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Displaying items by tag: charlie samuels

Friday, 30 May 2014 10:56

Reader's View: On Local Oversight

The successful fight against a full-scale casino siting in Saratoga Springs was the first of two equally important battles we need to win in order to protect our community’s long-term interests and preserve the character of our wonderful city. The second battle is against the proposed Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) expansion that we have a very short window of time to contest. If the expansion plans go through without local oversight, not only would it hurt the city now, SCR could apply for a full casino license in seven years, using the existence of the expanded site to help them in their efforts.


The $30 million expansion includes a five-story, 108-room hotel and 2,000-seat event center, nearly doubling the size of the current site. The city should have local oversight authority regarding the expansion, but the City Council has decided not to fight, via legal avenues, the Gaming Commission’s stated intent to become lead agency in the SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) process. The City’s March 4th Resolution protested the lack of “home rule” and the “threat to the vitality of our city’s downtown,” which are also pertinent issues for this second battle. So, why isn’t the City Council fighting for local control by whatever means possible, legal, legislative and civil?


The City Center Authority, which oversees the operation of the City Center and reports to the City Council, submitted a resolution to the City Council against SCR expansion, because the plans would have a profoundly negative impact on our downtown business corridor. Although the City Center runs a very strong convention business, they also provide public events that draw thousands of people into the city who and eat and shop at our local establishments. 


In the first quarter of the year, which is very slow for downtown businesses, these public events draw over 34,000 people who spend more than $3,000,000. 


SCR is looking to create public events for their event center that will be in direct competition with the City Center’s public events. Skip Carlson of SCR’s stated intention is to have the public “come to our property and stay longer”, at SCR; downtown businesses will be “devastated” as a result. If there is significantly less traffic, businesses will be at risk of closing, consequently hurting the City Center’s ability to attract conventions to our unique downtown, starting a downward economic spiral.  


The Planning Board normally oversees the SEQRA Review process locally; however, the State Gaming Commission has claimed power with regards to SCR. Recently, the Gaming Commission said the Prop 1 State Law (about full-scale casinos) only covers the gaming floor, but the rest of the development has to go through local Planning and Zoning boards for review. Since both laws (Prop 1 and the VLT law) have the same exact language, and SCR’s expansion plan does not include the gaming floor, why is the Gaming Commission now saying SCR’s building plans are not subject to local oversight? 


We need the City Council and Planning Boards to vigorously fight for local oversight and challenge the Gaming Commission’s position, so we can control our city’s destiny.


There are many issues to review and gather public input about the impact of this expansion on our city, including waste production, large truck traffic traveling down Union and Nelson Avenues past residences, noise and light pollution, the character of our community (quality of life and heritage and cultural tourism issues), the tall hotel possibly being seen from the flat track, and the potential impact on SPAC, UPH and our vibrant downtown business core that our community has carefully developed over the decades. The planned site is also within our city’s protected Greenbelt and contrary to our Comprehensive Plan.


I strongly encourage all Saratoga Springs residents and visitors to contact the City Council and Planning Department and demand they fight for local control by whatever means necessary. The Mayor and City Council have until June 13 to say ‘no’ to the Gaming Commission’s SEQRA lead agency status. The Office of General Services (OGS) oversees the Gaming Commission. Contact information for OGS: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Denise McDonald

Saratoga Springs

Published in News
Friday, 30 May 2014 10:07

Mission: Chester

Delegation Seals The Sister City Deal


SARATOGA SPRINGS AND CHESTER, ENGLAND – A group of local citizens and individuals, using only private funds, are expected shortly to hear that their invitation to form Saratoga Springs’ second Sister City relationship; with Chester, England has been formally accepted. The first, with Chekhov, Russia was seen as a relationship that had its roots in cultural and artistic exchanges. Should the Saratoga Springs-Chester relationship be realized, enormous impacts could be felt in economic, racing, education and other areas. 


Bob Giordano, a key member of the delegation, recounted the origins of the idea; how the process played out to this point; and the potential next steps in the process of this important development.


Origins: When one door closes, another opens


“It all began in 2012 when Kay Kent and her husband Steve, owners of steeplechase horses in Chester, England, saw that there was to be a Steeplechase Festival that fall in Saratoga. I was co-chair of this event and they contacted me.” Bob Giordano said. “After purchasing their tickets, the event was unexpectedly cancelled, but they decided to come any way and see first-hand the famed Saratoga Springs.”  


Bob and his wife Michele Erceg hosted them for their visit. They were given the full tour. “They saw the race course, training at Oklahoma, The National Museum of Racing, toured SPAC, shopped the downtown businesses, dined at a few of the many restaurants Saratoga offers and were given welcome gifts by Mike D’Anzeris of Embrace The Race. They loved the town and went back home with the impression that most visitors get when they visit Saratoga for the first time, saying, ‘What a great little place!’” 


A year later in July of 2013, Bob attended a presentation in the City Center given by Paul Roberts of Turnberry consulting that outlined proposed enhancements to the Saratoga Race Course. Paul stopped Bob, saying, “Kay Kent says to say ‘Hello’!” Paul was working with Kay in England in her role as Chair of the Cheshire Racing Hub, on a proposal that her institution, the University of Chester, was developing to offer the first Masters degree in racing in Europe. Bob sent a note to Kay to rekindle the friendship. 


