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Yaddo’s annual summer benefit will feature Terry McMillan, best-selling author of “Waiting to Exhale,” “A Day Late and A Dollar Short,” “The Interruption of Everything,” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” among others. The event will take place at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 22. Proceeds from the benefit play a crucial role in ensuring the artists’ residency program continues to flourish. More than 6,500 individuals have created works at Yaddo – from literature and paintings, to photography, sculpture, music, dance and film – that have helped shape culture and touched millions of lives. For ticket information, go to: https://www.yaddo.org/.

Who: Elaina Richardson.

Where: Yaddo.

 What are some of the best things Saratoga has to offer?

 I’ve been here 17 years now and I love the number of trails for walking, running, and biking. Also, the combination of spending the day outdoors being very relaxed and then in the evening being at some of the most sophisticated art offerings in the world. You’re always combining both sides of your brain, in one beautiful place.   

  The mansion at Yaddo is nearing 125 years old and is set to undergo a restoration.

 The work at the mansion begins next month. It’s a two-year process that will stabilize the building and include some modest upgrades. We’ve raised $6.5 million in a $10 million campaign, which is going very well and ahead of schedule, so we’ll be able to keep Yaddo at its very best for another century. 

 The annual Yaddo gala will take place June 22, feature Terry McMillan and will take place at a site on the grounds rarely seen by the public.

 You will come up that wonderful driveway, you will still see the mansion, but nobody really gets to see past the mansion. This is going to take you behind West House – which is our mini-mansion - and will take place on the Great Lawn under a tent, which allows you to see where the graveyards and the guest areas are. When we have the event in the mansion we have to cut it off at 200 people. This will allow us to have more people come this year.   

 There has been an active outreach into the community in recent years.

 There are two parts to the Yaddo in the Community Initiative. One is a partnership with Northshire Bookstore where we co-host events featuring leading authors who have a Yaddo connection. (Yaddo will present An Evening with Gail Godwin at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 5 at Northshire Bookstore, 424 Broadway). It’s a celebration of the author and it’s also where people can meet some of the current artists-in-residence.

There is also a program with the Saratoga Springs High School where we have had some of the junior and senior students choose an archival project associated with Yaddo. The students did a lot of research, were able to access to papers in the Yaddo archive and got to do some one-on-one interviews with Yaddo artists.  

 In addition to the restoration at the mansion, what else is in store for Yaddo in the future?

 There are plans for landscape improvements and interventions which will really help the public areas of the grounds. Right now, we get over 50,000 visits a year and we want to make it a little easier for people to park and spend a whole afternoon picnicking, so you’ll begin to see some work going on in the public areas.  

We’ll also be working a little more on balancing ways of having more spaces for readings and concerts during which the community can be invited in without undermining the retreat. So, there’s a lot going on and the next few years will be exciting. 

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The final draft of the proposed Saratoga Springs Charter was distributed Tuesday afternoon at the City Center, where members of the Charter Review Commission staged a daylong informational Open House. A referendum on the proposed changes of the way the city is governed will be on the November ballot.

The proposal calls for a change from the current “Commission” form of governing – the only form the city has known since its inception in 1915 – to a “council-manager” form, which is the most popular and most efficient form in the country, according to charter review member Pat Kane.  

The council-manager structure specifies a composition of six councilmembers and one mayor – all electable positions – and one city manager, who would be hired by the council. 

The city manager would direct and supervise administration of all departments, appoint and suspend or remove city employees, and prepare and submit the annual comprehensive budget and capital program plan to the council for approval.

The city manager would also represent the city in the collective bargaining process, as well as implement contracts on behalf of the council, and attend all council meetings, but will not cast a vote at the seven-member council table. The mayor would be recognized as the head of city government for ceremonial purposes, but have no administrative duties.  Council meetings would continue to be held twice a month.

