Heartbreak and hope -- 2012's top stories
Obama comes to town
CAPITAL REGION “This school and this facility represent the future of our country,” President Barack Obama told his audience during a May 8 visit to the College of Nanoscale Sciences and Engineering in Albany.
The visit, Obama’s third to the Capital Region in three years, was the culmination of a spring of national media attention focused on the Capital Region. The opening of the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant in Malta hooked a national audience, but so did the cutting edge micro-scale research going on at the college.
Rick Bennett’s first season as Union hockey head coach was a memorable one. The Dutchmen not only won their second straight ECAC Hockey regular-season championship, they captured their first ECACH tournament title and won the NCAA hockey tournament East Regional to earn a spot in their first Frozen Four at the Division I level. The Dutchmen lost to Ferris State, 3-1, in the semifinal.
Schenectady took nearly 200 properties from owners who had not paid taxes in years, and began the process to foreclose on hundreds more. City officials are now trying to get those properties into the hands of new, tax-paying residents. The first step is showing promise: contractors are eagerly bidding on the houses in hopes of repairing and then selling them, with the proceeds shared with the city.
Volunteers and money continued to help flood-stricken residents in Schoharie and Montgomery counties recover from 2011’s tropical storms Irene and Lee.
The post-flood recovery organization SALT led by residents, many of them congregants of the Schoharie Reformed Church, drew the assistance of 120 faith-based organizations, 20 corporations, 30 community service groups, 20 colleges, 15 high schools and 15 labor and construction unions. Number of volunteer hours clocked in 2012: 128,000.
What a race!
A crowd of more than 46,000 at the Saratoga Race Course in late August were treated to a sight that hasn’t been seen in almost 140 years: The 143rd running of the Travers was a dead heat between Alpha and Golden Ticket.
It was the first time the race ended in a tie since 1874.
A local saint
Decades of Catholic prayers were answered Oct. 21 when Kateri Tekakwitha became the first Mohawk Indian to be named a saint during a ceremony at the Vatican.
Roughly 5,000 faithful from throughout the state attended a ceremony at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Tekakwitha, who was born in 1656 on the property overlooking the Mohawk River.
The Vatican said Tekakwitha performed a miracle more than 300 years after her death by helping a boy in the state of Washington survive an attack by a flesh-eating disease.
A hero dies
Olympic champion Jeff Blatnick died in October, sending shock waves through a local community that revered him for his lifetime of accomplishments, character and giving back to his community.
He had beaten Hodgkin’s lymphoma prior to winning the gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, and again afterward.
Blatnick toured the country as a motivational speaker, worked as a sports commentator and volunteered as a varsity wrestling coach at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School.
Too close to call
The campaign for the new 46th Senate District seat continued well beyond Election Day. Republican George Amedore and Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk both declared victory and weeks of painstaking absentee ballot counting followed. While a judge has declared Amedore the winner by about three dozen votes, Tkaczyk has filed a legal appeal and the contest is undecided as 2013 begins.
High school sorrow
A Dec. 1 car crash on the Northway that killed two local teenagers caused communitywide mourning and an outpouring of support for the affected families. Shenendehowa Central School District seniors and standout athletes Christopher Stewart and Deanna Rivers were both killed when 22-year-old Dennis Drue, of Clifton Park, struck the rear of their SUV and sent it careening into the road median.
Rivers’ boyfriend, Shenendehowa senior Matt Hardy, and Stewart’s girlfriend, Shaker High senior Bailey Wind, were both seriously injured in the crash, but are now on their way to a full recovery.
War hits home
Flags on all Mechanicville government and school buildings were flying at half-staff in early December in honor of Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Denier, killed in Afghanistan by enemy fire on Dec. 2.
The 26-year-old is the first Mechanicville resident killed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Denier had just been deployed to Afghanistan in late October.