Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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SOUTH GLENS FALLS — More than 400 people packed into St. Michael’s Catholic Church in South Glens Falls on April 3 to say their final farewell to Bobby Dick. 

There were prayers during the 75-minute ceremony and the sprinkling of holy water, readings - by his daughter-in-law from the Book of Revelations, and by a family friend a letter from Paul to the Thessalonians. In song there was an ancient hymn titled simply, “Song of Farewell,” and, following the mass, there were stories. 

Bobby Dick was born and raised in Brooklyn and began performing at a young age. He attended Quintano’s School for Young Professionals where he was classmates with Patty Duke. Duke asked him to escort her to the prom at The Tavern on the Green, but he had to decline due to a scheduled performance in Lake George.

The band with which he most often known was The Sundowners, who made upstate N.Y. their home turf. In 1965, the group opened for the Rolling Stones at the Palace Theatre and the Dave Clark Five at the RPI Field House. They toured with Monkees and Jimi Hendrix and made a cameo performance on the TV shows “The Flying Nun” and “It Takes A Thief.” 

After the group disbanded in 2011, Dick continued to perform with his wife, Susie Q for the next 12 years. He battled a very rare cancer yet continued to perform up to February 2023. He died on March 27 at the age of 76.

“The world’s oldest teenager, now rocking and rolling, if I may say it that way, with the saints,” Rev. Tony Childs said from the pulpit at St. Michael’s Church. 

Family and friends shared stories, heartfelt, humorous, and befitting of a gregarious soul. Dick’s granddaughter played “Love Me Tender” on her clarinet, because, she said, Bobby loved Elvis. 

The last song of the Mass was played over the parish PA, a recording of Dick’s voice singing the “The Impossible Dream.” It received an ovation from those in attendance,  standing and clapping across the church, far as the eye could see. 

Dick is survived by his wife and an extended family that includes his children, grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter, siblings and nieces, nephews and cousins.  Rite of committal will be in the spring at St. Mary’s Cemetery in South Glens Falls.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — What’s in a name? Plenty when it comes to how some local residents see themselves represented. 

A new movie by local filmmaker Shaun Rose is garnering loud feedback from some in the community in which the movie was made - largely due to its one-word title: Toga. 

“I’ve never seen this before with any type of movie on any type of level. The fanatical ones, they’re at me like rabid animals,” Rose says. 

The 61-minute film tells Rose’s continuing story of a person progressing through different stages of their life. Released in January, “Toga” follows freelance videographer ‘Ellis Martin’ on assignment, scouting locations in the town where he was raised.

“I grew up in Saratoga Springs over on the west side of town by the high school,” says Rose.  “Toga” is a semi-autobiographical film and a sequel to his previous work, “Upstate Story.” 

“Getting into some of the biographical details of the movie, just channeling that, I think has been very therapeutic for me,” says the 37-year-old filmmaker. 

“The character is a fictionalized version of me, but there’s a lot of truth in that movie; Capturing me at different aspects, different time periods of my life,” says Rose, who handled most of the writing, directing, acting, and image-making/editing of the independent film. “Pretty much everything; tackling so many different roles, but I did have some help,” he says. 

“It has received good reviews from outside sources and has built up quite a few views over on YouTube. But it’s been controversial, to say the least - mostly due to the name alone and I’ve received a lot of hate from fellow locals over the shortening of our town name,” says Rose, privately sharing some of the more personally focused messages he received. Rose isn’t wrong in his labeling of these as “outright vulgar and disgusting. My girlfriend and co-producer received some as well.”

Saratoga: What’s In A Name

There is more than one Saratoga in the U.S. – a town in Wyoming, a city in California, and a Saratoga Springs in Utah, among them. Closer to home, the Town of Saratoga Springs was set apart from the Town of Saratoga in 1819. It was incorporated as a village in 1826, and in 1915 the City of Saratoga Springs came into existence. Its translation and spelling are varied:

•“Saratoga after an Iroquois Indian word Sarachtoue, which translates to “place of miraculous water in the rock.” - Visit Saratoga Wyoming, Carbon County Visitors Council. 

