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Glens Falls Indians get warm send-off for trip to title game

GLENS FALLS — Despite freezing temperatures, the Glens Falls Indians got a warm send-off Friday as the football team departed to play Saturday’s Class B state championship game in Syracuse. Parents, friends and supporters gathered at Glens Falls High School to show their support before the team got on the bus to go to the Carrier Dome to take on Batavia. Athletic Director Chip Corlew said the team is eager to play.

“They’re a focused group, that’s for sure. They’re ready,” he said. The players packed up their gear and gobbled down some pizza from Angelina’s before they made the trip. Sophomore Carter Roberts, a lineman, admitted that he had some nerves.

“It’s the biggest game of the year,” he said.

Lineman Pat Vaughn, also a sophomore, said teamwork has been the key to the team’s success.

“We’re great as a team. We’re all close,” he said.

Junior Dylan Niro said he is excited to go back to the Dome, this time as a player.

“My freshman year is the year they won last time. I was in the stands,” he said.

Brooke Vassar was supporting a particular player on the team — her boyfriend Trent Girard. She was holding a sign saying: “First Stop. Dome. Next Stop: Prom?”

He said yes.

Clara Cannon, whose grandson is Parker Stafford, a wide receiver and defensive back, was confident the team was going to win.

“They’re a great bunch of guys. They work together,” she said.

Amy Collins, the city’s director of tourism, had a sign made saying “Go Big or Go Home,” which was a favorite expression of her brother-in-law, Tom Collins, who died in 2017. He was the father of senior lineman Thompson Collins. Collins presented it to the family. Corlew thanked all the supporters and business sponsors who have helped the team get to this point, including paying for the charter buses, dinner and other expenses.

“We’ll see you out there. Glens Falls Nation is alive and well,” he said.

Government climate report warns of worsening US disasters

WASHINGTON — As California’s catastrophic wildfires recede and people rebuild after two hurricanes, a massive new federal report warns that these types of extreme weather disasters are worsening in the United States. The White House report quietly issued Friday also frequently contradicts President Donald Trump.

The National Climate Assessment was written long before the deadly fires in California this month and before Hurricanes Florence and Michael raked the East Coast and Florida. It says warming-charged extremes “have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration.” The report notes the last few years have smashed U.S. records for damaging weather, costing nearly $400 billion since 2015.

The recent Northern California wildfires can be attributed to climate change, but there was less of a connection to those in Southern California, said co-author William Hohenstein of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“A warm, dry climate has increased the areas burned over the last 20 years,” he said at a press conference Friday.

The report is mandated by law every few years and is based on more than 1,000 previous research studies. It details how global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas is hurting each region of the United States and how it impacts different sectors of the economy, including energy and agriculture.

“Climate change is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us,” the report says.

That includes worsening air pollution causing heart and lung problems, more diseases from insects, the potential for a jump in deaths during heat waves, and nastier allergies.

“Annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century — more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states,” the report says. It’ll be especially costly on the nation’s coasts because of rising seas and severe storm surges, which will lower property values. And in some areas, such as parts of Alaska and Louisiana, coastal flooding will likely force people to relocate.

“We are seeing the things we said would be happening, happen now in real life,” said another co-author Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University. “As a climate scientist it is almost surreal.”

And Donald Wuebbles, a co-author from University of Illinois climate scientist, said, “We’re going to continue to see severe weather events get stronger and more intense.”

What makes the report different from others is that it focuses on the United States, then goes more local and granular.

“All climate change is local,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Richard Alley, who wasn’t part of the report but praised it.

While scientists talk of average global temperatures, people feel extremes more, he said.

“We live in our drought, our floods and our heat waves. That means we have to focus on us,” he said.

The Lower 48 states have warmed 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) since 1900 with 1.2 degrees in the last few decades, according to the report. By the end of the century, the U.S. will be 3 to 12 degrees (1.6 to 6.6 degrees Celsius) hotter depending on how much greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, the report warns.

Outside scientists and officials from 13 federal agencies wrote the report, which was released on the afternoon following Thanksgiving. It was originally scheduled for December. The report often clashes with the president’s past statements and tweets on the legitimacy of climate change science, how much of it is caused by humans, how cyclical it is and what’s causing increases in recent wildfires.

Trump tweeted this week about the cold weather hitting the East including: “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS—Whatever happened to Global Warming?”

Friday’s report seemed to anticipate such comments, saying: “Over shorter timescales and smaller geographic regions, the influence of natural variability can be larger than the influence of human activity ... Over climate timescales of multiple decades, however, global temperature continues to steadily increase.”

Releasing the report on Black Friday “is a transparent attempt by the Trump Administration to bury this report and continue the campaign of not only denying but suppressing the best of climate science,” said study co-author Andrew Light, an international policy expert at the World Resources Institute.

During a press conference Friday, officials behind the report repeatedly declined to answer questions about the timing of its release and why it contradicts public statements from Trump. Report director David Reidmiller said questions about the timing were “relevant,” but said what was in the report was more important.

Trump, administration officials and elected Republicans frequently say they can’t tell how much of climate change is caused by humans and how much is natural.

Citing numerous studies, the report says more than 90 percent of the current warming is caused by humans. Without greenhouse gases, natural forces — such as changes in energy from the sun — would be slightly cooling Earth.

