City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
The Man Comes Around: Robert Burke Warren, Rochmon Talk Johnny Cash at Northshire Nov. 16
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Robert Burke Warren will discuss his new book “Cash on Cash: Interviews and Encounters with Johnny Cash,” with Chuck “Rochmon Record Club” Vosganian at Northshire Bookstore this week.
The event takes place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
Music has played a major role in Warren’s personal life and his career has included stints with RuPaul - “the singer of my first band, when I was 17. He was 20,” Warren recalls, The Fleshtones, and auditions for the B-52s and The Ramones. In 2016, he published his debut novel “Perfectly Broken” – a splendidly entertaining volume of words he synopsisized to this journalist as “Musicians in love, musicians behaving badly—and the people that love them.” In January, he co-hosts the David Bowie Birthday Bash in Manhattan.
“Cash on Cash,” published by Chicago Review Press in September, offers unprecedented insight into one of the most significant American cultural figures of the 20th century.
As an interviewee, Cash was an exemplary communicator to an astonishingly broad spectrum of people: always open and articulate, part friend, part spiritual authority, part flawed hero. Throughout a decades-long career, as Cash took risks, embracing new technologies, formats, and attitudes, he cleaved to a simple, core message of unvarnished truth.
Cash’s story, told in his own words, shines unfiltered light on a journey of archetypal proportions that resonates still in this comprehensive collection of interviews and feature stories, some widely published and others never previously transcribed, culled from the 1950s through the early days of the new millennium.
“Cash on Cash” is available at Northshire Saratoga. The bookstore is located at 424 Broadway in Saratoga Springs. Call 518-682-4200, visit: northshire.com.
Neil Young Celebrates 50th Anniversary of “Harvest” Album with Film, Box Set
While recording his album “Harvest” during a nine-month period in 1971, Neil Young was accompanied by a camera capturing moving images and some of the sounds.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the album’s release, captured footage from Northern California, London, and Nashville are being turned into an exclusive cinema event on Dec. 1.
“We’re just making a film about, I don’t know, just the things we want to film,” a 20-something Neil Young explains in a preview trailer, while walking along a path at Broken Arrow Ranch in California in 1971.
“Neil Young: Harvest Time” will be presented in movie theaters worldwide on Thursday, Dec. 1 with select encores on Sunday, Dec. 4.
The film depicts the “Harvest Barn” sessions, as well as an iconic performance with the London Symphony Orchestra, and sessions in Nashville. Performance and rehearsal content is intertwined into the storytelling and includes most of the tracks from the 1972 album ‘Harvest,’ including “Heart of Gold,” “A Man Needs A Maid,” “Alabama,” and “Old Man.”
“This is a big album for me. 50 years ago. I was 24, maybe 23 and this album made a big difference in my life,” Young said in a statement. “I played with some great friends and it’s really cool that that this album has lasted so long. I had a great time and now when I listen to it, I think I was really just lucky to be there. I hope you enjoy this story, which is ‘Harvest Time,’ and which talks about everything that happened. And now people all around the world can see it at the movies.”
A 50th Anniversary Edition Harvest Box Set will also be issued on Vinyl and CD which includes the original album, three studio outtakes on CD/7” vinyl, an unreleased live 1971 BBC solo performance on CD/LP and DVD, and a hardbound book and fold-out poster.
Visit NeilYoungHarvestTime.com for ticketing and the most up-to-date information about participating theaters.
Budget Month in Saratoga Springs: City Making Revisions to Proposed $54.21 Million Spending Plan
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The second Public Hearing regarding Saratoga Springs’ proposed 2023 budget was held Nov. 1 at City Hall. As was the case during the first public hearing, which was staged in mid-October, no one from the community stepped forward to be heard.
The city is proposing a $54.21 million spending plan in 2023, up slightly from $54.19 million plan in effect this year.
“We see our budget not just as a policy document for our city but also a road map and a moral compass for what our community prioritizes,” said city Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi. “Our primary goal when making this budget was to ensure there were no cuts to our excellent and much needed city services, as well as no layoffs of our city employees.”
