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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Thursday, October 30

Saratoga Springs Native and National Community Change Expert Rich Harwood Returns to Give Keynote at NYLA Conference Nov. 6

Saratoga Springs Native and National Community Change Expert Rich Harwood Returns to Give Keynote at NYLA Conference Nov. 6
Skidmore College Graduate Working to Change the Country One Community at a Time

For more than 25 years, Saratoga Springs native Rich Harwood has worked to help people and organizations across the country create more engaged communities.  On Nov. 6, Rich – founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-area Harwood Institute for Public Innovation – will return to Saratoga Springs to deliver the keynote address at the New York Library Association’s annual conference.

A nationally renowned expert, author and speaker on transforming communities, Rich – a Skidmore College graduate - will talk about how libraries, partner groups and other supporters can accelerate positive change in their communities. He will also speak about people’s frustration with the acrimony and divisiveness in politics and public life and how we can move forward on the nation’s most critical issues.

The visit to Saratoga Springs is part of Rich’s Reclaiming Main Street campaign, designed to engage people in making community a common enterprise again.

Rich was recently described as “the nation’s leading crusader for community action” in The Colorado Springs Business Journal. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune called his Institute’s approach “genius: They train a community to solve its problems, to find its opportunities.”

Rich kicked off his campaign in Washington, D.C. and has traveled to numerous communities such as Battle Creek, Mich., Murray, Ky., Colorado Springs, Colo. and Sarasota, Fl. Check out recent coverage of Rich’s campaign in an interview on NPR-affiliate WKMS, an article in The Colorado Springs Business Journal and a column in Spokane’sJournal of Business.

As part of his campaign, Rich is training 5,000 public innovators and recruiting a 100,000-person Public Innovators Corps by 2016. Public innovators are people with the mindset and skills to tackle problems ranging from gaps in education and low school graduation rates to poverty and inadequate health care. Rich will provide these community catalysts with the tools and support they need to create positive, lasting change.

At each stop, he is talking to people about their aspirations for their communities. He has created a virtual Townhall, a site where people can post their aspirations and read what others are saying across the country.

Find out more about the Reclaiming Main Street campaign in Rich’s blog, “Our New Goal: 5,000 Trained Public Innovators Ready to Change the Country.”

Rich earned his undergraduate degree in political economy at Skidmore College, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was a Harry S Truman Scholar. He received a graduate degree in public affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

More about Rich Harwood

Rich Harwood is founder and president of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, a national nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Md. The Institute teaches and coaches people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together.
Rich's transformational work has spread to thousands of communities nationally and worldwide - from small towns to large cities - through concrete methods he created and has honed for more than 25 years. A recent article in The Colorado Springs Business Journal called Rich “the nation’s leading crusader for community action.”
Rich’s proven practices are based on hands-on work with individuals, organizations and communities in their quest to create change. His talks, coaching techniques and practical guides have provided the hope and inspiration for individuals and groups to improve their public and private lives. In 2013, he facilitated Newtown, Connecticut's unanimous decision on the fate of Sandy Hook Elementary, where 20 children and six adults were killed in December 2012.
Rich is currently on a nationwide campaign, Reclaiming Main Street, traveling the country to address the corrosive effect the current political environment is having on our ability to make progress in the country. As part of his tour, Rich is training 5,000 public innovators and recruiting a 100,000-person Public Innovators Corps. He is also collecting people’s aspirations for their communities in an online forum, Townhall.
A visionary with the ability to help people identify obstacles and tap their aspirations, Rich has inspired hundreds of audiences as he shares his philosophy of what it takes to be relevant and connected in today's world. Rich is also a prolific author whose books include "The Work of Hope: How Individuals and Organizations Can Authentically Do Good"; "Make Hope Real"; and "Why We're Here: The Powerful Impact of Public Broadcasters When They Turn Outward." Rich has also written numerous studies and articles that chronicle the most vital issues of our time.  
He has appeared on national media including MSNBC, National Public Radio, CNN, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Special Report with Brit Hume, CBS Radio, The Christian Science Monitor and USA Today. Rich and his work have also been featured globally in outlets ranging from German Public Radio and China Central Television to the Voice of Russia Radio.

Learn more about Rich and his inspirational personal journey. Follow Rich on Twitter @RichHarwood using his hashtag, #turnoutward and join him on Facebook at RichHarwood.

