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Displaying items by tag: maple avenue middle school
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Three hundred students, eight buses, and five hours of driving led to an educational experience of a lifetime for Maple Avenue Middle School’s eighth graders.
[All photos by www.PhotoandGraphic.com.]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Vincek Farm has been around for 90+ years, since “before the birth of our nation,” owner Laura Vincek relayed.
Vincek Farm was owned and operated by John Vincek up until his passing in July 2017 from a long battle with metastatic melanoma. His wife Laura and his children continued to work the farm after his death.
John’s grandfather bought the farm after moving to America and his father and uncle chose to work off-farm careers. John chose to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.
Sarah Bolles and nine of her field hockey teammates have been working at the farm the last few weekends to help with the pumpkin harvest. Sarah has gone to help at the farm four times. The team has joined her twice. Sarah has played on the field hockey team at Maple Avenue Middle School for two years and is coached by Colleen Belanger, she plays defense. So far this season, the field hockey team is undefeated and each game has been a shut-out. However, Sarah says the best part is being on a team and being able to participate in activities and community volunteer work like this.
“With technology, everything is really quite simple. We have a group chat for our team so we just kind of sent out a message and just explained to them the situation. A lot of people were like ‘yeah of course!’ it was actually a pretty good turn out,” Bolles explained.
“These girls are absolutely lovely and into all of the farm aspects. They had great questions and were delightful; we were so pleased with them. We were really impressed,” Vincek said.
For two hours, the field hockey team helped the farm to pick pumpkins for two Saturdays in a row.
“You can get a lot done in two hours,” Vincek explained.
“We’d go out with this big tractor that basically has a bed in the back. There are people picking the pumpkins and lifting them onto the tractor and once it’s all full we unload them and put them in a nice display according to size,” Bolles said.
Isabelle Kelly, a teammate of Bolles’ said, “I was very happy to help out the Vincek family. It was great to be able to work together as a team to do something that would help out others in our community.”
Kelly plays defense and has been playing field hockey since third grade after being inspired by her older sister.
The Vincek’s built this farm from a “starvation farm” into a business. John developed a composting facility that turns poor soil into richer soil, and from there, the farm became a bigger business.
In the summer months, you can buy vegetables at the farm and in the winter they sell hay and straw to their large animal customers.
The Vincek family has “the highest of praise for Sarah Bolles and her teammates, we are eternally grateful for their help with our pumpkin harvest.”
After the pumpkins, the Vincek Farm’s next crop will be turkey.
As far as a fundraiser for the farm goes, Sarah has given it some thought but she wants to perfect the idea first.
“You can just show up at the farm Saturdays at 1:00 p.m., any help is good. Just show up, be like ‘I’m here to pick pumpkins’ and they’ll be more than happy to put you somewhere,” Bolles said.
BALLSTON SPA – A lifetime of bringing joy to others, particularly those who do not have the simple pleasures we sometimes take for granted.
Patty LeRoy of Ballston Spa has been all about the giving; the selfless act of opening her heart, her house and inviting people to be part of her family, as a host family for The Fresh Air Fund for 50 years. She has been a tireless advocate during this time as well, recruiting countless other host families (she currently monitors about 75 as a Fund Representative in charge of the Clifton Park zone) in the region. And at 78 years young, she has absolutely no intention of slowing down. “I love what I am doing, why would I stop?” she said.
For all these reasons, all the lives she has touched and made better, and more, Patty was surprised at the annual meeting of the Fresh Air Fund earlier this month (February 4-7) with a surprise celebration at a banquet in her honor in front of 300 people at New York City’s Marriott Marquis Hotel, in which she was commemorated as the first volunteer to reach the 50-year milestone in The Fresh Air Fund’s long and storied history.
The Fresh Air Fund has been serving children since 1877. Each summer, it strives to provide thousands of New York City children with unforgettable experiences that will unlock their limitless potential. Guest children are placed starting at age 7 to 12, and often will stay with a family until age 18. “Most families get to enjoy that long term connection. And they are in your lives forever,” Patty noted.
The summer experiences they enjoy by being a part of Patty’s or another host family’s life for a week or two are made up of regular activities that most of us would regard as routine. Yet, they expose a child to a quality of life that can make all the difference.