During the City Council meeting Nov. 1, Commissioner Sanghvi provided a year-to-date collection report. “Our 2022 collection for Sales Tax stands at $11.6 million right now, our Mortgage Tax at $2.1 million, and our Occupancy Tax at $572,000 – these are very good numbers for 2022,” she said.
A “critical priority” in this year’s plan is budgeting for the city’s 3rd EMS/ Fire Station. The long-debated third station will serve residents of the city’s eastern plateau. Just over $7 million was bonded in 2022 for building the fire station and additional $1.4 million is slated to be bonded in 2023 for cost overages due to inflation and supply chain shortages.
Sanghvi said considering 8% inflation and the “once-in-a-generation undertaking of a EMS/ fire station,” the plan proposes a Real Property Tax increase from $6.43 to $6.67 for Inside District and from $6.37 to $6.61 for the Outside District - an average increase of 3.72%. That increase translates to the following: if a house is assessed at $200,000, owners will pay $4 per month more on their property tax, $6 per month more if assessed at $300,000, $8 per month more if assessed at $400,000.
Independent department budget workshops have been held through October. A budget must be finalized by Nov. 30.
“During the month of November, we will make final revisions and bring it to the City Council,” Sanghvi said.
Saratoga County Floats $378 Million Spending Plan for 2023
BALLSTON SPA — Budget season is underway at the Saratoga County complex in Ballston Spa, with supervisors in discussion regarding a proposed $378.3 million spending plan for 2023.
This year’s annual county budget – at $381.6 million – represented a near $11 million increase over 2021. Hitting the target proposal in 2023 would represent a $3.29 million decrease compared to 2022.
Additionally, the tentative plan would, for the for the first time in six years, not use county fund balance reserves, and reduce the county’s Property Tax Rate by 5%, keeping it under the tax cap, says Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman Theodore Kusnierz, Jr.
“With uncertain financial times ahead, homeowners will receive much needed relief with a 5% property tax reduction through a balanced budget that doesn’t borrow from the county’s fund balance,” Kusnierz said. “Importantly, the budget upholds our fiscally responsible practices, continues to provide vital programs and services to our residents, supports public safety and public health initiatives, and makes smart investments in economic development.”
The proposed plan maintains funding for important programs and services, says County Administrator Steve Bulger. “In the wake of increasing inflation, soaring costs for goods and services, and an uncertain national economic environment, the County is tightening its financial belt while continuing to make key investments in services and programs to sustain the quality-of-life Saratoga County residents enjoy.”
The plan would keep the levy within the tax cap and provide homeowners the lowest property tax rate in the State at $2.12 per $1,000 of assessed value, according to the county.
The County sales tax revenue projection is $150 million, a decrease of $4 million compared with 2021 sales tax receipts and approximately $8 million less than expected 2022 revenues.
Notable funding allocations includes nearly $53 million for investments in personnel, technology, and equipment for the District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Probation Department, Public Defender’s Department, and Conflict Defender’s Office.
Other notable allocations:
• More than $600,000 to promote economic development and tourism.
• Nearly $3 million for community development organizations that support initiatives including literacy and career development, history and culture preservation, and agriculture and environmental conservation.
• About $400,000 for the Farmland and Open Space Grant program to maintain the county’s extensive network of trails and open space.
• Usage of $130,000 in Opioid Settlement funds that the county says will “create programs and provide services to connect families, veterans, and underserved populations with community-based treatment, rehabilitation, recovery, and support services related to opioid and substance use disorders.”
The Board of Supervisors will host a 2023 budget workshop at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 9 and has tentatively set a Dec. 14 date as a Special Board Meeting at the county complex in Ballston Spa for the 2023 Budget Adoption.
Election Day: Nov. 8
SARATOGA COUNTY — Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polling Places will be open 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. There are 168, 047 active registered voters in Saratoga County.
