July 28, 2014
NY fire crew battles western wildfires
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Firefighting crews from New York and four New England states are in Oregon battling numerous wildfires that have charred more than 600,000 acres.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo dispatched a 20-person firefighting crew on Friday. The team is comprised of specially-trained Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers, employees and volunteers, who will be assigned to wildfires for 14 days.
National wild land firefighters must go through 44 hours of classroom and field training and pass an annual health and physical capability screening.
New York first sent a firefighting crew to assist western states in fighting large wildfires in 1979. On average, one or two crews have been sent to assist each year. All costs are paid directly by the U.S. Forest Service.
NY to change signs for disabled access
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation to revise New York's signs showing access points for disabled individuals.
The measure calls for removing the word "handicapped" from replacement or new signs, while using an updated wheelchair logo suggesting mobility, both intended to help remove any stigma attached to the designations.
The measure also marks the 24th anniversary of the national Americans with Disabilities Act, a major legal change intended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a disability.
Cuomo says the sign change a step "toward correcting society's understanding of accessibility" and eliminating the stigma for one million New Yorkers.
Independent hopefuls may widen gubernatorial field
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Just when Pennsylvania voters are getting used to the idea of a gubernatorial election showdown between Republican incumbent Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, other hopefuls may soon be joining the fray.
At least two are expected to file petition signatures by the Friday deadline: the Libertarian Party's Ken Krawchuk and Green Party nominee Paul Glover.
Krawchuk is a computer consultant making his third gubernatorial bid. Glover is an activist and political organizer.
Such candidates rarely run up large vote totals but can steer the discussion into areas that might not otherwise receive attention.
Johnstown conservative activist Peg Luksik garnered more than 10 percent of the vote in two unsuccessful gubernatorial bids as a Constitutional Party nominee. She says third-party hopefuls have a pulpit that no one else has.
Farm supplying White House Christmas tree chosen
ALLEGAN, Mich. (AP) — The White House Christmas Tree will come from a farm in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, following a judging competition in Michigan.
The Kalamazoo Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/1pocLOo ) that Chris Botek of Crystal Springs Tree Farm has been announced Saturday as the National Christmas Tree and Wreath Contests 2014 grand champion.
In October, White House representatives will select an 18½-foot-tall tree from Botek's farm for the Blue Room.
The farm was selected by a panel of growers, industry experts and consumers during a two-day competition at Peterson's Riverview Nursery in Allegan in southwestern Michigan.
Judges chose Dan Taylor of Dan and Bryan Trees in Kearneysville, West Virginia, as reserve champion. Korsons Tree Farm in Montcalm County and Candy Cane Christmas Tree Farm in Oxford were Michigan's entries among the 12 finalists.
Yaddo gets plaque to honor landmark status
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — An artists' retreat in upstate New York designated last year as a National Historic Landmark is getting a plaque marking the achievement.
Yaddo in Saratoga Springs was designated a landmark after more than a century of offering artists a place to work in peace. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Paul Tonko will unveil a national landmark plaque Saturday at the retreat.
Yaddo opened in 1900 near Saratoga's historic thoroughbred track. Gillibrand says that artists who have worked there include Truman Capote, Amy Tan and Langston Hughes.
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