“Over the next few months of conversation, the idea of establishing a Sister City relationship between the two cities – the oldest racecourse in the United States and the oldest racecourse in the United Kingdom, Chester, began to develop.” Giordano said.


First, the City of Chester presented two historic prints of the Chester Race Course to the City of Saratoga Springs to acknowledge our 150th Anniversary of Racing at an event at the National Museum of Racing last August. Charles Wait accepted them in his role as Chairman of the Anniversary event. The gifts are on display in the Saratoga Springs City Center. 


“Mr. Wait thanked Chester and stated that he would like to return the gesture in May of 2014 on the occasion of the 475th Anniversary celebration of that Race Course, one that is still surrounded by the Roman walls built in 100AD and completed by the Normans in 1100.” Giordano noted.


Giordano contacted local members of the Chekhov Sister City committee as well as Sister Cities International about the proper procedures. As a result “A formal Letter of Invitation was authorized by the Saratoga Springs City Council and signed by Mayor Joanne Yepsen on April 25.” He said. Charles and Candace Wait, Bob Giordano and Michele Erceg carried that letter to Chester. 


“Mr. Wait, as the Mayor’s Ambassador-at-Large presented the letter to The Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Jill Houlbrook. There were also letters of support from the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, The Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau, the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, The National Museum of Racing, the Saratoga Polo Association and the Saratoga Springs Rotary Club.” Giordano said.


Along with these, Chester was presented with an original oil painting by Saratoga Springs’ Rumara Jewett titles “Morning At The Whitney Stand”. 


The painting is full of symbolism. It depicts the newly erected viewing structure at the Oklahoma Training facility and includes personalities who have ties to both Saratoga Springs and Chester. For example, the rider on the gray in the center of the painting, Danny Wright, was a former jockey who at 17 won his first race at Chester. He was born less than a mile from the racecourse and resides every year in Saratoga for the Oklahoma training season. For more information about the painting, visit rumara.com


While in Chester the Saratoga Delegation was hosted at the Directors’ Suite at the Chester Race Course on May 9. The visitors were given a tour of the Race Course facility, the town with its historic Cathedral and the training yards of prominent racehorse flat and steeplechase trainers. The differences and similarities between US and UK racing were explored and discussions of the potential benefits of the Sister City relationship, with specifics, occurred throughout the visit.


“Mr. Wait provided Saratoga 150 Adirondack Trust ties and scarves to our Chester hosts and I left copies of Paul Roberts’ book “The Spa” as mementos of the visit.” Giordano recalls. “Kay Kent was given gifts from N. Fox and Dennis DeJonghe jewelers in recognition for her effort at coordinating the many aspects of the Saratoga delegation visit and the Sister City effort.” It’s important to note again that all of the expenses for this visit were privately funded. 


Next Steps

When asked what the next steps were, Bob Giordano indicated that there is a formal process to establish a Sister City. “Now that a letter of Invitation has been presented to the Lord Mayor of Chester, Chester will send a reply of acceptance, indicating the willingness to partner with Saratoga Springs. Next an agreement is formulated that will list the contact individuals in each city and the goals to be achieved.” He said. “Once that plan is agreed to, the Mayors of Chester and Saratoga Springs sign a Memorandum of Understanding establishing the partnership.”


Looking ahead “the intent is to start slowly and accomplish one or two projects in the near term.”  Once details are defined, the Chester Racing Hub, as part of their Masters Program in Racing, will partner with NYRA via board member Charles Wait to provide an internship for a graduate student pursuing a career in the racing industry to learn about American racing. This could occur as early as the summer of 2015.”  


Another item of interest is for the Chester Polo Club to visit Saratoga Springs to play a match with Saratoga Club members, eventually leading to a match between the two cities - a second “Battle of Saratoga”. There was also high interest in the Saratoga Warhorse Program, as there is currently University research into this area in the UK as well. “An informational exchange of this type is exactly what a Sister City partnership is meant to address.” Giordano said.


Other things that are possible include Convention and Tourism exchanges. The idea has been broached to develop a “Sister Cities Passport” for visitors to both cities that could provide local hosts and access to entertainment venues such as NYRA, SPAC, UPH as well as merchant and room discounts. Similar hosting would take place in Chester.


Down the road, the business communities of the two cities, via their respective Chambers of Commerce, could develop exchanges. Exchanges between the University of Chester and Skidmore College are possible, as they could be for High Schools. 



Citizens with additional thoughts about developing this connection are encouraged to contact Bob Giordano at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (518) 527-1496.

Published in News
Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:31

Gene Corsale – American

Remembering Saratoga’s Veterans Advocate on Memorial Day


SARATOGA SPRINGS— It was always an honor to listen to Eugene Corsale as he spoke before city council meetings, in small groups and, on too few occasions, one-on-one. The forthright way he conducted himself: Ramrod-straight and yet selfless, an advocate for veteran’s most times yes, but for what is the right thing always, made an impression on me, and everyone in his audience, of any size, every time. 


As this is our first Memorial Day without Gene, I can think of no finer tribute to all veterans than to step aside and let his family, friends and our city leaders past and present, speak in tribute to him as representative of the tribute that we all wish to pay to everyone who serves, and served our country with honor and dignity.