Consider that many of these guest children come from gritty inner-city environments. Many have never ridden a bike; played barefoot in the grass; or sat around a campfire. But through the efforts of Patty and The Fresh Air Fund, these children are taken away from the sirens and people screaming – they actually hear crickets at night for the first time, and that is a priceless, horizon-broadening experience that can be nothing short of miraculous – it changes lives, pure and simple.
To be sure, there is an economic commitment in all this. Host families are volunteers and are not compensated. And yet, Patty has always regarded this as simple as “…adding a hot dog to the grill,” she said. “These children are not looking for anything more than what you might regularly do with your family. What’s more important is the size of your heart, not your wallet.”
A small, 100-word newspaper item started this all in motion. In 1966, Patty read in the Ballston Journal about the Ballston Spa’s Rotary Club’s plans to participate, for the 14th year, in what at the time was the “90th year of The New York Herald Tribune Fresh Air Fund” that summer. Through that small article, a life’s labor of love was set in motion. With ripple effects onto countless lives, that continues to this day.
Her daughter Tricia, herself a long-time Fresh Air volunteer, said it best. “My mom is PASSIONATE in everything she does! I love her dearly and am inspired by her daily! She is my hero!” To commemorate her 50th anniversary, her family has set the goal of recruiting 50 new Fresh Air Fund families in the region.
Make that 49 – she’s my hero too.
To learn more about becoming a host family, contact Patty LeRoy at 518-885-9505. For more information about the Fresh Air Fund and its programs, visit www.FreshAir.org
Holiday Appeal Begins December 1
BALLSTON SPA – “We are committed to help people overcome barriers.”
So stated Former Saratoga Springs Mayor A.C. Riley, a Past President, current Board Member and Chair of the Community Liaison Committee of the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council (EOC), an agency that provides a variety of programs and services – all designed to enable individuals and families to reach self-sufficiency.
EOC clients are not just the hardcore unemployed or impoverished. Even in a relatively affluent county like Saratoga, their programs offer a crucial lifeline to a wider section of the community that struggles with financial uncertainty and distress every day.
There are many ways that people can support the diverse programs EOC provides. EOC will be launching its annual Holiday Appeal beginning December 1, and they will be accepting cash and food donations at the Canadian Pacific holiday train when it arrives at the Saratoga Springs Train Station this Saturday, November 28 at 7:20 p.m. “Last year, through the generosity of the public (at the Holiday Train) we received 1,100 pounds of food, $200 in on-site donations with a $4,000 check to support our food programs,” said EOC Executive Director Anita Paley. “It was four times better attended than the previous year.”
A tour of EOC’s facility, at 39 Bath Street in Ballston Spa, brought many surprises. Riley and Paley described and demonstrated a wide array of services and programs available through EOC, delivered in a welcoming and non-judgmental atmosphere, all designed to help people help themselves. “We are not paternalistic, it’s about developing goals and giving people the means to achieve them,” Riley noted.
EOC’s programs run the gamut from affordable housing and energy assistance and weatherization programs; to food pantry and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) nutrition programs; Head Start, career preparation and language education courses; from soup kitchen lunches to tax preparation and family development services. These and other programs are delivered in an atmosphere of hope, collegial goal development and empowerment.
“We are constantly conducting needs assessments of the community,” Anita Paley noted, “and we raise funds and develop programs based on those assessments. The bottom line is that people want to work. We provide support systems, and programs to give people the means to do so.”
While the variety of programs can be characterized as a pleasant surprise, a sobering fact is that the population that needs EOC’s programs is broader than people might generally believe. “It is much more than the unemployed,” Riley stated. “Many of our clients have two working adults in the household.”
To that end, not all of EOC’s programs are income-based. The food pantry as labeled “barrier free” – making it responsive to a need that might be greater than generally believed. “People who don’t meet ‘income standards’ can still be hungry,” Riley said. The food pantry accepts donations year-round from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. The emphasis is on items that contribute to a balanced diet: Anita Paley noted the generosity of local farms and groceries that made available items such as grass-fed beef and other items rarely available in food pantries. As much as they receive, it often barely covers the demand.
“We do get the most donations of food around this time of the year, but it gets depleted quickly,” Paley said. In addition to food, EOC accepts donations of clothing (clean coats, hats, scarves, mittens and socks are most needed now) and even pet food donations are welcome.