“There are no credible alternative human or natural explanations supported by the observational evidence,” the report says.

Road salt prices higher as winter looms

ALBANY — Budget-busting road salt prices are leaving municipal officials in the Snow Belt hoping for a mild winter.

Salt supplies are tight on the heels of a harsh winter last year that depleted reserves, leaving many localities in the Northeast and Great Lakes to pay prices that range from about 5 percent higher to almost double.

“Everybody’s got their fingers crossed for good weather,” said Rebecca Matsco, an official in western Pennsylvania’s Beaver County, where one contract price came in at $109 a ton, 95 percent higher than last year.

The increases are frustrating to local officials who are locked into tight budgets. Some highway superintendents say they could choose to make their salt supplies last by mixing in more sand, which is cheaper. And others say it could force them to defer other road projects. But they can’t stop salting slick roads.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop salting, it just means that it’s going to be more expensive to get these materials,” said Jack Cunningham, public works commissioner in Colonie, which is getting a relative bargain through a state contract of $62 a ton, a mere 5 percent increase from last year.

Ohio’s Lake Township, which is paying about $90 a ton, says the good news is that it started the snow season with about 85 percent of what it needed in storage. That town’s road superintendent, Daniel Kamerer, says he also employs a technique to make the salt go further — moistening the salt with brine or other liquids to make it stick to the road rather than bouncing off.

Orders can cover thousands of tons, and the prices localities are paying now per ton vary widely based on the supplier, volume, shipping costs and other factors. Officials in snowy Syracuse, New York, for instance, report flat costs after extending a contract from last year.

Production issues at two major North American salt mines have contributed to tight supplies.

Cargill is addressing a leak in a salt mine 1,800 feet under Lake Erie off Cleveland, one of three U.S. mines the company operates. Company spokesman Justin Barber said it is working to fix leakage, but “it’s lowering our salt production capacity for this winter season.”

There also was an 11-week strike this year at the largest underground operating salt mine in the world, the Goderich mine under Lake Huron, off Ontario. Production slowed due to the strike but is now back up, said Tara Hefner, a spokeswoman for Compass Minerals.

One bright spot: Snow belt towns might get their wish for an easier winter. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued an outlook last month that said conditions could be warmer and drier this winter in parts of the North.

Still, there have been a couple of early season storms already. Kamerer notes he had trucks out last week when an early-season storm swept over the eastern United States.

“I get a little bit nervous,” he said, “when we have to go out before Thanksgiving.”

Glens Falls Housing Authority seeks public-private rehab of its aging buildings

GLENS FALLS — The Glens Falls Housing Authority is looking to rehabilitate its aging housing facilities, including the potential demolition and replacement of the 50-year-old LaRose Gardens complex.

The authority in October sent out a request for proposals from developers seeking a public-private partnership to renovate all of its facilities.

Executive Director Robert Landry said two developers have bid. The authority board will review the proposals and hopefully make a decision in January, he said.

Landry said the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has undertaken an initiative called “repositioning,” in which they seek out private partners to redevelop housing.

“HUD no longer provides us adequate money for capital projects,” he said.

The authority owns Stichman Towers, the Cronin High Rise and LaRose Gardens in Glens Falls, and Earl Towers in Hudson Falls.

LaRose, which has 50 one-bedroom apartments, is the oldest facility, having been built in 1967.

“LaRose Gardens has reached a point of obsolescence and needs to be torn down and rebuilt,” Landry said.

The plan would be to rebuild on the same site, he added.

LaRose is the only facility that is not exclusively for seniors. The 81-unit Stichman Towers was built in 1971, followed by the 100-unit Cronin High Rise in 1981 and the 75-unit Earl Towers in 1984.

Work at these buildings would include replacing the roofs, making them accessible to people with disabilities, adding new amenities and improving the parking lots, according to Landry. Another priority would be to install backup generators so each building would be self-sustaining if there were a major power outage.

Landry said the replacement of LaRose Gardens could cost $5 million and other upgrades about $15 million, according to preliminary estimates.

The way the initiative would work is the developer would receive federal tax credits to make the rents affordable for tenants, Landry said. It is the same model that Regan Development Co. is using in its project to build a 73-unit affordable housing complex off Broad Street.

Landry said he believes this change would benefit the community, but the authority has to do its due diligence to make sure it is bringing on board a partner that can work with the authority and its staff to make this happen.

Landry did not disclose the two bidders, but said both have experience working with public housing authorities.

“They realize that this is very different and new to us, and requires, in the beginning, a lot of hand-holding,” he said.

The housing authority would still retain ownership and management of the buildings, according to Landry.

Landry said he wanted to get out ahead of this process because he believed this is the direction that HUD is moving. In fact, he received a letter from HUD that, he said, stated: “If you are a housing authority that is not on the path to a public-private partnership for development, they’re going to put you on a path.”

Authority board member Ben Driscoll, who is also Ward 5 supervisor, said he is looking forward to reviewing the proposals, which the developers made in easily understandable language.

“We’ve been assured we’re not going to be reading Latin, (but) testimonials and similar types of projects that have been successfully completed — not just in the Capital Region but throughout New York and particularly upstate New York,” he said.

The authority will discuss the matter further at its Dec. 18 meeting and make a decision on its Jan. 8 meeting.