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By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) has informed Saratoga Springs city officials today that they will be putting an application to seek a casino license in the Town of East Greenbush in Rensselaer County. 

 

An application fee of $1 million is due by the end of the month. The Saratoga Springs City Council had passed a resolution in March expressing several points of objection with the state law regarding expanded gaming. 

 

Mayor Joanne Yepsen’s office released the following statement: 

“Today we learned that the owners of Saratoga Casino and Raceway have finalized their decision to apply for an expanded casino license for a location outside of Saratoga County. 

 

“As the casino process moves forward in other areas, it is crucial we remember that the original intent of the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act was to breathe new life into economically struggling regions of our state.  Here in Saratoga Springs, we are fortunate to have a wonderful community that features a thriving downtown, successful City Center, two horse race tracks and a wealth of natural beauty and cultural assets. It's clear that the Saratoga Casino and Raceway owners feel that Saratoga Springs does not meet the economic criteria set forth by our state legislators in the bill that passed and recognized that the majority of our citizens expressed their opposition to a full casino resort in our city. 

 

“We look forward to working constructively with them and the New York Gaming Commission as the city considers their $30 million proposed expansion. Saratogians should have a say in this project just as every other important project within the city.” 

 

Attempts to reach Rita Cox, Vice President of Marketing at SCR were unsuccessful, although it is expected that SCR will issue a statement and this posting will be updated.

 

Sara Boivin, a steering committee member of SAVE Saratoga, which had opposed any sort of expanded gaming in the city made this statement: “SAVE Saratoga is cautiously optimistic at this point. If we are successful (in preventing expanded gaming in the city) it will be because of the people of Saratoga Springs and how hard they worked. We are also grateful for the efforts of the city council in representing its citizens.”

 

Charlie Samuels, a member of the anti-expanded gaming group Saratoga 58% said “I can assure you that the majority of Saratoga Springs residents are very relieved that a casino will almost surely not be sited here. I am very encouraged by today’s news but (SCR) is not the only company in the world who may want to build a casino here so we are not celebrating yet.”

 

 

Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan confirmed that she had been contacted officially by a member of Destination Saratoga, a group that is at the forefront of support for expanded gaming at SCR. She also noted that “we’ll have to see how this plays out as far as the fiscal impact goes; once we see who and where the regional casino is placed we can estimate and analyze based on that. There was going to be an impact whether a casino was placed in the city or outside it.”

 

Published in News
Friday, 18 April 2014 09:48

Saratoga Springs Centennial

 

Centennial to Kickoff Mayor’s Focus on Health

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS— Planning for the 100th anniversary of Saratoga Springs’ incorporation as a city, is underway.

 

The centennial celebration is to highlight the city's heritage, much of which had started taking shape when the city was still a village. Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen has appointed a centennial committee to highlight the milestones as well as the current accomplishments of the city, and to hallmark the city’s headline monikers: health, history and horses. The arts and education will also get its share as a mainstay of the city’s identity and represented on the board, with Skidmore College President Philip Glotzbach sitting in for education.

 

Everybody that will be coming together to serve on the committee will focus on a different aspect of the celebration, whether it’s Field Horne, a local historian with a book release scheduled during the centennial year (history), or Susan Halstead, owner of Family Vision Care Center and chair of the Saratoga County Chamber’s Health and Wellness council (health).

 

The committee’s honorary chairs are philanthropists and socialites Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson in light of their enthusiasm for the city itself, Yepsen said.

 

“They will be wonderful leaders and assets to the celebration,” Yepsen said. “They were excited when I called them to ask if they would do this because they just love Saratoga Springs so much.”

 

Whitney and Hendrickson already have some “special ways to celebrate the city”, she said.

 

Attorney at Law Eleanor Mullaney and Steve Sullivan, who was previously a strategic advisor for the New York State Restaurant Association, will act as the planning committee’s co-chairs for the centennial. 

 

There have already been many people and a lot of different organizations that have plans in motion for Saratoga Springs’ centennial. “It’ll be a matter of collaborating and coordinating ideas and activities and making sure that we touch on different aspects,” Yepsen said.

 

Looking ahead, of health, history and horses, Yepsen said that she is thinking of concentrating on the health and wellness aspect of Saratoga Springs to not only compliment the already growing interest in this area, but also to use the centennial as an event to further renew a focus on health.

 

What once revolved around the springs, health as a focal point has been gaining energy as organizations and businesses are finding new ways to channel interest.

