SARATOGA SPRINGS — Beginning with a launch party April 6 at SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Go! will be a three-month competition challenging individuals, small businesses, and software companies to create community innovations that will improve the quality of life for residents, businesses, institutions or visitors in any city.
The launch event has been scheduled for 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the college’s 113 West Avenue location. It will be an opportunity for participants, community members, and key stakeholders to connect with each other, while also learning more about the competition.
Saratoga Go! is being modeled on the New York City BigApps competition, which challenges tech experts to apply their know-how to improving the Big Apple.
The community partnership, led by IgniteU NY (and supported by technology consulting firm NYSTEC), includes the City of Saratoga Springs and SUNY Empire State College. Anyone 13 or older who lives in the United States can join the competition.
To learn more about the competition and register for the launch event, visit www. saratogago.com.
BALLSTON SPA — Randal Hagen has been named assistant vice president and trust business development officer at Ballston Spa National Bank (BSNB).
Hagen will be responsible for increasing the visibility of BSNB’s trust and investment services in the Capital Region and surrounding areas, and for developing new relationships with customers.
Hagen comes to BSNB with six years of previous experience in the retirement and trust industry. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Empire State College and served seventeen years in the U.S. Army, including two deployments overseas.
Active in the community, Hagen is involved in the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County.
For more information, visit BSNB’s website at www.bsnb. com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Ben and Jerry’s fans can mark April 4 on their calendars as Free Cone Day.
For the past 38 years, Ben and Jerry’s shops have dished out free ice cream to fans. The tradition has continued to grow, beginning in the small state of Vermont, and now spanning across the globe.
Fans are invited to the Ben and Jerry’s at 34 Phila Street, from noon to 8 p.m., to show their ongoing support.
In addition to dishing out the chunks and swirls, Ben and Jerry’s staff will partner with local organization Universal Preservation Hall (UPH).
Tips received during the event will help UPH’s mission to be a catalyst for excellence in community collaboration, civic engagement and sustainable economic growth in Saratoga Springs.
During the afternoon, city officials and representatives from Proctor’s Theatre also will be on hand.
More information is available at www.benjerry.com/ scoop-shops/free-cone-day.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — BauerFinancial, Inc., a leading bank rating and research firm, recognized Saratoga National Bank and Trust Company in March with a five-star rating. Saratoga National has earned that designation for the past 32 consecutive quarters.
The five-star rating indicates Saratoga National Bank and Trust Company is one of the strongest banks in the nation. To earn five stars, banks must excel in areas of capital quality, asset quality and profitability.
Based in Coral Gables, Florida, BauerFinancial has been reporting on and analyzing the performance of U.S. banks and credit unions since 1983. Institutions can neither pay BauerFinancial to rate them, nor can any choose to be excluded. Consumers may learn more at bauerfinancial.com.
Saratoga National Bank provides banking, wealth management and insurance through nine locations across the Capital Region. More infor- mation is available online at saratoganational.com.
[Front image shows Amy and Keith Augustine in their Ford Street warehouse. Gallery photos show (from left) the Augustines' victory table in Florida; Keith and his playful companion Walter]
BALLSTON SPA — Keith Augustine is surprised whenever someone thinks the company his wife Amy started—one that makes popular dog treats sold in local stores and nationwide—is a hobby.
“It’s been a busy few years for us. We’re really kind of maxed out,” Augustine said, during a recent interview inside the Lazy Dog Cookie Company’s 6,500-square-foot warehouse at the end of Ford Street in Ballston Spa.
The wife and husband team, joined by their faithful dog Walter, were watching over a devoted group of staff members they met several years ago through Saratoga Bridges, who were dutifully packaging fresh products.
Keith Augustine and one other employee make the effort to shrink-wrap the boxes of dog treats and stack them on pallets for distribution.
The Augustines were still getting back into the groove after traveling last week to Florida. They had attended the annual Global Pet Expo, a trade show organized by the American Pet Products Association.
Lazy Dog’s Bake-at-Home Birthday Cake Mix had won First Place in the expo’s Boutique product category. Its ingredients consist of oat and rice flour, rolled oats, vanilla powder, confetti sprinkles, evaporated molasses and whole dried eggs.
At last year’s event, Lazy Dog products won a third place prize, according to Cheryl Clark, a spokeswoman for Saratoga Springs marketing and web design firm Shannon Rose.
“Using only simple beneficial ingredients that are not only delicious, but also naturally nutritious, our products ‘lick’ the competition,” the Augustines boast in their product catalogue. “Our treats are wheat-, corn- and soy-free with grain-free offerings. They are also vegan/vegetarian and we never use any fillers, preservatives or anything artificial. Health benefits paired with unique recipes make them irresistible.”
The Augustines are originally from Pennsylvania, where Amy once worked as a microbiologist and the Heinz Corporation employed Keith. In 2001, Amy started distributing her first dog treats at farmers’ markets.
Then, she says, “I got really competitive.” After spending some time in Chicago, the couple relocated to Ballston Spa to focus on expanding Lazy Dog’s business.
In June, the Augustines will reach their next level of expansion by moving into a brand new warehouse around the corner at 25 Ralph Street. It offers 1,000 more square feet of space, and plenty of room for the couple to purchase pallet racks for storage and even a new forklift.
Also, more employees may be added prior to the move.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Keith Augustine said. “The majority of our space is taken up by pallets and packaging. We’ll stop lugging around everything by hand.”
The Augustines “have expanded the business to international distribution by introducing innovative and enticing new products that charm dog lovers, such as Original Pup-PIEs and Mutt Mallows,” stated Clark at the Shannon Rose firm.
WAM Commercial Associates in Ballston Spa developed both of Lazy Dog’s buildings, which are located within sight of the Kayaderosseras Creek’s rushing waters.