“I think local municipal government has gotten far more complicated and really does scream out for professional management,” Kane said. “These people would come in with skills that we just don’t have from an elected official prospective. It also opens the door for the local city council, where anyone can run with no requirements as far as job skills are concerned. “

The council would serve as the legislative and policy-making body of the city, conduct the search, set the salary and oversee the hiring and appointment of a city manager. Prerequisites for the city manager ‘s positions include a master’s degree with a concentration in public administration, public affairs, or public policy, and five years of managerial or administrative experience in municipal government. The salary for the position is anticipated to be in the $125,000 per-year range – which is higher than any current council member or deputy earns annually. It would ultimately provide financial savings however, the commission says, because the five current deputy positions – each earning about $73,000 annually (about $110,000 annually when benefits are factored in) would be eliminated or altered and would serve “at the pleasure of the city manager.”

“Most people thought it would be a deficit, but this would be a significant savings,” said Kane said, adding that bringing a professional level of qualified management to the city would eliminate weaknesses in current checks and balances, and guarantee a less expensive city government. “The efficiencies jump out at you. It’s so much more efficient when you’re running with one team as opposed to five teams. “

Detractors aren’t so sure a change would provide a financial savings and are additionally leery about what they say will be create more difficulty in communicating grievances with City Hall.

“Now if you have a problem you pick up the phone and call the department head. If you don’t like the answer, well, they’re only in there for two years,” Jane Weihe told a group of three dozen area residents who gathered at Gaffney’s on May 30 for a get-together of the SUCCESS group. The acronym stands for: Saratogians United to Continue the Charter Essential for Saratoga's Success. Those assembled vowed to fight against charter change.

Weihe said a citizen with an issue in the council-manager form of governing would need to bring the issue to the city manager and if the response wasn’t acceptable it would create an intricate process to lobby the majority of the city council to remove the department head, which would come at a financial price.

“Two questions: Who are you going to call, and what’s it going to cost,” Weihe said. The removal of a city manager would come either at the request of the city council, or by their majority vote, and would require a public hearing.   

The May 30 date is significant. It was initially the day the referendum vote was to be held. Commission members had said the standalone date would give the proposition the attention it deserved rather than becoming muddied in an already busy election season in November. Detractors of the plan alleged an off-peak election was an attempt to suppress voter turnout.

“I moved here over 40 years ago and dealt with many mayors and council members. I’ve seen the system at work – and it works,” Joe Dalton told the SUCCESS group. 

“To say that that it ain’t broke is probably the biggest misconception out there,” countered Kane. “It may feel like we have a multitude of success – and we do – but we can do better. It’s like an upgrade in software. We’re operating at Windows 1.0 when we should be operating at Windows 10. We’re not changing services, we’re changing how the services inter-relate to one another,” he said.

How a Transition Would Work

Should the change be approved by voters this November, in November 2019 residents would elect a mayor and six councilmen and the change would be enacted Jan. 1, 2020. The mayor and the three council members receiving the greatest number of votes would serve four-year terms; the remaining three council members would serve two-year terms.  This would eventually be adjusted to have separately contested elections with staggered four-year terms for each of the seven members. Term limits would be set at a maximum of 12 years. 

Compensation for the six council members, the mayor, and the city manager – as well as that of a potential assistant city manager – would be designated by the outgoing council in 2018. Two elected supervisor positions would continue in a similar capacity, although would eventually increase to four-year electable terms. 

The City Manager at Work 

“The city manager is the CEO and responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city,” explained Sharon Addison, city manager of Watertown, N.Y., which has a similar population and annual budget to Saratoga Springs.

“The city council legislates, adopts local laws and resolutions and it’s my responsibility to execute on that,” she said. “We’ve got multiple department heads – similar I think to your commissioners – and I work very closely with the department heads to make sure the goals and objectives are accomplished in each of those departments.”

Paid position staff members that report directly to Addison include the fire chief and police chief, superintendents of the DPW and Parks and Recreation, a city engineer, library director, purchasing manager, and city assessor. Overall, Addison oversees more than a dozen different departments, each with their own independent budgets that are combined into the general fund budget.

Addison worked for more than a quarter-century at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland, prior to becoming Watertown’s city manager in 2012.  

 “Leadership and management qualities are pivotal, as well as experience in financial management,” she said.

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Springs Democratic Party will meet Thursday, June 8 when a vote is expected to take place to endorse a mayoral candidate.

On May 19, current city Mayor Joanne Yepsen publicly announced she would not seek re-election in November and “enthusiastically endorsed” Deputy Mayor Meg Kelly for the position. The announcement came just prior to a meeting by city Democrats. Committee chairman Charles Brown said while the prospect of selecting Kelly as the party’s choice for the mayoral seat was debated, there was insufficient time between Yepsen’s announcement and the previously scheduled gathering of the party to properly go through the review process.

During the interim, former Deputy Mayor Hank Kuczynski considered throwing his proverbial hat into the mayoral ring, but subsequently informed Democrats that he had re-considered that option due to time constraints that would be placed on the operation of his own business.   

All five council seats, both supervisor positions and one city court judge position will be decided by voters in November.  

Three currently seated Democrats are on the move: City Mayor Joanne Yepsen and Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen each announced that they will not seek re-election, and current Supervisor Peter Martin announced his intention to fill the seat being vacated by Mathiesen.

City Democrats had previously endorsed incumbents John Franck and Michele Madigan, current city judge Francine Vero, and newcomers Pat Friesen and Tara Gaston for the two Supervisor seats.  Thus far, Kelly is the lone Democrat vying for mayor, and no potential candidate has come forward to challenge Republican incumbent DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco. 

Last month, city Republicans endorsed mayoral candidate Mark Baker; political newcomers Andrew Blumenberg – vying for a seat as City Court Judge, and Don Braim – who will be running for the position of Public Safety Commissioner; Saratoga County Supervisor candidate John Safford, and incumbent DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco and Saratoga County Supervisor Matt Veitch.

   

Published in News
Thursday, 25 May 2017 15:55

May 26th - June 1th

COURTS

Mary B. Murphy, 49, of Ballston Spa, was sentenced on May 17 to five years of probation after pleading to falsifying business records, a felony, in connection with an incident that occurred in Corinth. 

Paul E. Vidnansky, 32, of Greenfield, was charged on May 17 with felony assault and strangulation in the second- degree, also a felony, in connection with a domestic incident that allegedly occurred at the Saratoga Hospital and Nursing Home. Vidnasky is suspected of punching and strangling a woman and causing her to lose consciousness, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office. He was sent to Saratoga County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail, or $20,000 bond. 

Ryan T. Adams, 24, of Clifton Park, was sentenced on May 16 to six months in jail and five years of probation after pleading to felony grand larceny, in connection with an incident that occurred in Malta. 

Robin A. O’Brien, 61, of Saratoga Springs, pleaded on May 17 to felony DWI, in connection with an incident that occurred in Wilton. Sentencing scheduled for July 25. 

POLICE

Christopher M. Cuozzo, age 24, Ballston Spa, was charged on May 11 with unlawful possession of marijuana, failure to stop at stop sign, and three counts criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Tyler M. Gilbert-Kavanaugh, age 22, Saratoga Springs, was charged on May 10 with operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs – a misdemeanor, one equipment and one driving violation, and unlawful possession of marijuana.  

Amy L, Morine, age 38, Ballston Spa, was charged on May 10 with aggravated unlicensed operation, criminal possession of a controlled substance, an equipment violation, and no/expired inspection certificate.   

Tess A. Morency, age 24, Saratoga Springs, was charged on May 8 with operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs, and two driving violations.  

Nicolas J. Sicard, age 22, Clifton Park, was charged on May 8 with criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument, criminally using drug paraphernalia, and criminal possession of a controlled substance – all misdemeanors. 

Michael A. Belloise, age 57, Clifton Park, was charged on May 8 with misdemeanor obstructing governmental administration, failure to comply with lawful order of the police, and a vehicle equipment violation. 

Juanita V. Jackson, age 47, Schenectady, was charged on May 4 with misdemeanor petit larceny.

Joseph M. Campon, age 33, Schenectady, was charged on May 7 with misdemeanor DWI and making an unsafe lane change.

Jarad N. Jones, age 31, Watervliet, was charged on May 7 with felony DWI as a second offense, unlawful possession of marijuana, and three driving violations.

Jerritt T. Chura, age 31, Stillwater, was charged on May 7 with aggravated unlicensed operation.

Sieress Z. Ballard, age 27, Albany, was charged on May 6 with misdemeanor criminal contempt.

Krista M. Esposito, age 31, Ballston Spa, was charged on May 6 with misdemeanor DWI and aggravated DWI. 

Roger A. Horgan, age 44, Boynton Beach, Florida was charged on May 6 with misdemeanor DWI, and misdemeanor aggravated unlicensed operation.

Casey M. Scofield, age 20, Saratoga Springs, was charged on May 6 with operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs, failure to keep right, unlawful possession of marijuana, and speeding.

Edward J. Aliwalas, age 46, Saratoga Springs, was charged on May 5 with misdemeanor DWI. 

James J Altamirano, age 36, Saratoga Springs, was charged on May 5 with criminal trespass, misdemeanor. 

Perry L. Tillman, age 55, Glen Cove, was charged on May 4 with misdemeanor aggravated harassment.

Caitlin G. Herren, age 22, Saratoga Springs, was charged on May 4 with misdemeanor DWI and aggravated DWI, and leaving the scene of an accident. 

William L. Weatherwax, age 34, Saratoga Springs, was charged on May 4 with criminal contempt in the first-degree, a felony, aggravated family offense - felony, and misdemeanor counts of aggravated harassment and resisting arrest.

Jeffery W. Parker, age 30, Schuylerville, was charged on May 3 with misdemeanor DWI. 

Benjamin Gutierrez-Fuentes, age 31, Saratoga Springs, was charged on May 2 with criminal possession of a weapon – a misdemeanor.

Robert J. Loya, age 47, Ballston Spa, was charged on May 2 with felony DWI, and the misdemeanors: obstructing governmental administration, making a punishable false written statement; falsely reporting an incident. 

Mollie J. Fogarty, age 22, Saratoga Springs, was charged on May 2 with misdemeanor DWI and aggravated DWI.

Andrew J. Gardner, age 38, Saratoga Springs, was charged on May 2 with misdemeanor petit larceny.

Published in Police Blotter

Minnie Clark Bolster has collected thousands of pieces of historic memorabilia related to the city which she has called home for nearly a century. A new book, “Elegant and Fashionable as Seen Through the Eyes of Artists and the Words of Writers, 1787-1847,” depicts local life and architecture in prints and text, and was inspired by the research initially conducted by her friend, the late Sonia Taub. The 102-page publication features over 40 engravings, woodcuts and lithographs, many of which are extremely rare. Proceeds from the sale of the book, which is $24.95, benefits the Saratoga Springs History Museum.  The museum, located in the Canfield Casino in Congress Park, will host a book signing and reception with Minnie Bolster at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 8. The event is free and open to the public.

Who: Minnie Bolster.

Where: At home in Saratoga Springs.

  1. Tell us about the new book.  
  2. Well, if you call this mine, this would be the fourth one. I just had to do this, to save it from the wastebasket, because I knew what it was. From cover-to-back it is a history of our city from 1787 to 1847. Everything you ever wanted to know about our city, in prints. 
  3. When were you born?
  4. In 1920. I graduated high school in 1938. I’ll be 97 in a couple of months.
  5. Is there one era of Saratoga you prefer over another?
  6. I just love Saratoga. Period.
  7. What’s the biggest change in the city?
  8. You can’t find your way down to Broadway with all the buildings, haha. But, that doesn’t bother me.
  9. What was Saratoga Springs like when you were growing up?
  10. Everything was so calm and wonderful. The neighborhood kids playing ball in the street. The circus came to town every year.  In the ‘50s it got kind of drab because a lot of the stores on Broadway started closing up, but it was just an amazing place to live and to grow up. You never wanted to leave it. I still don’t. We had so much going on. I remember when company would come over from out of town we would give them the tour, and my God, it went on forever. North Broadway. Union Avenue. Yaddo. it just went on and on. And those are all still there. 
  11. Did you go to the racecourse often?
  12. I started going to the racetrack on my birthday in 1938. I bet two bucks. And every year on my birthday I would win the Daily Double! It was funny because the people who knew me would follow me around on my birthday. I had no rhyme or reason to bet, except that I had two dollars and I liked the colors and the horses’ names. I saw a lot of the big horses. Whirlaway was one. Native Dancer was another.
  13. You have a book signing coming up on June 8. What’s next?
  14. I think I’ve got another book in me. Why not? I’ll only be 97. 
Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 25 May 2017 15:09

Oprah Inspires Skidmore Grads

SARATOGA SPRINGS – For 40 seconds, most everyone in the crowd of nearly 5,000 people inside the SPAC pavilion and several thousand more seated outside on the lawn kept their eyes closed in an exercise in the expression of gratitude led by Oprah Winfrey. 

“Serve the calling of your soul,” the popular former television talk show host instructed. “Use more of YOU, to bring forth the light.”

Winfrey, author and scholar Wes Moore, and journalist and education advocate Ann Rubenstein Tisch were each awarded a doctorate of letters, and the achievements of more than 600 graduates were celebrated during Skidmore College’s 2017 Commencement at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Saturday.

Winfrey spoke for nearly 30 minutes and stressed each individual find their way through life’s varied stages by following the instinct of their own truth. Mohau Mazibuko – one of three students enrolled at Skidmore this year who came from Oprah's Leadership Academy for Girls in Africa – was a member of the graduating Class of 2017. 

“Every decision I ever made that led me to the right space and place in life, I got there because I relied on my inner voice – the truth of me,” explained Winfrey, urging attendees to develop their spiritual muscle by practicing gratitude – something she said she does every day.

Among the graduating class were Pete Donnelly – who returned to school 25 years after taking a leave of absence to spend full-time as a member of the band The Figgs – and Lulu Simon, whose parents Edie Brickell and Paul Simon joyfully watched the day’s ceremonies from their seats in the front row.

Skidmore College President Philip Glotzbach offered congratulatory remarks to students, noted their graduation gowns were composed of recyclable materials – “symbolic of Skidmore’s commitment to sustainability,” he said – and appointed them “ambassadors for liberal learning” in their future endeavors as they crossed the divide into the real world.

Moore jokingly apologized that his book, “The Other Wes Moore,” was required reading at the college, and Tisch urged graduates to prepare for life’s inevitable challenges by seeking the opportunities wrapped within them. “Learn to re-define failure as part of the process of success,” she said.  

Perhaps the day’s most passionate words were spoken by graduating student Abude Al-Asaad. The co-chair of the Senior Gift campaign dutifully thanked teachers and trustees, jokingly welcomed affluent parents now broke because of tuition costs and “people who show up at random such events,” and shared the emotional journey from his upbringing in a Syrian refugee camp to the day’s celebration of his graduation, even as his family was not permitted to enter the country to witness their son’s graduation. 

Published in News
Thursday, 25 May 2017 13:48

Fastest in the Nation

SARATOGA SPRINGS – There might not be any records left to break in the near future if Kelsey Chmiel continues at her current pace.

Competing in the 77th Annual William F. Eddy Meet at Schenectady High School on May 20 alongside 11 other Saratoga athletes, Chmiel, a sophomore, competed in the 3,000-meter race event, finishing with a dominant 9 minutes and 18.09 seconds, putting up the best time in the country for the spring 2017 season so far as well as setting the sophomore girls national record in the event. As one might expect, a performance that put national records to shame also left her competition on the day in the dust, as her closest competitor, Burnt Hills senior Eva Scott, finished the race close to a minute and a whole lap behind her at 10 minutes and 9.66 seconds. This was Chmiel’s third year competing at the Eddy Meet.

This performance continues Chmiel’s recent streak of standout performances and broken records. Back in March, at the 2017 New Balance Nationals Indoor national-level track & field event, Chmiel competed in the 2-mile event and ended up with a time of 10 minutes and 12.94 seconds, besting the state record and narrowly edging out the national record as well. Just a little before that, at the NYSPHSAA State Championships, Chmiel set the previous record in the 3,000-meter event for sophomores. At least year’s Eddy Meet, she set the all-time record for the 1,500-meter event in Section II with a time of 4 minutes 23.81 seconds, and also put up a time of 9 minutes and 48.25 seconds in the 3,000-meter race, a time she would best by over 30 seconds just one year later.

“It makes me excited,” Chmiel said about her collection of record-breaking runs. “But I think it also makes me work harder... I’m just gonna keep working at practice and hopefully lower my times.”

“She’s very competitive, she’s very analytical,” assistant coach Linda Kranick said of Chmiel’s consistently excellent performance. “I think this is the fourth national sophomore record she’s broken this school year... Kelsey has high aspirations, and works very hard.”

Kranick, who has been coaching track & field for 37 years and has coached with husband Art Kranick at Saratoga Springs High School since 1985, reckons that Chmiel is one of the best runners she has worked with in her career, if not the best, given her consistent record-breaking performances. Some of this she attributes to the advances in coaching techniques over the years that have allowed them to train faster and faster athletes, but it mostly comes down to Chmiel’s hard work and innate talents.

“Kelsey is very humble, very modest,” Kranick said. “And she understands that she has even farther to go.”

Elsewhere at the meet, senior Mimi Liebers bested the competition to finish first in the 100-meter hurdles event. Liebers will be competing in track and field at the College of the Holy Cross in the fall.

Published in Sports

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The upcoming Golf Classic and Par-Tee fundraiser event on June 5 is more than just a good deed for a good cause for some of those involved with it. For them, it is also a deeply personal endeavor.

Gathered in the back of a local coffee shop for their usual meeting, several women involved in organizing the upcoming golf fundraiser talked about how the event’s mission to help find a cure for Type-1 diabetes has touched their lives, whether it be that they have lived with the disease themselves, have children with it, or both. Funds raised from the event will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, which helps to fund research into the treatment of Type-1 diabetes.

Type-1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune disorder that hinders the production of insulin in the body. Its causes are unknown, although a family history of the disease is known to increase one’s risk of developing it. It is important to note its differences from Type-2 diabetes, a metabolic disorder caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. Due to the fact that Type-2 accounts for around 90-percent of diabetes cases, public perception can often be that it is the only form of the disease, which is a source of great frustration for those who develop Type-1 through no fault of their dietary or lifestyle choices.

For Joyce Ure, Denise Nicastro, and Karen Larkin, the attachment is through their children, who all live with the disease. When Ure’s son began exhibiting symptoms consistent with Type-1 when he was eight, she thought it could not be true due the lack of history with the disease, but after he was taken to Albany Medical and found to have a blood sugar of 680, the diagnosis was clear. For Ure, the hope for the event is that it will also help spread awareness for the symptoms of the disease. Nicastro’s daughter was diagnosed early in life and is now a student in college. With her daughter so far away most times of the year, it leaves her with a lot of anxiety.

Larkin’s son was diagnosed when he was six, and has lived with the disease for the last four years. Over those years, she has noticed definite improvements in the technology for treating and monitoring diabetic symptoms, a sentiment supported by everyone at the table. A few of them mentioned apps on their phones and watches that allow them to monitor their children’s blood sugar levels at all times anywhere. These technologies were not around only a few years ago, they said, and developments like these show the benefits of raising money for organizations like the JDRF.

For Ellen Brodie, Type-1 is just about her entire life, as both she and her two children are living with the disease.

“My personal attachment is my life, and its my kids’ lives,” Brodie said. “That’s about as personal as it gets.”

The Golf Classic and Par-Tee will be held at Saratoga National Golf Club on June 5, starting at 11:30 a.m. For the first time this year, the Golf Classic and Par-Tee events will be combined into one event, as opposed to years prior when they were separate affairs. The organizers estimated that the two separate events in the past have raised over $200,000 a year for the JDRF. More information about the event can be found online at www.jdrf.org/neny/events/hoffman-car-wash-hoffman-jiffy-lube-golf-classic-and-par-tee/#event-details.

Published in Sports

SARATOGA SPRINGS – History came alive recently for students at Saratoga Springs High School (SSHS).

In the intimate setting of the SSHS teaching auditorium, a little over three classes worth of local students gathered for an assembly on May 24 where seven members of the Adirondack Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association came to share stories from their times serving their country. In attendance to share their stories were Bruce Blackie, Roger Calkins, Eugene Slavin, Paul O’Keefe, Edward Bushey, William Reid, and Robert Garland. After each speaker rose to give the audience a salute, Blackie spoke first, introducing the group’s intention to shed a light on what many have termed the “Forgotten War.”

“What we wanna do is put a personal face on what you read in the history books,” Blackie said. He continued, noting the historically significant facets of the Korean War: it was the first war in American history with no formal congressional declaration to mark the country’s entrance into it, and it ended not with a victory on either side, but with a ceasefire that holds to this day.

Calkins spoke next, first noting how each speaker had lived through WWII, which ended just five years before the start of the Korean War, and how at the time the feeling of peace was such that few thought that it would ever end, let alone so soon after. He then took students through the shape of the lands controlled by the North and the South over the course of three years, starting with the divisions of the country made by the United States and the Soviet Union after WWII, see-sawing back and forth from Northern to Southern control, before finally ending with the current dividing line at the 38th Parallel, currently known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

“It all happened very fast,” Calkins said.

O’Keefe spoke next, bringing a much more personal angle to his talk, telling the story of how he came to be involved in the war, and how things went for himself and his friends afterwards. O’Keefe graduated from Mechanicville High School only four days before the war began. Alongside himself, a good friend of his from school, Raymond Waldron, was also drafted, and he told the audience to remember that name, as he would be coming back to it. Before basic training, O’Keefe had never held any sort of weapon before.

“Not even a BB gun,” O’Keefe said.

Speaking of his time on the battlefield, he noted how the life of a soldier felt like being an animal.

“Your home is now a hole in the ground,” he said, telling the students about foxholes.

Coming back to his friend Waldron, O’Keefe told the story of how surprised he was to see a friend from home in the army with himself. Later on, he told students about how Waldron went on to attend Ithaca College, and eventually became a coach and respected athletic director at SSHS, despite at one time being among their bitter rivals on the sports team in Mechanicville. Waldron’s esteem within the community was so great that a street was named after him, Coach Waldron Way, just off of Washington Street in Saratoga Springs.

O’Keefe concluded his portion by highlighting the some of the graduating Blue Streaks who would be going on to attend military academies in the fall, including student athletes Hunter Choy and Will Navin, who were in attendance.

After each speaker had told their stories, they opened up the floor for student questions. Choy and Navin each came with the kinds of specific questions befitting soon-to-be members of the Armed Forces. Choy asked about the tactics employed by the forces they interacted with in Korea, to which many of the men recalled the overwhelming numbers mobilized by the Chinese, who fought on the side of North Korea alongside the Soviet Union. Navin wanted to know about the public’s perceptions of the war at the time, which according to the men was something like ignorance, as many people seemed unaware of the war. Upon returning home from combat, a few speakers recalled how many people at home were not aware that they had been gone for so long on account of the war.

Along with sharing stories from their times in the service, the speakers also stressed how important it is to honor those servicemen and women who were not lucky enough to come back, an appropriate message so close to Memorial Day.

“It is a day to remember those who never got to take their uniforms off,” O’Keefe said about the upcoming day of remembrance.

All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com

Published in Education

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Singer-songwriter Howard Fishman will lead a troupe of performers in a street-side serenade on Sunday in Saratoga Springs.

BUSK! - a free public event presented by The Orchard Project - will incorporate circus performers, theater companies, live music and local food vendors in an event to be held in and around the Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Visitor Center on Broadway from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 4.

Billed as “a spontaneous, outrageous, family-friendly event” that promises to “elevate the form of busking” by creating designated performance spaces and stages, BUSK! will culminate in an evening cabaret at Putnam Den featuring artists who performed throughout the day, kicking off at 8 p.m.

Visiting performers include musical performances by Howard Fishman, Jimy Graham, Katie Louise, Mike Campese, Nightmare River Band, Ramblin’ Jug Stompers, Shane Guerrette, and A World For You. Additional performs include: Atlas Circus Theatre (circus productions), LubDub Theater Co. (a hybrid physical theatre company), The Red Trouser Show (acrobats, comedians, and jugglers), and. Local participants include Balloon Gal Jenny, traveling puppetry by Heldeberg Marionettes, face painting by Jojo's Fabulous Faces.

Published in Entertainment
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