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Tuesday, 25 November 2014 10:00

100+ Unique Gift-Buying Opportunities!

39th Craft Marketplace Starts Holiday Shopping Season At City Center

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – Downtown Saratoga Springs is always a great choice to do your holiday shopping. This Saturday, it’s an even better one, as The Saratoga Springs City Center will be wall-to-wall with unique gift ideas from a variety of craft specialists in every medium imaginable.


Saratoga Center for the Family will be the host and beneficiary of the 39th Craft Marketplace on Saturday, November 29, also known as Small Business Saturday. The Marketplace will be held at Saratoga Springs City Center from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 


This annual Craft Marketplace attracts over 100 hand-selected artisans who gather in the City Center to showcase and sell their handmade art. These crafts include jewelry, paintings, children’s toys, blown glass, pottery, holiday ornamentation, edibles, clothing and one-of-a-kind specialties. The Craft Marketplace has been a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for 39 years, and Event Chair Ann Wolpert balances variety, quality and craftsmanship to assure that there will be something special for everyone on your holiday gift list.


Marketplace admission is $5 and includes two raffle tickets along with exclusive offers to participating downtown Saratoga Springs restaurants, in an effort to further promote Small Business Saturday commerce. The Craft Marketplace also offers silent auction opportunities for a variety of desirable items such as tickets to local holiday events, autographed collectable memorabilia and much more.


Last year the Marketplace raised over $25,000 for Saratoga Center for the Family, with over 3,000 shoppers in attendance. Funds raised for Saratoga Center support their mission to build stronger families throughout Saratoga County through mental health counseling, educational programs and child advocacy center. 


Some of the many notable and talented artisans include:


- John and Linda Garrison  

Handmade Glass Hot Air Balloons 

When asked about his craft, artisan John Garrison notes, “The process is quite extensive. First, tubing glass is heated, manipulated and thickened. Then, using a set of four burners and a lathe, the glass is spun and blown into a ball. A glass rod at top of the balloon is twisted and the bottom is tapered. Then the balloon is placed in an annealing oven, where the temperature is slowly reduced to temper (or strengthen) the glass. 


“Once the balloon is cool, my wife Linda individually hand paints each balloon using special proprietary paints.” He said. “Then the balloons are placed in a kiln and heated to harden and bake the paint onto the glass. A handmade basket is attached to the bottom to complete the piece.”


- “The Gourmet Gal”

Balsamic and Honey Vinaigrette have now joined Deborah Mackey and Kaelyn Brennan’s original, Savory Sauce. This created the ultimate trio of multi purpose sauces. All of these sauces can be used on literally anything and the best part is you never need to refrigerate them and all three are gluten free.


- Erika M. Klein 

Film Strip Lampshades

Ms. Klein recalls, “It all started when I crafted a dress from film for a recycled fashion show. After creating a dress from movie trailer film I started playing with the leftover trailer reel filmstrips and light. What came from that are my lampshade line. What’s unique about these shades are when the lamp is off, the shade appears almost black. But when it’s lit you can actually see the film images. Each one I create is a one-of-a-kind.”


The Craft Marketplace provides a great way to embrace the philosophy of  “shopping small” on Small Business Saturday. Since 2010, when American Express developed it, Small Business Saturday is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and is dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country. 


Wolpert noted “This as a beautiful opportunity to create a unique community experience kicking off the holiday shopping season, and of course, to promote downtown Saratoga Springs’ by encouraging Marketplace shoppers to also venture out onto Broadway to support our retail and restaurant community.”


For more information about Saturday’s Craft Marketplace, visit saratogacraft.org or the Saratoga Center for the Family Facebook page for ongoing posts promoting featured craft artisans: facebook.com/SaratogaCenter

Published in News
Friday, 07 November 2014 09:46

A New Home For Code Blue

Salvation Army Will Host Emergency Shelter


By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – As the city prepares for the holiday season, another set of preparations have been underway to assure that many who are not as fortunate as others will have some relief from winter’s icy chill. 


The result is that in 2014-15 the city’s Code Blue facility will have a new home –  The Salvation Army at 27 Woodlawn Avenue. Because of the building’s physical plant, combined with the ability to plan and routinize procedures, there should be several improvements to the delivery of services as a result. 


Mayor Joanne Yepsen was central in leading the initial effort in establishing a Code Blue facility. In announcing the new location officially, she stated:


“I am thrilled that Code Blue will be back for a second season, this time at the Salvation Army on Woodlawn Avenue.  I'm incredibly proud to be involved in this on-going partnership between non-profit organizations and our citizens to provide shelter to our homeless citizens during winter months. I can't thank all of my Code Blue partners, including the Salvation Army, enough. Their passion for helping others is inspiring and is what has made this effort so successful.”


Indeed, while this is a milestone, several critical needs are ongoing according to Saratoga Code Blue Coordinator Cheryl Ann Murphy, due to the nature of the task involved.


A readily apparent improvement is the increased length of the Code Blue Season, which will begin on Nov. 15 on those evenings where the temperature fall to 20 degrees (including wind chill) or 12 inches of snow are expected. 

Last winter, a Code Blue facility in Saratoga Springs was established for the first time right before Christmas Day - in response to the tragic death of Nancy Pitts on the streets of the city due to exposure. With little time to plan at the time, a remarkable and rapid response from many sectors of society was something to behold and be proud of. 


Another improvement is the existence of a Code Blue Coordinator from the beginning of the season. Ms. Murphy’s position was not established until near the end of the first Code Blue season. She outlined the changes that the move to Woodlawn will bring, as well as the ongoing needs.


