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Girard breaks state scoring record in Glens Falls victory

AMSTERDAM — No one expected it to happen this quickly.

But averaging 50 points per game as a junior in high school alters expectations.

Tuesday night at Amsterdam High School, Joseph Girard III broke New York State’s all-time boys basketball scoring record of 2,946 points, previously held by Lance Stephenson. Girard needed 39 points to set the new mark and broke the record with a free throw late in the fourth quarter.

Girard finished with 44 points as Glens Falls posted a key 74-68 win over Amsterdam.

“I cannot thank my teammates and the Glens Falls community enough,” Girard said, “for supporting me and supporting my teammates. We wouldn’t be able to do all this without them.”

Girard’s path to the top of the state’s scoring list began in eighth grade when he started playing varsity basketball. That year, before he was even a high school student, Girard averaged 21.7 points per game.

Since then, he has averaged 33.8 points per game in ninth grade and 36.4 points per game as a sophomore and has made more than 400 career 3-pointers.

Now averaging close to 50 points per game, Girard will almost certainly become the first boys basketball player in state history to surpass 3,000 points.

He has 17 NCAA Division I offers, the most recent coming on Saturday from the University of Michigan. The number of offers is likely to grow. Stanford, USC, Syracuse, Louisville, Duke and several other schools continue to be in contact with him.

Also a talented football player, Girard has offers to play quarterback in college from both Tulane University and the University of Massachusetts.

Girard hopes to have his recruitment wrapped up before the start of his senior year.

Proposed needle exchange program spurs concern
Hudson Falls to hold community meeting Thursday about plan

HUDSON FALLS — Residents and elected officials are upset about a proposed drug syringe exchange program inserting itself into the community without their support — or knowledge.

The deputy mayor, chief of police, business owners and residents only heard about the exchange program within the past couple of weeks, even though it has been in the works since last summer.

The location of the possible office where the program will be run has also met with opposition.

The “Syringe Exchange Program” would be the first of its kind in the area and is being proposed by the Alliance for Positive Health based in Albany. The closest Alliance syringe exchange program is in Plattsburgh.

Needle exchange programs let drug users swap dirty needles for clean ones. Ideally, needle exchanges reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

But it’s not the exchange program itself that’s the driving force behind a last-minute public hearing on the proposal that is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, upstairs in the old courthouse. It’s the two turn-offs — the location and lack of transparency — that has shot down the community’s compassion.

The proposed location of the office is at 124 Main St., across from Juckett Park and next to the former Commercial National Bank.

“It couldn’t be worse,” said Deputy Mayor Robert Cook, who will be running Thursday’s hearing, adding that children play in the park and that the Margaret Murphy Kindergarten Center is less than a half-mile away.

The location may also break state Department of Health codes.

In part, the Department of Health’s policies and procedures on syringe exchange programs seeks “assurances that the proposed syringe exchange program site is not situated in places where and when children are apt to be present (i.e. playgrounds, schools, day care or other facilities where children may congregate).”

The rules also state that “programs must submit documentation of their previous and planned activities to interact with members of the community where an exchange site is planned, including elected officials and law enforcement, in order to inform them of the proposed services.”

In addition, the Health Department calls for a Community Advisory Board, something that hasn’t been created, Cook said.

“I’ve asked around and I can’t find a single soul who’s part of that committee,” he said.

Cook expressed concern for business owners who may not feel comfortable with a needle exchange program outside their doors.

A woman who works at A Shear Experience at 160 Main St. wasn’t supportive of the program in the village and said no other businesses were either.

“We’ve all talked about it … it’s bad for the community all the way around,” the woman, who declined to be identified, said Tuesday.

She said she heard about the program through a fellow community member only a week or so ago.

Hudson Falls Police Chief Randy Diamond found out about the program recently, too, he said.

“I have a number of public safety concerns,” Diamond said. “And (the Alliance) hasn’t reached out to us at all. I heard about it through village channels.”

He noted that aside from the location, an influx of addicts coming to the village is another concern for his department.

Common downsides to exchange programs, detractors say, are that they promote drug use by offering clean needles. Also, the programs are generally funded by taxpayer money and local residents feel unsafe about the prospect of a potential influx of addicts, according to is an informational website with the purpose of connecting people and their families with resources to help them recover from substance abuse and behavioral disorders.

Proponents say the benefits of a needle exchange program include reducing the risk of contaminated needles being shared, reducing the risk of law enforcement officers becoming infected by accidental needle sticks and exchange centers able to offer free HIV testing and counseling. Also, some programs assist those seeking help for their drug problem in getting into treatment programs and support groups or seeking out other local services.

Bill Faragon, executive director of the Alliance for Positive Health, said the location was approved by the state in August. The location was chosen because, Faragon said, he wants to keep an Alliance presence downtown.

The Alliance describes itself as a community-based organization dedicated to improving lives impacted by HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses through support, services and interventions. The Alliance has been offering services in Hudson Falls for over 10 years, according to Faragon.

“But first thing,” Faragon said over the phone Tuesday afternoon, “this is not a program where we advocate for people to use drugs. The goal is safety and to get people into treatment.”

He said his intention is to have the Alliance office open a couple of days a week for a couple of hours.

The program will also offer treatment resources, Narcan training and lessons in how to properly clean injection sites.

Most exchange programs are brought on to fight infectious diseases.

Drug users can get hepatitis C — a viral liver infection — just by reusing a needle.

According to the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, about 80 percent of people with HIV who inject drugs also have hepatitis C.

Each injection drug user infected with the hepatitis C virus is likely to infect 20 other people, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Of the 17,000 new hepatitis C viral infections occurring in the United States in 2010, more than half (53 percent) were injection drug users, according to the report.

Faragon is tentatively coming before the Planning Board on Feb. 21 to gather community input and educate residents on the program. The date hasn’t been confirmed yet.

“This isn’t just about handing out sterile needles. It’s about getting people help,” Faragon said.

“We are willing to do what we can to work with the community.”

Cook said the purpose of the upcoming meeting is mostly informational.

“I’m not saying the program doesn’t have a place in the community,” Cook said. “What I am saying is that I object to a decision-making process that didn’t seek community input and left our elected officials and Police Department totally in the dark and I object to a location that puts our park, two schools, the Recovery Center and our businesses at risk.”