In addition to providing needed funds for their core services, part of EOC’s mission has a goal to provide appropriate referrals to other agencies/organizations where relevant, as well as advocacy at the county/city level.
EOC’s Holiday Appeal is one of their major fundraising efforts. Your contributions help to fill large gaps in areas of the “safety net” that would otherwise be unmet. It is important to recognize what your donations help fund, and what they do not.
For this is not a government handout. It is not welfare. It is all about providing people with the means to help themselves and break the constricting cycle of poverty.
At holiday time, as we gather with loved ones and count our blessings, consider all the ways that the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council is making a difference in our neighbors’ lives. At the heart of their name is their concise message: Opportunity. This is a perfect time of year to consider giving a leg up to those in our community who want to walk on their own.
To learn more about EOC’s services, donation and volunteer opportunities, visit saratogaeoc.org/opportunities-with-eoc/donate/
BALLSTON SPA – On Thursday, September 3, the Ballston Town Planning Board gave the final approval for a Wal-Mart store to be built on Route 50, near Route 67. The decision was made unanimously, despite much controversy surrounding the building proposal.
The Wal-Mart was first proposed in May 2014. Since then, there have been two public hearings and numerous meetings where people expressed both positive and negative opinions about the construction. Many feared it would tarnish the small-town atmosphere of the area. Others had concerns about increased traffic and traffic safety.
“After review of all the traffic professionals’ estimations, there was adequate reason to approve,” said Tom Johnson, Town of Ballston building inspector, in regards to the in-depth traffic study conducted last year on Route 67 and Route 50. “After the study there were some changes in the layout as far as retaining vegetation and the look of the building. I’ll review the set of plans to make sure they confirm with NYS building code and required building inspections as it is being constructed.”
A spokesperson for Wal-Mart, William Wertz, discussed how the original design was for a larger store. They listened to the community in that regard and revised a plan for a smaller store, though it is still considered a “super center.” The store will feature a full line of groceries, along with general merchandise.
Wertz also addressed the concern that the Wal-Mart would detract from smaller, local businesses. In response, they agreed to place a kiosk at the main entrance to the store, which will be coordinated by the local chamber of commerce. Local business owners can put up fliers and business cards to advertise. This will allow shoppers to see what other local options are available.
“Ballston Spa is a thriving and vibrant community, making it a great place to do business and to reside,” said Michelle Burligame, Vice President of the Ballston Spa Business and Professionals Association (BSBPA), speaking on behalf of the entire board. “This is a testament to our local businesses, their owners and our residents. It is their hard work and pride in this community which will allow this area to continue to thrive in the years to come. We hope that Wal-Mart and the developers will become our partners in these efforts.”
The new Wal-Mart store will generate about 300 jobs, including 150 construction jobs. It will also give locals a new, affordable shopping option.
“It’s a combination of factors when we look for a new location, but the primary thing is allocation that makes shopping more convenient for our customers. Rather than having to drive too far, they can now shop closer to home,” Wertz continued.
Though the final approval was given for the building, the Wal-Mart sign has not yet been approved. It will take roughly a year to build the store once construction begins. The project is predicted to be completed by late 2016 or early 2017.
By Arthur Gonick
BALLSTON SPA – Stating that: “he couldn’t leave anything to chance” James A. Murphy, who will be unopposed in November’s election for Saratoga County Judge, announced that he was resigndising his position early as Saratoga County District Attorney – a position he has held for over fourteen years.
The resignation, by letter to Governor Cuomo, took effect on Thursday, September 18, at 5 p.m.
Because he has resigned before September 20, by statute Murphy forfeits the remainder of his salary, benefits and health coverage immediately. But the nearly 30 “at will” employees of the DA’s Office would retain their positions and the cases would continue without turnover in prosecutors assigned. Murphy cited these as the two main factors in reaching his decision. “I have worked for 27 years with these people,” Murphy said. “They have built strong relationships with the people involved with their cases, with the victims, the police, the community.”
Murphy’s DA term runs through November of 2015. So, had he stayed on until the end of this year, it would fall to the Governor to appoint a DA after Murphy takes the bench (which is a certainty as Murphy is unopposed for the County Court seat being vacated by Judge Jerry J. Scarano in this November's election).