“Because we will be at the Salvation Army this season,” Murphy said, “some logistical challenges will arise, but overall it’s a very good development. For one thing, the building is handicap accessible. Also, guests will have the opportunity to shower in the evening between 9 ­ 11 p.m.”


When Code Blue is activated, the shelter facility will open at 7 p.m. It will close at 8 a.m. Monday – Friday and 9 a.m. on weekends. The Salvation Army already has a breakfast program in place during the week and Code Blue volunteers will supplement this on weekend mornings. 


The actual notification procedures for activation of Code Blue involve weather forecasting and coordination in order to make sure that both guests and volunteers are notified in a timely manner. 


“We’ll be making announcements to volunteers through several sources,” Murphy said. “Announcements will be on our website (CodeBlueSaratoga.org), our Code Blue Facebook page and through email - people can sign up online to be added to an email tree.” 


For guests “we reach out placing signs will in the soup kitchen and library.” Murphy noted. “This year, we will begin a program where there be electric ‘candles’ with blue bulbs placed in several area businesses and public buildings that will be ‘lit’ (plugged in) when Code Blue is open.” Businesses that want to participate program in this can contact Murphy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Volunteering procedures have been somewhat modified. “People will continue to sign up for shifts through the website.” Murphy said. “The basic shift has been lowered to three hours instead of four, although we are allowing people to register for a double shift if they wish.”


Access to training has been improved for 2014-15 as well. “For shift supervisors, like last year, training is mandatory.” Murphy said. “This year, training will be offered to all volunteers ­ they will have the opportunity to attend a training class. There will be an online orientation all volunteers will need to read before they are permitted to volunteer.


As always, there is an ongoing need for donations of all kinds, given that this is essentially a community effort with little if any endowment. 


It’s no surprise then when Ms. Murphy states “cash donations are always welcome. But there are plenty of other ways people can make contributions and donations.”


“Last Code Blue season, we got an excellent response from local restaurants, food purveyors and bakeries to help provide the evening meal for Code Blue guests,” Murphy said, “and thankfully they have all responded positively to helping us again.”


When asked what kind of hard goods that individuals could donate – food, clothing, etc. they were seeking, Cheryl had no trouble coming up with a good-sized list. 


“The needs do change all the time as we go through the season, but as of now some of our biggest needs are meal replacement supplements - items like Boost or Ensure, individually wrapped snacks, Slim Jims, new men’s and women’s underwear (all sizes), new men’s and women’s warm socks and gallon size Ziploc bags.” She said. 


With the new facility secured at the Salvation Army, at least for this year, Murphy is working on developing a donation drop off schedule that will be posted shortly on the website. But if you have something to donate, she would love to hear from you now. 


“Call me directly,” she said. “My number is (518) 812- 6886. We’ll make it happen.


For more information, visit CodeBlueSaratoga.org


Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS— Award-winning graphic designer and author Chip Kidd will talk about the importance of visual communication when he lectures Thursday, Nov. 13, at Skidmore College. His talk, titled “! Or?:  Let me be perfectly clear. Or mysterious,” begins at 7:30 p.m. in Gannett Auditorium, Palamountain Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.


The talk is co-sponsored by Skidmore’s Visual Literacy Forum and Northshire Bookstore, which will host a book-signing session following the talk. 


Kidd writes and designs from several locations:  New York City; Stonington, Conn.; and Palm Beach, Fla.  He has worked for Alfred A. Knopf since 1986, designing book covers that have helped “create a revolution in the art of American book packaging,” according to his web site (www.chipkidd.com). His awards include the National Design Award for Communications, as well as the Use of Photography in Design Award from the International Center of Photography.


The author of two novels, The Cheese Monkeys and The Learners, Kidd is also the author of Batman:  Death by Design, an original graphic novel published by DC Comics and illustrated by Dave Taylor. Kidd has written several books about comics, including Peanuts:  The Art of Charles M. Schulz and Jack Cole and Plasticman (with Art Spiegelman).  In addition, Kidd is the co-author and designer of True Prep, the sequel to the Official Preppy Handbook.


Kidd’s 2012 TED talk, “Designing books is no laughing matter. Ok, it is” (http://www.ted.com/talks/chip_kidd_designing_books_is_no_laughing_matter_ok_it_is) has almost 1.3 million views to date. The TED web site calls it “one of the funniest talks from TED2012, in which Kidd shows the art and deep thought of his cover designs.”



Skidmore’s Visual Literacy Forum is under the auspices of Project VIS, an initiative to advance strategic, pedagogical, and liberal learning goals in visual literacy and communication. An Andrew Mellon Foundation grant supports the initiative.sara

Published in News
Thursday, 30 October 2014 14:19

Vietnam Veterans Visit School

SSHS Students Learn From Firsthand Oral Histories

By Arthur Gonick 

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – As part of a nationwide effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ceasing of hostilities in Vietnam, the city of Saratoga Springs became one of the first to enroll as a commemorative partner in this effort. The roster of partners is now 100 in New York State and over 6,000 in the United States. 


There will be many activities scheduled by the appointed committee in this city, which is taking its role quite seriously. But none will probably be more important and instructive than those that occurred for two days this week. 


On Tuesday, Oct. 28 and Wednesday, Oct. 29 a panel of about a dozen veterans of the Vietnam war – drawn from all walks of life, all service company’s, some local, some regional and some who traveled a good distance – met with several classes of students at Saratoga Springs High School to share their experiences and pass on the history of that conflict. 