All registered voters are eligible to participate in the General Election. Check your registration status at voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/
Up for vote are several seats - statewide, as well as countywide and locally in several municipalities. The sample ballot depicts Saratoga Springs specifically. To view sample ballots specific to various municipalities in Saratoga County, go here: www.saratogacountyny.gov/departments/board-of-elections/voting-information/#ballots.
Flip the ballot over: A 2022 Statewide Ballot Proposal, titled Proposal Number One – “Clean Water, Clean Air, And Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act Of 2022.” The purpose of this proposal is to authorize the creation of state debt and the sale of state bonds in the amount of up to $4.2 billion for certain capital projects for the purpose of making environmental improvements that preserve, enhance, and restore New York’s natural resources and reduce the impact of climate change. If approved, the proposal would allow the State to borrow up to $4.2 billion to provide funding for capital projects for the restoration and flood risk reduction, open space land conservation and recreation, climate change mitigation, and water quality improvement and resilient infrastructure.
Code Blue Emergency Shelter Now Open Nightly
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city-based Code Blue winter emergency shelter on Adelphi Street is now open every night, Shelters of Saratoga announced Oct. 26.
The venue will provide nightly shelter from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. until April 2023.
Additionally, on days when the temperature drops below 32 degrees, daytime respite with a navigation center where community partner agencies provide client services will be available. Services this winter have expanded to include case management, which provides the means for guests to move out of homelessness.
The building which houses the shelter, located just off South Broadway, is leased through April 30, 2023 at a cost of $8,000 per month.
Plans were unveiled in October to site a permanent 24/7 year-round shelter on city-owned property at the soon-to-be-vacated Senior Center on Williams Street. Proposals call for the development of the low barrier shelter and navigation center to be operational in early 2023.
The city expressed interest in also pursuing the possibility of constructing about 40 affordable housing apartments in an adjacent space on the parcel that would assist residents in their transitioning process - a continuum of care with the ultimate goal of helping people move from homelessness to sustained housing on their own.
An Epic Story Nearly 30 Years in the Making: Local Man Launches Comic Book Company
SARATOGA SPRINGS — It is story was born in Saratoga a long time in-the-making that will make its landing in living color in the Spa City this month.
IT is called “The Supernatural Strings of Vampwyre,” a 32-page comic from the mind of Zack Lynch, launching the first book of what he hopes will be a quarterly publication with his new enterprise Blue Shack Comics.
“The first time I ever got to go to a comic shop was on Broadway (in Saratoga Springs). My mom took me and it was like a magic portal,” says Lynch, who subsequently grew up reading ‘Conan’ and ‘X-Men’ - “the two mainstays I read as a kid without fail, and after that pretty much everything Marvel put out.”
By the 1990s, Lynch began working for comic book companies, first as an intern and later graduating to doing coloring and production design. “Comics have been a part of my life forever, since I was a kid, and it’s been in my career wheelhouse for the past 30 years now,” he says.
Earlier this year, he assembled a creative team in anticipation of launching a local comic book company and estimates approximately 50 brainstorming meetings have been held at Desperate Annie’s on Caroline Street – “that has been quite a creation hub for us” - since May.
“I hired a team of professionals and knowing how every position works really helps. It takes about six people to put together a comic. You’ve got your basic creator – who comes up with the idea; your writer; you have to do sketches to get an idea of what the book is going to look like, then it goes to a penciller, an inker, a colorist and a letterer,” Lynch explains. “Then all of that comes back to me for design layout and printing.”
The end result is Blue Shack Comics’ first issue: The Supernatural Strings of Vampwyre – a kid-friendly story about an AI rock star who deals with the experiences that all humans experience, Lynch says, from growing up, to figuring out who and what we are.
Book 1 is on its way back from the printers. Book 2 begins production next month and is slated for release in the spring. The hope is to release a new book on a quarterly basis. Lynch – who wears the title of creator, writer and editor of the book, also launched a Kickstarter campaign.
“I am the financier, and it is costly, but an interesting part is that it’s also being financed by old classic comics which are now exceptionally valuable. I have quite a large comic collection, and for this book I’m selling comics to make a comic,” Lynch says.
