Don Heath and Paul remake Pleasant Avenue’s most blighted home

by Linda Kaidan

remake most blighted Herkimer home
Don Heath carpenter extraordinaire renovates 331 Pleasant Ave.

Three thirty-one Pleasant Ave looked like a blighted hulk long before we moved into the house across the street two years ago. It was indeed one of the most dilapidated homes in Herkimer Village. Fortunately, Don Heath and Paul are now renovating this home purchased at last month’s county auction. Their remake most blighted Herkimer home project is well on the way to success.

Don and Paul are true community leaders who lead by example

Paul and Don are no strangers to village renovations. They have already transformed more than 40 houses in the area. They are completely undaunted by this home’s condition. After removing 5 containers of trash from inside and outside this structure they quickly got to work re-framing the windows and residing the exterior. Don has already transfigured the front of the house – now a vision of perfect loveliness. Just see for yourself! Here are before and after shots.

331 Pleasant Ave Herkimer on auction June 4, 2016
Herkimer Property Auction June 4th 2016
Renovating 331 Pleasant Ave.
In just 22 days 331 Pleasant Ave looks so much better!

These urban pioneers have been a strong force for positive development in our community. They recognize and appreciate the true beauty of Herkimer Village and oppose with courage, talent and determination the negative forces set in motion by decades of economic depression.

Don and Paul love our village and its strong connection to our magnificent natural surroundings. They have countered the exploitation of two decades of slumlords and are a beacon of positive action for us all. Not only are they courageous renovators, they are also actively engaged in teaching others how to preserve homes and how to promote personal development, education and responsibility in our community.

Let’s follow Paul and Don’s positive example by sharing our talents and abilities with others and by taking responsibility for ourselves, our families and our community. Think about how you can share your time, skills and knowledge. Each one of us can make a difference. Now is a good time to begin.

Dead Birds Don’t Cry

by Linda Kaidan

Fireworks Cause Bird Deaths and Blazes
Fireworks can cause bird deaths and harm many animals

Fireworks Cause Bird Deaths and Blazes

Several days ago we mourned the loss of a small bird that may have nested in one of Curtis Cool’s trees. Yesterday we found the feathered remains of a downy baby bird and its mom. Yet again last night Curtis Cool (A/K/A Curtis Dolan) and his cronies enjoyed another loud and highly explosive fireworks display about 4 feet away from the house he rents from Harriet Tangorra at 328 Pleasant Ave.

Herkimer police and fire officials seem unable to convince Mr. Cool to cease his noisy, dangerous and illegal, fire-obsessed activities, ongoing now for 2 months. Perhaps they don’t really want to? We have shared our videos that stream automatically offsite with you, the public and with Herkimer Mayor Anthony Brindisi and Fire Chief John Spanfelner. They’ve left Herkimer’s population at risk by doing nothing to stop Mr. Cool from his illegally loud and incendiary backyard actions.

In his first 1:00 AM backyard bonfire, Mr. Cool was assured by a policeman that such fires were OK and nearly patted on the back to alleviate the annoyance of their visit. Last night when we called police, all they did was drive down the street past his house. WOW!

Why is it that both Herkimer Police and Herkimer Fire Department think it’s such a good idea to let Mr. Cool play with fire and break NY State law regarding maximum decibel levels and fire laws? They are teaching adults and children alike some bad lessons.

  • Molesting animals with horrible noise – Not a Problem!
  • Breaking the law (county, state and Federal)– Not a problem!
  • Endangering neighbors’ lives and homes – Not a problem!

Dear Herkimer Police and Fire Department, it’s your responsibility to uphold the laws of our country and community. It’s your responsibility not to embolden those who break them. Mr. Cool is loudly proclaiming that he can do whatever he pleases and you are letting him get away with it. This is a problem!

Fireworks cause blazes, human injuries and fatalities

According to Smithsonian magazine fireworks can badly disorient birds. Loud noises caused by fireworks upset dogs and other pets and can cause extreme anxiety. The US Government Consumer Safety Commission reports

  • Fireworks were involved in an estimated 10,500 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2014 (95 percent confidence interval 7,700–13,300).
  • An estimated 7,000 fireworks-related injuries (or 67 percent of the total estimated fireworks-related injuries in 2014) were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the 1-month special study period between June 20, 2014 and July 20, 2014 (95 percent confidence interval 4,900–9,200).
  • Four victims died in house fires caused by fireworks, including several where the person(s) killed may not have been using fireworks. Seven victims died from direct impacts of fireworks. Reporting of fireworks-related deaths for 2014 is not complete, and the number of deaths in 2014 should be considered a minimum.

 

Life Without Cash

by Linda Kaidan

I’ve just watched Season 1 of Mr Robot – free on Amazon Prime. The plot revolves around a tiny group of hackers who bring world banking to a halt by rendering their corporate data inaccessible, encrypting it with a virtually unbreakable key. As a result, all the economies in the world go bust simultaneously and everyone is free of debt, but without currency alternative. Will chaos follow when there is life without cash?

