Democracy is messy," said Golden, who recalled a vote last year where the procedure hadn’t been followed.

"Things get lost in translation," said Fraterrigo;

— Watched a Disney video on Westmere Elementary teacher Robert Whiteman;

— Accepted a television from Edward Drucker, the custodian at the district office; he made the donation to the office in honor of his mother and father;

— Appointed Joseph L. Ferrandino as internal claims auditor at a rate of $15 per hour;

— Agreed to purchase 840 cases of copy paper from Ricoh Corporation for $19,521.60, the lowest of three bids;

— Agreed to contract with Durin, Inc. for $26,720, the lowest of four bids, to transport a special-needs student to the Adirondack School in Greenwich for the school year; the contract is eligible for state-aid reimbursement;

— Extended its agreement with Bell’s Driving School to provide driver education. The behind-the-wheel service costs $285 per student.

The board also appointed Roderick MacDonald, a Farnsworth Middle School technology teacher, as the in-class instructor for the program. He will be paid at the contractual rate of $44.80 per hour;

— Heard from Andress that workshops are being offered to staff this fall on preparing for open houses and parent conferences; on child abuse prevention, and on creating a positive environment;

— Reviewed and heard praise for a new handbook for parents published by Farnsworth Middle School. Eisele said the handbook is "very readable and makes sense";

— Heard that Alan Fiero’s Pine Bush Project and Butterfly Station at Farnsworth won an Environmental Stewardship Award from Audubon International;

— Learned that Amy Zurlo, BOCES communications specialist, won an award from the New York School Press Association for the February, 2006 district newsletter;

— Heard that Nikki Branchini, a Guilderland senior, was honored as Dunkin’ Donuts High School Player of the Week; she is a member of the field hockey, lacrosse, and basketball teams. The school will receive a $500 donation to its athletic program;

— Learned that the public input session for next year’s school budget will be held Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. in the high school;

— Met in executive session to discuss administrative personnel performance reviews, the appointment of a health-insurance consultant, and a student issue.

Aidala told The Enterprise this week that, after the closed session, the board reconvened in public session and passed a motion to appoint UHY Advisors to act as consultants in connection with the district’s evaluation of health insurance options.

Nachod and Weisz abstained because of conflicts of interest, said Aidala, and the other seven board members voted in favor of appointing UYH Advisors.

Giles all smiles after conquering cancer

By Tyler Schuling

ALTAMONT — Though the sun is not shining and rain has been falling ceaselessly, Kessler Giles smiles.

Giles, a cancer survivor, sits on the board of advisors for the American Cancer Society. He has lived in Altamont for the past 18 years with his wife and two daughters, and said he got involved with the society because there wasn’t a history of cancer in his family.

Last week, Giles represented the 21st District as a Celebration Ambassador at the society’s Celebration on the Hill, in Washington, D.C. As an ambassador, Giles met with others who have survived the disease. He also spoke with senators and delegates about ways the government can aid in the fight against cancer.

Ambassadors reiterated their need for the government to continue funding.

"It’s a terrible thing if [someone] finds they have cancer, and they can’t have the services," Giles said.

Giles, who at age 52 was diagnosed with colon cancer in November of 2003, considers himself lucky.

Leading up to his diagnosis, he said, he’d had symptoms. The symptoms, however, were subtle.

"I’d had rectal bleeding," he said, "but only in spurts. It’s hard to describe, but the best way to put it, is to say that I didn’t feel like myself"I didn’t have as much energy, but I attributed that to getting older," he said.

Before his diagnosis, Giles said, he had scheduled and rescheduled appointments many times to undergo a colonoscopy — a minimally invasive endoscopic examination of the large colon and the distal part of the small bowel with a fiber optic camera . But he didn’t make it to the appointments.

He missed the first appointment, he said, because he was required to travel for his job. He missed his second appointment due to his father’s death. He missed the third appointment, he said, because he was in the hospital.

His arrival in the intensive care unit followed a night when he woke up lying on his bathroom floor.

"I got myself up and called my wife," Giles said. "I lost so much blood."

At the hospital, he was given four units of blood, and it was determined Giles’s colon cancer was in stage two.

A foot was surgically removed from both ends of his colon. The surgery, he said, was performed on Friday, and he was home by Monday.

Giles said physicians did a biopsy, and concluded that the cancer hadn’t spread to other organs; it had been contained within his colon and hadn’t metastasized.

"There was nothing in my liver, lungs, or my lymph nodes, so I didn’t have to go through chemotherapy," he said.

He was told he had a 95 percent chance of surviving. Had he undergone any chemotherapy, he said, it would have had an adverse effect.

His recovery, he said, took about a month, and he knew it had ended once he no longer had to take a daily nap.

