Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Message of Gratitude to Our Friends

A huge THANK YOU goes out to TRIP’s many supporters in 2010! Your gift to TRIP helps  improve Troy by rehabilitating blighted buildings, creating and educating new homeowners, preventing foreclosures, making available high quality affordable apartments to families, providing home repairs to seniors, assisting landlords, and supporting neighborhood groups.

Furthermore, donations to TRIP are investments directly into our local economy.  Donations to TRIP have a multiplier effect, enabling us to leverage over $7.7 million additional dollars into Troy’s community through private, federal and state sources. We are very proud of the work we do and the benefits that it brings to Troy.  However, we could not do it without those of you who support us – through the tough times as well as the good times.  You are all extremely valued partners in our success.   Your dedication to the well-being and health of our community is greatly appreciated.

If you haven’t yet joined the list of supporters, it’s not too late!  Click on the link here and you too can become an investor in Troy’s future.

Thanks to all our donors in 2010! 
Betsy Voss, Mike Esposito, Shevy Law Firm, Hon. Roy McDonald, Hon. Ronald Canestrari, John Madden, Jr., Judith A. Barnes, David & Katie Haviland, Sunmark Federal Credit Union, Doug Kallenburg, John Nigro, Linda Mappes, Northeast Health, Chet & Karen Opalka, Jacqueline Witbeck, J.W. Pfeil & Company, SEFCU, Pioneer Bank, Commission on Economic Oppportunity, Kevin & Pat O'Bryan, Hon. Kathleen Jimino, Michael Danforth, Robert Burke, Wally & Jane Altes, Pattison, Sampson, Ginsberg & Griffin, Legal Aid Society, Seton Health, Massry Charitable Foundation, Lynn Kopka, Robert & Janet MacLasco, United Group of Companies, Arthur Ross, Emma Willard School, NeighborWorks America, Hon. Edward Spain, TD Bank, Robert Miller, John Murray, Hannaford, United Way of  Greater Capital Region, Robert Gamble, Omni Housing Development, Don Fane, The Community Preservation Corporation, First Niagara Bank, Garrett Degraff, Joseph Fleming, Architecture+, NBT Bank, Rensselaer County IDA, M & T Bank, Groff Networks, Alane & Paul Hohenberg, Key Bank, William Schroeder & Wendy Pattison, Kim & E. Stewart Jones, Jr., Ken & Dorcas Rose, Lynne Gelzheiser & Wayne Metsch, Capital District Community Loan Fund, Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce, Gwen Krause, Charles Freihoffer, Anonymous, Marie Gavazzi, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Unity House, Chris & Bridget Ball Shaw, Ken & Sandy Salzmann, Kim Mazor, Hon. Randolph Treece, E.H. Nash, Mark Pattison & Laura Amos, Mozella Irving, Anthony Cardona, O'Connell & Aronowitz, John G. Stewart, Nina Pattison, R. Mihran Mooradian, Warren Fane, Jodi Flood, Barbara Higbee, Bartle, McGrane, Duffy, & Jones, The Community Hospice, John McCann, Anne Patnode, Dreyer Boyajian, Lisa Barone, Jack Casey, John Casey, Hon. Peter Grimm, Sandy Gull, Christine Nealon, Katherine & Calvin Young, Hon. Matthew Turner, Monica Kurzejeski, Carl Erickson, Key Bank, Patrick Madden, Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group, Bob & Robin Cuddy, Ann F. Ellery, Hilary Lamishaw, Turner Construction Company, O'Bryan Family Foundation, Bank of America, Thomas McGuire, First United Presyterian Church, HSBC, Trustco Bank, Key Foundation, Citizens Bank, and State Farm.

The Value of One

2232 5th Ave
Revitalizing Community
One Piece at a Time

There will be a new look on an old house at 2232 5th Avenue in Troy. TRIP recently purchased this four-unit, architecturally-interesting but long-neglected building. We are in the process of doing a complete rehabilitation of the building with plans for a ribbon-cutting in Spring 2011.

When finished, there will be upgraded, energy efficient units for tenants at affordable prices, a new appealing facade that will improve the street scape for neighbors as well as passersby, and another property will have been returned to the City's tax roll. It sounds simple and on the face of it, it is. The actual project, however, is a huge endeavor requiring lots of staff planning time, securing adequate financing from a variety of sources, coordinating various partners, architectural plans, contractor bids, and ... that's before rehabilitation can even begin!

2232 5th Ave. Rendering by Randy Rumpf
Despite the difficulties of taking a simple idea through its very complex implementation from beginning to end, we know its the right thing to do. We believe in the value of one in community revitalization: that the transformation of one blighted building into a productive, viable property benefits the entire block; that investment in one building can encourage other property owners to invest as well; that a well-cared look of a building can attract renters who likewise want to take care of it.

Through TRIP's HomeOwnership Center, this same philosophy -- the power of one -- underlines our homeownership education and landlord training programs, among others. The addition of one responsible homeowner or landlord adds to the fabric of that community.

TRIP could not help to revitalize Troy's communities without its many partners over the past four decades of our existence. We appreciate the support from so many people, organizations, and companies. And we hope that you will continue this support by making a donation today. Thanks.

To make a donation by mail or online, click here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We Give Thanks

Rev. Willie and Mr. Jones
Rev. Willie Bacote and E. Stewart Jones, Esq.
This year's TRIP/RCHR Annual Homecoming Dinner on Oct. 20th was once again a great success.  The Troy Treasure Award was given to Rev. Willie Bacote of Missing Link Ministry. The Citizenship Award went to E. Stewart Jones, Esq. Both of these men give of their resources to our community in countless ways. Guests were entertained by MC Jack Casey who even wrote some songs for the occasion.

Patrick Madden and Mr. Jones
TRIP's Executive Director Patrick
Madden with E. Stewart Jones, Esq.
The stories and the laughter were wonderful. A video presentation highlighted the evening and then it came to a close with a beautiful testimony from a homeowner who shared her story and gratefulness for the work of TRIP in her family. It was an extraordinary and inspirational night. Thank you to all who made it special and to those who support the work of TRIP.

If you would like to volunteer your time to help with planning next year's dinner, please call 272-8289. 


