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Ezra Tenants Association Reactivates In Face of Legal Action Around Oil Trains

Ms Charlene Benton, the long time president of the Ezra Prentice Tenants Association, has decided to retire from her position due to ill health. Bebe White, vice president of the Tenants Association, has called for a meeting of all tenants to discuss holding elections for new officers.
The meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, in the Ezra Prentice Community Room. This will be a Tenants Association meeting, not an AVillage meeting.
Under HUD rules, all tenant associations elections must be monitored, administered and verified by an independent organization in order to be official. The meeting on March 29 will be so interested residents can learn more about the process and express their interest in serving as an officer. The date for an election will be set after that.
At the meeting last Wednesday, Rev. Marc Johnson, who is serving as Interim Executive Director of AVillage, said this is a particularly important time for tenants to get involved. He said word has reached the Tenants Association officers that Global Partners LLC, the company that owns the black tanker cars that carry crude oil and fuel products to the Port of Albany, is discussing a negotiated settlement with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. 
These negotiations were subsequently confirmed by both DEC officials and a Global representative, although both emphasized that talks are very preliminary and that there is no agreement to report right now.
“When it gets to the point where we think it has legs, that’s when we’ll reach out,” said a DEC official.
According to several sources, settlement talks have included both a monetary award as a “community benefits” and also an agreement on steps to reduce the amount of air pollution allowed from the tanker cars. Global is reportedly offering to partially fund a wall that would act as a sound barrier between the tracks and the residences.

Global is in litigation with DEC, which has pulled its air pollution permits for operating at the Port of Albany because of violations. Global is also being sued by several environmental organizations, and the Ezra Prentice Tenants Association is a plaintiff. Any settlement of those lawsuits would need the approval of the Tenants Association.


Fourth Annual Celebration of Progress

  It was an opportunity to rekindle old friendships and make new ones; it was a night to remember that we are more than just a group of people who share the same zip code, but a unified family; it was a chance to acknowledge and appreciate everyone’s hard work in making the South End a better place; it was a celebration of our progress.

  On March 9th, at that beautiful old bank lobby at 60 State Street, AVillage held its Fourth Annual Celebration of Progress. With more than 100 in attendance, we looked back at all of the accomplishments made in the past year, most notably in health.
  The night started, led by AVillage President Marva Richards, and Interim Executive Director Marc Johnson, welcoming guests, and giving a special thanks to sponsors & leaders.
  Immediately following was a fabulous dinner, catered by Chartwells; we ate endless amounts of salad, chicken, and pasta until our stomachs couldn’t handle it any longer, or so we thought. As soon as our forks dropped, and we were ready to throw in the towel, the wonderful staff came out with cakes from Dianne’s Fine Desserts.
  While we were eating Boston Cream Cake, New York Vanilla Cheesecake, and other delicacies, our very own Executive Director Willie White (making a surprise guest appearance) joined New York State Assemblyman John T. McDonald III to hand out awards. Willie told the story of the late Donald S. Pangburn, an attorney who helped AVillage become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; but this went beyond just a lawyer-business relationship. He explained that Donald and his wife, Tulla were the most genuine and heart-filled people he had ever met; when Willie went to the Pangburn residence to discuss becoming a nonprofit, they welcomed him into their household with open arms, like a second member of the family. A standing ovation ensued when Tulla got up and accepted the Inaugural Donald S. Pangburn Award; Tulla remained up front, and helped Willie in announcing Caroline Mason, a former Board Member, as the 2017 honoree.
  Afterwards came the finale- introducing the honorees for the 2017 Celebration of Progress Award. Board Member Jessica Gorman nominated, and had the pleasure, of handing her mentor, Darryl Johnson of the Center for Law and Justice, his award; Willie announced Dr. T. Gregory Dewey from Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Tom McPheeters awarded Stacy Pettigrew & Scott Kellogg of the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center, The Ezra Prentice Health Survey Team (Sara Adams, Akua Boakye-Yiadom, Beth Wyman, and Tina Vasquez), and the Residential Outreach Workers (Deneen Carter-El, Michele Tucker, Detrece Harris, Sylvia Jones, Tammy Miller, Fashionette Trowell, Kristina Fisher, and April Tucker), for their contribution in displaying the injustices that have occurred over at Ezra Prentice.

  Although Celebration of Progress ended as quickly as it started, we at AVillage do not, for a second, take for granted what we were a part of. We would like to personally thank everyone, regardless if you attended or not, for being a part of this organization. We look forward to all of the amazing things we can accomplish in 2017, and then recollect upon at the Fifth Annual Celebration of Progress.


A short bio about AVillage's Interim Executive Director , Marc Johnson

Rev. Marc Johnson is a native of Albany, NY born and raised in the South End neighborhood of Albany. He has returned back to Albany to his original home church (now named, Greater St. Johns COGIC) where he is an serves as an Associate Pastor and Church Administrator under his father, Supt. McKinley B. Johnson, Sr. as the Sr. Pastor. Rev. Marc is a part of the forth generation of ministers in his family. He is a husband, father, a son, a brother and a friend to many. Currently, he also holds the position as a Grants/Contract Officer of St. Johns Community Development Corporation. He is also the prime partner of Catogenic Resources, Iniatives and Strategies, Inc. (Nashville, TN). In other previous positions he has served as a Grants and Contract officer for Georgia State University, Multi-Cultural Director of Broome County School Districts and a NYS Commission on Corrections Investigator and many other key positions in other corporations. Civically and sociably he is a current member of the Capital District Urban League, NAACP, the Albany African American Clergy United for Empowerment, One Hundred Black Men Chapter in Albany. A former President of Broome County Chapter of NAACP; Board member of Police/Community Board; Board member of United Way; YMCA; City Board of Community Development; Citizen Action Committee; Mayor Advisory Board of the City of Binghamton. Rev. Johnson holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from United Christian College, Greensboro, North Carolina, and a Pastoral Counseling certification from Union Theological Seminary, Manhattan, New York and a Paralegal Degree from Westchester School of Albany, New York. He specializes in consulting non-profit and community based organizations, religious institutions and small businesses in the areas of: team building, leadership/staff development, business marketing and development strategies; grant writing and research and diversity/sensitivity training workshops.


