Towns sue EPA over dredging, stimulus money headed for local schools, comptroller takes up ghost ticket investigation, big hospital merger, home prices down

A handful of municipalities in Saratoga County -- including the county itself -- have sued to stop the EPA's Hudson River dredging project. The governments argue the feds have not adequately guaranteed people in the county will have a safe supply of drinking water during the project, which is scheduled to start in May. State senator Roy McDonald told a meeting last night that the EPA is "taking advantage of us" and said people should tell the feds to "go to hell." [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Post-Star]

Chuck Schumer says about $50 million in aid for schools is headed to the Capital Region from the federal stimulus bill. The Albany ($6.3 million) and Schenectady ($4.8 million) school districts are getting the biggest chunks of that money. Schumer also says $3 billion is on its way to help New York State cover planned cuts in aid from the state to local schools. [TU] [Daily Gazette] [Daily Gazette]

David Paterson has replaced many of his top advisors. On his new communications director's resume: experience with "strategic and crisis communications work." [NYT] [TU]

The state comptroller has informed the City of Albany that his office will be conducting an audit of the city's "ghost ticket" system. [TU]

St. Peter's, Seton Health (St. Mary's) and Northeast Health (Samaritan and Albany Memorial hospitals) say they're moving toward a merger. The new group would be the Capital Region's largest healthcare provider. [TU]

The Greater Capital Association of Realtors reports that median sales price for homes in the Capital Region was down nine percent in January compared to the same month a year ago. The number of sales was down 24 percent. One outlier: prices in Albany County held steady. [Daily Gazette] [Biz Review] [TU]

State officials say they want to use federal stimulus money for a new statewide high-speed rail corridor. But they're not sure how much money -- if any -- they can get for the project. [Biz Review] (Earlier on AOA: High-speed rail? Maybe not so fast.)

CDTA's board has voted to spend almost $16 million in federal stimulus money on 40 new hybrid buses. CDTA's executive director says spending the money that way "very conservative" as opposed to using it for operating costs. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

A man pleaded guilty yesterday to killing his ex-girlfriend and stashing her body in his father's Schenectady basement. [Daily Gazette]

A state Supreme Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order that restricts the start of construction on Saratoga Springs' South Side Recreation Center. A group opposing the project plans to file a suit in March. Mayor Scott Johnson says the restraining order doesn't affect the project's timeline. [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]

The org behind the renovation of Saratoga Springs' Universal Preservation Hall says the multi-million dollar project is moving along -- and they're hoping to bring more events to the space. [Post-Star]

A retired NYC transit worker is renovating Schenectady's Brandywine Diner and hopes to eventually re-open the restaurant. [Daily Gazette]

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