Energy $aving$$$ Programs

Here's a conundrum:  it costs money to save money... on energy expenses, that is! While it's obvious that energy conservation measures can reduce your utility bills, many of us wonder how to afford the up-front costs. Here are several options:

Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficient Home Improvements
If you are ready to do energy efficient home improvements, don’t miss the boat on the federal tax credit which expires on December 31, 2010. The credit is for 30% of the cost of improvements up to $1,500. Only work done in existing homes that serve as one’s principal residence is eligible. New construction and rentals do not qualify. There is no upper or lower limit on income for the energy efficient tax credits.
  • Eligible home improvements include HVAC (heating, ventilating, air conditioning) work, biomass stoves (including wood and wood pellets), insulation, roofs (metal and asphalt), water heaters (non-solar) and windows and doors. Tax credits are available through the end of 2016 for solar energy systems, residential wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps.
  • Tax credits are being administered by the IRS (www.irs.gov/contact).
  • To apply to the credit, you need to file IRS Form 5695 and submit it with your 2010 taxes, due April 15, 2011. You should save your receipts and the Manufacturer's Certification Statement for your records. For more information, see http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index
Financing Home Improvements
Work that is performed by a participating Building Performance Institute Accredited Home Performance Contractor qualifies for financing through any of the options listed below:

1. ENERGY STAR Financing (1 and 2 family owner-occupied only)
Low-interest ENERGY STAR Financing is offered through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. Your contractor can supply you with the current interest rate.  The following conditions apply:
* This is an unsecured loan, not a second mortgage or equity loan.
* The limit on the loan is $15,000 or $20,000, depending on your credit score.
* You can select a term of 3, 5, 7 or 10 years.
* Financing is available to owner-occupied 1- or 2-family homes.

2. New York Energy $martSMResidential Loan Fund
Energy $mart Loans are offered through a network of Participating Residential Loan Fund Lenders servicing New York State. The following conditions apply:
* Loans up to $20,000 ($30,000 in the Consolidated Edison service territory) may be obtained on a secured or unsecured basis, at the option of the Lender and the Borrower.
* Your interest rate is bought down by up to 4.0% or 400 basis points, reduced as low as 3.0%, for a term up to ten (10) years.
* Procedures and conditions may vary by Participating Lender, and by loan.
Eligible Improvements for 1-4 Family Homes are those Eligible Measures and Accessories that have been determined by NYSERDA to meet the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program guidelines.

3. Homeowner Financing Incentive
If you choose not to use either ENERGY STAR Financing or the New York Energy $martSM Loan Fund, you may be eligible to receive 10% of the cost of eligible energy efficiency improvements, up to a maximum incentive of $3,000.

4. Additional Incentives Based on Income Eligibility
Households with an income equal to or lower than 80% of state or area median income, whichever is greater, can receive additional financial incentives through Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®. That's an income of nearly $60,000 a year for a family of 4 in most counties and higher in several downstate counties. If you are income-eligible, you may receive assistance to cover up to 50% of the cost of energy improvements. Contact Energy Finance Solutions at 1-800-361-5663 to see if you are eligible.

Single Family: The building occupant's income must be less than or equal to what is listed in the income guidelines for the number of people living in the household. A 50% subsidy up to $5,000 may be available.
Renters: Income-qualified tenants can receive up to a 50% subsidy towards the purchase of ENERGY STAR appliances and lighting or other energy-reducing products. Use the income guidelines to determine if you are income-eligible.

2-4 Family Building Owners: Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR will perform work in 2-4 unit buildings where either the owner is income qualified and occupies one of the units, or tenants are income-qualified. An income qualified owner that occupies a unit in a 2-4 unit building can receive a subsidy of up to $5,000 for the whole building without any income verification required for the tenants. A higher subsidy, up to a total of $10,000 per building, may be available if tenants also are income eligible.
So get smart and get energy savings.  For more information, go to http://www.getenergysmart.org/

Troy Grants for Home Improvements

(Troy – November 4, 2010) Mayor Harry Tutunjian announced the city has been awarded a grant from the Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC) in the amount of $300,000 to improve 100 homes in South Troy. Combined with matching $200,000 from the city’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies, this money will be used towards improving 50 single-family and 50 two-family homes. 

“Earlier this year, I announced the city would be taking an innovative approach to neighborhood revitalization by targeting two areas for infrastructure improvements and neighborhood sustainability projects. These grants for exterior rehabilitation will create a better quality of life and improve neighborhood viability for one hundred homes,” said Mayor Tutunjian. “By revitalizing neighborhood infrastructure and quality of life the city will be in a position to market itself to new homeowners seeking to purchase a home in an area that provides safe neighborhoods and quality basic services.” 

"It is wonderful to see the diligent efforts of the various neighborhood groups, myself, and the Mayor pay dividends in the awarding of these facade grants to continue the initiative to improve South Troy. I will strongly advocate our homeowners in District Six participate in this program that will enable the property improvements essential to maintaining and improving the quality of life in our South Troy neighborhoods," Councilman Gary Galuski (D – District 6). 

Earlier this year at the Mayor’s direction, the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development unveiled an innovative plan for the city’s CDBG monies in the new Five Year Consolidated Plan. This plan will invest $5 million over the next five years in South Troy and North Central neighborhood areas and received City Council approval. 

Back then, Tutunjian noted that $1.2 million is budgeted for what’s being termed the “South Troy Reinvestment Area” to pay for various projects including housing and street improvements, new playground equipment, better sidewalks, more efficient and safer lighting, building stabilization where feasible, vacant building demolition where necessary, and handicapped accessibility projects. This area includes all the neighborhoods from Canal Street south to Main Street and from 1st Street east to 4th Street. 

Additionally, Tutunjian’s recommendations continued funding quality of life programs such as the Neighborhood Improvement through Code Enforcement (NICE) that focus on specific neighborhoods in an intensive effort to correct minor and/or exterior violations before they develop into blight. 

Upon receipt of the grant, the city will develop an application process to determine income eligibility, which cannot exceed 112% of the median income for that census tract. Awarding of the grants will then be determined by the type of project and may include rehabilitation of porches, steps, exterior painting, roof repairs, among other options. 

It is anticipated the city will announce the opening for applications in Spring 2011.

As the Weather Gets Cold, Think "Weatherization"

While the chill in the air may be invigorating if you're raking, running, hiking or otherwise enjoying the outdoors, it sure isn't fun to feel it in your house. As we all know, keeping warm costs money. National Weatherization Day, November 1st, was recognized in Troy earlier this month with a demonstration at a Sixth Avenue home in Troy. The day helps to raise awareness about assistance available to families through the weatherization assistance program. Weatherization helps those least able to afford expensive energy bills to significantly lower their costs, allowing seniors and others who would otherwise be forced to leave to stay in their homes. It is also an important step toward a clean energy environment in which homes are made energy efficient.