“Gene ‘Pop’ Corsale was the best Grandfather anyone could ask for; he is truly a man to look up to. Pop was a real American.  Pop was that kind of person that you could tell that he truly cared about his country, but most of all his Grandchildren, whether it be seeing my sister dance at Ballet performances, teaching me how to fish, or allowing me to eat as much ice cream as I can handle, he was always there for us.  Pop also made me understand what it meant to be an American. He always told me that if I were to look to the reason as to why this great nation has achieved so much, it was because we unleashed the freedom of the individual to the greatest extent that has ever been done before. That’s what freedom’s all about. Pop had a special place in his hear for Memorial Day, this day truly symbolizes what it means to be free, thanks to our military.”   

- Colin W. Brady, Grandson




“The Navy’s unofficial motto is “Not Self—But Country”.  And from the Navy Core Values comes   “Honor, Courage, and Commitment.”  These two simple axioms are Eugene J. Corsale.


“Honor was not a word to Gene; it was what he did and who he was. 


“John F. Kennedy stated, “Ask not, what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”  There are very few individuals or politicians who can say they lived by these lines. But Gene did. 


“Gene, having served in the Korean War, saw first-hand what the evil effects of communism and progressive ideology had on the common man and the country that was forced to suffer under that tyranny.  Not self-but humanity.

Gene truly believed it was the supreme sacrifice of military men and women over the last 240 years that has made American the Greatest Country in the world.  Gene worked tirelessly to honor the courage and commitment of all the service men and women who have served and especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during combat.  


“Not self-but Country. 


“Not self but Wife, not self but Family, not self but Grandchildren, not self but Community, not self but Country. Gene left a great indelible mark on all those came in contact with him.”  


- Joseph K. Brady 


Eugene “Gene” Corsale was a sweetheart of a man. He took his Italian heritage very seriously as well as being a native of this city.

I always looked forward to Gene’s bi-weekly visits to Saratoga TODAY – his dedication to the local Deceased American Veteran’s notification in the paper always impressed me. He had the veteran’s life story down pat; all I had to do was type up the details and scan the picture he provided!


I only knew Gene for the duration of my time at Saratoga TODAY, just about five years. But being a native myself, I learned so much about my wonderful city and its residents, young and old, information that Gene chose to share with me. The fact that he remembered my parents was a very special connection that we shared.


He will be remembered by many.

- Anne Kearney Proulx


“Gene and I have been friends and have worked on veteran’s issues and events for over 8 years. Sometimes we'd meet at the Principessa Elena or at the County to talk over issues of Saratoga Springs or regarding the Veterans Committee.  


“I thought of Gene as the wisdom behind whatever we were doing but he always cheered me on saying what a great job I was doing for our Community. Coming from him that meant a lot.


“Last year before the Memorial Day parade I called Gene as I did from time to time. This time it was to invite him to be the grand marshal for our traditional annual City Memorial Day parade one year ago. He said on our phone call that he was honored and would come and watch if he had the energy. I felt an instinct that it most important to honor him in that 2013 parade, fearing that it would be his last year with us on this earth. 


“I am so glad we had a big banner made in his honor last year to lead the parade and that his son-in-law Joe Brady and his grandson Colin Brady carried it with pride for all of Saratoga to enjoy.


“I miss him as a community leader, a supporter and as a veteran.  God Bless Gene, and all our Saratoga veterans, who have served this country with honor and dignity.


-Joanne Dittes Yepsen

 Mayor, Saratoga Springs



“Saratoga has always been a special place, with special people. Indeed, Gene Corsale was no exception and, in fact, was more the rule. His passion and compassion was legion in a City that is unparalleled for history, our present and the potential for our future.  I had the pleasure of both knowing Gene and working with him on so many causes to advance our City, while preserving our past and giving due recognition to those who made us what we are today.


“The Corsale and Johnson family friendship goes back over 50 years, when my family moved to Saratoga and settled in the Dublin neighborhood.  Back then, Dublin was actually a misnomer, with the original Irish having been replaced with Italians.  Despite not one ounce of Italian in the Johnsons, we were wholly embraced into that wonderful community, a fact not ever lost by Gene in my later working with him as Mayor.  Gene’s sister-in-law, Nancy, and my Mom were best friends up until my Mom’s recent death.  The stories are too many to recite in this tribute, but are well known to so many Saratogians.


“Gene will always be known as a vigorous American patriot, a tireless advocate for our veterans, and as a true Saratogian.  Whenever Gene came to me as Mayor, with an idea for the City, there was no doubt I was being asked to come along on a mission that would happen nonetheless.  His was always a vision, whether it was Veterans Day, Memorial Day, 9/11, Veterans Memorial Park, the Korean Vets Color Guard, or preservation of the Gideon Putnam Cemetery.


“No doubt, our City is less in his absence. We should all be thankful to Gene, and his family, for all they did and accomplished for Saratoga.”   


- Scott Johnson

Former Mayor, Saratoga Springs


“Gene was, among many other things, a driving force behind the Saratoga Springs to North Creek “scenic rail” project.  Early on it seemed like a pipe dream, a great idea in principle but probably too complex to make happen. His dogged persistence in promoting it and bringing the various stakeholders together was a key factor in bringing it to fruition. He was earnest, friendly and truly non-partisan.  

