Larry Goodwin

Larry Goodwin

BALLSTON SPA – While the number fluctuates every year, Amy Hughes says Saratoga County is now home to more than 17,000 military veterans. An unknown number of them still grapple with the painful memories and emotions they acquired in war.

That is precisely why Hughes, program coordinator for the Veterans Peer Connection, organizes a “coffee night” every Tuesday between 5 and 7 p.m. at Saratoga Coffee Traders: to give those who have faced combat a place to bond and share experiences, with no agendas or pressure bearing down on them.

According to Hughes, the Veterans Peer Connection (VPC) is funded through the New York State Office of Mental Health and currently serves 16 counties. Its existence was necessitated in recent years, she said, by many veteran suicides across the country.

This week, Hughes was relieved to explain how the VPC headquarters are being moved from a cramped Saratoga County office building to a more spacious unit at 2144 Doubleday Avenue in Ballston Spa.  

The upgraded VPC space will be ready just in time for a new 20-hour course designed to benefit troubled veterans, called De-Cruit, which has been scheduled to start on Thursday, Sept. 14. It will run from 6 to 9 p.m. every Thursday through Oct. 26, and food will be served at 5:30 each night.

Hughes indicated that the course is free for veterans of all ages, military branches, eras and experience.  

The De-Cruit course features actor Stephan Wolfert, a military veteran himself, who is widely known for his one-man stage show “Cry Havoc!” He is presently in Hawaii for performances that were scheduled there.

“Stephan is fabulous,” Hughes said, noting how “Cry Havoc!” lasts for about an hour and a half as it delves into the realities of Wolfert’s military service. “It really is an unbelievable show,” she said. “He does not stop from beginning to end.”

Hughes said Wolfert will perform “Cry Havoc!” during the first night of the De-Cruit program, the latter of which was prepared in association with academic researchers.

Thereafter, Hughes added in a statement, Wolfert tailors individual scenes to veterans who sign up as he “interweaves classical stage acting with modern psychology.”

Many veterans have reported “significant benefits” and “dramatic improvements to overall health after completing the course,” she explained.

For more information, or to sign up for the De-Cruit course, Hughes can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thursday, 17 August 2017 14:17

Malta Officials Discuss Town Water Report

MALTA – After the completion of a project costing more than $3 million, residents in the hamlet of Maltaville could be supplied with quality water by the existing infrastructure of Saratoga County and the Town of Stillwater, according to report that town officials discussed Monday in a special meeting on the subject.

The report was signed by Mike Clark, senior project engineer; and Joseph Lanaro, senior principal of The Chazen Companies. It focuses on the creation of what is commonly called the “Maltaville Water District.”

“The preliminary costs presented within this report will undergo further refinement when the Town of Malta advances the creation of this water district,” the Chazen report states, noting how this particular matter has been studied since 2011 because of “poor well yields” in the area.

The Chazen Companies report proposes connecting to 12-inch water transmission pipes on Joyce Road in the Town of Stillwater. The Saratoga County Water Authority presently supplies that particular water, but the town maintains the pipes.

New 12-inch water lines would have to be installed along Knapp Road and Route 67 in Malta to supply Maltaville, according to the report. The total cost of the project would exceed $3.53 million. 

Malta Town Councilman Craig Warner stated previously that the town may seek low-interest loans to fund the Maltaville project. 

[Jack Kislowski (at right) with his family. Photo provided.]

BALLSTON LAKE — For Terri Jo Kislowski, “it all started” in 2014 during an otherwise festive occasion of a family birthday. Doctors had discovered that her son Jack’s appendix ruptured, so he abruptly ended up in surgery at Albany Medical Center.

Jack Kislowski has long since recovered from the medical problems that unfolded for him. Yet this month, his story is being highlighted in a charity campaign at participating Cumberland Farms stores, which will donate five cents of every beverage purchased in “Chill Zone” sections to the Bernard and Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med.

In a statement, Cumberland Farms CEO Ari Haseotes said the “Cups for Kids” charity has raised more than $500,000 in the last five years. This year’s campaign will benefit the Duker hospital and four more medical centers in the Northeast.

Local purchases, including HyperFreeze drinks, can be made at Chill Zones in the Cumberland Farms stores on Route 146 in Clifton Park; 75 Milton Avenue in Ballston Spa; and 451 Geyser Road in Milton.