“This was a great experience for the students,” said Teacher Ron Schorpp, whose War and Diplomacy class, a mix of 11th and 12th graders, were in attendance. Over the two-day program, nearly 200 students attended. “After the city became an official partner, I was very glad that Jim Hartman (a member of the local committee who was part of the panel. Jim served in USAF Intelligence and was in Vietnam in 1970) reached out to us.” He said. 


“The students were attentive and asked some really interesting questions.” Schorpp said. Those questions ran the gamut: ranging from asking each what was the first thing they did when they finally came home, to the Veteran’s thoughts on how we should battle ISIS and the broader question of when and if to commit troops overseas. 


With a diverse panel assembled, a variety of thoughts and experiences were to be expected. But what was striking about this presentation is how the student exhibited rapt attention – particularly noticeable because the presentation itself was fairly sparse – no multi-media and scarcely any props save some yellowing newspaper clippings. Just men sharing and students listening. And it was stunning in it’s simplicity. 


Some examples: 


Marine Dave Kissick came home to be a Principal at Lansingburgh High School. He focused on the “What if?” aspect of history, noting that service in Vietnam was “nothing like HBO” – referring to Band of Brothers which got many knowing nods from all in the assembly. 


Lew Benton recalled being drafted into the Army at age 25, after having been married, and feeling grateful that he was able to serve as a medic – that thought tempered by the sobering reality that he treated about 1,000 combat wounds during his service. 


25th Infantryman Don Little, now the head of the County’s VETHELP program: “I didn’t know how much military service would affect my life… once, I didn’t want anyone to even know I served. Now I’m proud.”


Roy McDonald served in the Army and later came home to a career in the state senate. “The best part of service in Vietnam: The people. All kinds were accepted – we were all family.”


The worst part: “Everything else. Romance about war is a movie – not reality… you could tell what people cared about by what they carried in their pockets – family photos, mementoes of home. I never forget every day that I have 60,000 reasons to be thankful,” referring to the number of people lost in the conflict.


Other veterans expressed concepts like “survivor’s guilt” and their experiences under friendly fire. 


Jim Coyne was the military “lifer” of the group. 36 years service; rising from the rank of Private to Colonel. He used his time as a teaching moment, giving students baseline facts and figures that don’t appear in movies. For instance, Vietnam, a country of 19 million people, is only 10 percent Buddhist. 


The teaching was interspersed with good humor, as Coyne noted that some of his biggest wish list items in the field were “toilet paper and ice,” but never unmindful of how lucky he was to come through Vietnam alive. 


This event at Saratoga Springs High School was but one of several scheduled in our city, showing it’s commitment to do the important work of being a true commemorative partner – that this will be more than sewing a patch on a jacket or a hat. 


Events like today are not as showy as a parade, but serve incredibly important purposes. Chief among them is to educate and, hopefully, learn from the inhumanity of war. Specifically in the case of all our Vietnam veterans, events such as these serve to bestow honor to them for their service to our country that, in most cases, they never received. 


Their long overdue welcome home is finally just beginning now. Today was one example of a promise kept that everyone should be proud to see play out.


For more information, visit vietnamwar50th.com

Published in News
Thursday, 30 October 2014 14:09

10,000 + Visits!

Community Health Center Meets Medical Needs

By Megan Harrington 

For Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – While many lower-income residents may have health care that covers catastrophic illnesses and events, that insurance often doesn’t extend to routine medical services and dental work. Saratoga Hospital’s Community Health Center (CHC) is offering a remedy with a one-stop shop for individuals who need non-urgent medical and dental care and have limited or no insurance. 


CHC’s Medical Director Dr. Renee Rodriguez-Goodemote says, “We’re one of the few programs in the area that is using an integrated model when it comes to behavioral health, dental services, and primary care.” This model is unique and effective because it removes some of the stigma often surrounding mental health care. People no longer have to obtain behavioral health services from a separate clinic – at CHC it’s all in one place. 


Purchased for $1.95 million dollars two years ago, the facility opened at its 24 Hamilton Street location in September 2013. The Community Health Center is within walking distance to downtown apartments, businesses and a CDTA bus stop. The CHC also offers early morning and evening hours, essential for patients who need to come in before or after work. According to the CHC’s September 2014 Stewardship Report, in its first year, the Community Health Center provided services for 3,381 needy patients during 10,113 visits.


All services are provided regardless of an individual’s ability to pay; however, there is on-site staff at CHC that are available to assist uninsured patients apply for low-cost coverage and/or enroll in the Hospital’s financial assistance program. According to the recent CHC Stewardship Report, more than 250 previously uninsured patients now have coverage due to these efforts. 


Amy Raimo, Executive Director of the Saratoga Hospital Foundation and VP of Community Engagement explains that the success of the Community Health Center has been a long-term project for the Hospital. “When they began to work on this project, they set a $3 million dollar goal which would allow them to buy the building at 24 Hamilton Street. The remaining money would go into an endowment fund to support the health center in to perpetuity.”


Currently the endowment fund is at a little over $700,000 and the investments have already begun producing dividends. Raimo explains that once the endowment reaches $1 million dollars, it will begin generating around $50,000 dollars in income per year. This money will be used to help purchase equipment, perform building renovations and offset hiring costs for doctors, dentists and mental health workers. “One of our big priorities is to grow the endowment each year,” says Raimo. This endowment is essential because there’s a large gap between revenue that comes in (via reimbursements) and what it actually costs to provide services. Saratoga Hospital has committed to covering the difference, which is estimated to be $1 million dollars per year, but to close that gap even further, fundraising events are held.