 

“This health and wellness issue is bubbling up all around me and this is how things work in Saratoga Springs: they happen organically,” Yepsen said. “I think we can really focus on Saratoga Springs in the future as a healthy community and looking for the centennial to be the kickoff for that.”

 

Halstead echoed Yepsen in a separate interview that the city has a lot of organizations and plans to help promote the city as one of the healthiest in the country.

 

“I can’t believe what the county has already accomplished. We started making a list of what we already have, and what we need,” Halstead said. “Saratoga County is just packed with healthy stuff already.”

 

In retrospect of the changes that have taken place to make Saratoga Springs the city it is today, Deputy Mayor Joe Ogden commented: “The individuals that built the public and private sector have done a good job of keeping the soul of the city”.

 

 

 

 

 

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – With new hotel properties sprouting up like spring flowers throughout the 12866 zip code, there has never been a better time to celebrate the one hotel who put our town on the map.

 

The Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs will be celebrating its silver anniversary this year – 50 years is an achievement of merit in any circumstance.  As expected, they have a full slate of activities to commemorate this milestone. 

 

But before we detail the celebrations to come, let us take a moment to recall how this property came into existence and how it was seminal in the development of the Saratoga Springs we enjoy today.

 

This was an example of a municipality coming together in a unique fashion. An entire community galvanized to finance the Holiday Inn’s construction. Under a slogan of “What Saratoga Springs builds - builds Saratoga Springs,” a campaign committee was formed that had community leaders with last names most people would easily recognize: for instance Benton, Grande, Roohan, Clements and Wait. Except these, of course, were the forbearers of the ones that are prominent today.

 

But participation extended to all levels of the community. 

The idea of the campaign was to show a major hotel chain that this town was serious about building itself as a convention destination. In 1961, approximately 300 campaigners went door-to-door across the City of Saratoga Springs to sell over 15,000 shares of stock in a new convention hotel. In the end, they collected over $700,000 in cash and pledges from over 1,500 residents. Some invested as little as $50 while organizations such as Skidmore College and the Adirondack Trust Company purchased shares worth $25,000 or more.

 

Holiday Inn was a pioneer 50 years ago – opening ceremonies took place on August 15, 1964. Because of their commitment back then, you cannot name a hotel chain that wouldn’t want to be here. 

 

To celebrate, there are a bevy of events scheduled:

 

- A Reunion of Investors: Cynthia Hollowood, general manager of the Holiday Inn, invites all investors and their families to a free Anniversary Reception and Luncheon at the hotel on May 28. At the event, The Holiday Inn will unveil a 70-foot timeline featuring its robust history and catalytic role in the revitalization of Saratoga Springs.

 

“We have some of the names of the original shareholders, but in 50 years people make many moves and families change. We’d like to be able to find everyone so we can invite them and their families back to the hotel they helped create,” shared Hollowood. 

If you or a family member were an investor and wish to be invited to the free Anniversary Reception and Luncheon, please send your name and address to Julie Tierney at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact the Holiday Inn’s sales office at (518) 584-4550 ext. 353.

 

- Memories for Timeline: The Holiday Inn is asking community residents and guests to submit their special memories for a chance to be featured in its 50th Anniversary celebration. Selected stories will be displayed in social media, celebratory videos and on the hotel’s new 70-foot historical timeline, set to be unveiled at the end of May.

 

Whether it’s the day you said, “I do,” or the night you won the big award, Grandma’s 80th birthday party, your nephew’s graduation or a charity fundraiser, each individual memory, pulled together, creates 50 years of stories. 

 

“Since our foundation, we’ve been a community-oriented hotel. We’re still here 50 years later because of the special moments our community members choose to share with us,” said Cynthia Hollowood, general manager of the Holiday Inn. 

 

Those who wish to submit stories, photos or other archival documents are asked to contact Julia Ingersoll at Allegory Studios, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (518) 580-1987 ext. 102, before Friday, April 25. 

 

- Other Events: The Holiday Inn’s 50th Anniversary celebrations will continue throughout 2014 with a VIP Private Birthday Celebration on September 4 followed by a Community Open House on September 7. The specifics about these events will be released in the near future.

 

My Holiday Inn memory: As a young lad fresh out of grad school, I was thrilled to given a job as a marketing rep for a major metropolitan newspaper. My territory extended from Poughkeepsie to Montreal – the geographic mid-point was Albany, which at the time was a less-than-thrilling prospect to live in. 