“It’s a great fundraiser,” says Terri Jo Kislowski, after reflecting on her son’s time three years ago in the Duker hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. She praised the doctors and staff for “the amazing work that they do there.” Kislowski added that sudden medical emergencies, much like the one endured by Jack, “can happen to anybody.”

For weeks Jack—who already dealt with asthma—was confined to a hospital bed, since the surgery caused his 11-year-old body to go into septic shock. Then he was diagnosed with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which prompted doctors to perform a tracheotomy so the kid could still breathe with the aid of a ventilator.

Kislowski says she and her husband, Mark, agonized over making that particular decision.

The medical ordeal Jack faced might have been surmounted with the help of his sister, Shelby Kislowski, who was supposed to celebrate her 16th birthday at the time of her brother’s initial surgery. Instead she devoted herself to an outreach campaign through social media on Jack’s behalf.

“She got her wish,” her mother explains, “in keeping her brother. She just wanted him to live. We got a second chance at being a family.”

The Kislowski siblings, now 19 and 15 respectively, are happy to continue their studies at Marist College and in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district.

In a statement, David Clark, the physician director of the Duker hospital at Albany Med, called the facility “a lifeline to our 25-county region,” saying “our staff is dedicated to providing the best medical care to our young patients.”

Clark added: “Community partners and their programs, like Cumberland Farms and Cups for Kids, help us meet the needs of 90,000 visits of sick and injured children each year.” 

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[A view of the existing pavilion (in background) at Wilton's Gavin Park. Photo by Larry Goodwin.]

WILTON — Two storage sheds utilized by town workers were targeted for replacement at this month’s Wilton Town Board meeting.

Mark Mykins, who supervises Wilton’s Building Department, was in attendance at the August 3 meeting to elaborate on the need for one modern, larger structure instead of two dilapidated pole-barn sheds at the town complex that are used for storage by the Highway Department.

Town employees could rent equipment and perform the necessary construction work, according to Mykins, and thereby save the town nearly $130,000 in costs. Outside contractors most likely would charge about $270,000 for the whole project, he said.

“I think that would be great, to save the town a lot of money,” replied Councilman Steve Streicher.

The town board voted unanimously in favor of the $141,000 expenditure that Mykins had requested.

The board also approved $45,000 for additional road improvements that were identified by the highway department. The extra money will be added to a $900,000 amount that was previously budgeted for the town’s highway needs.

Mark Marino, the newly hired director of Wilton’s Gavin Park, also had appeared before the town board to discuss an expenditure of about $200,000 for a new pavilion at the park. The board members opted to wait until next year.

Marino advised that a larger pavilion would be in the town’s best interests, considering the parties and other events that are often organized in Gavin Park by area residents.

“When we book these things, we want to bring in larger groups,” Marino said.

In other business, Wilton Supervisor Arthur Johnson and the board members voted to set the public hearing on September 7 for a comprehensive zoning policy related to the approval of solar arrays in the town.

The public hearing was scheduled for 7 p.m. in Wilton Town Hall, which is located at 22 Traver Road, a short distance west of Adirondack Northway exit 16.

The stated purposes of Wilton’s proposed solar policy are “taking advantage of a safe, abundant, renewable and non-polluting energy resource; decreasing the cost of energy to the owners of commercial and residential properties, including single-family houses; and increasing employment and business development in the region by furthering the installation of solar energy systems.”

A draft version of the policy differentiates between “solar as an accessory use” and “large-scale solar systems.” It also contains an abundance of provisions related to the “abandonment and decommissioning” of solar panels that are not actively contributing to “electrical generation for consumption or re-sale.”

The Saratoga County Planning Board would review the town’s new solar zoning rules before any formal vote.

If enacted, the Wilton Planning Board would enforce most of the new policy’s provisions. 

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Thursday, 10 August 2017 15:28

Four Diamonds for Saratoga Arms

[Gallery photo shows Amy Smith on the iconic front porch of her family's Broadway hotel. Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.] 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The prominent green and white sign—perched above a grand set of stone steps—accurately describes any given day at the Saratoga Arms Hotel: “A concierge hotel under the personal supervision of the proprietors,” it says.

Kathleen Smith and her late husband Noel first purchased the property at 497 Broadway in December 1997, beginning renovations right away and opening their Saratoga Arms Hotel several months later.

Prior to that, the couple owned property on Church Street to accommodate city visitors.

“My mother always wanted to come back down to Broadway,” says Saratoga Arms General Manager Amy Smith, who remembered how Kathleen ran restaurants on the city’s main thoroughfare before entering the hotel business.