To aid in this process, all proceeds from Saratoga Hospital’s Summer Gala have been designated for the Community Health Center. “We can’t think of a better use of those funds because the Community Health Center is such a valuable resource to the community,” says Raimo. This coming year’s annual appeal has also been earmarked to help the facility. “We only mail to donors once per year and the donors appreciate that. They know that when they receive an appeal, it’s important,” says Raimo. 


In addition, the CHC will receive fundraising dollars from Saratoga Hospital’s Employee Campaign and an upcoming Business Appeal. Raimo explains, “For a lot of employees of downtown businesses, this is an incredible resource. We all know that a healthy employee is a more productive employee.”


Saratoga Springs’s official motto is “Health, History, and Horses”, but “Wealth” might also come to mind when you think of our fine city. Unfortunately, the staff at the Community Health Center knows all too well that there are many underinsured residents living right next door. Many families face a choice between seeing the dentist or getting a flu shot and buying essentials like groceries. “The focus of the Community Health Center is to fill a gap in the community. So that people who are uninsured or underinsured have a place to go to get high quality medical, dental, and mental health services,” explains Raimo. 


Receiving routine care at the Community Health Center ultimately means fewer Emergency Room visits, which is important because an ER visit costs, on average, twice as much as a primary care doctor’s appointment. 


To help individuals get set up with routine care, the Saratoga Hospital Emergency Department works with the Community Health Center to provide a list of people who come in without insurance and a primary care provider. Each month about 30 of those individuals become established Community Health Center patients. In this case, the saying by Benjamin Franklin rings true: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


“We really are committed to the health center and its success”, says Raimo. “If you go down and hear some of the stories – from an elderly person who needed dentures to kids who needed immunizations to start school – you’ll realize how the staff is helping people in this community and how grateful those people are.” Raimo explains, “That’s all we need to hear to continue doing what we need to do.”


And at 24 Hamilton Street, you’ll feel the personal touch. Rodriguez-Goodemote explains, “We’re not just a medical practice, we want to be a part of their life and help them navigate their stresses.” 


The CHC’s comprehensive approach includes not only health care, but services such as a food pantry and clothing if needed. Raimo agrees, “The staff is so caring and amazing and they really take the time to get to know their patients and find out their needs.” For example, staff saw that many patients were struggling to come up with prescription co-pays, so the CHC recently established a patient Rx fund. Due to it’s popularity, the fund was almost depleted, but when this was mentioned at a Foundation Board meeting, members gave whatever they had in their own pockets and came up with nearly $1,000 on the spot. “That’s how important this is to us,” says Raimo. 


With over 10,000 visits in its first year and numbers on the rise, staff and supporters of the Community Health Center are poised to make 2015 even healthier for area residents.


For more information, visit saratogahospital.org/locations-directions/saratoga-community-health-center

Published in News
Friday, 24 October 2014 12:29

1,860 Boats Headed To Fish Creek This Weekend

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Plaques with real fish heads will once again be given out as trophies, during the 28th annual Head of the Fish regatta, which gets underway this weekend.

This year’s event has about 1,860 boat entries—down from last year’s 2,095 entries.

But the decrease in boats was part of a concentrated effort by the Saratoga Rowing Association, which will actually be hosting more rowing teams this year with hopes of an even higher quality experience.

“It’s actually a good thing because last year we were lucky,” said SRA girls varsity coach Eric Catalano. “We just don’t have enough time in the day to get too many more than that. We were nearing capacity and time for the perfect number to continue improving the experience for the athletes. I think the 1,800 range is probably our best range. There’s more clubs, but they’re not entering as many, so there’s growth but in a different way.”

In comparison, when the Head of the Fish hosted 2,095 boats in 2013, the Head of the Charles in Boston, the biggest regatta in the world, hosted 2,083 the week before.

The SRA is coming off yet another successful weekend in Boston, as the Head of the Charles celebrated its 50th anniversary, highlighted by the girls varsity eight, who placed fourth. 

The varsity eight consists of Abbie Albright, Margaret Allen, Catherine Pazderski, Haleigh Sammons, Margaret Gregory, Grace Mastrianni, Helaina Howe, Martina Grant and coxswain Tara Eaton.

The high finish continues the recent tradition and success of the program at the Head of the Charles. Last year, the varsity eight girls medaled in two separate events for the first time. Two years before that, the girls varsity eight took the SRA’s first gold at the event.

On the boys’ side, the SRA four of coxswain Grace Meehan, and rowers Andrei Rench, Christian Cianfarani, Liam Millens and Nicklaus Meehan, finished in 19th place.

“The Charles is one of our favorite regattas and one of the best in the country,” Catalano said. “It’s a big challenge because it takes a while to get to the front.”

Getting a guaranteed bid to the next Head of the Charles, as well as future positioning, depends on the previous performance, so it takes years of strength to get the top—something Catalano has recognized with his girls as well as the SRA boys. 

“This year was a great year for our boys,” Catalano said. The boys four guaranteed a spot next year, getting in the top 25 percent (19th), so they’ll be starting closer to the front next year.”

Other top SRA performers last weekend were the SRA girls four (Mary Laniewski, Claire Murphy, Alessandra Smith, Olivia Richards, Emma Price), who came in ninth place out of 85 entries. 

Also, the SRA women’s masters eight (Jessica Prashaw, Theresa Dagle, Lisa Towne, Heidi West, Chrissy Goodness, Patricia Hasbrouck, Carla Richards, Carol Fisher, Wendy MacPherson) raced to 14th place.