 

On a beautiful spring day in 1981, I was driving back from Montreal, when I saw the signs for Saratoga Springs – a city I had heard of but never explored. It was lunchtime, so I pulled off at Exit 14. 

 

I passed the racecourse, racing museum and Congress Park on my way into town. Sitting on a Broadway patio, I thought: ‘We may have something here.’ But I was concerned what life would be like year-round. Did they roll up the sidewalks in the winter?

 

I did my due diligence and checked into the Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs for a week and asked residents about life here. They assured me I’d have plenty to do all year round. 

 

The Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs helped this “City Boy” find his new home. 

 

Plus, I collected a ton of “Priority Club” points.

-----

“My Top Memories”

Cynthia Hollowood has been with The Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs for over 30 years and its general manager since 1985. We asked her to reach back and recall her favorite moments at the hotel:

  • Who would have thought? In 1983, I met a very nice couple from Ballston Spa who planned the wedding of their daughter at the hotel. On the eve of the wedding they came by to review the final arrangements. As they got up to leave my office, the husband asked, “Will you be here tomorrow? “ Unfortunately, I was scheduled to work the evening event the next day but assured them they would be well taken care of. He exclaimed, “I am not worried about that, I have 5 single, eligible sons that I would like you to meet!”  Five years later I did get to meet I met one of their sons, Brien. Eventually, they would become my in-laws, Hugh and Bernice Hollowood!
  • All New! When the Saratoga Springs City Center and adjoining hotel was getting ready to open in 1984, our partnership had the foresight to recognize that an improved facility was necessary to stay competitive. A major remodeling of rooms, commercial areas and new restaurant and nightclub/lounge was designed and built over the course of 12 months.  In the spring of 1985, RASCALS (operated by Doug and Patty Wolfe) opened and soon became one of Saratoga’s most popular eateries and successful nightclubs for more than 10 years. From that point on, we have continued to make regular improvements to keep our business going and growing. Watch for more updates coming this year.
  • The biggest (and longest) wedding of the decade: In 1989, Brien and I were married on September 3rd and held a large reception for 350 guests at the hotel that lasted over nine hours. In addition to our large families, guests included the many friends and associates we have met here at the hotel and in the business community. A total of 4 Hollowood family members have had their receptions at the hotel.
  • The Best of The Best: in 1998, along with the greater Saratoga Springs community, we had the privilege of hosting the Congressional Medal of Honor Society over Flag Day weekend. In addition to a fabulous parade and series of military band concerts, the highlight of the weekend included a black tie dinner held at the hotel. We were honored to have over 160 Congressional Medal recipients under our roof and had the opportunity to learn about their heroic efforts in protecting America’s freedom. They are described as “Ordinary men who did extraordinary acts of bravery and valor.”
  • 30 Years of Fun, Family and Friendship: in November 2011, I celebrated 30 years of service to the hotel. I was honored to celebrate with my teammates, partners and the many guests and community friends I have met along the way. My career, my family, my friends, my associates and our many guests all blend together to make for a full life in the world’s best community, Saratoga Springs.
Published in News
Thursday, 17 April 2014 15:08

Saratoga Springs City Council

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The city council meeting on tax day – Tuesday, April 15 had an economic flavor as Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan delivered her year-end report for 2013. Pending a final audit, she reported generally good news for the city:

 

“For 2013, the City is required to have a fund balance between $4,044,002 and $6,066,003. Unaudited figures indicate that the surplus resulted in a fund balance that is in excess of the maximum amount by about $1.7 million.”

 

Ms. Madigan detailed many highlights among the individual line items, citing mortgage tax collection and the city’s ambulance program exceeding expectations on the revenue side. 

 

There is a downside to an excessive surplus, in that residents are unduly burdened with a higher than necessary tax bill. Commissioner Madigan noted that, unforeseen circumstances aside, individual departments will need to be careful in their forecasts and adjust budgets, perhaps quarterly so that city residents are only billed for what is needed:

 

“We must strive to establish a balanced budget that adequately funds the delivery of solid essential services in a safe community… (Excess) funds should be returned to the taxpayers, possibly through reduced property tax rates if closer scrutiny of departmental budgets and expected revenues reveal that this would be sustainable.”