Ezra Prentice Update

Progress (slowly) at Ezra Prentice
By Tom McPheeters
Residents at Ezra Prentice Homes may legitimately feel like they are a long way from the kinds of action that would help them breathe easier, but starting this spring they will at least be seeing activities that could help in the long run. And there will also be more opportunities to help move things along.
Two events will be visible this spring: air monitoring by DEC staff carrying sophisticated hand-held monitoring devices, and a second (third, actually) traffic study designed to find out where the diesel trucks that use South Pearl Street are coming from, where they are going and who owns them.


ACPHS to Open College Parkside Pharmacy Jan. 25

In an effort to train tomorrow’s pharmacists and fill a critical gap in providing care to underserved populations in Albany’s South End, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS) will open College Parkside Pharmacy on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 25.
Located at the Capital South Campus Center (20 Warren Street), College Parkside Pharmacy is the second student-operated pharmacy in New York State. Last March, ACPHS cut the ribbon for the state’s first student-operated pharmacy, College Hometown Pharmacy, at Hometown Health Centers, a nationally recognized primary care and dental practice located at 1044 State Street, Schenectady, N.Y.
College Parkside Pharmacy will feature a full-time, licensed pharmacist who will supervise ACPHS students as they complete their bachelors, masters and doctoral of pharmacy programs. The pharmacy will also offer an expanded range of medication management services associated with patient wellness, including medication therapy management, disease prevention, wellness counseling and screenings.
“College Parkside Pharmacy will give ACPHS interns the chance to gain invaluable hands-on experience in every aspect of tomorrow’s pharmacy field from traditional pharmacy disciplines to business operations,” said ACPHS President Dr. Greg Dewey. “Just as important, students will also have the opportunity to interact with their local community and patient populations that are in great need of vital healthcare services.”
“This is a great opportunity for students to come into our community and learn what we are all about,” added AVillage, Inc. Executive Director Willie White. “It’s a win-win situation and everyone will benefit.”
 Differentiating College Parkside Pharmacy from its Schenectady-based counterpart will be a “collaboratory” at nearby 3 Lincoln Square. This unique space will feature licensed pharmacists; faculty from clinical pharmacy practices, public health, and clinical laboratory science; and, doctor of pharmacy students, public health undergraduate students and clinical laboratory science undergraduate and graduate students, who will work together in an interconnected, entrepreneurial environment.
Once opened later in the year, the collaboratory will provide individually designed service modules that include: point-of-care screening and assessments, patient education, referral and navigation services, medication therapy management, as well as convenient and rapid drug dispensing at College Parkside Pharmacy next door. Education focus and research will target different disease states such as asthma and diabetes, as well as different patient populations and different transitions of care. The screening, education and management functions will be adjusted to meet the needs of the community.
For more information, please visit acphs.edu/beyondpracticeready.


Ezra Prentice Community Health Project

A Joint project of AVillage…, Inc., and the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center.

Introduction: The Ezra Prentice Community Health Project was developed in response to a need perceived by AVillage… Inc., a community based not-for-profit in the South End of Albany. Ezra Prentice Homes is a public housing project situated next to the Port of Albany in the city’s far southern edge and has been officially designated as an Environmental Justice community by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. However, until recently the DEC has been reluctant to address the air pollution issues that plague this community. Through direct observation it was evident that residents of Ezra Prentice suffer from an extremely high level of illnesses that appeared to be related to air pollution. Ezra Prentice is in a highly industrialized area, with many potential sources of air pollution, but the two sources that most clearly impact residents are from the Kenwood rail yards, where oil tanker and other rail cars are parked and switched directly behind Ezra Prentice, and the heavy diesel truck traffic on South Pearl Street.
The Health Survey: Working with the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center, a partner South End not-for-profit, we designed and implemented a comprehensive health survey and organized local residents to do the outreach. Wherever possible we used verified questions and relied on advice from faculty at the SUNY School of Public Health in the design and administration of the survey itself. The Resident Outreach Workers make the initial contacts, conduct an initial environmental awareness survey, and make appointments for graduate students certified in human subjects research to administer the survey. Residents are compensated for taking the surveys with gift cards, and survey results are kept confidential and under lock and key.



AVillage’s Annual Celebration of Progress is our opportunity to thank our partners and friends, and to insure we can continue to have an impact on life in Albany’s South End. Besides, it’s a great party!
Please mark this date for the 2017 Celebration of Progress on your calendar: Thursday, March 9. We have reserved the same space as last year, that beautiful old bank lobby at 60 State Place in Albany. We look forward to your company whether you’ve been with us for our first two years or if this is your first.  We will be sending you a formal invitation in early December.

AVillage.., Inc., is a unique community based organization. We operate on a very slender budget, so your support has a great impact. Each year brings new challenges and opportunities, and new stories to tell. Community health has been a major focus this past year, with new initiatives at the Ezra Prentice community and also in the gardens and vacant buildings of the South End.