“Lots of community activism can be negative, rallying people AGAINST something. Gene was typically an advocate FOR things, and figured out a way to get them done. He was a true community servant, informed, involved, and above all effective.  And he didn’t worry about who got the credit—that didn’t matter as long the community could be made stronger and better.”


- Kenneth Klotz


Former Mayor, Saratoga Springs


Published in News
Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:24

A New Look At LOOK TV

New Personalities and Programming Starting Next Month


SARATOGA SPRINGS – LOOK TV, available locally on Time Warner Cable channel 68, is preparing to launch new programming with a local focus about issues concerning women. They also will be revising its daily newscast to become more feature-oriented. Both programs will continue to place emphasis on the geographic area comprised of Saratoga, Washington and Warren counties.


“Like you (referring to Saratoga TODAY Newspaper), our mission is to be hyper-local,” said LOOK TV President and CEO Jesse H. Jackson III. “As the products you publish are a vital must-read for myself and anyone who wants to be informed about our community, we constantly strive to deliver the same relevant content via a different platform.”


To that end, Jackson previewed some program lineup additions and enhancements to existing programming that are scheduled to debut in early June: 


“HER LOOK” with Paula Gretzinger


“As far as I am concerned, this should in short order become the station’s ‘crown jewel,’ both for the programming we hope to provide to this important market segment,” Jackson said, “but also the professionalism and enthusiasm our new host brings to the mix.”


The host of “HER LOOK” will be Paula Gretzinger, whose background includes network affiliate news on-camera and producer credits, as well as multi-media experience. She was part of the original team that launched Capital News 9 (now Time Warner News) in this market. Also, she founded ParentologyWithPaula.com, a website that has video casts; interviews and perspectives on all topics related to parenting and related subjects. 


“My number one qualification is that I’m a mom (of three),” Paula said. “For me, a motto that I live by is “Families First” – which extends beyond traditional parental roles. Once your child is born, you are a parent to the day you pass beyond this world.” With “HER LOOK,” she hopes to widen the net of topics that are vital to women, while spotlighting achievers who make a difference locally.


“For the past few years, I have spearheaded a project called ‘Parent of the Year’ – a awards gala that recognizes parents, men and women, in various categories. A great example is Heather Straughter, who we awarded ‘Most Inspirational Parent.’ I’m thrilled to see that that she’s a Saratoga TODAY “Woman of Influence” this year.


Ms. Gretzinger places a premium on community involvement off-camera as well – putting emphasis on activities locally such as with the regional chapters of the Autism Society, Junior Achievement and with the “Sports are for Everyone” annual bowling event. She recently concluded (along with several prominent Capitol Region men and women) a 10-week activity campaign to benefit The Lymphoma and Leukemia Society. She also is looking forward to representing the area in an upcoming event that might lead to some interesting first-person on-air accounts:


“In August, I will travel to Virginia and represent the Capital Region in the “Crowns of Inspiration,” which is a national pageant with a twist. It’s based on community service, inspiring others and making a difference. I have put together quite a team to help me with this endeavor, including Cathy Taylor, Gina Sidoti Wesoloski, Daniel Mozzes and Allison Provenzano.” She said.


For his part, Jackson believes that his ‘HER LOOK’ team, which includes Director of Media Development Christine Dixon and Ms. Gretzinger, is already giving him such a winning hand that “the smartest thing I can do, having set the tone, is to take a step back and let these fine people do their job.” But he emphasized that this will be a show with a lot subject matter that reaches beyond traditional ‘women’s’ programming. “For instance, we just shot a great “HER LOOK” segment this morning with Steph Carleton, who is a First Vice President at Janney Montgomery Scott about financial challenges facing women.” The HER LOOK team intends to make finance a cornerstone of it’s programming, in addition to lifestyle, health and parenting issues. “We also want to integrate a touch of both humor and, where appropriate, controversy.” He said.


HER LOOK will be a half-hour weekly program, which will debut in primetime during the week on June 9 and will be re-broadcast at least twice per week. 




Beginning June 1, the program now originating as LOOK News will reformat and have a new name – LOOK TODAY. Mr. Jackson said, “The only thing that will be the same is a short headline segment and the weather, which is already geared to the local market.”


The balance of the show will have longer than usual feature segments, on topics such as society and racing. “They’ll be others, for sure,” Jackson noted. He said that he identified people who would be the lead correspondents on these segments, though he declined to reveal who they were at this time. “I have to save some surprises for my own media,” he said, laughing. 


These LOOK TV programming additions come on the heels of the launch of two well-received new programs in April: Beyond the Headlines, hosted by former Saratoga Springs Mayor Michael Lenz and TRAX which features performances by esteemed local musicians such as Bob Warren and Steve Candlen. 


All in all, if you haven’t visited in awhile, it may behoove you to take a new look at LOOK TV next month. After you have finished reading your favorite newspaper, of course.



For more information, visit looktvonline.com

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS - In a statement released late Thursday, May 15 Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen announced that her office will not challenge the State Gaming Commission regarding it's status as lead agency for SEQRA review of Saratoga Casino and Raceway's expansion. 