 

One recommendation that Commissioner Madigan had for some of the surplus was to invest in the city’s website, which appeared to have support of the council. Commissioner of Accounts John Franck felt it should be part of an overall upgrade in the city’s social media and communications strategy – a broad look into the best way to facilitate two-way communications between the city and it’s citizens.

 

In what was at least an ironic coincidence on “surplus night,” the council entertained and unanimously passed salary raises for two key positions: for the Administrative Director of Recreation (to $59,454) and Director of Risk and Safety (to just over $82,000). The council also established an hourly rate for a part-time Administrate Aide (at $15.38/hour) in the mayor’s office to support the city attorneys. 

 

In fact, these raises came out of budgeted dollars, were revenue neutral (the recreation department gave up a part-time position that was unfilled for instance). In the case of Risk and Safety Director Marilyn Rivers, it was probably long overdue. Yet the timing was of these items is something some members in the audience next to me certainly took notice of.

 

Mayor Joanne Yepsen discussed Saratoga Casino and Raceway’s (SCR) $30 million expansion proposal, which she noted, was completely separate from any expanded gaming application “in the eyes of the state, and the city.” 

 

SCR’s proposal involves a hotel, meeting space and an entertainment venue among other items. SCR had previously stated that they would submit their proposal to the city’s land use boards for review. Mayor Yepsen noted that the state Gaming Commission had named the city as an ‘involved agency’ and that “once they start the clock, the city has 30 days to respond.” Mayor Yepsen indicated that there might be a special council meeting called on this subject if necessary. She then circulated a proposal summary to the council members; the full proposal is available in the planning office for public inspection.

 

Commissioner of Public Safety Chris Mathiesen detailed some changes to traffic light patterns on several important Broadway intersections. This was based on an extensive study of traffic patterns that examined various options to improve traffic flow through downtown.

 

The forthcoming changes are:

- At Broadway and Church Street, heading northbound on Broadway, a left turn light will be installed to facilitate westbound traffic on Church, expediting traffic towards Saratoga Hospital

- Also at this intersection, left turn signals from Church Street and from Lake Avenue onto Broadway will be changed from ‘lagging’ after the green light to ‘leading,’ or before the green light, bringing it in line with other intersections.

- An increased interval for pedestrian walk lights will precede the green light for vehicles at Broadway and Division, Washington, Spring and Congress Streets

- Sequential timing of lights on Broadway will be adjusted will the goal of smoothing North/South traffic flow on Broadway depending on conditions (time of day; heavy traffic days).    

 

The commissioner said that these changes would be implemented in the next few weeks. 

_____________

 

Commissioner Mathiesen also took note of our activities as watchdog on the permanent Committee on Wasting Council Time, which is actually the People’s time. The Commissioner, previously spotlighted for reading an entire op-ed article into the record and similar activities, noted that the award had been passed to Commissioner of Public Works (DPW) Anthony Scirocco on April 1, for reading his narrative on the history of the city’s water works, which appeared as prologue to the DPW annual report. Commissioner Mathiesen felt that the information Commissioner Scirocco conveyed was enlightening. 

 

Well, not to stir this pot further, but to clarify, I am sure that the information was interesting, but it would much better for all concerned if Commissioner Scirocco had just submitted his report, called attention to this great chapter to read in it, etc.; but not actually read the whole thing at the end of a three-plus hour meeting. How many people do you think were actually listening at that point? 

 

In fact, if this information is so compelling, why is it still not posted online over two weeks later? I’d love to read all this great stuff, but the DPW page still has the 2012 report up, not 2013.  

 

While the April 15 meeting was very long, it was by necessity so, given an executive session and Commissioner Madigan’s annual report detail. It’s not the length; it’s the content – and the comportment. So the WCT committee will not issue a time-waster award for this meeting. 

 

Instead, it will award its random “Special Award of Merit” to Supervisor Peter Martin, who, after waiting over four hours to speak, delivered the words the dwindling gallery longed to hear:

 

“I promise to be mercifully brief.”

 

And then he was! Kudos, Supervisor. 

 

Never before had I felt so gleeful to walk out into an April blizzard. But I’ll be back on May 6, so you don’t have to be, citizens. 

 

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan reports that 2013 City general fund (operating budget)

revenues have outpaced City expenses, and unaudited year-end figures reveal an annual operating

surplus. For 2013, the City is required to have a fund balance between $4,044,002 and $6,066,003.