•“Saratoga, it is said, is derived from an Iroquois word, Se-rach-to-que, literally, ‘floating scum upon the water,’ a completely understandable interpretation to be put on the presence of mineral deposits showing up as vari-colored film on the surface of a pond.” – Saratoga Historical Foundation, Saratoga California.

•“Among the earliest dates in which the name Saratoga appears in history is the year 1684. It was not then the name of a town, nor of a county, neither was it the name of a great watering-place; but it was the name of an old Indian hunting-ground located along both sides of the Hudson River…Se-rach-ta-gue, or the “hill-side country of the great river.”-  Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, 1878, History Of Saratoga County, N.Y. 

Toga? What People Are Saying

An inquiry posted this week on locally focused social media channels asking folks to reply with their preferred usage of “Saratoga” vs. “Toga” returned more than 200 comments. 

Some said they took no issue with either. Others pointed to the two-syllable “to-ga” as affording a clean and simple chant at high school sporting events. 

Those opposed to the abbreviated version – which counted more than twice as many commentators - said they had either had never heard the phrase uttered, or set blame for its usage on everything from “the younger generation” and summertime “invaders from New Jersey” to John Belushi’s portrayal of the bellicose toga-draped John “Blutto” Blutarsky in the 1978 film “Animal House.” 

Here are some of the comments:

Calling Saratoga Toga is like calling your father “the old man,” or calling your mother by her first name, or calling your wife “my old lady”, etc. etc. Sounds cool to those of the same mindset. Lived in the area for most of my life and TOGA is just one of the many little things that irk some of us “OLD TIMERS” - Don.

“Toga” is a nickname used by Saratoga high athletics only. Anyone else referring to Saratoga as Toga is a Neanderthal - Scott. 

We don’t call it ‘Toga. New people do – Michele. 

Toga a known cheer and chant. Nothing wrong with it. Everyone knows where Toga is - Barbara. 

My dad is 79 and my mom is 73. We’ve all lived here our whole lives. I know plenty of “old” Saratogians and I’ve never heard it – Amber. 

TOGA was probably made popular by a drunken frat boy – Heather. 

Lifelong born and raised, graduated from SSHS. It has always been shortened to Toga – Dee. 

Been here since 1956. Toga is an abomination. Nobody called it that when I was growing up… and get off my lawn while you’re at it – Eric.

Notice that cranky “baby boomers” are the only ones offended – Bruce. 

Bruce - boomer here...not offended. SSHS class of ‘79 and we used to chant this at basketball and football games, taking a page from Animal House – Cathy. 

This must be coming from people who were NOT raised in Saratoga. No one I know of calls it Toga – Joan. 

Lifelong resident and it’s always been Toga! My kids, current students, call it Toga! Never found it offensive or complained about the shortened name. A lot easier to chant “let’s go Toga!” – LeeAnn. 

True natives say “Sara-doga” born there, raised there, still return any time I can. Never heard the Roman sheet reference until recent times. Kind of goes with backward ball caps and flips flops, not good – Brian. 

I have called it both. At sporting events it was yelled as Toga but I normally said just Saratoga. I was not born and raised here but my kids call it both. Don’t really get what there is to be offended by but I guess that’s the way of the world at present. – Jonna. 

Rose first became Inspired to make films while growing up watching movies that came into his home from the video rental store that stood in the strip mall on South Broadway. 

“I used to go there all the time with my family and rent movies. I just fell in love with movies as a teenager,” he says. 

“I always try to make movies to connect with people. Outside the obvious title fiasco, I’ve gotten positive feedback from a lot of people who have liked it. Something that people can connect with,” Rose says. 

“When we usually see coming of age movies -it’s common to see kids transitioning into teenagers, or teenagers into adults - but what about further areas of adulthood? We don’t really see that. I think we as people never stop growing, or maturing, bettering ourselves. It’s constantly a learning curve,” he says. “I try to make things that people can connect with, a story I’m trying to tell, and balance it with comedy or drama so people can be entertained by it as well.”   