The boys eight (Maddie Sayer, Cameron McKenna, Blaise Wichrowski, Jack Gaba, Daniel Shaw, Daniel Dalton, Peter Loyola, Sam Blackington, Reece Napierski) took 42nd place.

As for this weekend on Fish Creek, the SRA and other teams that competed in Boston will make the transition from a 3-mile course with multiple bridges and turns to the Head of the Fish’s 2 miles and one turn.

“The Charles is a long race with a lot of turns,” Catalano said. “There’s a lot of strategy involved and you need an excellent process to feel it and avoid contact from all the other crews, and you need some real endurance. The Head tends to be around 12 minutes to finish and the Charles is around 18 minutes, so there’s a pretty good difference between the length of those races. Ours is the last race of the season, it’s shorter and it can be treated a little bit more like a sprint race.”

With more strokes per minute in the shorter race, Catalano compared the preparation for the two races as gearing up for the pace of a 5K compared to a marathon.

The surrounding atmosphere is also something that is unique and different at both venues.

Where Boston has 300,000 fans cheering on the river’s shore and people on the six overpassing bridges, the Head of the Fish will be relatively quiet until the crowd erupts toward the end.

This weekend will also bring its fair share of rivals—from both local areas and afar.

This year, the Albany Rowing Center has shown to be a strong program.

“They’re really challenged us this season and I’m extremely thankful that they’re pushing us to raise our game,” Catalano said. “They were right behind us at the Tail of the Fish and they’re looking to be pretty darn close this year, so I think we’re going to see some good competition from them.”

Community Rowing, Inc. (CRI) will also return. Based out of the Charles River in Brighton, Massachusetts, CRI has developed a rivalry with the SRA that tends to sway toward whoever has the home water advantage.

“We’ve been holding on to the Fish Head for the first eight and second eight for several years and our goal is to defend that and keep the Fish Head coming back to Saratoga,” said Catalano.

Another upside for the SRA is the youth of the program for both boys and girls. With a very small senior class, Catalano added there’s a “pretty special group coming through.”

For instance, the girls eight, which raced to the fourth place finish at the Head of the Charles, has no seniors.

High school, middle school and adaptive rowing will compete Sunday. Aside from Saratoga Springs, local teams also include Burnt Hills and Shenendehowa.

Saturday is masters and collegiate rowing. The Head of the Fish has seen the likes of big Northeast schools such as Boston College, Syracuse University and the University of Connecticut in the past.

Fans can watch the races from the 9P Bridge or Lee’s Park along with thousands of other crew fans as the boats hit the water from about 8 a.m. to just before 5:30 p.m.

Races with five or more entries are eligible for the Fish Head prizes, which the SRA still makes after the model of original creator Tom Frost.


Published in News
Friday, 24 October 2014 11:25

Ebola: Are We Prepared?

SARATOGA — As the United States deals with its first cases of the deadly Ebola virus, New York State government and local hospitals are taking steps to prepare for potential infected persons. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Ebola, formerly called Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and serious infection caused by the Ebola virus. 

The virus was first discovered nearly 40 years ago in the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Ebola River. Outbreaks usually begin with a wild animal, such as a bat, infecting a person and from there it is spread via human-to-human contact. 

Over the past four decades, occasional outbreaks have been recorded in Africa, but the virus was usually contained to small, rural villages. With approximately 9,200 cases and over 4,500 casualties worldwide, 2014 marks Ebola’s largest recorded outbreak. This is also the first time it has been diagnosed and transmitted in the United States.

Ebola is not airborne (like the flu) and you can’t get it from casual contact, such as merely being in the same room as someone. It can only be transmitted through close contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids (blood, sweat, vomit, etc.). If someone is exposed to infected secretions, early symptoms such as fever, headache, and severe abdominal pain may appear anywhere from two to 21 days later. 

Currently, there is no vaccine or cure for an Ebola infection; treatment generally involves keeping fluid levels stable and giving the immune system time to beat the virus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines, but two potential candidates are undergoing evaluation.”

In an October 16 press release, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he has designated eight hospitals statewide to treat potential patients with Ebola. Four of those hospitals are in New York City, two are on Long Island, and the remaining two hospitals are located in Rochester and Syracuse. 

The press release also states that, the “State Department of Health has issued a Commissioner’s Order to all hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers, and ambulance services in New York State, requiring that they follow protocols for identification, isolation and medical evaluation of patients requiring care.” 

Regional Department of Health staff have been tasked with visiting hospitals and clinics to inspect for preparedness including: ER triage procedures, infectious disease training, and the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) e.g. HAZMAT suits, gloves and face masks. 

Thus far, Saratoga Hospital has not received any infected patients, but nonetheless, they are taking the virus very seriously. 

Ellen Kerness, the hospital’s Manager of Marketing and Communications says, “The New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) issued guidelines last week and Saratoga Hospital intends to follow them fully.” She continues, “Like most New York hospitals, we conducted a drill a week and a half ago and did very well.” 

While the hospital does not employ its own infectious disease doctor, they do have an infection control specialist (who is also a registered nurse) on staff. This specialist has instructed staff on proper protocol based on guidelines issued by the NYS DOH and the CDC. The guidelines, which were updated by the CDC on Monday, Oct. 20, focus on identifying and isolating patients in a single room with a closed door and a private bathroom, limiting the number of healthcare workers who interact with the patient, ensuring sufficient training on how to wear and properly remove PPE and disinfecting surfaces that may have come in contact with infected body fluids.

If an individual arrived at Saratoga Hospital and exhibited symptoms and risk factors, Kerness says, “There’s an isolation room in our ED [Emergency Department]; anyone with probable symptoms would be isolated and would be in contact with a very limited number of health care workers.” 