State and local officials, community leaders and others toured the three-unit building and watched a blower demonstration. Karen Gordon, executive director of the Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO), said the program helps families in need to conserve energy and reduce their costs for heat, cooling, and electricity. The family at the Sixth Avenue home will save nearly 50% on last year's heating costs thanks to the energy saving measures. They took advantage of the weatherization assistance program through CEO, Rensselaer County's provider agency.  Locally, CEO expects to weatherize 410 houses throughout Rensselaer County within the next year, using federal and state funding.

Families interested in learning more about weatherization services available through the program should contact the CEO at 272-6012.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Don't Be A Victim: Protect Your Identity

Don't be a victim of identity theft, a growing problem in the United States.  According to John Walsh, Acting Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), “Over 10 million Americans were affected by identity theft last year. Consumers must protect themselves and become educated about identity theft to prevent and resolve problems.”

To help in this effort, the OCC has joined with others and has designated October 17 – 23, 2010 Protect Your Identity Week.   

From the OCC's press release this week:

WASHINGTON — The Office of Comptroller of the Currency has joined the public-private coalition that supports the third annual Protect Your Identity Week (PYIW), an initiative of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB). The week-long initiative, October 17 – 23, 2010, brings focus to the PYIW national campaign’s Web site and community events aimed at identity theft protection and education.

As part of this initiative, the OCC has made Web resources available that help consumers understand identity theft risks and how they may safeguard their personal information.

Consumers can find PYIW educational events in their area, hosted by local NFCC and BBB members, or other coalition partners, by visiting www.ProtectYourIDNow.org. Consumers can take advantage of identity theft workshops, onsite shredding and credit report reviews. The Web site also includes identity theft protection tips, videos, an interactive quiz to assess an individual’s risk of identity theft, and resources for victims. The Web site is also available in Spanish at www.CuideSuIdentidad.org. The OCC’s resources on identity theft may be accessed from the “Consumer Resources” section of the PYIW Web site.

Related Links:
OCC Fighting Identity Theft - http://www.occ.gov/Consumer/idtheft.htm

Celebrating the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region's 25th Anniversary

The Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region is celebrating its 25th Anniversary on Monday, Oct. 25th from 5-7pm at the State Capitol.  This organization has been making loans available to small business owners, not-for-profit organizations and homeowners throughout the area, providing credit when it otherwise was unavailable or too expensive to access. 

TRIP was one of the very borrowers, helping us meet the financing gap on several of our earliest housing developments.  Since then, there is an illustrious list of Troy-based businesses or groups which have sought financing from the Community Loan Fund, including Olde Judge Mansion B&B, The Sanctuary for Independent Media, Ark Community Charter School, CafĂ© Deli-icious, Troy Community Food Coop, Xs to Os Vegan Bakery, Independent Living Center, Art Gallery, Friends of Washington Park (street resurfacing), TAUM, and more.

Through a $1 million award from the US Department of Treasury last year, the Community Loan Fund created a Residential Lending Committee to provide mortgages and repair loans, enabling homebuyers and homeowners some financing options. This is important given the current credit crunch which has made home loans very difficult to access. The first residential loan assisted a customer of TRIP's HomeOwnership Center.  

We appreciate the investment that the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region makes in Troy!  For more information about the Celebration on October 25th, contact Linda@mycommunityloanfund.org.


Interest Rates are Low

The State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) now has the lowest interest rates ever offered in 40 years. SONYMA's Low Interest Rate Program is at a rate of 4% and it's Achieving the Dream Program, for low-income first-time homebuyers, is at 3.5%!

SONYMA is dedicated to providing affordable home ownership opportunities to low- and moderate-income families in the State of New York by offering competitively-priced mortgages. SONYMA was created in 1970 with the mission of helping low- and moderate- income families become homeowners. It offers a variety of low down payment mortgages that provide below-market fixed interest rates, as well as closing cost assistance through a network of participating lenders across the state.

SONYMA offers six mortgage programs as well as mortgage credit certificates to assist you with the purchase of a home in New York State.  Each mortgage program features a competitive interest rate, low down payment requirements, no prepayment penalties and down payment assistance, while the mortgage credit certificates offer a federal income tax credit.  Each of these features are designed to make your home purchase more affordable.

For more information:


Visit www.triponline.org for more information about TRIP's HomeOwnership Center and how we can help you purchase a home.

Single Stream Recycling in Troy

Mayor Harry Tutunjian has announced that residents can now combine all of their recyclables into one container and no longer need to separate them.  This new process called “single stream recycling” makes recycling easier for the residents while incurring no additional costs to the city.

“Single stream recycling means you no longer have to keep paper and cardboard products separate from plastics, metals and other commodities.  Instead, you can place all of your recyclable materials into one blue recycling bin and not have to worry about what goes where,” said Mayor Tutunjian.  “Increasing the ease of recycling has been shown to reduce the amount of garbage that goes to our landfills.  Single stream recycling is a simple, environmentally friendly way to support ‘green’ practices all at no cost to our residents.”

According to their website, in December 2009, County Waste and Recycling launched Single Stream Recycling (SSR), which allows all recyclable materials – glass, paper, metal, cardboard and plastics – to be placed in the recycling bin for collection. Once collected, the recyclables are taken to County Waste and Recycling’s facility to be sorted and processed for shipment to recyclers.  The result, according to County Waste and Recycling, has increased recycling rates by 24% in the communities where it’s been implemented.

Tutunjian noted that for SSR to achieve its maximum effect, it’s important to note what not to recycle including: trash, pizza boxes, diapers, clothing, styrofoam, bottle/can caps or lids, food, compost, yard waste, electronics, and construction debris.

Tutunjian noted that the city’s recycling program has had a significant, positive impact on City finances, specifically in the area of avoided disposal costs. Annual solid waste disposal for the City averages $1.2 million. Through the curbside recycling program the City has saved an average of $115,000 annually.

Please be advised that collection containers should be placed for collection after 6:00 PM the night before your scheduled collection day.  If your recycling is not collected, please leave the container out and call the DPW dispatcher at 270-4579. 

For more information on the city’s program and list of acceptable items to recycle please visit www.troyny.gov/recycling.html.  To learn more about County Waste’s SSR program please visit www.county-waste.com/ssr.html.

Furnace Repair or Replacement

The Furnace Repair and Replacement Component of the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is available to help eligible low-income home owners repair or replace furnaces, boilers and other direct heating components necessary to keep the home's primary heating source functional.

Furnace benefits amounts are based on the actual cost incurred to replace or repair the applicants’ furnace, boiler, and/or other essential heating equipment necessary to keep the home's primary heating source operational.