The film may be viewed on YouTube by searching “Shaun Rose” and “Toga.” Note, the film contains mature themes and strong language. 

Thursday, 30 March 2023 13:30

Gunfight: The Charges Are In

In the early morning hours on November 20, 2022, members of the Saratoga Springs Police Department responded to the sound of gunfire coming from Broadway. The officers involved were assigned to the downtown area, and were on foot on Caroline St at the time. Within seconds, the Officers confronted two individuals exchanging gunfire on Broadway in the heart of the City’s busy downtown area. –Saratoga Springs Police Department statement March 28, 2023. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A deputy sheriff was charged with attempted murder and three men from Utica with attempted assault in this week’s reveal of charges in connection with a November early morning incident in Saratoga Springs that saw approximately 20 bullets raining down on Broadway. 

Vito E. Caselnova, a Rutland County Vermont sheriff’s deputy and Glens Falls resident, was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Saratoga County Court. The sealed indictment, unsealed in court, documented eight charges - five felonies, two misdemeanors, and one violation. 

The charges: attempted murder in the second-degree, assault in the first-degree, possession of a firearm in a sensitive location (that “sensitive location” in this instance believed to be carrying a firearm inside a place that serves alcohol), two counts of possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device, menacing, reckless endangerment, and harassment.

“There is a wide range of sentences the court could impose if you are convicted of that (attempted murder) charge or if you plead guilty of that charge, but the most severe sentence is a determinate term of up to 25 years in state prison,” Judge Jim Murphy said in the courtroom on March 28. 

Approximately two dozen people filled the public area of the courtroom. Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen was seated in the first row. Ten members of the media sat in the jury box, notebooks and cameras in hand. 

“Given the configuration of the indictment, it may be that some of those charges would run concurrently, or potentially consecutively if you were to be found guilty or if you were to plead guilty,” Judge Murphy told Caselnova. 

Caselnova, who sat mostly quiet while in the courtroom, pleaded not guilty to all counts. 

Bail was set at $50,000 cash, or $100,000 bail bond. Caselnova’s attorney, Greg Teresi, said that bail would be posted on Caselnova’s behalf at the correction facility. Caselnova, 25, was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom. 

During proceedings, an order of protection – effective immediately - was issued advising Caselnova to not have any contact, directly or indirectly, with Alexander Colon. 

Less than 24 hours later and across the county, Colon’s name as well as those of two others allegedly connected with the Nov. 20 incident appeared on documents at Saratoga Springs City Court. 

Court records indicate that the three people, all from Utica, were each charged with one count attempted assault in the third-degree, a misdemeanor, in connection with the incident. According to the prosecutor’s filings, the charge specifies each of the defendants “attempted to cause an injury to a person by repeatedly punching him.” 

Those charged are: Alexander Colon, 28, Darius A. Wright, 29, and Christopher (AKA Christian) E. Castillo, 28. The charges were assigned on March 23, according to court documents. All three were summoned to appear in person in Saratoga Springs City Court at 9 a.m. on April 25.

According to statements by Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino shortly after the Nov. 20 incident occurred, an altercation allegedly involving Caselnova - who was off-duty at the time - and “a group of individuals from the Utica area” was initiated on or around a Caroline Street bar before accelerating west and onto Broadway with approximately eight shots being fired. It is unclear how many weapons may have been involved, or who is suspected of firing first. 

City police officers subsequently responding to the incident fired approximately 11 shots after the off-duty deputy allegedly ignored calls to drop his weapon. 

“What they see is the Vermont sheriff’s deputy, standing on the sidewalk, his gun leveled and moving from side-to-side pointing the gun,” Montagnino said. “The officers repeatedly, loudly direct the deputy, ‘Drop the gun, get on the ground,’ again, again and again. By my count there are at least eight separate clear unequivocal demands to put the gun down and get on the ground. They are all ignored.” 

