Backyard Sheds

Drive reaps bounty of toys

49 15blot toy drive Livingston open house
State Police in Troop K hosted their 14th annual Open House and Toy Drive at the Livingston barracks, Saturday December 5. The two hour event, highlighted by a visit by Santa himself, was a great success. Families and businesses in the Columbia County area donated several hundred toys and gifts. All items will be distributed by local school districts, county service agencies and the Marine Corp Toys-for-Tots program to ensure local children are able to enjoy the holidays. Donations of new, unwrapped toys will be accepted at the Livingston station, 3353 State Route 9 until December 16. Photo contributed

Funds allow police to replace aging electronic equipment

ALBANY—The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is one of the 51 police departments and sheriff’s offices in 27 counties across the state to receive nearly $710,000 in state grants for the purchase of electronic fingerprinting equipment. This new equipment will replace existing devices that either malfunction or are obsolete.

The Columbia County law enforcement agency is the only recipient in the Greater Capital Region and will get $20,000, enough to replace two units.

“Fingerprinting is a proven and highly effective crime-fighting method—which drives us to help law enforcement agencies record and share fingerprints as efficiently as possible. These grants will help departments across the state, regardless of size, maintain a vital form of equipment, and I am proud that the state is able to help our local partners in this way,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said in a press release.

All fingerprints taken in connection with arrests must be submitted electronically to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services—the state’s repository of criminal history record information—and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Digital fingerprint technology enables law enforcement agencies and the courts to instantly receive an arrestee’s positive identification and any past criminal history and warrant information from the state. This information is crucial in determining how cases against arrested individuals proceed, including whether bail is set by the court.

The maximum grant awarded for each device was $10,000. Each of the grant recipients must provide a 50% local match as this technology benefits both local law enforcement agencies and the state. Any municipal police department or county sheriff’s office in the state was eligible to apply for this funding and could apply for more than one device if the agency hosts a regional server that allows others to electronically submit fingerprints to the state and FBI.

The Division of Criminal Justice Services expects to administer another round of funding for this equipment in 2016.

FASNY urges check of holiday safety list

ALBANY—With the holiday season, people are celebrating, decorating with lights, putting up Christmas trees, lighting candles and preparing special meals. The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) reminds all New Yorkers of the safety hazards associated with festivities this time of the year, and to follow a few simple tips to ensure a happy and safe holiday.

“These tips should be at the top of every holiday list. For safety’s sake please:

  • Check older electric light strands for frayed wiring or broken bulbs
  • Keep candles away from combustible materials such as curtains
  • Continually hydrate your Christmas tree so it doesn’t dry out.

We see more and more fires happening during the holidays, so we urge you to follow this advice to enjoy a happy, festive time while keeping your home and family safe,” FASNY President Robert McConville said in a press release.

Between 2007 and 2011, fire departments in the U.S. responded to over 10,000 house fires that were caused by candles. An additional 230 house fires in that same period can be traced to dry and/or poorly-wired Christmas trees. Nearly half of all fires during the holiday season are started because decorations are placed too close to a heat source, the release said.

FASNY and the National Fire Protection Association offer the following safety tips:

  • Check a Christmas tree for dryness while at the seller’s lot—shake the trunk above a light-colored surface and watch for falling needles. If too many dry needles fall, choose a fresher tree. A locally-grown tree from New York may be fresher than one brought in from out of state
  • Avoid trees with an artificial-looking green tint on the branches or trunk—these trees may have been spray-painted to improve their appearance. The paint used may be combustible and could be hazardous as well. When in doubt, ask the seller if he or she sells painted trees
  • Have the merchant saw off an inch or two from the trunk of the tree to help keep the tree fresh longer at home; also, if your tree is left outside, placing the trunk in a bucket of water will help keep it fresh
  • When disposing of a tree, do not leave it inside a home or building; do not place it against the exterior of a home or building. In both cases, the tree is likely dried out and thus poses an increased fire hazard.

* When possible, choose holiday decorations and lighting made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials. Look for these designations on the product’s packaging

  • Purchase lights and electrical decorations stamped with the name or symbol of an independent testing lab—for example, “UL”, or Underwriters’’ Laboratories—and Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strands. Look for frayed cables and replace any damaged or missing bulbs before plugging lights in
  • Do not overload extension cords, “power strips” and electrical outlets
  • When using power cords to illuminate outdoor displays, ensure that they are designated for external or outdoor use only—never use power cords that are meant for indoor use. This information is usually indicated on the product’s packaging
  • Turn lights off overnight. If possible, use a timer device to turn your lights off automatically. This not only lessens the risk of fire, but saves on your energy bills as well
  • Keep lighted candles and candelabras at least one foot away from any combustible materials. Do not place candles anywhere near window curtains, furniture, wrapped gifts or anything else that could ignite
  • Place candles and candelabras where they cannot be knocked down or tipped/blown over. If possible, keep the candle inside a weighted holder or one with a wide base
  • Extinguish a candle before it burns to within two inches of its holder
  • Never leave a lighted candle unattended—extinguish a candle before leaving the room.
  • Discourage the use of candles in bedrooms and other areas where you may fall asleep
  • Store matches and lighters in high places, out of the reach of children, and ideally inside a locked cabinet
  • Consider using battery-powered candles instead; if using electrical, “plug-in” candles—follow manufacturers’ instructions. For more information, visit the National Fire Protection Association’s website at


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