To receive a benefit, an application must be made in person at the local Department of Social Services and the applicant must receive a determination from the local department of social services that the applicant has met all established eligibility criteria, including established income and resource requirements. Benefits are paid directly to vendors after completion of all work for previously approved applications only.

Applications for furnace repairs or replacements are available at your local Department of Social Services office.

2010-2011 HEAP Benefit Gross Monthly Income Guidelines

Your total gross monthly income for your household size must be at or below the following guidelines:
Effective 10/01/10-9/30/11

Household Size
Maximum Gross Monthly Income
Each additional
Add $468

Questions regarding the HEAP program should be directed to your local Department of Social Services Office or the NYS HEAP Hotline at 1-800-342-3009.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Meet this Year's Troy Treasure

TRIP is pleased to announce that this year's winner of the much-coveted 2010 Troy Treasure award will go to Pastor Willie D. Bacote of The Missing Link Street Ministry Mission. Pastor Willie has been a long-time active proponent of families and particularly of children, especially those living in North Central Troy. He has been involved in the ministry since moving to Troy in the mid-1990’s, but never more so than in the past several years through The Missing Link Street Ministry Mission, located at 3370 Sixth Avenue.

Resulting from his deep concern for children’s safety, he has sponsored various anti-violence marches involving many of the neighborhoods’ families who are impacted by street violence. To remove guns from the streets, he created a gun buyback program that has collected over three hundred guns in the City of Troy since the program began. 

But perhaps Pastor Willie is best known for the daily ministry he and others perform by providing hot meals to children free of charge. He started the Feed A Kid Program through The Missing Link Street Ministry in North Central more than two years ago so that no child would go to bed hungry despite issues of poverty or drug/alcohol addictions in their households.  The program offers hot meals three evenings a week from 6 - 8pm, some evenings feeding close to one hundred children.

Of course, he doesn’t do this alone. There are many partners who have joined with him to feed our city's children, and to them, he -- and we -- are appreciative. For more information about how to help or to make a donation, go to www.missinglinkstreetministry.com. 

Thanks to Pastor Willie’s wonderful leadership, consistent involvement and outstanding service and the difference that he has made in the lives of thousands of families in Troy, we are proud to call him this year’s Troy Treasure. 

Pastor Willie will be honored at TRIP/RCHR”s Annual Dinner on October 20th. See www.triponline.org for details.

Fall's Coming: Home Projects Checklist

Well, we can't deny it any longer; fall is in the air.

And that means that winter is just around the corner, so now is the ideal time to be getting yourself ready for the cold months ahead. To get you started, here are a few things to put on the list.
  • Check the gutters: Fall is the ideal time to check your gutter and downspout systems. Clear the gutters of leaf and pine needle debris, and check that the opening between the gutter and the downspout is unobstructed. Look for loose joints or other structural problems with the system, and repair them as needed using pop rivets. Use a gutter sealant to seal any connections where leaks may be occurring.
  • Drain sprinkler systems: In colder areas, now is the time to be thinking about having your sprinkler and irrigation systems blown out. You can rent a compressor and do this yourself, or contact a landscape or irrigation system installer and them handle this for you. This is also the time to shut off outdoor faucets and install freeze-proof faucet covers as needed.
  • Check the fireplace: It's about time to get those logs burning, so get the fireplace ready! Clean the fireplace chimney or wood stove flue using brushes approved for the size and type of flue you have. If you're not partial to ladders, roofs and soot, this is a good project to leave to an experienced chimney sweep company as most do a great job at a very reasonable price. Clean out the firebox, making sure you place the ashes in a fireproof container with a tight lid for proper disposal. If you have an airtight wood stove or fireplace insert, check the door-seal gasket, and clean the glass on the door.
  • Change your furnace filters. Replace your old furnace filter with a new one. While you're at it, check the furnace for worn belts, lubrication needs, or other servicing that might be required, refer to your owner's manual for specific suggestions, and follow any manufacturer safety instructions for shutting the power and fuel to the furnace before servicing.
  • Clean your ducts: Now is also a great time to clean your furnace ducts. If it's been a while since that's been done, hire a professional duct cleaning service to handle this chore. If you've had it done within the last couple of years and you've been good about changing your filter, then all you should need to worry about is removing the register covers and vacuuming out the boots with shop vacuum.
  • Handle those yard chores: Many plants require pruning this time of year, and lawns should be fertilized with a fall/winter fertilizer to feed them through the winter and get them ready for a fast green-up when spring returns.
  • Close off foundation vents: Depending on the winter climate in your area, you'll want to be thinking about closing off your foundation vents to help prevent pipe freezes. You can leave the foundation open for as many months as the weather remains mild, but close them off when the local forecasts begin calling for freezing temperatures. Once closed, you can leave them that way until it warms up again in the spring.
  • Pack up the patio: Check and clean patio furniture and put them away for the winter. Clean and cover removable furniture cushions to protect them from dust and dirt, but be sure the cushions are dry before storing in order to prevent mildew growth.
  • Add a humidifier: Plagued with dry skin, cracking furniture, or maybe even an occasional nose bleed? Winters are dryer than summers, and closing ourselves up indoors with furnaces and especially wood-burning appliances going full blast will dry you and your house out in a hurry. You might want to think about adding a central humidifier to your forced air heating system, or simply setting up one or two portable units in key areas of the house such as the living room or bedroom.
  • Check weather-stripping: Air leaks around doors and windows can rob your home of expensive heated air and create uncomfortable drafts that keep you feeling chilly. Check the weather-stripping around doors and windows, and replace any that are worn. Retailers who specialize in doors and windows can fix you up with the proper replacement type for your situation. Now is also a good time to close up a few more air leaks by checking the condition of caulking around exterior door and window frames.

Troy Celebrates Peace Day

What is Peace Day?
The International Day of Peace provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date. It was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981, and in 2002, the General Assembly officially declared September 21 as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace. On Tuesday, September 21, 2010, men, women and children from around the world will celebrate this day, also known as "Peace Day." 

Join with others from Troy and around the world to nurture peace
In 2009, a group of Troy residents and business owners came to together to create a day of celebration for Troy in the spirit of the original vision that brought forth the Charter of the United Nations which envisions building a Culture of Peace in the 21st century, uniting the strengths of organizations, businesses, projects and peoples in order to make peace a practical reality.