The patient would not receive prolonged care here in Saratoga, rather they would likely be sent to one of the eight New York State hospitals dedicated to accept Ebola patients. Kerness noted that guidelines are constantly evolving as more about the Ebola virus is discovered. 

To stay-up-to date, Kerness reassures, “We are in constant contact with CDC and State Department of Health.”

At Glens Falls Hospital, Laura Stebbins, the Emergency Preparedness and Patient Safety Director confirms, “We are following the CDC guidelines and monitoring them on a daily basis as things change. We’re also following the list of requirements provided by NYS DOH. We have a large work group that’s focused on our Ebola plan and so far we’ve done three drills in case a patient should come in.” 

Glens Falls Hospital has been holding on-going PPE training as well as tabletop discussions and open forums where staff can ask Brian McDermott, the on-site Infectious Disease Doctor, any questions they might have. 

Finally, Stebbins says, “We are screening all patients for travel history and symptoms, whether they come in through the main hospital or other points of entry.”

In a statement from Albany Medical Center, their PR Department confirmed that they also have a plan in place. Sue Ford, the hospital’s Senior PR Specialist says, “Albany Med is actively working with state officials, and is closely monitoring updates from CDC, to be sure we understand what is required to appropriately care for Ebola patients in ways that protect our health care workers and the public. We have drilled and continue to drill, and we have in place the precautions to handle suspected Ebola cases as developed by the CDC.  If the CDC or the State Health Department make changes to their recommendations, we will adapt our plans as appropriate.” 

While the Ebola virus is very serious and deserves close attention by the medical community, there’s no need for panic. The CDC website states that “it [Ebola] is not spread through casual contact; therefore, the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. is very low.”

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

• Fever

• Headache

• Muscle aches

• Fatigue

• Diarrhea

• Vomiting

• Stomach pain

• Unexplained bleeding or bruising


Published in News
Thursday, 16 October 2014 11:48

The Heart Of A Hero

18-Month-Old Preston Stewart Carries The Torch For Bravery At Saturday’s North Country Heart Walk

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – In many important ways, Preston Stewart is a “typical toddler” according to his mom, Theresa. He likes to play with trucks, go down slides, make noise at restaurants, play with his adoring sister and he runs, runs everywhere. 


But in the most important way, 18-month-old Preston is anything but typical. He is a hero. A little boy who has so far beaten back an anomaly that affects a percentage of children that is small in number, yet far too great for our society to accept. 


Preston is both a symbol of hope and achievement, and when The North Country Heart Walk occurs on the grounds of Saratoga Racecourse this Saturday, Oct. 18, Preston will be there, torch held high. He and the Stewart family (Theresa and Charlie, daughter Theresa, 7, and Preston) want you to join them.


There is no fee to enter, although donations will be graciously accepted. Katherine McCarthy, senior regional director of communications for the Capital Region Chapter of the American Heart Association, said that this walk has annually raised over $100,000. Pre-registration is not necessary; the event begins at 9:30 a.m. with activities for the entire family, including health screenings and information, a kids zone and breakfast. Kate Sullivan of Froggy 100.3 and Cody Holyoke from CBS 6 will be the MC’s. 



To be a hero, you don’t have to be victorious, but you must take up a heroic effort. 


At 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, a ceremony will take place that is both hopeful and somber, as both Preston’s (this year’s “Heart Hero”) story as well as other survivors, are celebrated. But it will also be a remembrance of those who lost their battles to America’s number one and number four killers – heart disease and stroke – and remind the expected 1,000+ walkers that there is a very long way to go.


Earlier this week, at a torch ceremony and banner hanging on Monday, Oct. 13, other heroes that lost their valiant struggles were remembered.  


Matt Westervelt was just 16 when, in March, he lost the battle he had fought with heart disease since birth. Matt had been the Junior Ambassador to the 2011 North Country Heart Walk, and on Monday, his father Joe Kramer joined in the ceremony. 


“Matt was a great kid,” Joe said. “He was my hero. I will hold my torch high in Matthew's memory at Saturday’s North Country Heart Walk to help make it so no other child has to fight to live their lives like Matthew did.”


The walk itself will commence at 10:45 a.m. During that time, survivors will walk alongside people with memories of heroes they lost. Following the walk, at about noon, lunch will be provided by Subway. 


Rick Knight, a popular North County DJ, was 59 when he died of a heart attack. 


“Rick is missed every day and I am honored to share his memory,” said Kate Sullivan of Froggy 100.3, emcee of Saturday’s Walk. “I hold my torch in the hopes that others will be able to live longer healthy lives.”


Cramer, Sullivan and the entire Stewart family joined Diane Bartos of Saratoga Hospital and Dr. Mandeep Sidhu of Albany Medical Center at Monday’s ceremony to show the coroplast torches that will be available at Saturday’s Heart Walk. 


“This is the second year we will have the torches available at the North Country Heart Walk,” Sidhu said. “There is a great moment before the start when everyone raises their torch high to honor those they walk for that day.


“As a cardiologist, I see these torches as a symbol of all the advances we have made in cardiovascular care, and all the advances we still need to make. My torch burns for all my patients.” 



For Preston and his family, his heroic struggle began in the womb. 


“At 18 weeks, the ultrasound practitioner thought they found something,” Theresa said, forcing the family to learn about new terms like “coarctation of the aorta” and “hypoplastic left heart syndrome” – terms that no young parents-to-be should ever have to learn about. 