The Mayor's statement reads as follows:



“Today, we received a letter from the New York State Gaming Commission indicating that the Commission, with the New York State Office of General Services acting as sponsor, will seek “Lead Agency” in the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process in relation to the proposed expansion of Saratoga Casino and Raceway. 


After careful consideration and a thorough legal consultation, the majority of the City Council of Saratoga Springs believes that it would not be prudent to initiate a challenge to the Commission for “Lead Agency” status.  Based on the state law that governs the existing operation, and after looking at the 2006 decision where the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied the city’s efforts to be named “Lead Agency”, we feel that it would be irresponsible to invest a significant amount of taxpayer dollars in additional legal actions that are extremely unlikely to produce a better outcome for the City of Saratoga Springs.


As Mayor, my utmost priority remains the horse racing industry – harness and thoroughbred, and I continue to take great pride in having an excellent working relationship with Saratoga Casino and Raceway.  As result of that on-going relationship, they have brought this project before the City Council and the City Planning Board for public discussion, even though they were not required to do so.  Over the next thirty days, we look forward to listening to our citizens’ thoughts on this project, and we will be relaying public comments to the New York State Gaming Commission and Saratoga Casino and Raceway on behalf of the city.  We remain committed to working productively with all parties to produce an outcome that is mutually beneficial and that works together with the economic and cultural vision our citizens have for our city.” 

Published in News
Friday, 16 May 2014 09:56

Clash Of The Legends!

Fantauzzi, Johns To Square Off In Blue Streaks Reunion 


By Brian Cremo 

and Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY 


“This time I know it’s for real.”

- Donna Summer


SARATOGA SPRINGS – In a matchup worthy of Bob Arum or Don King at the top of their game, the Saratoga Springs High School 35th Class Reunion Committee has scored a major plum by securing the services of former Blue Streaks coaches Damian Fantauzzi and Rich Johns. 


The two coaches, who once patrolled the basketball sidelines together, will square off against each other and lead squads composed of returning alumni from the 1979 and 1980 hoop squads. 


“I had so much fun with Damian,” Johns said. “We were kids. I was just out of college maybe six years. The kids just loved him. They would do anything for him. Someone once said I was (Fantauzzi)’s sidekick and truly I’ve been his sidekick for all these years.”


“It’ll be good to see those guys,” Fantauzzi said. “It’s amazing how time flies.”


The titanic tip-off, which is free and open to the general public, will occur on Friday, June 13 at 4:30 p.m. Members of the respective squads will be checking in at about 3 p.m. 


In lieu of an admission fee, donations will be gratefully accepted for both Coach Johns’ “Act with Respect Always” and Coach Fantauzzi’s “Toga Field of Dreams” programs.


“This is the kick-off to an entire weekend of events for the classes of 1979 and 1980,” said Laura Clark Cavallo, who, along with Patti Clark is part of the reunion’s organizing committee. “Everybody is welcome to this game—no matter when you went to Saratoga Springs High School, or even if you never went there!” She also noted that the post-game after party at Gaffney’s is open to the (21 and older) public as well. 


Joy King, who helped put the reunion game together, put it this way:


“We want to pack the house,” she said. “And get that old-time spirit going.”


When it comes time for tip-off, Fantauzzi will take the 1979 team while Johns will be at the helm for 1980. 


According to Ms. King, also committing to the event at press time is official in-game announcer Anthony “Tony” Izzo and former coach Michael McGraw has been designated as honorary officiating coach. Game referees are slated to be Anthony “Tony’ Fischetti, Jay Downing and Steven “Nipsie” Youngblood. Nick Alex will operate the scoreboard. 


As far as players, the first class of ’79 alumni hoopster to commit to this event was Robert “Buddy” Clarke. Shortly thereafter, his ’79 backcourt mate Nate Lewis let it be known that he was in.


Fantauzzi, who was the head coach in 1979, recalled the defining moment for that season—a sectional upset over No. 1 seeded Albany High.


After Clarke, the Blue Streaks leading scorer, fouled out with three minutes left, Saratoga Springs found themselves down one without the ball and about 10 seconds remaining in the game.


But sophomores Brian Smith and Gus Degregory forced a turnover out of a trap and immediately called a timeout. 


Fantauzzi then set up a play for the late Mike Beach. 


“I told the kids no matter what happens everybody has to rebound because there’s no tomorrow,” Fantauzzi said.


Beach got the ball and took a jumper, which missed off the rim. That’s when Lewis, a 5-foot-8-inch point guard, followed the miss with a putback off the glass as time expired for the game-winner.


In 1980, the Blue Streaks made the transfer from the Foothills Council to the Suburban Council and were coached by Howard “Mooch” McGee, after Fantauzzi became the basketball coach at Skidmore.


Known for being a team that could run the floor and press, the Streaks tied for a share of the regular season title in that first year.


“They’re a pretty neat group of kids,” Johns said. “When someone asked me about coaching the 1980 reunion team I said, ‘You kidding me? Of course I will.’ We’ll definitely have a good time with those guys if they can still run.”


Other names from that time period include Jimmy Parker and Rick Whitney, who went on to play basketball at Alfred and Potsdam.


The June 13 matchup is sure to bring about some old laughs and memories—that goes for the coaches who will be coaching against one another for the first time.


“I always say that I gave Damian all his ideas on the bench,” Johns said. “And he’ll say, ‘Yeah, I never listened to one of them.’”



For more information about the reunion basketball game, contact Joy King at (518) 817-8022 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For general questions about the class of 1979/1980 Reunion weekend, contact Laura Clark Cavallo at (518) 221-7978. 

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Casino and Raceway in Saratoga Springs will partner with Churchill Downs Inc. to compete for a license to build and operate a $300 million casino and resort in East Greenbush.


The owners of the Saratoga slot machine parlor and harness track have teamed up with the company that operates the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of thoroughbred horse racing's Triple Crown, to gain an edge as New York officials determine which entities will win the right to build and operate casinos in upstate.


The two racing organizations expect the proposed $300 million casino project to create 1,700 construction jobs and 1,700 permanent jobs.



The state will approve up to four casino licenses this fall in three upstate regions, including the Albany and Saratoga area. Casino developments have been announced, or are under consideration, in several Capital Region cities and towns including Albany, Amsterdam, Cobleskill, East Greenbush, Rensselaer and Schenectady.

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A public hearing on final revisions to the St. John Neumann senior housing development plan and zoning map amendment proposed by the Bonacio Corporation preceded the Saratoga Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 6. Those who spoke at the hearing were generally favorable to the project, with one resident voicing some concerns about possible traffic problems with children in the neighborhood. Among those who spoke in favor of the project was Father Paul Borowski of St. Clements RC Church, the current owner of the Neumann property.


Essentially, the council’s final concerns revolved around the structure of the language regarding the amount of land in the parcel that would be reserved for buffering, and the residential density of the project. The applicant’s attorney, Michael J. Toohey, proposed that a restriction be added to the deed which would reserve just over two acres of buffer area in the 11-acre parcel from future development except for park, trails and related ‘passive’ development and that this portion be removed from density calculations. This would cap the number of residential units for all time at 92 (the current Bonacio plan calls for 85) and that number would be fixed for any potential future deed-holders. 


With these conditions satisfied, the council, which was favorable to the project from the beginning, passed the two resolutions unanimously, clearing the way for the new senior housing development.


During the public comment period, an issue was raised by several members of the “Trackside Neighborhood Association” about the designation of one-way streets in the area around Lincoln and Frank Sullivan Place during the summer racing season. The residents said that they had not been adequately notified. Resident Mary Farrell said that this would impose a financial hardship upon her due to the loss of parking revenue on her lawn during the race meet. 


Commissioner of Public Safety Christian Mathiesen responded that he believed the notice was adequate, that this would be reviewed after the race meet and modified if necessary and that he was open to discussing the issue with residents. 


Officials from the Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) –

Skip Carlson, vice president of external affairs along with Tony Stellato, civil engineer with CHA Engineering and Brian Davis, director of design and development – made a presentation about their proposed hotel/event venue expansion. Prior to the presentation, Mayor Joanne Yepsen, noting that SCR’s revision of their application had downgraded the city’s status from an “involved” agency to “interested” – due to the fact that SCR will not require an additional water and sewer hookup for their proposed new facilities. 


This is more than nuance. The change in designation means a further restriction on the city’s official ability to review SCR’s plans; currently the State Gaming Commission is the lead agency for reviewing this proposal. The mayor noted though, “The city has every intention to have a seat at the table.” She went further and took note of many city resident’s advocacy that the city file an article 78 motion to place itself as lead agency, although City Attorney Mark Schachner ventured his opinion at the microphone that the city had attempted to do this when SCR expanded last in 2006, and lost that effort to be named lead agency. 


Mr. Schachner’s analysis of the current law is that it would make it more difficult for the city to win an Article 78 motion than in 2006, and that it would be costly for the city. Rather, he urged that there be the type of cooperative spirit that he observed from SCR in coming to the council to present it’s plans.


In fact, SCR is intending to go further in referencing city agencies than it is currently required to do legally. They have pledged to appear at the city planning board twice to present its plans. Their first planning board presentation will be on Wednesday, May 14. 



Saratoga Springs City Center President Mark Baker, who advocated that the city do all it can from a “legal, legislative and civil” standpoint to oppose SCR’s expansion, also delivered the City Center’s annual report for 2013. Mr. Baker noted that the facility had maintained its high plateau that it established after its expansion in 2011. Overall, the City Center enjoyed a remarkable 80 percent occupancy, generating an unaudited $1.9 million in sales tax revenue for the city.


Published in News
Friday, 02 May 2014 08:15

A Code Blue Thank You

The Community’s Finest Hour


SARATOGA SPRINGS—A triumph of hope, of a community rallying to bolster those among us who are the least fortunate, was celebrated at a reception gathering for Code Blue volunteers and donors on Sunday, April 27 at Bethesda Parish House on Washington Street.  


A Code Blue program swung into action just four days after the death by outdoor exposure of city resident Nancy Pitts on December 20, 2013. She was remembered in remarks by community resident Joy King. Also, an original new song, Homeless Heart, inspired by Ms. Pitts was written and delivered by songwriter Jeff Brisbin and Mayor Joanne Yepsen and Code Blue Coordinator Cheryl Ann Murphy made remarks.


Between Christmas Eve, 2013 and March 27, 2014 the Code Blue Shelter was open for 58 nights during one of the severest winters in several years. There were 928 overnight stays, an average of 16 guests per night. 


While there was much to celebrate, there appeared to be a sense among those gathered that there is much to do. A permanent Nancy Pitts Memorial Code Blue shelter is still to be located and tentative plans for necessary fundraising (such as a Code Blue Road Race next spring) were discussed. 


But this was a day to be thankful, and to take note of the tremendous community member and business response to an emergency situation. Here then, is an honor roll of sorts:


Restaurants and Other Services Donated By:

The Holiday Inn


Georgia’s of Woodlawn Commons and Embury


The Olde Bryan Inn

The Wishing Well

Maestros at the VanDam

Saratoga Casino and Raceway

Jacob and Anthony's

The Bread Basket 

William Neimer, age 14 of Schuylerville and Rachel Dwyer, who made meatball subs and salad as part of his STAR project for Boy Scout Troop 4013.

PJs Bar-B-QSA 

Parkside Eatery

50 South

Spring Street deli

Capriccios Saratoga



The Stadium

The Inn at Saratoga


Gaffney’s Restaurant

EL Mexicano

Irish Times

Panza’s restaurant

The Kettle

Country Corner Cafe



Cobble Pond Station of Malta

Spot Café

Unity Lodge No. 22

Dunkin Donuts, S Broadway

Pizza Hut, Ballston Avenue

Treasures of Saratoga Hospital

Catholic Charities


Price Chopper of Ballston Avenue

American Red Cross Adirondack-North Country and NENY chapters

New England Presbyterian Church

The Giving Circle

Cudney’s of Broadway, donated fresh linens daily

St. Peter's Church

The Salvation Army

The local U.S. Navy


Individuals from the community who volunteered their time making meals and time serving the homeless, as well as those who made financial contributions:


Jasper Ian Aganon        

Helen Atwell

Andrea Barry             

Audrey Belt              

Mark Bertrand            

Robert Beyer             

Bill Boehmke             

William Brennan          

Kristin Brenner          

Kate Breslin             

Paul Brisson             

Ann Bullock             

Bob Bullock              

Margaret Bushee          

Lisa Capasso             

Gail Capobianco         

Frank Capone             

Tammy Chandler          

Margaret Cocozzo        

Rob Colangelo            

Jen Colangelo            

Doreen Collins           

Catherine Commerford     

Coqui Conkey             

Ellen Cuminale 

Robert Curry

Brian Dailey             

Barb Dalton              

Gail and Ed Decker       

Mary Beth Delarm         

Edward DeLuca            

Nathan Detweiler        

Ronald Deutsch           

Gurdeep Dhaliwal         

Ann Diller               

Brittany Dingler         

Patricia Downing         

Leann Driscoll           

Sharon Drosky            

Stanley Drosky           

Rachael Dwyer            

Jesse Elwert-Peters      

Carol Fallon             

Jeff Fortman             

Mitchell Frost           

Pam Funiciello           

Susan Gaddor  

Leo Geoffrion          

Thomas Gibbs             

Rachel Gill              

Conor Golden             

Bo Goliber

Arthur Gonick              

Michele Goyette 

Kathy Gregory

Sherie Grinter           

Susan Hamlin             

Jamey Hardesty           

Andrew Haskins           

Jami Hawthorne           

Rob Hawthorne            

Michelle Hicks           

Rolland Hoag             

Alex Hodor-Lee           

Catherine Hurley

Rev. Dominic S. Ingemie 

Sarah Ireland            

Janice James             

Jeri Jannicelli          

Eric Jenks               

Peggy Jenny              

Whitney Jobmann          

Chauncey Jones           

Beth Kane                

Mollie Kavanagh          

Aaron Kay                

Joy King                 

John Kirwin              

Douglas Klein            

Colin Klepetar           

Ian Klepetar             

Chuck Kochheiser        

Laura Kruegler           

Bill & Laura Kyer        

Laura Kyer               

Mark Lawton              

Alexas Leach             

Norine Lee-Wagner        

Devante Lewishearns      

Dave Lindberg            

Chip Locke               

Peggy MacArthur          

Mary C Mahoney           

Peg Mangano              

Tony Mangano             

Andrea Mann              

Ernest Mann              

Jackie Marcelle          

Robert McChesney         

Laurie McDermott         

Lisa Meade               

Erica Miller             

Kay Moberg               

Mary Monigan             

Amanda Moore             

Megan Mumford            

Cheryl Murphy            

Bradley Nagle            

Richard Naple            

Kelly O'Connell          

Betty O'Connor           

Kathryn Oppedisano       

Patricia Paduano         

John Penzer              

Michael Phillips         

Gary Picher              

Lisa Plue                

Steven Poissant          

Kim Poli                 

Joseph Potrzuski         

Elizabeth Powers         

Kelly Pressley           

Traci Radigan            

Lillian Ramsey           

Lisette Rayher           

Carol Reynolds           

Joyce Rice              

Patty Riggi   

Vincent Riggi

Julie Roberts

Bruce Robinson          

Marian Roth              

Marc Russo               

Melissa Russo            

Stuart Schultz           

Val Schultz              

Caroline Sgorrano

Ray Simboli              

Robert Simpson           

Janet & Bernie Singer    

Julie Slovic             

Karen Solomon            

Edward Solomon           

Beau Stallard            

Mary Starr               

Susan Steer              

LaVerne Stiles           

Brian Straughter         

Conrad Swiers            

Crystal Swinton          

Stephen Toman            

Chuck Tyree              

George Van Deusen        

Pam Volzone              

Karen Wadsworth          

John Waechter            

Krick & Sophia Wahl 

Shirley Waterfield       

Peter Whitten            

W Winz                   

Peter Wohl               

Ashley Wood              

Rob Wright               

Cathie Wright            

Sharah Yaddaw

Joanne Yepsen            

Karen Zanni              

Monna Zuckerman         


“But if we fail, then the whole world… including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister…. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if {we} last for a thousand years, {people} will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’.”