The incident marked the first discharge of a weapon in the line of duty by a Saratoga Springs officer in more than a quarter-century. 

City officers testified before the grand jury and waived immunity for their actions, according to a statement issued by PBA President Paul Veitch this week. “The Grand Jury decision to exonerate our officers confirms that they acted appropriately and justifiably during this stressful life-threatening situation.”

Caselnova suffered a number of wounds as a result of the incident and a woman believed to be his girlfriend was “nicked by one of the bullets in her upper arm,” Montagnino said. The woman, Glens Falls resident Cali Brown, filed the notice of claim against the city and police department signifying her intent to sue, the Daily Gazette in February. 

It is anticipated Caselnova will return to county court on May 2 at 9:30 a.m. for discovery compliance - the sharing of evidence in the matter.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) is calling for a 20% increase to Medicaid reimbursement rates in the 2023-24 state budget to support upstate nursing homes. 

“Our upstate nursing homes are on the verge of collapse,” said Woerner, during a press conference held this week. “They have hundreds of beds that can’t be filled due to staffing shortages caused by lack of funds. While I am grateful that the Assembly’s one-house budget doubled the executive’s proposed paltry increase of only 5%, the need for a full 20% increase remains. Without that increase, many homes supporting the elders in our communities will be forced to shut their doors, and we cannot allow this to happen.” 

A systemic rebasing strategy, one that is based on current costs, is also critically needed if the rate is to keep up with the cost of providing care, Woerner added. 

Medicaid reimbursements rates -- the amounts Medicaid provides to cover patient health care costs — for upstate nursing homes have not increased in 15 years in New York. Nursing homes’ operating costs have meanwhile increased around 40% over the last several years, leading to shortfalls in what the nursing homes charge for service and what they receive. 

Medicaid pays for care for many nursing home residents across the state. At The Wesley Community, 75% of residents are paid for by Medicaid, yet it only covers part of the actual costs of care, according to J. Brian Nealon, CEO of The Wesley Community in Saratoga Springs. 

“With every Medicaid resident we care for, Wesley loses $106 per day. Annually, this means underfunding of $8,500,000,” Nealon wrote in an editorial published Feb. 16 in Saratoga TODAY. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wesley was able to approach breakeven in some years through alternative revenue streams and donations from the community. 

“That is no longer the case. Due to this shortfall, community-focused, nonprofit nursing homes statewide are closing or being sold to private ‘for-profit’ operators at an alarming rate. In Saratoga County alone, the number of nursing home beds has dropped by 55% in the last decade,” said Nealon, adding that 26 other states have increased their Medicaid funding during the pandemic, whereas New York reduced its reimbursement rates during that time. 

The result of the underfunding by the state has forced many nursing homes, including Wesley, to limit admissions, and without available beds, hospitals cannot discharge patients who would have traditionally gone to a nursing home for rehabilitation. 

“The governor’s recently released Executive Budget, with a proposed 5% increase, is a start, but still falls short of what is needed after years of underfunding,” Nealon said. 

Assemblywoman Woerner said that a 20% increase will shore up the finances of upstate nursing homes and allow them to operate and provide care to the people who need it most. 

SARATOGA — The towns of Saratoga and Stillwater 250th American Revolution Committee has started its work to plan and organize ceremonies, events, activities, and celebrations recognizing the 250th Anniversary of the American Revolution in local communities. 

The 250th anniversary marks the British Army surrender in 1777 in present-day Schuylerville, following the battles at Saratoga, and has been nicknamed the Turning Point of the American Revolution. The anniversary will be commemorated through the fall of 2027 with a multi-faceted public education and marketing effort.

Last summer, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors committed $150,000 in seed money overall to the Saratoga County 250th American Revolution Commission, to help advance its mission of promoting education, historic preservation and heritage tourism of the Revolutionary War era events, people, and places throughout Saratoga County. 

The towns of Saratoga & Stillwater are working together on their plans and have reached out to some of the villages within their respective towns for their feedback. 