Banners asking "How can I/we make Peace?" have been hanging all over Troy this month inviting the residents of Troy to write their thoughts about peace. On Peace Day, church bells around the city will ring at noon inviting all to join a moment of silence for peace. There will be opportunities to find peace through yoga or meditation, children will be making art, a Peace Walk  will be held downtown in the evening and there will be a music celebration at The Judges Inn. For more info about events, visit http://troypeace.org/.

Anyone, anywhere can celebrate Peace Day. It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, or just sitting in silent meditation. Or it can involve getting co-workers, organizations, communities or governments engaged in a large event. Or spending some time volunteering for a local charity or not-for-profit that works everyday to make lives in the community more peaceful by solving problems such as hunger, homelessness, domestic violence and providing a safe place for children after school. Since its inception, Peace Day has grown to include millions of people in all parts of the world, and each year events are organized to commemorate and celebrate this day, with the commitment to peace expressed in diverse and creative ways.
Along with being designated by the UN as the International Day of Peace, September 21 is also a day of Global Ceasefire. The cessation of hostilities for 24 hours enables relief workers to reach civilians in need with food, water, and medical supplies in areas that are often unreachable due to heavy fighting. These activities cover various areas of need and contribute towards peace-building and lives being saved: immunization campaigns, water and sanitation programs, the building of homes, gun amnesties, distribution of humanitarian aid, sports activities focused on reconciliation, workshops on human–wildlife conflicts and peace and security issues.

For Peace Day events in Troy visit: http://troypeace.org
Find out more about the International Day of Peace at: http://internationaldayofpeace.org
Find out more about the Culture of Peace Initiative at: http://cultureofpeace.org/
Find out more about Peace One Day at: http://peaceoneday.org

Compiled by Katherine Young

Monday, August 16, 2010

County Waste

TROY  - The state Department of Environmental Conservation will extend the comment period an additional week for the proposed expansion of a County Waste transfer station in South Troy, but the City Council will not be able to seek lead agency status under the State Environmental Quality Review Act process. According to DEC Region 4 spokesperson Rick Georgeson, the city administration never responded to a June letter sent out regarding lead agency.

Its not clear that they could even be lead agency if they wanted to, because they have to have some kind of permitting authority, said Georgeson. They'd have to tell us if they have any permitting authority for this type of change. At this point we don't know because they never responded.

City spokesperson Jeff Pirro said that he could not immediately determine whether or not the letter was received by the Mayors Office, but did release a statement via e-mail.

"I support the DEC extending the period allowing residents to comment and learn more about the operations at the County Waste site. DEC has stringent policies in place to permit and monitor these operations for environmental compliance," said Mayor Harry Tutunjian, adding that the city will install new signage and use enforcement to address resident complaints about the use of city streets for truck traffic. County Waste has invested significantly in that site. It is much cleaner and safer than it was six years ago when I took office.

Because they never received a response, the DEC took over as lead agency and made a negative declaration for the proposal on July 20. After multiple residents spoke out against the proposed expansion to the tonnage and operation hours of the station at last weeks regular meeting, City Council President Clem Campana, D-At Large, said the Council planned to seek lead agency status. Upon hearing that the SEQR process was already completed, Campana said No steps can be skipped in this process. It seemed like this thing just ramped right up without anybody knowing about it.

Campana said that members of the Council plan to meet with the DEC and have reached out to County Waste to hold some kind of open house so that residents can get a better idea of the stations operations.

The process was flawed, like most things with the city, so lets get back on track and get it done the right way, Campana said.

Even with the SEQR process already completed, changes can still be made to the proposed expansion.

The negative declaration means it does not have to go through a full-blown environmental impact statement, but if we did receive significant, substantive comments that we felt warranted further action we could either deny the permit or approve it with amendments, said Georgeson, adding that amendments could include a change in the proposed hours of operation or other permit conditions.

Comments received by the DEC are responded to, after which point a decision will be made a process that could last months.

It varies tremendously based on the project, said Georgeson. We work with County Waste to prepare responses; well look at them and if we have any further questions or concerns well have them amend it.

Georgeson said that the DEC has only received about a half dozen comments so far from the public regarding the proposal, but after multiple requests the comment period has been extended through August 19. For more information on how to submit a comment, visit the Environmental Notice Bulletin on the DECs website at www.dec.ny.gov/enb/enb.html or contact the Region 4 permitting office at 357-2456.

Cecelia Martinez can be contacted at 270-1294 or by e-mail at cmartinez@troyrecord.com.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Join in Troy’s National Night Out Festivities!

The 27th Annual National Night Out is scheduled for August 3, 2010. Designed to deter crime through strengthening community and police partnerships, last year’s National Night Out campaign involved residents, police, businesses, and public officials from more than 15,000 communities. Troy will again participate in NNO on August 3rd with the following events:

- In South Troy, the Burden Iron Works Association invites Troy residents to National Night Out event at the Burden Iron Works Museum at the foot of Polk Street from 6 PM - Dusk. Meet your neighbors, free refreshments, museum tour and youth events. Contact Jane Snay at frinz40@hotmail.com for more information.

- In North Troy, 8th, 9th, & 10th street residents, in conjunction with TRIP and Rensselaer County’s Communities that Care will be holding a festival at the 7th Avenue Park by Ingalls from 6–8PM. Refreshments, music, dunking booth, face painting, basketball, information tables and more. Contact Rachel@triponline.org to volunteer or for more info.
- In North Lansingburgh, the N. Lansingburgh Neighborhood Watch will meet at 6pm at the 112th Street Gateway Park @ 1st Ave and 112th Street.  Activities include planting, landscaping and a mini BBQ.  Jim Gordon is the contact.

Come out for fun, to meet your neighbors and partners, all while stopping crime! 

If your neighborhood wants to promote their event through TRIP and TNAC (Troy Neighborhoods Action Council), contact hilary@triponline.org.  For more information about National Night Out, go to http://www.nationalnightout.org/nno

New Financial Reform Impacts Us All

If you are like most of us, chances are you have a credit or debit card and maybe even have bought a house or taken out a car loan.  The rules regarding those financial tools, and many more, will be impacted by the new federal financial reform law, the "Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act" which was signed by President Obama on July 21, 2010. 

Below is a useful summary as printed in the Times Union on July 25, 2010.  We will provide you more information as it becomes available. 

Financial reform changes some rules on Main Street and Wall Street
By SPENCER GAFFNEY, Hearst Newspapers

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed into law the most wide-ranging reforms in the U.S. financial system since the 1930s.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which puts government hands on everything from credit card rules to derivatives trading, is named for Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who has announced he will retire when his current term expires, and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

The reforms will hold Wall Street accountable so we can help prevent another financial crisis like the one that were still recovering from, Obama said.