In that scenario, Murphy stated that he felt the strong possibility existed that the appointed DA would then remove the 21 Assistant DAs, the 5 investigators and 2 secretaries, since they are all “at will” employees and serve “at the pleasure of the DA.” The more than 500 felony indictments pending would then see a turnover in the prosecutor assigned to the case and victims would then be introduced to new prosecutors. Further, A second turnover could occur depending upon the results of the November 2015 election, which would result in more difficulty in the prosecution of cases going forward.
With the resignation, First Assistant DA Karen Heggen would become Acting DA until the election this November, when there would be an election for DA for a full four-year term. Murphy has recommended Heggen to be endorsed by all political parties, praising her work ethic and acumen.
Given the short time frame between now and election day, a strong possibility exists that Heggen will be endorsed by all parties, or at the very least run unopposed, continuing a tradition established of non-partisanship by James A. Murphy III since taking the Saratoga County DA office reins.
BALLSTON SPA--The seventh annual Ballston Spa Short Film Festival will be held Friday and Saturday evenings, August 1 and 2 in Ballston Spa. This free, family friendly event presents short films up to 15 minutes in length from local, national and international filmmakers.
The Ballston Spa Film Festival is free to attend in order to enable families with children to have a fun night or two out with little expense.
Screenings will be held in the Ballston Spa High School auditorium (BSHS) at 7:00 pm Friday and Saturday, and outdoors in the Old Iron Spring Park, Front Street at 9 pm both evenings. Fun pre-screening events will be held in Old Iron Spring Park 7 – 9 pm both evenings, and after parties follow the evening screenings both nights.
For the showings in Old Iron Spring Park we encourage you to bring blankets and chairs to enjoy these films under the stars. In the event of poor weather outdoor movies will be moved to the high school and will be announced on the BSFF web site; BSpaFilm.org.
This year's Festival will present 38 short films in four slates spread over Friday and Saturday evenings, August 1 & 2. Each slate will run approximately one hour and each slates will present a different selection of films. The full list of film selections is available on our website, www.BSpaFilm.org.
Over fifty short films from around the world were submitted and reviewed for consideration in the Festival. Half the films are from New York State, five are from elsewhere in the US, including Alaska, California and Florida. Ten films come from international filmmakers in eight other countries; Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico and Poland.
There will be four world premieres – short films which are making their first festival screening anywhere in the world right here in Ballston Spa. Eighteen of the films are from young filmmakers, 21 or younger.
Calendar of Events
The 2014 BSFF events will be held in downtown Ballston Spa in the Old Iron Spring Park on Front Street (at Fairground Avenue, across from the Brookside Museum) and in the Ballston Spa High School Auditorium. Each evening we start at 7 pm with an indoor slate at the high school while we wait for it to get dark enough to begin the outdoor showings.
Activities at the Old Iron Spring Park kick off at 7 pm with pre-screening refreshments, food vendors, kettle corn, movie trivia and more!
Then at 9 pm the second slates of the evening begin. Each of the four slates will present a different selection of films.
On both evenings we invite everyone to join us at the after parties which will be held at the Brookside Museum, across the street from the Old Iron Spring Park. The after parties will feature light, complimentary refreshments, a cash bar, wonderful conversation about films & filmmaking, and on Saturday, the Festival awards.
Friday, August 1
7 – 8 pmJuried slate at Ballston Spa High School
7 – 9 pmActivities in Old Iron Spring Park* prior to 9pm screening. Includes refreshments, movie trivia, and more.
9 – 10 pmJuried slate in Old Iron Spring Park*
10 pm - ??After party at Brookside Museum (Fairground Avenue at Front Street) with movie trivia game and great conversation with filmmakers and film fans.
Saturday, August 2nd
7 – 8pmJuried slate at Ballston Spa High School
7 – 9pmFun activities in Old Iron Spring Park* prior to 9pm screening. Includes refreshments, movie trivia, and more!
9 – 10pmJuried slate in Old Iron Spring Park*
10pm - ??After party at Brookside Museum (Fairground Avenue at Front Street) with movie trivia game and great conversation with filmmakers and film fans and the Film Festival awards.
*For the showings in Old Iron Spring Park we encourage filmgoers to bring blankets and chairs to enjoy these films under the stars. In the event of poor weather outdoor movies will be moved to the high school. Check bspafilm.org for change of location.
