hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires


News September 2014



Auction yields no bids for Glens Falls arena


The city of Glens Falls is seeking a new round of bids for its money-losing Civic Center after a public auction of the facility last month failed to attract any bidders.

The Civic Center, a 4,700-seat sports arena and performance venue at the foot of Glen Street downtown, has operated at a loss since it opened in 1979, and in recent years it has required annual subsidies from city taxpayers ranging from $500,000 to nearly $1 million. Mayor John “Jack” Diamond has said he wants that burden lifted by the end of this year, and he has been pushing toward a sale after Warren County supervisors balked at the idea of using county tax revenues to help support the facility.

The Post-Star of Glens Falls reported that about 100 people turned out for a scheduled public auction of the Civic Center on Aug. 18, but none of them registered to bid. The city had set a minimum bid of $1.5 million.

Diamond told the paper the city will now accept sealed bids, with no minimum dollar amount, through 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 12.

Local developer Richard Schermerhorn submitted a written offer in June to buy the Civic Center for $750,000. And the Coalition to Save Our Civic Center, a group of about a dozen local business and community leaders, says it’s raising funds to make an offer.

City officials have said any buyer will be required to honor the city’s lease with the Adirondack Flames hockey team, which covers the next three hockey seasons and gives the team an option to renew for two additional seasons. Besides hockey, the Civic Center for many years has hosted an annual statewide public high school basketball tournament, and it schedules concerts and other entertainment events throughout the year.

Although revenue from these events isn’t enough to cover its operating costs, the arena’s defenders say it generates millions of dollars of economic activity every year for the city and the surrounding region.

The Civic Center’s construction in the late 1970s filled a large gap left by the demolition of two square blocks of downtown buildings as part of the federal Urban Renewal program. With the center under city ownership, much of that land has remained off the tax rolls ever since.

In other news from around the region in August:


School cancels event over provocative dancing
High school administrators in Bennington say they canceled this year’s homecoming dance because of the increasing popularity of a sexually suggestive dance maneuver that made some students feel uncomfortable.

The principal and dean of students at Mount Anthony Union High School said in a letter published in the Bennington Banner that the advent of “twerking,” or dancing in “a low squatting stance with thrusting movements,” had led over the past year or more to student behavior that “crossed the line of what we can condone as appropriate.”

The Banner reported that many commenters on its Web site and Facebook page compared the cancellation of the Sept. 20 dance in Bennington to the events in “Footloose,” a movie in which a small town bans popular music and dancing.

But the principal, Sue Maguire, defended the school administration’s decision in an interview with the newspaper.

“If you look at the dancing in ‘Footloose’ and the dancing we’re seeing, they’re not the same at all,” she said.

In their letter, Maguire and dean David Beriau said one concern was students’ lack of consent to “highly sexualized” dancing by their peers.

“One female student described being uncomfortable when a male student she didn’t know started ‘grinding’ with her from behind,” they wrote, adding that other students said “no one asks for permission before ‘grinding,’ nor do they ask the other person if they want to dance.”
The Rutland Herald quoted Terry Creach, who teaches dance at Bennington College, as saying twerking comes from hip-hop culture.

“It’s very much of a hip-thrusting, kind of with-your-legs-bent move, so it’s very graphic-looking,” Creach said. “However, when you see it as a solo, it looks like it’s right out of West African dancing. … It’s just a hip action which American culture has never been very comfortable with ever.”


-- Compiled by Fred Daley