Eventually, Preston’s condition was determined to be a bicuspid aortic valve in his heart, which would result in a team of Boston surgeons performing preliminary procedures on Preston beginning no more than 10 minutes into his new life. 


Following about 30 anxious weeks for Theresa and Charlie.


“It was,” Theresa said, “the worst feeling every day. I counted Preston’s kicks, and spent a lot of time crying.”


Preston was born on March 21, 2013. Surgical procedures that were characterized in the beginning as undefined or exploratory took place four days later. 


Preston was a fighter. Pushing out his breathing tube within hours after surgery. Shortly after that, he had his first real meal outside the womb. He had a remarkably quick rehab period and by March 30, he was on his way home. 


Though mostly covered by insurance, the costs to the Preston’s were still several thousand dollars. In addition, Charlie, a contractor “was not able to start any new jobs during the period before, as we had to be ready” to go to Boston. 



The most important reason to support these heroes, both past and present, this Saturday, is that their heroic mission continues. Even for Preston.


“People look at him at think ‘he’s OK; he’s cured.’” Theresa said. “But the fact is, for him, this is not a disease; there is no ‘cure’ at this time for Preston. He may well face additional procedures throughout his life.” 


“My torch is one of hope,” Theresa said. “Preston is normal and very active. I want to make sure that research continues so that he lives a long and healthy life.”


The call to be a hero of this type comes to families randomly. What happened to the Stewart family could strike anyone. 


It’s what you do in response that makes all the difference and that is why all these heroes walk on Saturday. With torches held high. 


For more information, visit heart.org

Published in News
Thursday, 09 October 2014 14:18

Bravo Limoncello!

Tenth Anniversary Celebrations To Last All Year

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


ROME – Every great Italian restaurant is like a love story. This restaurant began with one. 


It was Sunday, August 27, 1992. At 1 p.m. in Rome, Italy. A young American tourist by the name of Nancy Washburn was in Rome for just that single day and looking for directions to the Sistine Chapel. 


She stopped a random stranger on the street, who immediately called upon his Italian sense of chivalry and offered to escort her there personally. The man’s name was Giancarlo Balestra. It was, evidently, love at first sight. And they have been together ever since.


This chance meeting between the gentleman from Roma and the lady from Verona (New Jersey, that is) might never had happened if not for a lack of Scandinavian amusement. 


Giancarlo explains: “I was in Sweden and it was boring. So I went home that very day. Nancy was truly my destiny,” he says beaming. “The best partner I could ever want.” And you can tell he means business, in addition to life.


Their romance embodies the spirit that people cannot help feel when they enter Limoncello Ristorante (1 Ballston Avenue, Saratoga Springs) – a feeling of a Northern Italian oasis from the stresses of the day. Get comfortable; you’re home with family. 


La famiglia is enhanced with the recent return of Host Maurizio Nascimben, a long time friend and associate of the Balestra’s. “I came out of retirement for these two, but also for myself,” he said. Apparently, once it’s in your blood…


“I retired in 2007. Even got married to my beautiful bride, and we were fortunate to travel,” he explains. “But I started getting the ‘itch’; I expressed a great feeling of sadness about this to Nancy and Giancarlo. To my delight, they made me an offer, and I started the very next day.”


“Maurizio, to me, is the quintessential Italian gentleman in every sense of the word. He is the perfect host for Limoncello.” Nancy said. 


Indeed, each of them bring superior skills to the table, which has given them a lifetime of restaurant success that has stretched through out the country to places like Aspen, CO and Winter Park, FL. 


As one of the founders the highly successful Chianti when it opened on South Broadway in 1998, Giancarlo was delighted to come back with Nancy to Saratoga Springs in 2004 to start Limoncello. “There are great opportunities for restaurants in this area, and we were happy to reconnect with friends and family.” Giancarlo noted. 


The restaurant moved to it’s current location in 2008, giving the Balestra’s more room to welcome diners inside two spacious indoor dining areas as well as outdoor garden seating when the weather is friendly. “We have many reasons to celebrate in our tenth year in Saratoga.” Nancy said. “In addition to Maurizio joining us, we have an enhanced energy about having our best track season ever.”

Look for that to be reflected in our menu, which is always transitioning to some extent.”


Giancarlo noted that some dishes he often features as specials, such as papardelle with Osso Buco, are becoming so popular that they may take a permanent spot on the menu. Based on the absolute feast they arrayed in front of Mark’s camera for this feature, I have no doubt that whatever they add will be winners. 


To accompany all this, it must be noted that Limoncello sports one of the area’s most extensive wine lists, featuring the best from Italy and California, spiced up with some rare Tuscan vintages. But you haven’t lived until you have tried the signature drink: The Limoncello, naturally. Nancy personally mixes up each batch that is served. 


And beginning next week, the Limoncello family is planning a yearlong series of celebrations to commemorate their tenth anniversary. Between October 15 and December 31, all gift certificates bought will receive a 10 percent discount. 


Also, after the first of 2015, look for a ten week series of dining events that will be called ‘A Taste Of Italy’ in which a different region, such as Naples, will be featured each week from Sunday-Thursday with a moderately priced three-course meal. The specific menu details will be forthcoming. 


But this is a place you can go to with confidence anytime, not only knowing that you will have great food, drink and atmosphere – but a unique experience. It’s the attention to the little things – like Nancy growing all the restaurant’s basil; Giancarlo’s culinary expertise and Maurizio’s warm greeting for everyone – it all adds up to something special. 


La famiglia. Enjoy!


For more information, visit limoncelloristorante.com or phone (518) 580-8700.