Family Friendly Festival
Half of our screenings are held in an outdoor public park and we take our responsibility to the community seriously to make every effort to ensure offensive material is not screened in the park. We program our Festival films so that those playing in the park would be best suited to audiences of all ages.
Other films while not visually explicit, may address themes of sex or violence. Films in this category may depict murder by guns, suggest sex, torture or drug use. Language sometimes includes words that would be bleeped on broadcast TV. These films might earn a rating of PG-13 but not likely an R. They are similar to video games rated T for Teen. The visual depictions are in keeping with what you might see on broadcast TV but some of the language occasionally veers into the R rated realm. We therefore screening these films at the 7 pm indoor slates.
(By their nature independent short films are rarely rated by the MPAA, so are not assigned a G, PG, PG-13 or R rating.)
Juried films will be eligible for the following awards, as selected by a panel of independent judges who themselves have extensive experience in films and filmmaking.
- •Best of the Fest
- •Best of the Fest – Youth Film
- •Best World Premier
- •Best Original Score
- •Best Editing
- •Best Editing – Youth Film
- •Best Screenplay
- •Best Screenplay – Youth Film
About The Ballston Spa Film Festival
The Ballston Spa Film Festival, Inc. (BSFF) was founded in 2013 as an independent not-for-profit corporation with the mission to promote an appreciation of films and filmmaking in the Ballston Spa and Greater Capital District communities of New York. We do this by presenting film festivals in which established, emerging and unknown filmmakers can display their films. We also present free classic films to the public through our on-going Monthly Classic Film Series to maintain an appreciation of films throughout the year.
At the heart of the BSFF is a core of dedicated volunteers who are simultaneously preparing for our free events and operating the new not-for-profit organization. Every dollar of financial support we receive goes into presenting the annual international short-film festival, the Monthly Classic Film Series, and the expenses such as film licensing, insurance, and equipment, necessary to run the organization.
The BSFF is committed to keeping our events free to the community because we want the films we present - from the award-winning classics, to the promising works of student filmmakers - available for all to enjoy… and perhaps to be inspired by them.
The 7th Annual Ballston Spa Film Festival receives support from Saratoga Arts through its Saratoga Program for Arts Funding, which is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
BALLSTON SPA – Family-owned dealership Mangino Buick GMC, Inc. has nearly completed renovations at its location on Saratoga Road in Ballston Spa, selling new Buicks, GMCs and certified preowned vehicles.
There is one task left in the way of completing renovations, however, and it’s a very large piece of family history – the Mangino family house.
The dealership was able to move into its new facility on February 17. During renovations, the dealership saw an uptick in sales since September 2013, having sold about 300 vehicles.
“Business has been good even though we were displaced out of our old store,” General Manager Ralph Mangino said. “And now that we are in here we have definitely seen a lot of activity, which is very positive.
Ralph Mangino, Sr.’s former home, which had most recently operated as the dealership’s office during renovations, now blocks the dealership from view of potential customers driving along the road.
Renovations began with General Motors Co.’s (GM) issuance of a restructuring plan that required GM dealers to conduct upgrades to meet brand specifications.
GM initially requested that Mangino Buick GMC move to another location entirely in order to satisfy its specifications for uniformity. However, instead of moving, Mangino Buick GMC negotiated for complete knock-down renovations that included demolishing the house and building a new facility. GM agreed.
“We were not interested in going backwards,” Mangino said. “We were looking to move forward and that's what the deal was.”
The house is scheduled to come down in a few weeks after having been on the lot for the 36 years that the Mangino Buick GMC, Inc. has been in operation.
“It was my father's house and everyone grew up at that house,” said Mangino. “So there is definitely an emotional attachment. It's just, when you see the new store you will understand immediately. It (the house) makes it difficult to see the new store from the road.”
In its place 30 new parking spots will be constructed, making the facility three times larger than the old store and increasing its visibility from the road. Then in spring, after the lot has been paved, the dealership will host its grand opening.
Mangino Chevrolet in Amsterdam carried out reconstruction and invested $2 million to build a new showroom at its location on Route 20 in 2012. Mangino declined to comment on the investments for renovations at its location in Ballston Spa.
With renovations almost finished, Mangino is satisfied with the outcome of the negotiation and the new facility. “Seeing the way it is, we are really glad we did stay.”