Amy’s sister, Sheila Smith Sperling, is also the group sales manager for the business.

In a statement, the mother-and-daughters team had reported that Saratoga Arms Hotel recently received a four-diamond rating from the travel organization AAA.

They attributed the favorable rating to the fact that all 31 rooms and suites in the Smith family’s “lovingly restored” brick hotel were “designed for comfort and luxury,” acknowledging as well “its farm-to-table gourmet breakfasts.”

“It is a great honor for Saratoga Arms to receive AAA’s Four Diamond Award,” Kathleen Smith said. “Our dedicated staff and family have worked hard for years ensuring our guests receive the many upscale amenities that are required to be awarded this prestigious designation.”

Repeated attempts to contact AAA representatives for comment were unsuccessful.

During a tour of the three-story hotel this week, Kathleen Smith made a brief appearance. She was eager to point out how “you don’t hear a thing” in the comfort of the hotel’s front room due to modern windows that muffle Broadway traffic noise.

According to Amy Smith, the travel organization has inspected the property twice; the AAA representative appeared both times without notice. That is aside from the routine inspections that are completed by city and state officials, she explained.

Smith said Saratoga Arms offers nine different room categories, ranging from “junior queen” to “king suite,” and each of the rooms are individually decorated. That truly separates the hotel from larger national chains, she added.

“There’s something for everybody,” Smith said, before demonstrating how one room even has a television screen built into the bathroom mirror.

A large addition was completed at Saratoga Arms in 2004, substantially increasing the square footage available for storage, banquet and guest rooms. There were 16 guest rooms before that project was initiated, Smith said.

The Broadway hotel is booked up most of the year, she admitted, in large part because of the city’s promotion of off-season events such as Chowder Fest and Beer Week. It is located only a block from the popular City Center. 

“Saratoga has done a great job of making this a year-round city,” Smith said, acknowledging in particular the efforts of staff at the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau and the local Chamber of Commerce. 

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Thursday, 10 August 2017 15:25

County Finds Half a Million to Save

BALLSTON SPA — Ahead of the formal vote to adopt a state-mandated plan to share services among numerous municipalities, Saratoga County officials have reported that nearly $500,000 in savings were found.

By October 15, according to the New York Department of State, Saratoga and all of the state’s counties are required to adopt official shared-services plans and schedule related public hearings. State lawmakers enacted the original mandate during this year’s budget process in Albany.

This week, Deputy County Administrator Chad Cooke said the Board of Supervisors will vote on a finalized shared-services plan at its August 15 meeting. The draft plan, he said, has identified two sections of Saratoga County budgets for reducing costs: cooperative bidding and a health insurance consortium for Medicare-eligible retirees.

“Currently, the plan includes anticipated savings of $300,265 for cooperative bidding and $172,376 for the health insurance consortium,” Cooke said, “for a total anticipated savings of $472,641.”

According to minutes of the county’s Law and Finance Committee meeting on July 12, approximately $556,000 in savings were identified at that time. But the committee had to factor in personnel costs of about $60,000 related to additional caseloads, producing a net savings of $496,000.

Cooke called the draft shared-services plan “a living document,” adding, “the totals could change slightly as we adjust based on submissions from municipalities with final budget numbers for the plan’s items.”

Earlier this year, County Administrator Spencer Hellwig said there are 26 departments in Saratoga County with 1,100 employees and combined budgets of nearly $300 million.

That does not include the county’s 2 cities, 19 towns or 9 villages, all of which have separate department staffs and annual budgets.

The City of Saratoga Springs operates independently of the county on a $45 million annual budget, says Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan. 

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MALTA — On Monday, Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen and former town supervisor David Meager informed the Malta Town Board that new applications are being accepted from community groups in need of funding.

In the last 16 years, Heggen explained, the nonprofit GlobalFoundries-Town of Malta Foundation has provided a total of nearly $750,000 to support the activities and programs made popular by dozens of local community groups.

Heggen said $150,000 in grant money is available in the current round, which has an application deadline of October 27. Since 2013, the amounts distributed each year to community groups have surpassed $100,000.

“We look forward to new applications,” Heggen told the board, noting how this year’s winners will be announced in December. She encouraged interested applicants to visit the foundation’s website: https://sites.google.com/site/gfmaltafoundationorg/home.   

Heggen and Meager both serve on the Malta foundation’s board of directors.

It is considered separate from the GlobalFoundries-Town of Stillwater Foundation, yet both nonprofits were established with a $5 million contribution made by the company as part of its Fab 8 microchip-manufacturing plant in Malta.

