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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.


What We Learned From Global (And What We Still Don't Know)

Residents at Ezra Prentice and members of AVillage met on November 9, 2016, with Global Partners, owners of the black oil tanker cars. The meeting produced no big surprises, but one commitment from Global and some helpful information. More information should come from the meeting planned by the EPA tonight at Ezra Prentice.
Dylan Remley, Global’s regional manager, was accompanied by two members of the company’s environmental quality staff and three members of the local facilities staff. He gave a brief presentation of the company’s operation at Ezra Prentice, with a site map showing where it loads its oil cars onto barges or ships.
Several residents asked Remley whether the tanker cars have to be parked immediately behind the residences at Ezra Prentice. They talked about the constant noise and the tension of living with an unknown, menacing presence only yards away. He replied that he has no answers now, but will talk to Canadian Pacific and the Port of Albany. He explained that Canadian Pacific owns most of the track near and behind Ezra Prentice (some is also owned by CSX and by the Port of Albany’s own rail subsidiary).
Remley also said he would ask Richard Hendrick, the Port of Albany General Manager, to come and talk directly to the residents of Ezra Prentice. “He says he will come,” said Remley. He said he would find out who is responsible for the Canadian Pacific tracks near Ezra Prentice and pass on that information.
The global economy has done what years of litigation and actions could not accomplish. Remley stated that in the last three months there have been “essentially zero” oil trains coming through the Port of Albany.
Note: This is confirmed by observation and independent media reports, and is based at least in part on the current glut of petroleum products on the world market. “Due to lower prices, East Coast refineries can get oil cheaper from Africa by tanker,” says Justin Milkula, a local observer and contributor to industry watchdog Desmogblog.
Remley said the tanker cars we are seeing are carrying ethanol.
Note: These tankers will look the same from the outside. Ethanol is also a volatile fuel, but there is some evidence that it is somewhat less dangerous than the heavy North Dakota crude that had been coming through the Port, says Mikulka. 
Remley was asked about odors that seem to be coming from the tanker cars, especially with the lids up. He said the lids up do not signify that the tanker cars are venting gases. The only venting takes place when the tanker cars are emptied for shipping, and those gases are captured and do not go into the atmosphere.
Note: This is also partly confirmed by Mikulka: “When you see those hatches up on the top of the cars, those are only the exterior man way covers. So there is another interior cover that keeps the tank car closed to the atmosphere. I spoke to someone who used an infrared camera to check for fumes venting from the tank cars and they said they saw none. I also believe that they would not want the cars open to the atmosphere.  In DC I saw a presentation about the corrosion issues they have with the Bakke tank cars. It is a real issue. They definitely would not want to leave them open to the atmosphere and risk a rainstorm. 
“However, this is all assuming everything works properly.  As we know, that isn't the case with the oil and rail industries.”

Remley resisted discussing the legal issues that Global is facing from the state and federal governments, or its proposal to build heating ovens so that even thicker crude from Canada could be processed through the Port of Albany.

  -- Tom McPheeters


Breathing Lights Event

By now, you’ve probably heard of or seen the pulsing lights on vacant buildings and are either intrigued, irritated or just plain curious. This is Albany City Weekend for Breathing Lights, the regional public art exhibit that is supposed to be highlighting our vacant building problems here. We at AVillage are doing our best to shine a spotlight on the South End, which hosts 13 of the installations (plus three in the Mansion Neighborhood), and many more vacant buildings.
This Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., which is also First Friday, the Capital South Campus Center at 20 Warren St. hosts a revolving showing of Breathing Lights-inspired films made this summer by our local Youth FX program and also youth film programs in Troy and Schenectady. Also on hand will be volunteers to take you on a guided automobile tour of the South End Breathing Lights buildings, or across town to The Barn, which has its own set of events. We’ll also have information on the Albany County Land Bank, including a list of its South End Properties, some success stories and information on the Reclamation Clinics coming up. It’s a good time to give us your ideas about bringing these buildings and our streets back to life.
On Saturday, artist Jillian Hirsch will lead a walking tour of South End buildings with mosaics created this summer by youth working with AVillage and the Radix Center. Some of the young people who made the art will be there to share their stories. Since many of these buildings are also Breathing Lights and Land Bank buildings this is a good chance to see the neighborhood in the daylight. Tour starts at 3 p.m. at 46 Alexander St.

Breathing Lights is public art that can be a catalyst — if we make it so!