Here are some of the ways the nearly 2,000-page Dodd-Frank bill law change the way both Main Street and Wall Street do business.


Old System: Unlike credit cards, where the user borrows money from the creditor and pays it back at the end of the month, debit cards are directly tied to money in the cardholders bank account. When a customer uses a debit card, banks charge retailers a fee, called an interchange fee.
New System: Dodd-Frank will empower the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a new government agency under the Federal Reserve that will police lending, to cap interchange fees charged by banks with assets worth more than $10 billion. Retailers also will be allowed to set maximum and minimum purchases for debit card users.
Why Change?: Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., says that the fees banks charge for debit cards, roughly one or two percent of the purchase, are too high. These fees are a huge business for big banks, which collected almost $20 billion dollars in fees last year. Small business owners say they lose money when people purchase small items.
Old System: A key cause of the financial meltdown stemmed from subprime mortgages, which are home loans with high interest rates made to people with bad credit scores. Lenders were allowed to engage in NINA loans (No Income/ No Asset) where the borrower didnt have to prove he could pay back the loan.
New System: Mortgage lenders now must obtain proof of a borrowers ability to pay back the loan and borrowers will have to provide proof of income. Mortgage lenders must disclose how high the interest rate can go in an adjustable rate mortgage.
Why Change?: During the housing bubble, mortgage lenders made loans to increasingly less credit-worthy people. The policy was fine as long as house prices kept going up — home owners could use their now more valuable home as collateral to take out a newer, bigger line of credit and pay off their old mortgage. But when home prices started to stall, people who probably couldn't afford a home in the first place started to default on their mortgages. The housing bubble popped and brought down the economy with it.

Seeking -- and Rewarding -- Good Deeds

Public recognition for good deeds is a good thing! TRIP is happy to give such recognition to a “Troy Treasure” -- an individual, group or business who has done good deeds in Troy. It's easy to nominate a Troy Treasure; the simple form can be accessed from our website at http://triponline.org/2010TroyTreasureNominations.html.  Nominations are being accepted through August 6th.  

The selected "2010 Troy Treasure" will be celebrated at the TRIP/RCHR Annual Dinner on October 20th at the Franklin Terrace Ballroom.  Also honored that evening will be E. Stewart Jones, who will receive TRIP/RCHR's Community Citizenship Award. 

Congratulations to the five years of Troy Treasure awardees, including:

TRIP’s Previous Executive Directors Vinny Lepera, Duncan Barrett, and Barbara Jones Higbee (2009)
Alane Hohenberg (2008)
The Friends of Prospect Park (2007)
Friends of Sixth Avenue/S.Lansingburgh Neighborhood Association (2006)
Osgood Neighborhood Association (2006)
Washington Park Association (2005)

Be Safe on the Streets and at Home

National Night Out, with events held across the country as well as in Troy on August 3rd, is about bringing people together to improve safety and deter crime in our neighborhoods. In addition to building community, every one of us can take important precautions to decrease the chance of becoming a victim. Here are important phone numbers to keep at hand, followed by safety tips to ensure your safety.

In Troy,
Emergency situations: 911
Non-emergency:  270-4421
Drug Tip Line: 270-5004
When walking on the street:

• look and act like you belong in your surroundings; be confident

• make eye contact with and notice the people around you; attackers are less likely to go after someone who could provide an accurate description of them

• avoid carrying so many things that your ability to move quickly and efficiently -- should a threat arise – is hindered

• avoid carrying lots of valuables; if you must carry a purse or handbag, keep it close to your body to minimize the chances of theft. If your purse, wallet or cellphone is snatched, don’t fight. Turn it over rather than risk personal injury and report the incident as soon as possible.

• stay in well-lit areas; avoid short-cuts through parks, vacant lots and deserted places; walk with a friend when possible

• do not listen to music so loudly that you cannot hear someone approaching you

Home safety:

• Always keep your doors and accessible windows locked or secured; do not leave valuables around in plain view; use motion-sensor lighting around your home where needed

• Keep spare keys with a trusted neighbor or nearby shopkeeper, not under a doormat or planter, on a ledge, or in the mailbox.

• Illuminate or eliminate places an intruder might hide: the spaces between trees or shrubs, stairwells, alleys, hallways, and entry ways. Trim bushes so they don’t provide cover for criminals. Plant "hostile foliage" (i.e. roses or thorn bushes) in strategic locations to discourage intruders.

• If you are a homeowner or a landlord that has ongoing problems with people not respecting your property, such as strangers sitting on your stoop or porch, contact Troy’s Community Service Bureau at 270-4689 to see what your best recourse is. 

And in the spirit of National Night Out, make sure you know your neighbors and that everyone is looking out for everyone else's safety.   That is what makes neighborhoods -- and the people who live in them -- safe! 

For more information and useful strategies, go to the National Crime Prevention Council website at http://www.ncpc.org/topics/home-and-neighborhood-safety

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Department of Public Safety also has safety tips posted; go to http://www.rpi.edu/dept/public_safety/pubs/safeliving.pdf

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Neighborhood watch groups turns three

Reprinted from The Troy Record

Neighborhood watch groups turns three

TROY — Members of the Osgood/South End Neighborhood Watch gathered at the Troy Area United Ministries building on Second Street Tuesday to celebrate three years as an organization. The celebration — like any birthday party — was complete with cake, decorations and party favors as the neighbors applauded the work done over the past three years and looked forward to the next steps to be taken.

“We asked everybody to put down three positive things about our neighborhood and then three issues that they saw in the neighborhood that might be problems,” said OSENW member Sidney Fleisher. “We have those sheets and we're going to evaluate those and come up with the results and next month we'll talk about that and develop some strategies to deal with some of those problems.”

The group, like many neighborhood watch organizations, was formed when a violent incident incited concern in the residents of the South End. After the beating death of a man at a neighborhood bar, neighbors gathered to discuss what had happened and develop ways to keep it from happening again.

“I think some of the real positive things that the neighborhood watch does is that it introduces everybody to each other, so you get to know who actually lives in your neighborhood,” said Fleisher. “You say hello to people a little bit more and you start to know who's not supposed to be hanging around or who might be looking to cause some problems.”

Monthly meetings generally attract between 20 and 30 people, and the e-mail mailing list for the group tops 100 subscribers. Unlike some neighborhood watch groups, the OSENW does not go out on formal patrols.

“It's more like window watching, in a way,” said Fleisher. “When you're walking around if you notice something you might note it. We fortunately don't really have a neighborhood that requires that kind of thing.”