Surviving Economic Crisis

This plot seems likely to occur in real life – possibly at any moment. New quantum computers are millions of times faster than those widely used today and probably very effective at breaking the most sophisticated computer security measures. Destabilization of major economies can also be driven by climate change disasters like coastal flooding, famine and disease.

Business Insider offers a solution that replaces our current monetary system with one based on water or energy. Since these are basic resources used by virtually everyone, this makes lots of sense. Global banking disaster can be prevented right now and we should not wait for the inevitable hacker or cataclysmic event to make it so.

Taking Charge of Economic Stability at Community Level

We don’t have to be passive onlookers in the economic stabilization process. We can be proactive on the community level by producing local energy in our villages, towns and cities, securing a reliable water supply through rainwater harvesting, recycling water and plain old living in the right place.

Smart early first century people like the Nabateans lived in the desert, but managed to support a thriving agricultural community by effectively harvesting rainwater and storing it in cisterns below ground. Today, desert residents in New Mexico generate sufficient water for their homes with only 8 inches of rain per year. They manage this miracle by harvesting and reusing just about all the rainwater they get, transforming their homes into tiny oasis capable of offering year round comfortable temperature, sufficient water even for flush toilets and producing lovely interior and exterior gardens.

In Herkimer, NY we have endless fresh water and a history of generating clean hydro, solar and wind energy. We are in an ideal location to become a stable, sustainable community should disaster strike. But we are not there yet. Let’s make our community independent and sustainable now so that we’ll have basic needs like food, water and energy covered even when chaos reigns.

 

Herkimer Police Respond to Latest Fire at 328 Pleasant Avenue – Fire Chief Shrugs It Off

by Stephen Ames Berry

Yet another dangerous nighttime fire at 328 Pleasant Avenue Herkimer this time saw a vigorous Herkimer police response. The fire of 5/31 fire followed on the heels of the towering inferno of the previous week. Same tenants. Same accelerant. Same depraved indifference. Here’s a short video:

Fire remains 328 Pleasant Ave fire of 5.30.16
Remains of fire of 5.30.16 at 328 Pleasant Avenue

328 Pleasant Avenue Herkimer is owned by Mrs. Harriett Tangorra, and sits among its close-packed, tinder-dry 19th and early 20th century neighbors. In the last five weeks it’s been the scene of three illegal fires, one in which the yard’s racist thugs assailed an elderly Jewish neighbor. (That would be my wife, blog hostess Linda) in an anti-Semitic and ageist tirade. And then there was their poor abused dog.

Adjacent structures 328 Pleasant Avenue fire of 5.30.16
Adjacent structures – 328 Pleasant Avenue fires site. Note plastic screen gazebo feet from fire source.

Prompt Herkimer Police Response to 328 Pleasant Avenue Fire

But the following day, a Herkimer police officer arrived and spoke with the thugs lounging mid-day in the yard. The officer was there for about 20 minutes. Don’t know what he said to them but they did not at all like it. As he pulled away, they began screaming obscenities and racing their ATV engine, one of them bellowing “Psychotic bitch!” and their usual tedious “Gonna fick you up!”

That last were probably meant my wife,  who they probably thought called the law on them. But no, we did not call the police, or the fire department, as we’d only just discovered their latest episode of pyromania while reviewing our last night’s surveillance footage.  As their bonfires threaten both Pleasant Avenue and Eureka Avenue, someone else may just possibly have reported them–possibly several someones. Their only friends on this street are their fellow drug thugs.

Herkimer Fire Chief John Spanfelner Discusses 328 Pleasant Avenue Fire Safety Issues

Herkimer Fire Chief John Spanfelner visited me today to discuss the recurring dangerous fires at 328 Pleasant Avenue. Following our cordial conversation, during which he reiterated the need for night time vigilance, the chief assured me a call to either 911 or the Fire Department would see any illegal fire promptly doused by the Fire Department, backed by the police if necessary. He noted he’s contacted the owner, Mrs. Tangorra, who seemed unaware of the size of the fires. (Perhaps I’m texting my video links for her to the wrong cellphone number?  )

Chief Spanfelner then visited with Mrs. Tangorra’s tenant Curtis Cool (A/K/A Curtis Dolan) at neighboring 328 Pleasant Avenue. Watching him go, I felt relieved that someone was finally doing something to protect Pleasant Avenue from its resident fire thug. I was wrong.

6/24/16. Postscript. Chief Spanfelner had an equally cordial visit with fire thug Curtis Cool at 328 Pleasant Avenue, politely providing him with a copy of the Village of Herkimer fire ordinances. The chief confirmed this in a phone conversation with me, which would have to be heard to be believed. Embolden by the chief’s act of nonfeasance, Cool reacted as you might expect a criminal to act. More on this later.