The committee recently reviewed the County’s, NYS, and Federal commemoration plan and upcoming county activities, including the Women at War Symposium on May 5 and 6, Revolution Along the Hudson talks during the summer of 2023, and the Pathways through History weekend on October 7 and 8. We encourage all residents to mark these dates on their calendars and join us in celebrating our nation’s history.

Residents are encouraged to attend the next committee meeting, which will take place 6:30 p.m. on April 12 in the Gates Room of Saratoga Town Hall. 

For more information, contact Mackenzie Macey, committee chairperson and Historian Town of Stillwater at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A city court appearance by Chandler Hickenbottom scheduled to take place this week has been rescheduled for April 24. 

The violation charge made against Hickenbottom, a Saratoga BLM activist, has come under much scrutiny after the disturbing-a-lawful-assembly charge was requested by City Council member and Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino. 

Montagnino, one of five City Council members, said he filed the charge in response to a disruption of a Feb. 7 City Council meeting. “The City Council meeting was ended. It wasn’t delayed, it wasn’t’ interrupted, it was ended,” Montagnino said. That council meeting was subsequently adjourned early and eventually resumed two days later.

The four other members of the City Council have publicly expressed disapproval of the action brought by their fellow Democrat public safety commissioner. 

Hickenbottom pleaded not guilty to the disorderly conduct charge during her arraignment at Saratoga Springs City Court on March 7.  She was accompanied by her attorney Mark Mishler who told the court that the allegations infringe and violate Hickenbottom’s protected First Amendment rights. 

Both Saratoga Springs City Judges - Jeffrey Wait and Francine Vero – apparently withdrew from hearing the case. Mechanicville City Court Judge Constantine DiStefano instead took the position at the judge’s bench.

An additional filing by the commissioner for an order of protection was denied on March 7 by Judge DiStefano.

All parties were scheduled to return to city court on March 28. That court date has now been moved to April 24. 

BALLSTON SPA — This week, The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors and the Saratoga County Veterans Service Agency held its monthly Honor Deceased Veterans Program by honoring longtime Saratoga Springs resident and Tuskegee Airman Clarence Dart. 

Dart flew 95 missions overseas during World War II. Twice, he survived being shot down by the enemy. He grew up during the Great Depression. As a child, his clothing came from the Salvation Army. Much of his food was grown in the family garden in Elmira. He built model airplanes as a child and had a yearning to fly.

The day after his 21st birthday, on Dec. 7, 1941, Dart was singing in his church choir when he heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor. The young man knew what he wanted to do. The following year, he was accepted into flight training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field, joining other young men who had enlisted to become America’s first black military airmen. 

Dart served as a member of the 332nd Fighter Group and was assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron in the 12th Air Force in North Africa. He was one of about 1,000 fighter pilots who painted the tails of their airplanes red, earning the nickname, “Red Tails.” They were trained as a segregated unit and forbidden to practice alongside their white counterparts. 

Dart later flew P-51s escorting 15th Air Force bombers and was discharged from active duty at the rank of Captain in 1947.  He went on to serve in the NY Air National Guard and retired at the rank of Lt. Colonel.

For his service Dart received two Purple Hearts for injuries sustained during air combat, the Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, the WWII Victory Medal, and the American Defense Medal, the NYS Conspicuous Service Cross, and the NYS Conspicuous Service Star.

While he fought for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four freedoms, when Dart returned home from the war there was no heroic welcome, and no job that was available to him to fulfill his dream of being a commercial airplane pilot.

The accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen are credited with influencing President Harry Truman to officially desegregate the U.S. military in 1948. It was the same year Dart relocated to Saratoga Springs. He married his wife, Mildred, in June 1950 and the couple raised their family of seven daughters and two sons in the Spa City. 

After the war, Dart worked for General Electric Co. until his retirement in 1987, after which he began visiting schools and talking to students about his experiences in the war, explaining to them the importance of getting an education as a way of bettering themselves and creating opportunities. It was only after Dart began to speak about his wartime experiences at the request of neighborhood schools that his own children began to truly understand some of their father’s experiences. 