Another positive resulting from the neighborhood watch group is the interaction and collaboration between the neighborhood and Community Police Officer Chris McDonald. McDonald attends every meeting and is a source of constant contact for neighbors to raise issues or report suspicious activity.

“He knows everybody,” said Fleisher. “I think the fact that we have a very active neighborhood watch really helps to keep crime down because people aren't afraid to call up Chris and say, 'I saw this' and he's willing to investigate it. The police are really helpful, and they like the idea of the neighborhood watch because it helps them, having that many more eyes in the neighborhood.”

At the other end of the city, the community police presence is a large component of the North Lansingburgh Neighborhood Watch, which is also celebrating its third anniversary later this year in September. NLNW leader Jim Gordon said that he is in contact with either code enforcement of Community Police Officer Chuck McDonald on a daily basis.

“He’s very involved,” said Gordon. “He comes to all our meetings, and he's one of the people I communicate with, just passing along the information that I've found or that others have given to me.”

Like the OSENW, the NLNW was formed when a neighborhood resident reached out to the community after an incident took place near his home on 4th Street. Now, nearly three years later, meetings pull an average of 40 to 45 attendees and focus on a variety of topics from consumer protection to veteran affairs to available funding programs.

“There's so much available to people out there so having different speakers from all levels and all types of agencies just gets everyone educated and keeps them more informed about changes and what's available to them,” said Gordon.

The OSENW meets the second Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. at 392 2nd Street. The NLNW also meets the second Tuesday each month at 7 p.m. at the Lansingburgh Boys and Girls Club.

Cecelia Martinez can be reached at 270-1294 or by e-mail at cmartinez@troyrecord.com.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Vote to Help RCHR

Are you on Facebook? Chase Community Giving is offering grants to non-profit organizations. These groups need to be in the top 200 to win!
TRIP's rural component Rensselaer County Housing Resources is also asking for your vote. Vote for Rensselaer County Housing Resources to get $20,000!

Ends Monday, July 12, 2010 at 4:00pm

To vote, click on the link below and sign in to Facebook. Click the button at the top right of the screen that says "Click here to start to vote" Once you finish the windows, you are able to click the "Vote Now" Button for RCHR.

Rensselaer County Housing Resources, Inc

Friday, June 25, 2010

Keeping the Kids Busy

Parents as well as neighbors love to see kids keeping busy in fun, active ways, for who hasn't seen groups of bored kids hanging out on stoops, streets or corners being loud or perhaps even unruly as they try to keep themselves entertained?

Fortunately, there are some great options for kids this summer.  Tyrell Pryor, a VISTA Volunteer who is working with TRIP for the summer, is compiling lists of camp opportunities, drop-in centers, and other events to share with kids and their families to keep busy in the next two months.  He is currently getting out the word about the City of Troy's free sports camps at Frear Park, arts camps at the Arts Center of the Capital Region, a new South Central Recreation Drop-In Center at the Italian Community Center and more. 

For more information, contact Tyrell at tyrell@triponline.org or check TRIP's website at http://www.triponline.org

Calling All Contractors

TRIP is co-sponsoring an 8-hour RRPI (Renovation Repair & Painting Initial) training session on June 30 from 8:15 AM - 5:15 PM.  This training will allow contractors to obtain certification under the new EPA regulations which require that contractor firms working in pre-1978 homes need to be certified and an employee will also need to be certified as a Certified Renovator.  There are a number of waivers under the new rule, which can be viewed at http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm.  For more information or to register for the RRPI training, contact Hilary at hilary@triponline.org

Supporting Neighborhood Improvement

Congratulations to the Troy City Council and Mayor Tutunjian for recently approving $6500 in small grants to 19 neighborhood-based projects.  Awards ranging from $150 to $700 will go to support projects that are initiated by neighborhood residents to "improve their communities, address neighborhood needs, and encourage residents to work together to enhance the quality of life for the entire community."  And kudos to the neighborhood leaders who took the time and trouble to care enough to come up with plans that resulted in a neighborhood improvement awards!  These leaders are from South Troy (three projects), Downtown Central (two projects), South Lansingburgh, South Central (two projects), North Central (two projects), Congress Street (two projects), Campbell Avenue, Eastside (two projects), Sycaway, Hillside, Griswold Heights, and North  Troy.

Are You a Troy Treasure?

TRIP is accepting nominations for the Sixth Annual “Troy Treasure” Awardee, which will be presented at the TRIP/RCHR Annual Dinner on October 20th at Franklin Terrace.  This award is to honor a Troy resident, community group, or business who is passionately committed to improving Troy, toils in his or her neighborhood out of a love of community, and demonstrates his or her hometown pride in Troy in very positive and real ways.  Criteria include that the nominee lives or works in the City of Troy; individuals must live or work here for at least five years and community groups or businesses must have been in existence for at least three years.  Nominations are due to TRIP by July 20.  Nomination forms may be found at http://www.triponline.org/ or hilary@triponline.org.  

Troy is lucky to have many treasures. Previous Troy Treasure awardees include Washington Park Association (2005), Osgood Neighbors and the North Central/S.Lansingburgh Neighborhood Association (2006), Friends of Prospect Park (2007), Alane Hohenberg for her visionary role in creating the Troy Community Food Coop (2008), and TRIP's previous executive directors since 1969 Vinny Lepera, Duncan Barrett, and Barbara Jones Higbee (2009). 

Vote to Help Our Community!

Are you on Facebook? Chase Community Giving is offering grants to local organizations. These groups need to be in the top 100 to win! Two organizations from Troy are asking for your vote. You only have to log in and vote once this month. Vote for the Contemporary Arts Center Woodside and Capital District Community Gardens to each get $20,000!

Start Time: Friday, June 18, 2010 at 5:00pm
End Time: Monday, July 12, 2010 at 4:00pm

Capital District Community Gardens


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Means It's Home Maintenance Time

With warmer weather in the air, are you getting the itch to play in the sun, plant a garden, throw open your windows, and... have your furnace inspected?  That’s right!  Spring is a great time to protect the largest investment of your life, your home, by providing routine checks and repairs that can improve its appearance and functioning, while also preventing expensive damage. 