“The Supernatural Strings of Vampwyre” is slated to make its premiere Nov. 12-13, during Comic Con at the Saratoga Springs City Center. It will also be available at the website: vampwyre.com, where more information about the publication may be found.
“The Supernatural Strings of Vampwyre.” Creator & Writer - Zack Lynch; Artistic Concept Designer - Kim Vincent Harris; Pencils - Jason Baroody; Inks - Mark McKenna; Colors - Ross Campbell; Letters - Dezi Sienty; Graphic Design - Tyrus Christiana. 32 pages, color, $6. Go to: vampwyre.com.
Congressman Tours Wilton Food Pantry
WILTON — One dozen identical bottles of Italian dressing stand atop the shelves. Each bears a label-faced portrait of green rolling hills and olive and cypress trees on a blue-sky day. It is a lush panorama of a province in some other sunny place, standing in contrast to the landscape of vanilla shelves that run down the aisles inside the room.
“Everything you see on the shelves here will be gone within the month - easily,” says Paula Schmid, president of the board of directors at the Wilton Food Pantry.
“These shelves were almost bare, but we had a 1,000-pound food bank delivery yesterday morning after we had a 1,500-pound Hoffman’s Car Wash food drive,” she says, framed by rows of hot sauce and mayonnaise, cold brew coffee and chicken soup, cans filled with chili, pear halves, diced tomatoes, and boxes of pancake mix, corn flakes, and mac ’n’ cheese.
Six volunteers spent a good part of the past two days sorting through the incoming goods, checking expiration dates and ensuring the packaging is intact. “Still, there are some gaps on our shelves,” Schmid says. “We’re getting 1,000 pounds of food from the Food Bank almost every week and going through it in a week.”
On this day, Congressman Paul Tonko is touring the Wilton Food Pantry. He is accompanied by Saratoga County Administrator Steve Bulger, and Wilton Food Pantry Director of Operations Peter Maynard.
In June, the pantry was awarded $50,000 from Saratoga County’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation, helping the pantry to cover most of its operating costs for this year, and allowing the organization to continue to provide critical service to food insecure residents of Northern Saratoga County.
In all, Saratoga County received approximately $44.65 million in ARPA monies since the Federal Government passed the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package in March 2021. Locally, 20th District Congressman Paul Tonko voted in favor of the economic stimulus package.
Tonko toured the Ballard Road food pantry as part of a series of visits by the congressman this month to sites across the Capital Region to highlight how the ARPA funds he helped deliver are working for families and local communities.
The Wilton Food Pantry began organizing volunteers to provide an emergency food supply to low-income residents a decade ago. It serves residents beyond its geographical town borders and extends to Northern Saratoga County.
Patron data shows a 35% increase in community need this year over last.
2021: 281 families, 623 individuals, 1,851 visits and 32,904 meals provided.
2022: 367 families, 868 individuals, 2,448 visits and 44,566 meals provided.
Goods are mainly secured from three sources. Items are purchased from the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Latham, use-by-that-day items are picked up at Hannaford (for which the market receives a tax credit), and community fund drives.
“The Northeastern Regional Food Bank is our primary source; we pay for it, but we pay only 16-cents a pound. So for donations, we would actually prefer to have money because we can buy the things we need on our shelves, “Schmid said. “The way the food bank values things is that each pound of food is worth $1.79 that we hand out. What we’re actually paying for that is 16 cents, so it’s like a ten-times factor.”
The food pantry works with approximately 50 volunteers who pick up goods at the market, interact with the public, or work on backroom inventory.
“The hunger and hurt that’s out there for a lot of families is not easily seen, so I think it’s good for the region to have that. It’s important,” Tonko said.
The annual budget is $75,000 which covers rental of the space and two part-time paid employees. Due to the pandemic, the organization was unable to host its annual fundraising event for two consecutive years. Those events usually raise about $25,000 each year. During 2020 and 2021 an outpouring of donations from the community helped the food pantry stay afloat, the $50,000 COVID non-profit grant is assisting the organization this year.