In other business on August 7, the three Malta town board members who were present voted to set the date of a workshop for sign and lighting code amendments; it will coincide with two public hearings for “Chapter 143 lot line alterations” and another regarding a “local law to abolish elective office of Receiver of Taxes.”

All three subjects will be discussed on Monday, August 21, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Malta town complex, followed by the regular town board meeting. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017 14:45

City Taproom Officially Open

[Front photo shows Rich Taylor with a 32-ounce "crowler"; in the gallery photo, front row (left to right): Saratoga County Chamber President Todd Shimkus; Wilton Supervisor Arthur Johnson; Mayor Joanne Yepsen; Saratoga Springs Supervisor Matthew Veitch; Kelley and Rich Taylor; Marty Vanags and Shelby Schneider of the county Prosperity Partnership. Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.] 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, was the last person on Tuesday who formally welcomed the R.S. Taylor and Sons taproom owners to Congress Plaza.

“I know I’m the only thing holding everybody here from beer,” Shimkus joked, before presenting Kelley and Rich Taylor with a piece of the green ribbon that was cut to celebrate the new city business.

“In the chamber tradition, if you hang it inside it will bring you good luck forever,” Shimkus explained to the wife and husband team.

According to a statement from the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership (SCPP), the taproom “serves its signature farm-brewed beers, New York State hard ciders, and mixed drinks” in a freshly renovated, 1,600-square-foot space.

The Taylors’ farm in Washington County is home to the R.S. Taylor and Sons brewery; the new Saratoga Springs taproom is the second of three planned locations.

There is a small music stage inside and an outdoor patio area that can seat nearly 40 customers. According to the company’s website (www.rstaylorbrewing.com/tap-rooms), it will be open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m.; 4 to 11 p.m. Friday; noon to 11 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

“We are thrilled to open our newest location in Saratoga Springs, in the heart of a vibrant downtown that offers the perfect setting to build a thriving business,” Rich Taylor said. “We see a tremendous opportunity to tap into the rapid growth of New York’s craft beverage industry, and appreciate the invaluable guidance and support we’ve received from the Saratoga Partnership to help make this project a reality.”

Marty Vanags, the SCPP president, and Shelby Schneider, the SCPP promoter of business retention, were also both in attendance at the ribbon cutting.

Schneider and Vanags helped the Taylors gain access to a $75,000 loan from the city’s Revolving Loan Fund for the Congress Plaza renovation project. 

Thursday, 03 August 2017 18:18

Twenty Asphalt Jobs Coming to Ballston

BALLSTON -- Late last month, state Supreme Court Judge Robert Chauvin most likely ended a six-year legal dispute that has prevented the Dolomite Products Company from building an asphalt plant in the Curtis Industrial Park.

David Toolan, an attorney representing Dolomite, said in an email that the plant “will have cutting-edge recycling technology and be one of the most environmentally friendly asphalt plants in New York.” It will bring nearly two-dozen jobs to the area, he said.

Still, several residents living near the industrial park had opposed the project and sued Dolomite and the Town of Ballston Planning Board to halt construction.

Wesley Chella, Melissa Lescault and Steven Therrien are listed as “petitioners” along with I.M. Landscape Associates, a company run by Brookside Nursery owner Ian Murray.

Chauvin dismissed their case in a ruling dated July 24.

The judge cited a Ballston Planning Board vote to approve the site plan by Dolomite in May of last year, and prior attempts by town officials to change the industrial park’s zoning classification after Dolomite’s original application had been filed in 2011.

“Specifically it is alleged that the [May 2016] approval was contrary to the amended zoning ordinances as a prohibited use; that the approval was contrary to the provisions in the town’s zoning ordinances concerning noise levels; and that the approval was contrary to the provisions in the zoning ordinances concerning emissions,” Chauvin wrote.

He added, “the Town of Ballston Planning Board has submitted the affidavit of a physical engineer and professional geologist, both retained by the town, who indicate that the proposed project is, in regard to noise and emissions, compliant with the applicable zoning ordinances.”

“In the present proceeding the court has previously ruled that the amended zoning ordinances are not applicable to the underlying proposed project and, as such, petitioners’ contention that it involves a prohibited use is without merit,” Chauvin concluded.

Ballston Town Attorney Debra Kaelin did not return a request for comment; nor did Claudia Braymer, an attorney listed in Chauvin’s ruling as a party appearing on behalf of the petitioners.

Toolan, who is based in Dolomite corporate offices in Georgia, indicated that construction would start on the new Ballston plant later this year. The opponents, he added, are not likely to appeal Chauvin’s decision.

“I’m not sure where they think they could go with an appeal,” Toolan said. “I can’t imagine they’d be successful.”

“The plant is located in an industrial park next to several other industrial businesses so the objections to locating the asphalt plant in the industrial park for environmental reasons was completely baseless,” he said.

“Dolomite expects to complete the asphalt plant by May 2018 at the latest,” Toolan said, noting how the company “expects to hire approximately 20 employees in order to staff the plant and the paving crews associated with the plant.”

“Dolomite’s plant,” he added, “will also create new jobs for the local suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors that provide services and materials related to the asphalt paving industry.”

Toolan went on to assert that “a competitor was directing the opposition in order to keep a new asphalt competitor out of this market.” 

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Thursday, 03 August 2017 18:06

Stewart’s Seeks to Build Anew in Milton

Front photo is an aerial view of the Northline Road and Route 50 intersection in Milton. Photo by www.photoandgraphic.com. Gallery photo shows the Milton Zoning Board of Appeals on July 27 (left to right): Eric Smassanow; Attorney Martin Pozefsky; Chairwoman Kimberly Weaver; Dave Beals; Megan Soden; and Wayne Howe. Photo by Larry Goodwin. 

MILTON — Town officials are reviewing site plans for a new Stewart’s convenience store at the intersection of Route 50 and Northline Road.

Stewart’s Shops is proposing to build in an empty lot on the eastern side of Route 50, directly across from its existing Northline Road store, starting sometime next year.

“We will be progressing through the required approval process in hopes of this becoming a 2018 project,” stated Maria D’Amelia, the spokeswoman for Stewart’s Shops, in an emailed response to related questions.

“This is part of an overall reinvestment we are making in our shops,” D’Amelia explained. “We anticipate about a dozen of these types of projects across our market areas this current year, where we replace an existing shop with a brand new build, whether on the same property or a nearby location, depending on availability of property that allows us to expand.”

“The property in Milton was purchased some time ago, seizing an opportunity at the time for potential future development that we are now ready to move forward with,” D’Amelia said.

The company has a similar project underway at the intersection of Routes 67 and 147 in Charlton. Another store was recently built right behind an older one on Route 50 south of the Village of Ballston Spa.

On July 27, James Easton, an associate at Clifton Park-based MJ Engineering, provided details about the Milton Stewart’s project to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

Stewart’s Shops is seeking the approval of two zoning variances from the town.

Easton said there is “a large wetland area” off Northline Road— toward the back of the empty lot—that would require special consideration by town officials.

MJ Engineering prepared a site map for the “draft area variance” application that was submitted to town officials. The map shows 13,500 square feet dedicated to “wetland mitigation” next to a large area for storm water retention.

The ZBA members discussed specific aspects of the proposed Stewart’s, including the configuration of a new gas canopy and proper setbacks from the intersection, but they did not take a formal vote.

Recently appointed ZBA member Megan Soden asked Easton why a certain question regarding wetlands was left unanswered in the application, to which Easton responded by citing the technical requirements of the state Environmental Quality Review process.

“I think Stewart’s is great for the area,” offered ZBA member Eric Smassanow after last week’s meeting. He had voiced a number of concerns but said they centered mainly on the approval process for this particular project.

Kimberly Weaver, the zoning board chairwoman, said the Stewart’s proposal goes next to the Milton Planning Board for review.

According to Smassanow, planning board members will address the overall design and traffic aspects of the proposed Stewart’s. He said he prefers a zoning board vote on the gas canopy and setbacks after that review is complete.

“How do I know what I’m voting for if we don’t have a final design?” Smassanow said.

Easton and the zoning board members also discussed the subsequent construction of office space on the site of the existing Stewart’s.

But D’Amelia indicated in her email that “the fate of the old shop has not yet been determined” for the Northline Road project.

She added that upgrading the Stewart’s stores in these ways is not only a financial investment, but reflective of local consumer demand as well.

“The new, larger shops allow for a better flow and more food-service options to improve the customer’s shopping experience,” D’Amelia said.

“Easy food options are fueling many of these projects throughout the company, as we evolve to meet the needs of our customers’ busy lifestyles,” she wrote. “They’re looking for quick, quality foods and beverages they can easily grab throughout the day.” 

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