Tuesday, October 14

Saratoga County Sheriff announces new sex offender registry

Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo and the Saratoga County Sheriff's Office announced a newly launched sex offender registry and public notification website. 
The website, called OffenderWatch® will add the local agency into a nationwide network of over 5,000 law enforcement agencies. The new service is a citizen-friendly, easy to use website that enables citizens to search for potentially dangerous sex offenders and predators, which may be in close proximity to their homes, places of work, schools, churches and day care centers, the department said.
Citizens can access the site here. 
The information is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is updated in real time by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office as offender information changes and is reported.
 Citizens may search an address of interest, see a general map and a listing of all offenders within a user-defined radius between a quarter mile and up to five miles. 
Citizens can then register the address to be 
continuously monitored by the Sheriff, who will send to them an email alerting them if an offender or predator should register an address within their specified radius of their address. Citizens may confidentially register as many addresses as they like, at no cost.
“Citizens have a right to know who may be living near them and could potentially pose a threat to their families. The New York sheriff’s offices and police departments using OffenderWatch® have the most up to date information on all offenders registered in the state and I am happy to be able to provide that information to them,” said Sheriff Zurlo. 
The sheriff has also made available additional web based resources designed to educate and inform the public at the department's website, found here. The purpose of the program is to lessen the anxiety of citizens by proactively alerting them should an offender/predator move within proximity to them, and to provide the highest level of security and safety to all Saratoga citizens. The program also enables the Sheriff to verify that offender addresses do not violate any safety buffers that may be implemented around protected institutions in the county, such as schools, day cares and parks, and helps law enforcement schedule compliance checks for 
verifying information provided by offenders. The Sheriff also assigned a Deputy on a full time basis to ensure sex offender compliance and complete address compliance checks. 

Thursday, October 2

Saratoga Springs School Recognized by NYSSBA and SUNY Polytechnic Institute

“Be the Change for Kids” Innovation Award winners honored for unique programs that encourage
 STEM-based skills and can be replicated at schools across New York State

Albany, NY – Furthering Governor Andrew Cuomo’s high-tech educational paradigm as it prepares New York State’s students for opportunities in growing industries such as nanotechnology, three school districts have received “Be the Change for Kids” Innovation Awards for their novel approaches to science, technology, engineering, and math-related (STEM) programs. The competition—now in its third consecutive year—is presented by the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) and SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly).
“Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership continues to catalyze the rapid growth of New York State’s nanotechnology sector, resulting in powerful educational opportunities, such as those that stem from the ‘Be the Change for Kids’ Innovation Awards, that can directly meet the needs of New York’s innovation economy,” said SUNY Poly CEO and Officer in Charge Dr. Alain Kaloyeros. “We are once again delighted to partner with the New York State School Boards Association, and we congratulate this year’s honorees for their exciting, science-based programs and steadfast commitment to providing their students with the critical skills that are necessary for accessing high-tech opportunities across New York.”
“Too often we hear about what’s wrong with our schools. Yet the programs we recognize today illustrate what’s right.  Each of these outstanding educational programs exemplifies the type of high-level instruction taking place in classrooms across the state, and the most remarkable aspect is that each can be replicated in other school districts without busting the budget,” said New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer.
Over 40 schools from across New York State entered to win a “Be the Change for Kids” Innovation Award, and the three winning programs were chosen based on their ability to promote student curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, and civic responsibility; prepare students for careers in the STEM-based fields; and for their ability to be easily replicated by other school districts. SUNY Poly faculty and staff members, in addition to alumni, serve as judges.
The winning districts are:
·      The Chenango Forks School District in Broome County for its “Chenango Forks STEAM Academy” program which arranged credit-bearing internships for high school juniors and seniors that were matched to the students’ intellectual and career interests. In addition to using the STEM to STEAM model of education which focuses on hands-on, project-based, cross-curriculum educational opportunities, students also gained basic workplace skills and learned about concepts related to professional demeanor, social skills, deportment, and appearance.
·         The Mineola Union Free School District in Nassau County for its ‘STEMineola’” program, which, in partnership with the science education company, Knowing Science, created hands-on STEM laboratory activities for all students in grades 3-7. They found that the close coordination of lab content with other subjects increased critical thinking as well as oral and written communications skills.
·     The Saratoga Springs City School District in Saratoga County for its “Educating Young Engineers (EYE)” program, which is held on Saturdays for elementary students. The program teaches basic engineering concepts to inspire the students at an early age and has raised community support for bringing elementary engineering content into the regular school curriculum.
Each of the winning districts will receive $5,000, funded by SUNY Poly, at a formal awards ceremony to be held October 26-28 at NYSSBA’s Annual Convention in New York City. As part of the announcement of the winning school districts, students and staff from each of the schools have also participated in tours and activities at SUNY Poly’s $20 billion Albany NanoTech Complex.
“This year’s award-winning projects demonstrate that innovation is alive and well in our schools,” said NYSSBA President Lynne Lenhardt. “From solving engineering problems, to applying classroom lessons in industry, to using lab activities to increase critical thinking skills, these students and teachers are raising the creative bar."
SUNY Poly and NYSSBA created the “Be the Change for Kids” Innovation Awards in 2012 to honor engaging, STEM-based local school programs that foster critical 21st Century career skills in emerging fields such as nanotechnology.