Here are some tips courtesy of NeighborWorks America, a national network of not-for-profit groups, including TRIP, that are committed to revitalizing their communities. 
NeighborWorks Home Maintenance Tips

Preventive maintenance includes routine checks and repairs that improve your home’s appearance and functioning as well as prevent more expensive damage from occurring. 
These include:
·    To protect against leaks and insect damage, inspect your home’s roof, basement, and outside wall
·    Inspect doors and windows for unusual wear and tear. Repair and replace caulk, weather-stripping, glazing, window and door seals as needed.
·    Inspect insulation and replace any wet or damaged pieces.
·    Clean debris from gutters and down spouts.
·    Examine carpets and flooring. Treat minor mold growths quickly with a bleach and water solution.
·    Have your furnace, air conditioner and hot water heater inspected, upgrading them as needed to improve energy efficiency. Replace air filters regularly.
·    Thoroughly clean lint and debris that has built up in dryer ducts and behind lint screens.

Home repairs and replacements include fixing or replacing appliances, fixtures or systems in your house as they wear out through normal use.
·    Repair or replace an inefficient furnace, air conditioner or water heater to save energy and money.
·    Repair and replace leaking faucets and plumbing.
·    Routinely replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries.

Taking the time now can save you expensive repairs later.  Don’t delay. 

Loan Scam Alert: Don’t Be Fooled

As more homeowners face foreclosure, we want to remind people not to get scammed by “loan mod” companies and other for-profit companies that make promises to rescue homeowners in default.  Their slick and appealing marketing materials may have you believing that they can save your home, your world, and your future, but don’t be taken in.  If you need foreclosure assistance, we urge you to contact TRIP’s HomeOwnership Center at 690-0020 for free, confidential, and professional assistance.  You may also contact any of the reputable not-for-profit housing counseling agencies listed on the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s website at http://www.nysdhcr.gov/Programs/ForeclosurePrevention/CounselListing.htm

Please also note that there will be monthly Foreclosure Clinics held locally with free legal review and housing counseling available.  April 15 and May 12 at the Legal Project. 5-8pm. Contact TRIP  at 690-0020 for more info.

A national campaign has been created by HUD, NeighborWorks America, and others to provide important info to consumers. You can find some valuable information at its website at www.loanscamalert.org.  A list of “6 Things You Should Know” is copied below from the website. 

New York State is also getting the word out to consumers to beware of scams.  A  Statewide “Loan Modification Scam Alert” campaign was launched last month during Consumer Awareness Day.  For more information, go to www.nysconsumer.org
6 Things You Should Know
Scams aren't always easy to spot – but it helps if you know the warning signs to look for. Here are six red flags to indicate that you may be dealing with a loan modification scammer:

1. A company/person asks for a fee in advance to work with your lender to modify, refinance or reinstate your mortgage. They may pocket your money and do little or nothing to help you save your home from foreclosure.

2. A company/person guarantees they can stop a foreclosure or get your loan modified. Nobody can make this guarantee to stop foreclosure or modify your loan. Legitimate, trustworthy HUD-approved counseling agencies will only promise they will try their very best to help you.

3. A company/person advises you to stop paying your mortgage company and pay them instead. Despite what a scammer will tell you, you should never send a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage lender. The minute you have trouble making your monthly payment, contact your mortgage lender.

4. A company pressures you to sign over the deed to your home or sign any paperwork that you haven't had a chance to read, and you don't fully understand. A legitimate housing counselor would never pressure you to sign a document before you had a chance to read and understand it.

5. A company claims to offer "government-approved" or "official government" loan modifications. They may be scam artists posing as legitimate organizations approved by, or affiliated with, the government. Contact your mortgage lender first. Your lender can tell you whether you qualify for any government programs to prevent foreclosure. And, remember, you do not have to pay to benefit from government-backed loan modification programs.

6. A company/person you don’t know asks you to release personal financial information online or over the phone. You should only give this type of information to companies that you know and trust, like your mortgage lender or a HUD-approved counseling agency.

Amanda's Law

On February 22, 2010, "Amanda’s Law" took effect. The law mandates the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in all homes in New York State. The law is named for 16-year-old Amanda Hansen of West Seneca, NY, who died on January 17, 2009 due to a carbon monoxide leak from a defective boiler while she was sleeping at a friend’s house.

The reason for the law is simple: CO poisoning is the #1 cause of poisoning deaths in the United States and can be prevented by detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors can save lives.

The law requires carbon monoxide detectors in every 1-2 family property; apartments in a multiple dwelling; and all condominium and cooperative apartments where the dwelling unit has appliances, devices or systems that may emit carbon monoxide or has an attached garage.

Under the law, homes built before January 2008 are permitted to have battery-powered CO alarms, while homes built after that date are required to have the alarms hard-wired into the building. Previously, only homes built or bought after July 30, 2002 were required to have these devices installed.

Additionally, Amanda’s Law will require contractors in New York State to install a CO alarm when replacing a hot water tank or furnace if the home is not equipped with an alarm.

Carbon monoxide can be produced when burning any type of fuel, including gasoline, charcoal, propane, natural gas, kerosene, oil, wood or coal. If any flammable material burns incompletely, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide, which is odorless, colorless and tasteless, can kill within minutes or over a longer period of time depending on the amount that is in the air.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for the flu and can include dizziness, fatigue, weakness, throbbing headache, nausea, vomiting and confusion. By the time people realize there is a problem, they are often too sick or too disoriented to get out of the house and get help.

CO detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores and home centers as well as many grocery stores.

Contemporary Arts Center at Woodside

Here is a good Troy project that can benefit from your assistance to get a $50,000 grant from Pepsi.  All it takes is your online voting – daily if you can. 

The Contemporary Artists Center Woodside (CAC) is situated on a commanding hill overlooking the Wynantskill and the Hudson River in South Troy, NY.  Formerly the Woodside Church and Chapel, the buildings stand as the only remaining structures of the once vast Upper Works of the Burden Iron Company, a site of profound significance in the history of American invention, industry, and engineering during the nineteenth century. It was built in the 1860's for Ironworks owner Henry Burden in memory of his wife. Purchased in 2007 by CAC, this neo-gothic stone church is now being rehabilitated and turned into a public contemporary art exhibition space. The first phase, the residency hall, has been open since June 2009 and has been bringing in artists from around the world. 

You can help in the success story of a large church reuse!  CAC is in the running for a $50,000 grant from Pepsi, which would go towards to the restoration of the main church structure and its opening to the public.
The grant is decided solely based on online votes.

Here is what you can do:
   1. Sign up on the list: http://www.cactroy.org/grant  (for instructions and daily reminders)
   2. Vote for us as often as you can, up to once a day
   3. Spread the word!  (please give friends and coworkers the link and let them know about the project!)

Voting takes literally 10 seconds a day, and there is even a Facebook voting app for those on Facebook.

For more info: