Alkaramla's body found in the Hudson, Cuomo continuing push for minimum wage increase, who gets REDC money, first baby of 2016

Today's Morning Blend includes a handful of stories from the last week or so over the new year holiday.

Noel Alkaramla case
Troy police announced New Year's Eve that the body of Noel Alkaramla was found in a suitcase in the Hudson River near Albany last week. Alkaramla's stepfather is a suspect and is being held on a parole violation, but hasn't been charged in the case. Law enforcement originally had searched the Hudson near Troy for the suitcase, but an official tells the Times Union that tests involving suitcases dropped into the river and the aid of FBI experts led investigators to a spot near USS Slater. [Troy Record] [TU x2]

Minimum wage
Andrew Cuomo is set to announce today that he'll be adding state university employees to the $15-an-hour minimum wage schedule. Cuomo says an eventual $15-an-hour minimum wage for all workers will be one of his priorities in 2016. [NYT] [NYDN]

The state's minimum wage for all workers rose to $9/hour on January 1 under a previously scheduled increase, and $9.75 per hour ($10.50 per hour in NYC) for fast food employees. The minimum wage for tipped employees also rose to $7.50 per hour from $5. [NYS DOL x3]

Homeless in the cold
Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order requiring homeless shelters around the state to extend hours -- and it authorizes law enforcement agencies to forcibly move homeless people inside who refuse, a measure some advocates are saying might not be legal. [Cuomo admin] [TU] [NYDN]

New local leaders
+ Patrick Manning Madden is now mayor of Troy (profile). [Troy Record x2]
+ Democrat Sean Ward is the new chair of the Albany County Legislature following a failed attempt by a group of Democrats and Republicans to form a coalition majority. [TU]
+ The new chair of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors is Republican Hadley supervisor Mo Wright. [Daily Gazette]
+ The new president of the Schenectady City Council is Democrat Leesa Perazzo. (Also: Vince Riggi, the lone non-Democrat on the council is now officially "minority leader.") [Daily Gazette] [TU]

REDC
Looking into which Capital Region orgs and projects got money from the latest round of Regional Economic Development Council awards -- orgs with members connected to the council continue to find success scoring money. [TU+]

Albany schools
The Albany school district is looking for funding to set up a school for immigrant children. The district has about 1,000 immigrant students. [TU x2]

Saint Rose
Among the program enrollment bits from disclosure report to bondholders: Enrollment in the college's school of education dropped 42 percent 2010 and 2014. [TU]

Big deal for GE
An almost $1 billion deal between GE and Saudi Arabia will mean more work at the turbine plant in Schenectady. [TU]

Wink
Wink -- the smart home systems company that had been part of Quirky -- has been officially sold, but will continue its presence in Schenectady. [Daily Gazette]

On ice
What's involved in keeping the surface of the ESP ice rink in shape. [TU+]

Sa'Fyre
The USPS now estimates more than a million letters and packages have been sent to Sa'Fyre Terry. [Daily Gazette]

First baby of 2016
Clyne Capasso of Berlin was the first Capital Region baby born in 2016. Said his mother Cindy to News10 about arriving at the hospital just before midnight: "... [T]hey said, 'Oh, are you shooting for the New Year's baby,' ... I'm like, 'Whatever, just give us a room, please.'" [TU] [News10]

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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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