Posts Tagged With: debra baranello

A Tale of 2 Candidates

Debra Baranello is a registered Democrat who is running for 3rd Ward Alderman in the City of Amsterdam, New York, while Diane Hatzenbuhler, a registered Republican, is running for 4th Ward Alderman. With all of the dysfunction in our federal government as a result of differences in political ideology, you may think these two candidates do not have much in common. Nothing could be further from the truth and that is a very refreshing fact.

This blogger had the privilege of photographing, designing palm cards and brochures for both well qualified candidates for office. The design process involved sitting with each candidate and coming up with a list of concerns they would address as Alderman. Both candidates gave me lists that were almost identical. They want to fight URBAN BLIGHT, decrease CRIME in our neighborhoods, increase COMMUNICATION between elected officials and our citizens and CUT SPENDING to keep property taxes at bay.

Both candidates want to fight urban blight by increasing code enforcement through inspection and prosecution. Diane Hatzenbuhler would like to see annual inspections of rental properties and a workable complaint procedure for tenants. Debra Baranello would like to increase the number of demolitions of condemned properties. Diane Hatzenbuhler wants to fight crime by improving our Neighborhood Watch and increasing patrols in known high crime areas. Debra Baranello wants the Amsterdam Police Department to start neighborhood foot patrols as a deterrent and increase recreational activities for our young people. She is grateful for the work done by Amsterdam Recreation and Wishful Thinking at the Clara Bacon School. To improve communication Debra Baranello plans to listen to the concerns of the residents of the 3rd Ward and take positive action. Diane Hatzenbuhler wants to improve the flow of communication by increasing transparency of all municipal transactions with an emphasis on finance. To help cut spending, Debra Baranello wants to increase our economic development by working with our elected officials to help revitalize an aging infrastructure to support new business ventures. Diane Hatzenbuhler wants to cut all unnecessary spending and increase revenues by prosecuting code violators.

There are negative campaigns being run against both candidates for Alderman. Their opponents must have run out of solutions or viable candidates. Both of these women would make a great addition to the Amsterdam Common Council. With them we have the hope of a bipartisan solution that will bring us out of the standstill that we are stuck in. The Council has been spinning its wheels for much too long. There is power in unity and together the Common Council can move Amsterdam in a forward direction.



Debra Baranello, candidate for 3rd Ward Alderman


Diane Hatzenbuhler, candidate for 4th Ward Alderman


Division Street resident Ed Battistini and Debra Baranello in the 3rd Ward


Debra Baranello at Riverlink Park in Amsterdam, NY


NYS Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, Debra Baranello, candidate for 3rd Ward Alderman


Debra Baranello, Dan Peluso, NYS Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk in Amsterdam’s 3rd Ward


NYS Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk and Debra Baranello, candidate for 3rd Ward Alderman


Elks Club, 4th Ward


Holland Garden Apartments, 4th Ward


Peddler’s Wagon at 5 Corners in the 4th Ward


Polish National Alliance, 4th Ward


Pulaski Bridge, 4th Ward


The Rao Center, 4th Ward


St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, 4th Ward

Categories: Amsterdam, Photography, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Clara S. Bacon School

The Clara S. Bacon School at 40 Henrietta Boulevard in Amsterdam, New York has been a hot topic for the past few years.  The former elementary school with its circular design is nestled in a wooded section of the city known as Sassafras Park.  The school has a sports field in back and sits next to an extensive wooden jungle gym built on the grounds of the city owned Sassafras Park. The once popular well manicured trails of Sassafras Park that led to picnic areas, an amphitheater and a woodland museum building have deteriorated.  There is little is left of its original splendor, just a newly constructed the wooden jungle gym that bears the name.



Google Maps aerial view of the Clara S. Bacon School.


Similarly, the Clara S. Bacon School has fallen into disrepair.  The former school has been the home of the Whispering Pines Day Care Center that occupied the northern section for the past few years.  The school was put on the market for sale and had a valid bid from the Chinese World Peace and Health Organization who paid a $50,000.00 down payment on the building.  The offer was withdrawn because of the bigoted nature of the  questions asked by citizens attending a required public meeting prior to the sale agreement and the questionable ownership of an access road to Sassafras Park through the school property.  The money for the down payment still sits in an escrow account, with neither party having access until they can agree on terms.


Since then, the City School District started using the building for an alternative education program with four teachers, a teacher aide and a principal to accommodate those students who do not function well in the main high school setting. These students, for whatever reason, are disciplinary problems who have educational needs that are met by the smaller class sizes and personal attention they receive at the Bacon School. The students respond well to this setting and a large number graduate with a high school diploma and some a regents diploma.

The Bacon School has also become the adopted home of the Amsterdam Recreation Department who partnered with the Amsterdam School District and the Wishful Thinking  group to create a basketball program, a summer camp program and a sports and after school program for our young people. The gym floor was refinished, walls painted and decorated from money donated by generous benefactors who realized the importance of having a safe place for our kids to learn to compete as athletes

I had the opportunity to photograph the Bacon School property and Sassafras Park early this spring on assignment from Bob Cudmore for his recent book.  What I saw was a little disappointing. Graffiti  adorned most of the back section of the Bacon School. I mentioned this to Amsterdam’s Recreation Director Rob Spagnola and suggested to him that it would be a positive gesture if the group Wishful Thinking organized a cleanup of the graffiti.  Unfortunately this never happened.

_SKR1305 _SKR1306 _SKR1308

I visited Bacon School again on September 15th, with 3rd Ward Alderman candidate Debra Baranello.  We met Hännah Watermann, one of the alternative education teachers who was just back from a camping trip, bringing back some mushrooms harvested from a tree that she carved as an art project to show her students.  Hännah was very passionate about her program and the students she teaches.  She described the difficulty of getting needed maintenance and supplies for the school and told us she has bought paint for the walls of the building and classrooms. Hännah also had the same idea about the graffiti removal, suggesting it would be a good project for her students to gain a sense of self-pride.  The alternative education program also accommodates students from the Broadalbin-Perth School District who have no program of their own.


Amsterdam’s 3rd Ward Alderman candidate Debra Baranello.


Debra Baranello and Amsterdam teacher Hännah Watermann


3rd Ward Alderman candidate Debra Baranello and Amsterdam Alternative School Teacher Hännah Watermann.


Debra Baranello, Karin Hetrick and Hännah Watermann in the Bacon School gym.


The refurbished Bacon School gym.


3rd Ward Alderman candidate Debra Baranello and Teacher Hännah Watermann outside her classroom at the Clara S. Bacon School.

You would think the Amsterdam School District would be very proud to be able to offer our young people all of this positive programming at the Clara S. Bacon School. Instead, they move forward with plans to vacate the building with a multi-million dollar renovation to move the District offices into the building. The plan involves lowering the gym height to build offices over it and to bus all of the Kindergarten classes to the Bacon School. This would mean the alternative education program that finally found a home would have to move back to the high school building, The after school and sports program would have to relocate and who knows what will happen to the Whispering Pines Day Care Center. Should we put up with this just so some bureaucrats can have nicer offices?


Listen to Amsterdam Board of Education member Gavin Murdoch describe the plan in the September 20, 2013 version of the podcast TSWNN:

We can do better than this.

Categories: Amsterdam, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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