Large fire in Albany, search for driver in Cohoes hit and run, catalytic converters swiped, Henry Johnson's Medal of Honor on display

Large fire in Albany
A large fire on South Pearl Street Monday evening displaced 13 people, and the intersection of South Pearl and Fourth Avenue was closed. Albany's fire chief said it wasn't clear yet what caused the fire. [News10] [TWCN] [TU] [WNYT]

Search for driver in Cohoes hit and run
Cohoes police say they're looking for the driver who left the scene following a crash with a pedestrian downtown Friday night (map). The pedestrian's family says she suffered a broken pelvis, ribs, and vertebrae and is in critical condition. [TWCN] [WNYT] [News10]

Hulett Street fire case
The prosecution in the case against Edward Leon told the jury Monday that it intended to show that Leon not only originally lied to a grand jury about his whereabouts with respect to the Schenectady fire in which four people died, but that he also sent threatening text messages in the days leading up to the fire. [Daily Gazette]

Sheldon Silver trial
Prosecutors continued their efforts to make the case that Sheldon Silver had control of state health department grant money that he funneled to a doctor who had been referring patients to Silver's law firm. A former DOH official said the agency had no authority to deny Silver's request for the direction of the money. And prosecutors introduced a grant request for the doctor which had a handwritten note at the top: "This is very important to Shelly." [NYT] [Politico NY] [TWCN]

School funding
A coalition of education groups was at the Capitol Monday to push for a $2.2 billion increase in state education funding (it'd be about 9 percent more than the currently allocated amount). State education aid has been a hot topic for districts such as Schenectady, where officials say the district has been consistently shorted under the state's aid formula. [TU+] [Daily Gazette]

Settlement in deputy sheriff crash
The Albany County Legislature has approved a $500k settlement with a man whose pickup truck was hit by a deputy sheriff responding to a non-emergency call without his emergency lights and sire on in Westerlo last December. [TU]

Sexual assault allegation at county jail
A former inmate at the Albany County jail has filed a federal lawsuit alleging she was raped and sexually assaulted by a correction officer there in September of 2014. [TU]

CPD: Police car hit
Colonie police say a driver struck two cars -- one of them a police car -- before she and her passenger were arrested Monday. [TU]

Hammered
Colonie police say they arrested a man for allegedly using a hammer on a teen who was allegedly trying to break into his car (the teen also ended up being arrested). [TU]

Catalytic converter theft
Vehicles in park-and-ride lots in both North Greenbush and Bethelehem were hit by thieves who stole catalytic converters last Thursday. [TU] [News10]

Microbeads
The Albany County Legislature approved a ban on the sale of products such as toothpastes and facewashes that contain microbeads. (Environtmental orgs say the tiny bits of plastic accumulate in the environment.) [TU]

Henry Johnson's Medal of Honor
It's now on display in the War Room of the Capitol. [Cuomo admin]

Lost and found
A woman lost a treasured charm at the Latham Home Depot -- and it found its way back to her just five hours later a person found it and posted a pic on Facebook. [News10]

Stuff going on today

Brain Food for the Curious
The State Museum opens its
"Brain Food for the Curious" series of short lunchtime talks with State Paleontologist Lisa Amati talking about how scientists reconstruct environments that existed millions of years ago. Tuesday 12:10-12:30 pm - free

Mad Scientist Academy
Matt McElligott -- author and illustrator of many books for kids, including the new series Mad Scientist Academy -- will be at the Opalka Gallery on the Sage Albany campus for a talk about his work. Tuesday 6:30 pm - free

Stories
The Front Parlor storytelling series is at the Ale House in Troy. This month's theme is "Leftovers." Tuesday 7:30 pm

Music: Civil Twilight at The Hollow
Alt rock. With: Knox Hamilton. 8 pm - $15 ahead / $18 day of

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I've found that anecdotes from neighbors, friends, or internet "strangers" can only take you so far. If you haven't already, I strongly recommend you get out there and visit these schools during the school year, during the school day to get a feel for things. In the last few months, my wife and I have made a series of visits to our local elementary, middle + high-school. During those visits, we had the chance to talk to multiple teachers and see the kids "in action". It was very VERY telling in a lot of ways - both good and bad.

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