Giles laughed often and interjected humor as he told his story. He had the attitude of a grateful man — happy, simply because he was alive to tell his tale.

But while describing his battle with the disease, and his experiences at the Celebration on the Hill, it was clear that, though he felt fortunate, other concerns troubled him.

Celebration in September

The Celebration on the Hill, which was launched in 2002, brought nearly 4,000 ambassadors — representatives from each of the 435 Congressional Districts — and a total of nearly 10,000 people, to Washington, D.C. last week.

Cancer survivors, caregivers, and family members of people who had not survived the disease, flocked to the National Mall.

During the observance, survivors walked around the reflecting pool between Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, celebrating their survival.

"There was entertainment. There were speakers"The survivors were recognized," Giles said of the event. Fifty flags flew, one from each of the states, as well as the military color guard, and banners that created the "Wall of Hope."

The crowd sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"It was a very uplifting experience," Giles said. People clapped for one another and gave each other high-fives.

"To see all the survivors is amazing," he said. "There were very inspirational stories from fighters."

Caregivers, people who helped those fighting the disease, also told interesting stories, he said.

"There was one story about a man whose child had the disease. He couldn’t pay the bills, and someone made an anonymous donation. The man set up a site for making pledges," Giles said.

Once the sun set in Washington, there was a luminary ceremony, where lighted bags lined the reflecting pool, in memory of those who hadn’t survived the disease.

"There are too many of those," Giles said. "It’s unbelievable."

"My emotions ran the gamut," Giles said.

Throughout his time in Washington, Giles and other ambassadors urged legislators to sign a Congressional Cancer Promise — a statement outlining the American Cancer Society’s mission, which calls for individuals to proactively join with the society.

The promise calls for the individual who signs it to: make health system reform a priority; elevate prevention, early detection, and survivorship; increase funding; and increase preventative health services.

Giles said Congressman Michael McNulty, who represents the 21st District, signed a promise.

"He’s been very supportive," Giles said.

The Bush administration has cut some funding from the program, Giles said. "It wasn’t a huge cut, but we can’t have any cuts," he said.

He said the cancer society is asking for a 5-percent increase per year for funding for the next five years.

The fight

Giles said more than once that early detection is the key to surviving cancer. He also said annual screenings are important, especially for individuals who have a family history of cancer.

"The number of deaths," he said, "are down, but we don’t want to see those numbers go back up."

"After the age of 50, it’s recommended that you have something done," he said.

Giles also said that there has been a decline in screenings for breast cancer.

There are many unknowns about cancer, Giles said; all the more reason for continuing research.

"We don’t know what causes it, or how it starts." Giles said.

"There is a higher amount of incidents in African-Americans and Hispanics," he said. "Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It will attack anyone."

Neighborhood Watch
"We’re the eyes and ears of the community"

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALTAMONT — A dozen village residents schlepped through Saturday morning’s drizzle to meet with officials at Village Hall about starting a Neighborhood Watch in Altamont.

"It’s a neighbor to neighbor association," said Norman Bauman, a three year resident of the village who moved from Schenectady and is leading the charge for the program. He said that it’s not so much about stopping crime as bringing the community together.

"It’s a safe area," he said.

"I don’t see it as a response to crime," said Altamont’s mayor, James Gaughan, of the program. It is an extension of the Watching Out for One Another brochure that the village board circulated in February, he said.

"This isn’t anything that popped out of the sky," Gaughan told The Enterprise.

Some village residents are concerned about their welfare, though, said Altamont’s public safety commissioner, Anthony Salerno. While he wouldn’t say whether or not there had been a rise in the crime rate in Altamont, he said that there is a trend in crime moving out of cities. "There’s a pattern which our college professors have proven," said Salerno.

"We have a situation with juveniles that we’re worried about," Salerno said of Altamont at Saturday’s meeting. When asked about the situation later, he said, "It’s like watching one another," referencing the brochure. "If it’s not juveniles, it’s the elderly. If it’s not the elderly, it’s the adults," said Salerno.

Better emergency response, in the event of a natural disaster or personal injury, was cited by both Bauman and Gaughan as one of the most beneficial aspects of the neighborhood watch program.

The Altamont program is based on guidelines from the Attorney General’s office, which outlines six benefits of Neighborhood Watch: Deterring criminal activity; creating a greater sense of security and reducing fear of crime; building bonds with neighbors; reducing the risk of becoming a crime victim; instructing residents on how to observe and report suspicious behavior; addressing quality-of-life issues; enhancing homeland security; and working collaboratively with other civic activities.

Block captains are being sought for the village; each one is to oversee between eight and 10 houses facing each other. Captains will be given badges by the police department.

"We’re the eyes and ears of this community when the young people go off to work," said Bauman.

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