Author Stephen Ames Berry is The Herkimer Post’s Crime Editor. Berry is a former officer of Harvard University and a veteran of the National Security Agency’s US Army Security Agency.

 

Impressive Herkimer County Land Auction Turnout Reflects Mohawk Valley’s Growing Prosperity

Herkimer College, Where Barns Abound

Impressive Herkimer County Land Auction Turnout

Over 600 people packed Herkimer Community College’s Sarkus-Busch Theater yesterday for the annual Herkimer County Land Auction. The standing-room-only turnout overflowed into the hallway. Taking a break from his beat covering crime and devolution along Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue, Herkimer Post Crime Editor Steve Berry was in attendance.

Berry reports that bidding for the 91 properties was lively and sometimes heated. A fight broke out at the back of theater following the biding on property #44 (25 Warren St., Mohawk). The auctioneer’s wife, the formidable Mrs. Knapp, led campus security and sheriffs deputies in quelling the disturbance and ousting the combatants.

All 91 properties on auction were sold, with accepted bids ranging from $100 for a very small lot to nearly $80,000 for a single family residence. On our own Pleasant Avenue here in the Village of Herkimer, two homes were auctioned: the anxiously-watched 331 Pleasant Avenue was purchased by Buyer #43 for $4,500, (following a laughingly rejected starting bid of $300), while less timeworn 316 Pleasant Avenue sold for $13,000.

One impressive looking home at 68-70 Prospect Street in Little Falls, Item 13, went for just $13,000. However, it does have a substantial Federal Tax Lien of $67,342, placing it at risk of seizure.

The heavy-hitting buyers were numbers 323 and 625, who purchased multiple properties: Buyer 323 bought three Ilion parcels totaling $90,000. Buyer 625 purchased properties totaling $45,000 in Poland.

Below is a spreadsheet of the Herkimer County Land Auction sales. A few of the sold prices are missing and the formatting could profit from greater granularity, but the bottom line is that 91 properties sold for slightly more the $960k.

Pros and Cons of Herkimer County Land Auction

Limiting factors on buying these auctioned homes include inability to view the interior of occupied property and perform adequate inspection, and the requirement to pay cash for a purchase within a three week period. Despite these limitations, the Herkimer County Land Auction offered the opportunity to acquire valuable property significantly below actual value in a market of rising property values.

Followers of Central New York property values are likely to have noticed recent sales of homes that have long languished on the market. The availability of small, inexpensive lots has also diminished. It’s quite possible that this auction illustrates a new benchmark in Herkimer County property values.

Often local residents fail to see the changes happening around them. It’s hard to view the familiar with fresh eyes. But while Herkimer and its surrounding counties appear to have remained the same, the world around us has significantly changed. Our world-class resources of abundant rainfall, fresh surface water, agricultural land and the largest contiguous forest in the US, coupled with the scarcities and insecurities caused by global warming, now make the Mohawk Valley and Central New York one of the best places to live not only in the US, but on the planet.

Central New York has become the focus of increased regional development, notably Nano Utica. And almost unnoticed, New York’s Capital Albany has been silently and quickly growing, not so much in its historic areas but on its periphery, with an abundance of well-planned commercial, residential and industrial development. While New York City is ultimately doomed by rising sea levels, it appears that the de facto policy is to relocate much of the state’s infrastructure to the Central Region, which isn’t threatened by rising sea levels and massive storms.

Herkimer County Land Auction Sales June 4, 2016

 

 

Hail to the Chief – Capt. Jeff Crim Takes Command of Herkimer Police

 

Capt. Jeff Crim takes command of Herkimer PD
Herkimer Police Capt. Jeff Crim and Friend

Sincere best wishes to Herkimer’s Acting Police Chief, Capt. Jeff Crim. I met him briefly a few weeks ago–he impressed me as a quietly competent, no-nonsense law enforcement officer. He’s only been in charge for a week and already we’ve seen an astounding improvement in the policing of Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue. It first became noticeable over the Memorial Day Weekend. This is from my Facebook:

Just a light posting to remark upon how quiet it is here this Memorial Day weekend on Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue.  The three principal fonts of evil in the neighborhood, once the undisputed domain of drug dealers and narcotics traffickers, are empty this weekend. Toad, Little Mama, Old Queenie and their krews are gone.

This is remarkably coincident with the abrupt retirement last week of Herkimer’s long-time police chief.  Former Chief Joseph Malone,  who lives down the street  from us here on Pleasant Avenue, retired following an ethics investigation, the ripples from which have just begun.  We’re wondering if our neighboring death merchants are up in the lovely hill country at one of their “camps,’ feting him upon his retirement.  And if he’ll survive the celebration.

OMG! Another  police patrol.   They’ve become quite common.

Good luck, Chief Crim. We look forward to the better days ahead.

Written by Herkimer Post Crime Editor Stephen Ames Berry. Berry is a former officer of Harvard University and a veteran of the National Security Agency’s US Army Security Agency.