It took more than 60 years for recognition to come for the humble man from Elmira. In 2007, Dart was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal, alongside other Tuskegee Airmen in the Capitol Rotunda, and in 2011 was honored locally at the Wesley Community senior housing facility where he resided at the time. Dart died in 2012. He was 91 and was buried with military honors at the family plot at Greenridge Cemetery on Lincoln Avenue.

Established in 1999 by the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, the Honor Deceased Veterans Program provides a way for county leadership and residents to show gratitude for the service of veterans past and present. The ceremony is dedicated to a different Saratoga County veteran each month.  To date, more than 300 Saratoga County Veterans have been honored.

To learn more about Clarence Dart, in his own words, go online to YouTube and search: Clarence W. Dart

BALLSTON SPA — Cropped. Trimmed. Sheared. Exposed. Ballston Spa Mayor Frank Rossi kept his head up while sticking his neck out and after all was said and done raised about $15,000 to supporting research in finding cures for childhood cancers. 

It was the first time the mayor took part in the event, an annual fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Rossi vowed to shave his head if 20 or more Ballston Spa Scotties athletes and coaches joined the drive. And so, they did. 

“I was a little scared about it at first because it was the first time I ever shaved my head,” the mayor said, following the event held at the Saratoga City Tavern Saturday. The next day, the chill carrying wind made its presence felt upon his exposed scalp. “I was feeling it on Sunday, but thankfully someone gave me a Scotties Lacrosse hat, so I was able to stay somewhat warm,” Rossi said with a laugh. 

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer and donor-powered charity supporting research to find cures for childhood cancers and to help provide survivors long and healthy lives. Last year, the organization raised more than $20 million. Thus far, in the early months of 2023, nearly $11.5 million has been raised. 

Rossi said he set an initial fundraising goal of $1,000 for his Mayor’s Team. About $15,000 was raised, Rossi said. 

Would he return to the scene of the shears next year? 

“I absolutely would do this again, and I’d like to see if we can get a little rivalry going with other schools to see who can raise the most,” Rossi said. 

BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, during its monthly meeting on March 21, proclaimed April as “Donate Life Month” in Saratoga County. 

According to documents cited by the Board, 100,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants and 17 people die each day because the organ they need is not donated in time.

County employees are encouraged to wear blue and green, the official colors of Donate Life New York State, on the organization’s “Blue and Green Day”-  April 14, 2023.

In New York State, 3,396 transplants were performed in 2022. Approximately 8,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant in N.Y., with more than 1,100 waiting longer than five years. An estimated 500 New Yorkers die every year while waiting for an organ transplant, according to the county Board. 

Anyone 16 years of age or older can enroll as an organ and tissue donor. That information may be found at: 

Upgrades To Saratoga County Sewer District No. 1’s Saratoga Springs Pump Station

-The Board authorized the execution of an agreement with W.M. Schultz Construction, Inc. of Ballston Spa, for work relating to the upgrade of the Saratoga Springs pump station. That includes new piping, roof, pump rebuilds, and wet well and influent manhole rehabilitation at a cost of up to $4.148 million. The Board further resolved a services agreement with Dynamic Electrical Systems LLC of Glenville, for electrical work relating to the upgrade of the pump station at a cost of up to $619,000. Funding for the agreements will require an appropriation of $3.067 million from the Sewer Fund Balance.

Establishing An Updated Official Saratoga County Seal

-In 1968, the County established an Official Saratoga County Seal to depict the creation of the County in 1791. Last year, the County began developing a brand strategy to include the standardization of its visual identity across all departments and authorized an agreement with Trampoline Design to do so.

This week, the Board adopted a resolution regarding the new seal. It will be filed with the County Clerk and with the Secretary of State of the State of New York. 