Unaudited figures indicate that the surplus resulted in a fund balance that is in excess of the

maximum amount by about $1.7 million.

 

The 2013 surplus is driven by higher than expected revenues coupled with lower than budgeted

expenses. Actual revenue collected totaled $41,585,774. Actual expenditures totaled $38,846,104.

 

On the revenue side: Mortgage tax collection was unexpectedly high, building permits and planning

board fees followed suit. VLT Aid, distributed by the state to offset the costs of hosting VLTs, was

increased by $331,251 by the State in the late spring of 2013 (after the City’s budget had been adopted).

The City ambulance program also collected more revenue than anticipated, and sales tax revenue

topped out at $10.65 million – the highest collection that the City has ever experienced. In sum,

revenues collected were $848,872 more than amounts budgeted.

 

On the expense side: Due to adjustments to new health insurance programs and slower than

anticipated hiring for new positions (and those left open by employee turnover), expenditures for

employee benefits and personal service funds were lower than had been budgeted. Commissioner

Madigan cautions Departments to forecast expenses carefully. “I will be scrutinizing this in 2014 through

2015. We must strive to establish a balanced budget that adequately funds the delivery of solid essential

services in a safe community.

 

Commissioner Madigan states “these funds should be returned to the taxpayers, possibly through

reduced property tax rates if closer scrutiny of departmental budgets and expected revenues reveal

that this would be sustainable”. Madigan points out that she has kept property taxes low with her

recommendations to: create and strengthen reserves that have helped keep annual changes to the tax

rate at or near 0% for two years; contribute to critical capital needs, such as infrastructure and

equipment; plan for future retirement needs; and, she has set aside funds to settle long expired labor

contracts.

 

City policy requires that any funds in excess of the maximum allowable Fund Balance be utilized, and the

Commissioner of Finance is required to make recommendations to the City Council regarding the use of

such funds. There is one long awaited project that she will recommend for immediate attention:

updating the City website. Limited resources and funding has made upgrading the website a challenge

in recent years. “This is beneficial to our citizens, the business community, City departments and our

City. The City website is a portal to City government and a vital gateway to the City. This is an

 

opportunity to use one time funding for a one time project that is universally beneficial.”

Published in News

 

Peer-minded posters to promote safe, friendly environments on the Internet

 

 

 

By Colette Linton

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS— The Internet is nearly an extension of the classroom. Curiosities fuel web searches, social interaction and creativity, but they don’t always lead to a place where children are safe. 

 

Kat McLain, a fifth grader at Division Street Elementary School in Saratoga Springs, recently won the “Kids Safe Online” New York State Poster contest for creating a message to resonate with her peers about online safety.

 

Her winning poster depicts a cautionary scene of a familiar childhood story. Kat said that she used the widely known tale of “The Three Little Pigs”, combining her interest in reading, writing and drawing, to help relate the concepts of Internet safety.

 

The requirements were to think of something good enough that could help kids with online safety,” Kat said. “I loved reading; so, I was thinking about all the things I’ve read and stuff like that. I thought of the three pigs and the big bad wolf. I thought: ‘well, that would be a good way to explain how to be safe online.’”

 

The contest is run through the Division of Homeland Security in New York State for grades kindergarten to 12 and promotes increasing awareness among students to encourage their peers to use the Internet safely and securely, according to the New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. 

 

This is the second year that Library Media Specialist Sarah Seniw has included the poster contest as part of her curriculum.

 

She said that her task during this particular program is to explain to students that treating people online is the same as a face-to-face interaction.

 

“I feel that there’s a disconnect in a way,” Seniw said. “A lot of times kids think that interactions with other kids or other adults online somehow aren’t the same as one’s (interactions) that are in person. Although, they are the same.”

 

“What I try to drive home the most to this age group is that there are consequences for treating others poorly, but there can be consequences if you do the right thing,” she said. “When you treat other respectfully, you can create respectful environments where you’re stopping others from doing the wrong thing. The same way you could do that in your school environment.”

 

Kat’s poster is now being judged at the national level, and Kat and her family are anxiously waiting for the results. Statewide, her poster topped 287 other submissions and she received a certificate and an engraved glass plaque with an image of her poster through the glass.

 

“I’d just like to say that I’m very proud of you, Katie (Kat),”  Kat’s mother, Leslie McLain, said. “Not only that you have a good angle on Internet safety, but I’m also proud of you for how you treat your friends and what a good ambassador you are here at the school.”