Published in News
Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:41

50 Years of Leadership

On Being Mayor: Historic Panel Looks Back On City’s History

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – In conjunction with the centennial (officially on April 7, 2015) of the incorporation of Saratoga Springs as a city, on Thursday, September 18 the Saratoga Springs Public Library convened an esteemed panel of 11 current and former Mayors of the city, whose tenure dated back to the mid-1960s. 


These mayors reflected on their experiences in their time in office – the challenges, accomplishments and rewards during their time in office. In attendance were former Mayors James Murphy, Raymond Watkin, A.C. Riley, J. Michael O’Connell, Ken Klotz, Michael Lenz, Valerie Keehn and Scott Johnson, as well as the current Mayor – Joanne Yepsen. The panel was moderated deftly with good humor by Dale Willman, who noted that the only topic that was out of bounds in the wide-ranging discussion was “charter change,” although some on the panel got their thoughts in on that subject as well.


Everyone on the panel, as expected, brought a wealth of insight and perspective on their office and their role in the city’s governance.


Mayors Murphy and Watkin held office at a time when there were no political parties on the council. Mayor Murphy, who was the youngest Mayor in the city’s history, taking office at age 28, felt that it was better to have a non-partisan approach to governing the city. Mayor Watkin agreed, noting that in the 1970s he felt it was an exciting time to govern, he characterized it as an age of transitioning government “from the bosses to the people.” 


People tend to wax nostalgic about the good old days, but it was by no means a simpler time for these Mayors. Watkin cited the fact that after taking office, the specter of Saratoga losing it’s exclusivity of 24 racing dates loomed large until through his and other lobbyists efforts resulted in then-Governor Carey intervening on Saratoga’s behalf. “We were in trouble.” He said. 


A gas crisis resulted in Watkin’s institution of an odd/even system and also the initiation of a special assessment district for the downtown core to counteract suburban sprawl such as the development of the Pyramid Mall. 


Murphy recalled his decision to remove the parking meters on Broadway in a similar vein to spur downtowns. Murphy listed among his proudest achievements the development of the Design Review Commission; annexation of land from the Town of Greenfield for what would become the new Skidmore College campus and getting sidewalks for the High School along West Circular Street so students “didn’t need to walk in the street.”


A. C. Riley came to learn about public service through her volunteer work, which continues today with the County Economic Opportunity Council and other organizations. She recalled that shortly taking office, she walked by a street cave-in near the Adirondack Trust and thought “this is MY hole in the ground” now. She was most proud of the development of the library property where this meeting was occurring, citing it as key element in the development of the downtown core. 


J. Michael O’Connell recalled being proud of many things while in office, primarily how he was able to evaluate all sides of an issue and communicate with his fellow commissioners, regardless of party lines. “You were always mindful that you need three votes to do anything,” he said. He noted that sometimes, even under the commission form of government, the mayor had to be strong in office, such as when he had to jawbone the New York Racing Association into paying their fair share of the costs for a new East Avenue sewer line. 


Ken Klotz listed several accomplishments that he looked back on with pride, the adoption of the 2001 Comprehensive Plan, Universal Preservation Hall’s restoration and the revitalization of the Beekman Street area chief among them. Many on the panel were seen to nod in agreement when he noted the unique aspect of governing a city with such a high level of citizen involvement. 


Michael Lenz, a Republican, looked back and noted that he was inspired by Watkin, a Democrat when he was mayor and how he operated “street corner politics” – talking to citizens about the issues and concerns of the day - outside Lenz’ family pharmacy building, in which Watkin was also a retail tenant. Later, current Mayor Joanne Yepsen, a Democrat, noted that she had reached out to A.C. Riley (Republican) for advice and council shortly after being elected last November. 


All the panelists discussed governing under crisis. Lenz noted that on 9/11, Mayor Klotz was in the hospital in a medically induced coma, necessitating him (as Commissioner of Finance) acting in his stead, noting that he worked with Mayor Klotz’s wife Karen and the other commissioners to keep the city functioning during that time. Valerie Keehn recalled the region-wide blackout during Dance Flurry weekend shortly after taking office as requiring special action that only a mayor could provide. “I was everywhere, helping all I could, but people urged me to interact with the media… at times like that, people want to see the Mayor. You’re the face of the community.” Later, Mayor Yepsen cited the death of Nancy Pitts and the establishment of a Code Blue facility that required her to act even before officially in office.


Scott Johnson noted that being the face of the community “turns every 5 minute walk into a 20 minute one” as people want to be heard on what is important to them. “We may not agree, but it’s important that you are open to hearing all sides.” Johnson, who served for three two-year terms, said he was proud to oversee moving projects forward, citing the Recreation Center and Woodlawn Parking Garage as two salient examples. Interestingly, he noted that while the job can involve long hours and take its toll, “It’s really harder on our spouses and family than on us. They are the ones who make the real sacrifices so we can serve.” He said.


Moving projects forward was sentiment echoed in a different manner by Lenz, noting that many projects are determined to be worthwhile regardless of who holds office. He cited the Waterfront Park - a 100-acre parcel had advanced through four mayoral administrations (two Democrats and two Republicans) and was now to the point where a groundbreaking was scheduled for Monday, September 22 (see page 4.) 


While there was a lot of agreement generally on the panel, one issue they were unanimous about was that the job didn’t pay enough! The current mayor’s salary is $14,000/year, up from $2,500 during Murphy’s and Watkin’s time in office. 


But you could tell by the pride in their collective voices that money was far down on the list of considerations when it came to public service.

Published in News
Page 10 of 25


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