The official seal of Saratoga County portrays the surrender of the Battle of Saratoga, depicting a three-quarter view of a field piece (trail end); Gen. Burgoyne surrendering his sword to General Gates in the presence of color-guard flying the American flag (13 bars and 13 stars-in-a circle) taking place under a tree. Background is composed of a squad of unarmed solders marching, and backdrop shows the mountain ranges to the east. A complete circle of tiny cannon balls rings the picture, and the words “Saratoga County 1791” appear outside the cannon balls and inside an endless rope circle completing  the seal. 

Thursday, 23 March 2023 12:49

Saratoga Springs City Council: March 21

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city on March 21 awarded a $150,000 Mayor’s Non-Profit grant to Pitney Meadows Community Farm for their investment in a solar infrastructure project. 

The mayor’s non-profit grant committee received four proposals in all vying the grant, Pitney Meadows Farm, Cady Hill Cemetery, RISE, and the YMCA Senior Center, among them. 

“They were all great proposals, very community minded,” city Mayor Ron Kim said. 

Pitney Meadows Community Farm was founded in 2016 with a mission is to celebrate and explore agricultural education, healthy food production, and recreation. It is located on 166 acres on the west side of Saratoga Springs and is preserved in perpetuity as a working farm. Since 2016, it has successfully transitioned from a volunteer-led endeavor to professional non-profit operation, led by expert full-time staff collaborating with the Saratoga community, according to documents presented to the city by the organization. 

In 2022 PMCF welcomed over 6,000 visitors and community members; donated 8,743 pounds of produce; supported more than 100 community gardeners; hosted 162 educational programs; added a full-time staff member to lead a food sovereignty program; and collaborated with more than 20 organizations. However, the parcel is divided into three separate sections, leaving agricultural fields without access to power. 

The organization says to sustain itself as a regenerative agriculture, public health, and ecological asset for future decades it is addressing the significant irrigation and power needs with climate-smart approaches, identifying solar infrastructure as a natural solution to provide the electricity required for the irrigation, propagation, and gathering facilities for the farm’s extensive community-driven operations. 

The total project budget is $336,500. Thus far, $49,000 in grant funding has been received for the solar initiative, and the organization sought the one-time investment by the city of Saratoga of $150,000 in PMCF’s transition to solar energy.   

Phillips Appointed New Assistant City Attorney 

Michael Phillips was appointed Assistant City Attorney of Saratoga Springs, during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. 

Phillips, who was admitted to the NYS Bar in June of 1991, recently ran as Democrat challenger in the county District Attorney race, an election in which incumbent Republican District Attorney Karen Heggen ultimately emerged victorious. 

Compensation stipulated is $2,019 per week for a standard 40-hour work week.

Human Rights Protection Amendment Tabled for Two Weeks

The council seemingly was set to approve the addition of a “Human Rights Protection” chapter to City Code, but a conflict over the clarity of specific language inspired council debate and resulted in the matter being tabled until the city’s next meeting, on April 4. 

The first designation under the Human Rights Protection chapter is scheduled to be the protection of reproductive rights. In doing so, the city says it is recognizing the importance of reproductive healthcare as a matter of health, privacy, and equality and to ensure that those rights are upheld for all city residents. 

While N.Y. State has protections for reproductive rights in place, city Mayor Ron Kim noted that other cities in the state of N.Y. have adopted similar city protective ordinances in light of more restrictive policies being implemented recently in other states. 

New Project Proposal Cycle is Open for Participatory Budgeting

The Saratoga Springs Finance Department launched a Participatory Budgeting pilot project in Spring of 2022. Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget. 

A New project proposal cycle is currently open, and the Committee will be accepting project proposals through May 1. 

Several projects were funded during cycle one,  Sustainable Saratoga’s Urban Forestry Project, Jefferson & Vanderbilt Terrace Community Garden, Saratoga Arts & HMT Broadway Live Musical Theater, and a Curling pilot program, among them.

A cycle 2 informational workshop session will be held 6-8 p.m. Friday March 31 at the Recreation Center, and 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 25 at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. For more information, go to: 

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