 

Published in News
Friday, 11 April 2014 11:06

'Ships Passing in the Dark'

 

Naval Base Pursues More Community Support

  

SARATOGA SPRINGS—The Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) in Ballston Spa is the third stop on a sailors’ journey to becoming a part of the Navy fleet. It's about a six to eight month visit for this most difficult stage of training for enlisted sailors.

 

This leaves a short window for Saratoga Springs resident to become acquainted with the next class that eventually becomes nuclear operators; however, Commanding Officer of Naval Support Activity (NSA) Saratoga Springs Vince Garcia said that it's important they do.

  

“We have a very demanding program, and we ask a lot of them. Going out with the community is kind of letting them know that there are people there that are counting on them,” CDR Garcia said. “Building that relationship that will help them understand the big picture in the Navy, the big picture in our country, what they're doing that they may not recognize.”

  

Rear Admiral Dixon R. Smith made his first visit to Saratoga Springs on Tuesday at a Meet and Greet hosted by The Saratoga County Chamber during which he recognized the win-win attitudes of both on the part of the sailors and the community to build a stronger relationship.

 

 On any given day about 1,800 to 1,900 active duty sailors are living in upstate New York, about 1,100 of that community students. Annually the NPTU graduates 10 percent of the sailors that go on to replenish the Naval fleet, and 50 percent of all the Navy's nuclear engineers are trained at the site.

 

 The relationship between the community and its sailors has been a work in progress in the past decade, and most notably in the past year. CDR Garcia has been working toward ensuring that, even though a sailor’s time in Saratoga Springs is usually short – only lasting the duration of their training, that the relationship goes beyond fulfilling daily necessities to one that is capable of motivating sailors, and the community embracing the transitory nature of the sailors’ training for lasting friendships.

  

“Maybe they're not used to having friends just for a short period of time and they're gone,” he said. “That's our culture, the Navy culture. We meet people in and out. We're ships passing in the dark, but you know what, we're shipmates to the end. And maybe, in a lot of ways, we're asking to become shipmates with Saratoga.”

 

Not only are the sailors training to be nuclear operators residents, but their families are too. This contributes to the economic impact the base has in the area - approximately $500 million annually, according toa study that the US Navy commissioned in 2010. By comparison, Skidmore generates about $400 million annually followed by the Saratoga Racecourse at $200 million, according to the college’s economic report a year ago and an economic report conducted by Saratoga County IDA, respectfully. 

 

 “My own base is small compared to other bases, it just wasn't built up much over the years, I have to leverage facilities out in town. The chamber has been instrumental in that,” CDR Garcia said.

  

A year later CDR Garcia approached The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce with a presentation about the Naval base and its impact on the community as well as the needs of its sailors that could be better served with the help of the community.

 

“I commented after he finishes: 'that was probably the best, most informative breakfast I have ever attended'," said Todd Shimkus, president of The Saratoga County Chamber. I'm fairly certain that everyone there has been in touch to contact him and see what they could do to help....So, his leadership and his willingness to engage the community really inspired the change we are now seeing in the business community to support the Navy.There was this chart in one part (of the presentation), where there would normally be services at the base that the base would normally provide, but here the community should provide.”

 

 “Most Navy bases have a fitness center. We don’t, so we go to the YMCA. Most Navy bases have a canteen. Not here, so the sailors go to local stores for everything. Housing, furniture, everything is something they have to go offsite for,” Shimkus said.

 

 EVENTS

 

Saratoga Springs Port Call on June 14. Parade begins at 12 p.m. followed by festivities at Congress Park.

Movie screening of “Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor” to be held June 20 at 6 p.m., at Saratoga City Center. It is a fund to raise awareness for the Peer-to-Peer program hosted by the Veterans Business Council of The Saratoga Chamber of Commerce.

 

Published in News
Friday, 11 April 2014 09:39

Kelvin’s Journey

- To Speak At Skidmore Next Monday Evening

 

“ ‘Cause there'll be hard times, 

Lord those hard times -

Who knows better than I?”

-- Ray Charles

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – He was dealt a losing hand from the beginning. 

 

Then, for a long time, by his own admission, he made it a lot worse. 

 

Kelvin Davis doesn’t shrink from his past, which is not a pretty picture. Scarce, stolen moments of happiness, perhaps, spread too thin over five decades of hell.  

