Regional

Clearly defined choices are the heart of America's democracy. The heart is what pumps the life blood into the body politic.

These local students were recently awarded a degree from Binghamton University:

Sorrow and horror show in kids’ faces, lower left, as they watch a film telling Smokey Bear’s story: He was created in 1944, and now Smokey and his current motto — “Only you can prevent wildfires” — are recognized by 95 percent of Americans. The first living symbol of Smokey was a cub rescued in 1950 from a wildfire in New Mexico.

ITHACA, N.Y. — The longtime educational program known as the Highway School, which Cornell University had labeled a low priority and had threatened to shut down last summer, has been re-imagined and is expected to continue thanks to statewide support, according to the director of the program.

These local students have recently distinguished themselves:

Jonathan Bintz of Altamont, majoring in music performance at the State University of New York College at Potsdam, was awarded the Jean Kettler Truimpho ’39Scholarship;

The American Red Cross Blood Services is holding these local drives in November:

— On Monday, Nov. 4 from 1 to 6 p.m., at the First United Methodist Church of Voorheesville in the social hall, 68 Maple Ave., Voorheesville;

ALBANY COUNTY — Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy has proposed a 2014 budget with the lowest tax increase in half a decade, well under the 2 percent levy cap set by the state, but his plan depends on the legislature forming a local development corporation to take over the county’s nursing home by July.

New York’s estimated 823,000 hunters and trappers are officially returning afield for recreational hunting and trapping across upstate New York, according to Joe Martens, the state’s commissioner of environmental conservation. 

If Albany County ever became like a war zone, its sheriff wants to be ready. He's added an armored truck to the county's fleet of free Army surplus vehicles, and also has plans for a $20 million interoperable countywide radio system.

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