“It’s important to have this set up and to be able to serve people. With one in five kids in the congressional district living in food insecurity, there’s a need out there, so you and your volunteers are making a major effort,” said Tonko, adding he was thankful the county Board of Supervisors directed some of federal rescue plan money it received to the food pantry.
“With the post-COVID response, rebuilding the economy is important - and this is part of it. This is stabilizing households and families,” Tonko said. “There is an all-out effort to conquer hunger. And it’s a great challenge. Thank goodness there are operations like this. By the grace of God anyone can be in this situation, so it serves all of us.”
For more information about resident registration and more about the Wilton Food Pantry, go to: wiltonfoodpantry.org.
Early Voting Starts Saturday – There Are 5 Sites in Saratoga County
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga County Board of Elections and the city of Saratoga Springs announced the Recreation Center at 15 Vanderbilt Ave. will serve as an early voting site for the 2022 General Election.
The Saratoga County Board of Elections’ other early voting sites include Wilton Gavin Park on Lewis Road; Greenfield Firehouse #1 in Greenfield Center; the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library on Moe Road in Clifton Park; and the Board of Elections office on West High Street in Ballston Spa.
All voters may vote at any poll site.
On the ballot for voters in the Saratoga region: Governor and Lt. Gov; Comptroller; Attorney General; U.S. Senator; State Supreme Court Justice; 20th Congressional District; 44th State Sen. District; 113th Assembly District; District Attorney; Treasurer; Family Court Judge.
Specific to the city of Saratoga Springs: An election to fill the remainder of the term for DPW Commissioner. That term goes through the calendar year 2023.
There are just over 168,000 active registered voters in Saratoga County, according to the New York State Board of Elections. That party affiliation includes: just under 50,000 registered Democrats, just over 61,000 Republicans, and nearly 45,000 “blank” voters.
Voters who cast a ballot during the early voting period will not be allowed to vote on Election Day, Nov. 8. Voters who have been issued an absentee ballot are not permitted to vote on the voting machines, but may be issued an affidavit ballot.
Hours for voting:
Saturday, Oct. 29: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 30: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 31: 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 1: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 2: 12 – 8 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 3: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 4: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 5: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 6: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
For more information, call the Saratoga County Board of Elections at 518-885-2249, or Stacy Connors, Deputy Commissioner of Accounts, City of Saratoga Springs at 518-587-3550 x2543.
Under Consideration: 200-Unit Liberty Saratoga Apartments
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Liberty Affordable Housing Inc., of Rome, NY, is applying for a zoning map amendment in its effort to develop approximately 200 apartments in two, four-story structures on a portion of a wooded 30-acre lot on the corner of Jefferson Street and Crescent Avenue.
The apartments would be geared toward “employees such as teachers, young professionals, nurses, hospitality industry, firefighters and police,” according to documents filed with the city.
Regarding residents, the project targets 60-80% of the Average Median Income (that median family income in the region is $106,000). To qualify to apply for an apartment at Liberty Saratoga the tenant/household verified income would range from just over $44,500 to nearly $85,000, and points to $900- $1,120 costs for a studio, $995-$1,200 for one-bedroom, and $1,200-$1,650 for two-bedroom apartments.
In order for the project to become a reality, an amendment is necessary to modify the current zoning from low density rural residential, or RR, to UR-4 – which accommodates family residential uses.
The application is one of three under consideration at this week’s meeting of the Saratoga Springs Planning Board. Other applications under consideration include: Excelsior Avenue Apartments - Site plan review of a proposed workforce housing project and associated site work; 131 Excelsior North Spring Run - Special Use Permit, Consideration of coordinated SEQRA review for a proposed 102-unit multi-family residential project.
One possible consent agenda item is an AgroChem Site Plan Extension, with a proposed extension of a previously approved site plan for a 16,000 square foot warehouse expansion in the Industrial general district.