 

Born in Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant specifically, with documented abuse throughout his formative years. But on February 15, 1987 at age 24, it got worse for Kelvin. 

 

A whole lot worse. 

 

The facts are not in dispute, by Kelvin or anyone else. He was convicted of first-degree manslaughter. An official NY Appellate Court record read as follows:

 

In the early morning hours of February 15, 1987, two private security guards were summoned to an apartment at the Martinique Hotel by residents complaining of a loud argument between defendant and his wife. One of the guards argued and grappled with defendant, at one point holding him against the floor in an attempt to calm defendant down. After defendant was released, and as the guards were leaving, defendant grabbed a sawed-off shotgun which he kept in his apartment and, at close range, shot and killed the security guard, who in defendant’s mind had “disrespected” him.

 

Defendant does not challenge his guilt of either manslaughter or possession of a weapon.

 

-Source: 174 A.D.2d 369 (1991) -The People of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Kelvin Davis, Also Known as Kelvin Bowens, Appellant Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, First Department.

 

It is important to note that Kelvin was acquitted on the more serious charge of second-degree murder. 

 

But how much does your life have to sink where you can take solace in that kind of hair-splitting? 

 

And so Kelvin went down. Down hard.  

 

He entered the ‘land of no hope’ – no other way to put it. His first and only foray into the penal system led him to be incarcerated in Ossining (Sing Sing), Attica and a three-year solitary confinement stretch at Elmira. One admittedly horrific crime led to one squandered lifetime. 

 

When he emerged from prison, Kelvin was nearly 50 years old, and had spent more than half his life in such places. 

 

He has a trailer waiting for him in Greenfield Center that his son provided, but as part of his many parole conditions, (which can extend as far as 2030), Kelvin has to live at Shelters of Saratoga (SOS), hold down gainful employment and a host of other conditions. 

 

He credits his SOS caseworker, Ginny Stoliker, with helping him to find a job at Quad Graphics in just eight days, and Kathleen DiCarlo, an instructor at John Paolo’s Beauty Institute with taking an interest in him. Kelvin expects to receive his cosmetologist license before Labor Day. 

 

So far, so good as far as that goes. What is not required by parole, but comes from inside Kelvin Davis’ spirit is the desire to share his journey – but he’s no role model, and intends to say so. “I have 24 years of reasoning,” he said, “why you don’t make decisions like I did on February 15, 1987.” 

 

Kelvin will share and expand that message at a special lecture at Skidmore College’s Emerson Auditorium on Monday, April 14 at 6 p.m. The presentation is free and open to the public. 

 

He has many stories of relentless horror, of inhumanity and pain. He shared some vignettes that were raw, gritty and terrifying. It would be an injustice to try and replicate them in print. Better to hear them directly. He does promise that everyone will “…laugh a bit, weep a bit more, but learn a lot.”

 

In our visit, he called it ‘paying it forward,’ which is fairly popular jargon these days, but subject to a variety of meanings. I asked him for some amplification as to what that plainly meant to him. 

 

He stared out the window. Looking through slats that cast a horizontal shadow, left to right across his face in the dwindling sunlight. 

 

For decades, that shadow was vertical, from bars that extended up and down. Except with a lot less sunlight and much darker shadows. “For me, it’s the only way I know to give back.” Kelvin said.

 

He looked straight at me and said, “I want to share the things I’ve learned in the hope that somebody will not have to go through what I did.”

 

“If I can get even one person to listen, then for me it will be mission accomplished.”

 

Kelvin Davis

6 p.m. Monday, April 14

Emerson Auditorium

Skidmore College

Presented by Bene-Faction and Skidmo’ Daily

 

Refreshments provided by Esperanto

Published in News

 

Saratoga Health & Wellness Aims for Fall Opening

 

By Colette Linton

 

WILTON— Owners of Saratoga Health & Wellness announced their plans for the construction of a new facility, moving out of the present and into a new location, for which they plan to break ground ahead of summer.

The new facility will be located at 538 Maple Avenue, and is expected to be open in late fall of this year.

Owners and physiologists of Saratoga Health & Wellness Michael Lapolla and Nicholas Galuardi have been in the planning stages for the past year for an expansion project with the goal of owning property and having more control of their business destiny, they wrote in a press release.

The new facility is to offer the same experience that customers have come to expect from the four-and-a-half-year-old business such as a relaxed fitness environment, wellness and nutrition consulting services, professional and degreed staff members, and “plenty of room to move around,” Lapolla said.