- Sir Winston Churchill

Published in News
Friday, 25 April 2014 08:13

SCR’s Big Week

- $300 Million E. Greenbush Casino Bid 

- Planned $30 Million Local Expansion Submitted To State  



"When one door closes another door opens…”


SARATOGA SPRINGS – Never has the above expression been truer for Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) than this week. 


In a dramatic announcement on Tuesday, April 22 that could prove to have extensive regional economic implications, SCR revealed plans for a $300 million world-class destination resort casino in the Thompson Hill area in the Town of East Greenbush. The Rensselaer County site has strategic proximity to Albany, the entire Capital Region and, via access to nearby interstate highways, the entire Northeast. 


At the same time, plans are proceeding with a local $30 million expansion on the SCR grounds. This plan had been originally announced on May 28, 2013 and had been billed as part of SCR’s necessary strategic development plans, regardless of the results of the outcome of an expanded gaming scenario on its grounds. These plans are proceeding at it’s own pace through the appropriate government agencies. 


Further, there are strong indications that SCR will file another application for a casino site in the Catskill Region, specifically around Newburgh and Route 17K. These plans were scheduled to be presented after press time to the Newburgh Town Board at a special meeting 7 p.m. Thursday at the Town of Newburgh courthouse. Readers are advised to look for an update at saratogatodayonline.com


But meanwhile, there is plenty that is known on the two pending projects that have been announced:


$30 Million Expansion in Saratoga Springs


A comprehensive site plan, complete with environmental impact statements and supporting documents has been filed with the New York State Gaming Commission. Locals who are interested in reviewing these documents can find a copy in the Planning office in Saratoga Springs City Hall. 


The notable highlights of this expansion plan includes: 

- A 120-room hotel with guest spa, indoor pool and lobby bar 

- A 24,000 square foot multi-purpose event center 

- A signature fine dining restaurant.


According to the summary provided by SCR officials “The expansion plans include the creation of 260 additional jobs at the facility, and an additional $9 million in annual payroll expenses, bringing the total number of employees to 900 and yearly payroll expenses to $27 million.”


“From the beginning, we have worked closely with our local leaders to drive increased tourism to our community and are excited to be able to use these plans to bring more focus to Saratoga as an international resort destination,” said Rita Cox, Senior Vice President of Marketing. “With these plans, we will be expanding our marketing efforts to attract visitors from areas outside the Capital District and throughout the entire Northeastern Region.”


Ultimately, approval of this project, or portions of it, rests with the state. The City of Saratoga Springs has been designated as an “involved agency,” in that they will need to provide extra water and sewer hookups and other services. So they can be described as having a “seat at the table,” if not ultimate decision-making authority. SCR had previously stated its intentions to have its plans reviewed by city land-use boards although they are not required to do so.


Next Steps: At some future point (expected to be soon) the Gaming Commission will start the clock on a 30-day “review period” in which the City Council, and through them, presumably other concerned parties may be heard. Mayor Joanne Yepsen has stated that she might call a special council meeting on this subject alone should the timing warrant it. 


There have been concerns expressed by downtown Saratoga Springs entities and other interests, including the Saratoga Springs City Center and Saratoga Performing Arts Center about the scope of the project in general and the multi-purpose event center particularly. 


According to SCR officials, given timely approvals the construction timeline anticipates work beginning in spring 2014 and the opening of the expansion project in spring 2015.


$300 Million Facility in East Greenbush


The bullet-point highlights of this project:

- 100,000 square foot overall destination resort casino development

- 300-room hotel

- 20,000 square feet of high-end retail

- Multiple entertainment venues including a nightclub, sports bar and showroom

- An estimated 1,700 construction jobs and an estimated 1,700 permanent jobs at the facility.


This does not even begin to include the spillover effects, ancillary businesses, hotels and enterprises throughout the adjacent area. If you need a visual, search out a picture of Kissimmee, Florida before and after Disney World arrived and you’ll get a general idea.


Next Steps: Many. The application-filing deadline is here. The review process begins, with an expectation that siting decisions will occur this fall.  


SCR bills their E. Greenbush casino proposal as a “game changer,” and if it comes to pass, there can be no doubt that it would be, on several levels. Of course, it is one of a few possible proposals in the Capital/Saratoga Region for a casino and only one will eventually be sited – at this time. This is also true in the Catskills area, which may be a more crowded application field.


"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."

- Alexander Graham Bell


On second thought, never has this expression been less true for Saratoga Gaming and Raceway than on this week. 

Published in News
Page 14 of 25


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