New programs may become available along with the new facility as a result of client recommendations and requests. One such possibility would be to include more educational space and group instruction such as pilates, tai chi and yoga.

A mezzanine, a key feature in providing additional space in the gym and consulting area, will house office space.

In this way we free up more of that valuable square footage,” Lapolla said. “That's one of the things our customers like is that there's a lot of room to move around. It's more of a homey feel and we want to keep that kind of atmosphere.”

The planned facility will be about 23 percent larger than their current gym located at 30 Gick Road in Saratoga Springs, or 9,000 square feet. In addition, there will be 5,000 to 6,000 square feet of leasable tenant spaces.

Lapolla said that it's important to bring a health and wellness community to the facility by housing businesses in related fields in the tenant spaces in order to help create the desired atmosphere for a beneficial give and take between health care specialties.

I think that what we try to bring to the community is make the idea of improving your health more accessible to more people, and people generally come to our facility because they are looking for the noncompetitive atmosphere and it's what we try to offer,” he said.

Saratoga Health and Wellness will remain at its current location until its lease ends in October.

LaMarco Physical Therapy will be joining the Saratoga Health and Wellness center in their move to Wilton. LaMarco Physical Therapy has been working with the health center for about three years and plans to occupy a space on the first floor of the new facility. 

It’s a great relationship, a great marriage between an injured and ageing population that continues to be more physically fit and more aware of being physically fit,” said James Markwica, owner and physical therapist at LaMarco Physical Therapy. “We’ll be helping to maintain their health so that they can continue to their (clients’) activities and gym membership.”

 

Published in News

 

Bringing Water To A Community Half A World Away

 

 By Colette Linton

 

 SARATOGA SPRINGS— From history, to tourism and a city brand, the element of water is a facet of Saratoga Springs that permeates many aspects of life and business. However the funds to be raised on April 12 from the “Kids Helping Kids” 5K, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., in this community will be directed to benefit another community halfway around the world.  

 

St. Clements Regional Catholic School of Saratoga Springs and the St. Clements Roman Catholic Church since January have raised $27,365.03, as of March 25, for their campaign “Springs For Life”, an initiative to build five wells in Tigray, Ethiopia.

 

The campaign started when "Water to Thrive" Program Ambassador Suzanne Barrick moved to Saratoga Springs two and a half years ago from Texas.

She brought her experiences with the faith based nonprofit, which donates 100 percent of the funds it receives to building wells in Africa to Saratoga.  

After seeing firsthand during a trip last year to Ethiopia the impact the wells her previous congregation funded, she decided to initiate a campaign at St. Clements Roman Catholic Church and the St. Clements Regional Catholic School.

 

During her trip, she wanted to experience a situation that many have a difficult time imagining: the daily four to six mile trek women and girls in Ethiopia walk for water. “It took me 15 minutes to stabilize the jerry can,” she said. The jerry can being the container weighing 30-45 lbs when filled with water and carried on one’s back. 

 

“That was one of the things I wanted to do,” she said. “We like to think about what it is like, but until you actually do it, to think about the physical burden of doing it. When I was walking, it was exhausting but that you were actually carrying the water that was making your family sick: that was very difficult.” 

 

"Springs For Life" has already received the coordinates of their first four wells to be built in Tigray, Ethiopia. Each well will not only to reach the wealth of the water table beneath the sun-drenched geography of developing countries in Africa, servicing about 250-500 people in a community, but it will cascade into improving other areas of life. to educate a team on how to maintain it as well as making available options for families.

 

“So what you find is when water projects are implemented, enrollment in schools go up, and the mothers the women can do other things, less commute, they water is healthier, and kids at school,” Barrick said. “And it’s a whole transformation of the quality of life that they have.”

 

The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that dig the wells also educate the community on how to properly maintain the equipment and about a level of sanitation that was not possible before.

 

“Kids Helping Kids” will be the final event to wrap up the campaign.

 

President and Founder of "Water To Thrive", located in Texas, Dick Moeller, visited St. Clements March 22 on World Water Day. Since the nation-wide program’s inception, 450 projects have been carried out to support approximately 210,000 people in four countries in Africa. 

 

The average congregation raises between $5,000 and $10,000 to raise money for one or two projects, and that the amount of funds that St. Clements has aggregated is a great result, he said. “It has gone really well,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in News
Page 15 of 25

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