John Bowen, one of the WAM Commercial partners, had to descend from a construction lift to describe how two old houses beyond repair were demolished to put up the all-metal building on Ralph Street. His company had refurbished the Ford Street warehouse, preserving much of its original construction.
Officials in Ballston Spa have proven themselves to be quite “pro-business,” Bowen said, as WAM Commercial went through the process of fixing up three vacant industrial properties in the village and building three new ones—all over the last 19 years.
In addition to his partnerships with local retailers and large national chains like PetSmart and BarkBox, Keith Augustine said he was grateful for the support provided by Bowen and his WAM Commercial partner, Jim Dalpe.
“They’ve been really good to small businesses in the area,” Augustine said. “If we didn’t get hooked up with them, we would’ve had much more of a struggle.”
Lazy Dog Cookie Co. pet treats are available in these local businesses: Benson's Pet Center (6 locations); Agway (Ballston Spa); Ballston Spa Veterinary Clinic; Curtis Lumber Company (Ballston Spa); The Pampered Pooch & Pals; The Fresh Market (Saratoga & Latham); Whole Foods Albany; Honest Weight Food Co-Op; Head to Tails Pet Wellness Center; Niskayuna COOP; Fountain Square Outfitters; Four Seasons; Healthy Living Market; Impressions of Saratoga; Mini Me Pups Pet Boutique; Roma Foods; Upstate Animal Hospital; Paradise Pet Salon (Glenville); Four Dog Grooming (Wilton); Sutherland's Pet Works.
District Attorney Karen Heggen speaks at last year’s event. Photo provided.
BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office will be hosting its 18th annual Crime Victims Candlelight Vigil on Sunday, April 2 as part of National Crime Victims Week.
District Attorney Karen Heggen said this year’s theme is Strength, Resilience and Justice. The theme builds on efforts by many nationally to support crime victims and emphasizes a vision for the future, focusing on victims’ rights and the services available to them.
The vigil will be held at 2 p.m. at St. Peter Lutheran Church, located at 2776 Route 9 in Malta (across from the Malta Drive-In). For more information, call the Saratoga County Crime Victims Unit at 518-885-2263.
Henry Burkert (center) at the Ballston Spa United Methodist church with his parents and brothers. Photo provided.
BALLSTON SPA — At a recent Troop 1 Court of Honor, Henry Burkert received his Eagle Scout Award at the Ballston Spa United Methodist church. Burkert is the son of Amy and Karl Burkert.
To earn the Eagle Scout rank, a scout has to mas- ter numerous scout skills,
demonstrate leadership skills and citizenship. A scout has to earn 21 merit badges of which 12 are required. A scout has to perform many hours of commu- nity service and have held lead- ership positions in the troop.
Finally, a scout has to plan, organize and supervise a major service project that will
benefit a chosen organization. Burkert’s Eagle Scout project was to design a picnic area in Biose Family Park in Rock City Falls. The project coordinated the installation of picnic tables and grills and the clearing of a large area within the park.
Burkert is now attending SUNY Oneonta as an English major.
MALTA — Zulfiqar Zulfi has come a long way since riding a bike to work at a Schenectady County gas station.
The friendly immigrant from Pakistan now owns two stations of his own and is planning an expensive renovation to the one located on Route 9 in Malta.
“I’m a true American dream guy,” Zulfi says. “This is a great country. You get what you work for.”
The father of four settled in Clifton Park in 1993. Four years earlier, he had arrived in California from Pakistan, he says, “with $200 in my pocket.” A friend of his living in Albany at the time then invited Zulfi to the Capital Region.
Soon, he had begun biking to work at a gas station in Rotterdam and saving up his money. Through the years Zulfi did enough of that to spend $1.8 million on a vacant property on Route 29A in Gloversville, where he opened his first official ZZ Mart in 2015.
The former Getty gas station in Malta, though, is where Zulfi’s efforts will be focused for the remainder of this year. He is planning a $2.5 million renovation there to create his second ZZ Mart.
“This is like my oxygen,” he said of the Malta business, which is located a short distance south of the Malta Ambulance building and a New York State Police barracks. “I feel like it’s my birthplace.”
On March 6, Zulfi gave a presentation regarding his proposed project to the Malta Town Board. He was joined by James Ether, general manager of RM Dalrymple Company in Saratoga Springs, which specializes in the construction of gasoline service pumps and canopies.
Town officials in Malta are considering an amendment to zoning rules so that Zulfi can renovate as needed. His current gas station has only 300 square feet of space, so a new building with 5,000 square feet—as planned—will be more than welcome.
Ether told the board that a “raze and rebuild” is necessary at the Route 9 station as a means to create more efficient traffic flow near the gas pumps. He added that Zulfi has managed to create quite a “community” of loyal customers in the many years that he’s owned the Malta business.
Councilman Timothy Dunn informed Zulfi and Ether that he wanted to see “mitigation for the neighbors” in a nearby trailer park. Dunn acknowledged the importance of improving infrastructure, but also said that Malta taxpayers should not be burdened in any way by the project.
Anthony Tozzi, the Town of Malta’s building and planning coordinator, said that current zoning rules for the site do not allow gas sales. But Zulfi was grandfathered in as a “legal non-conforming use,” he added.
“The downtown was supposed to emphasize non-auto related uses,” Tozzi explained, referring to an original plan among town officials to create more sidewalks for pedestrians near Malta’s main retail district a quarter mile to the north.
“We’re trying to fine-tune it,” Tozzi said.
In addition to RM Dalrymple, Zulfi is working with other contractors to plan the project, which is not likely to start until later this year at the earliest. Zulfi said he assumed full ownership of the Malta property only one year ago, after competing against other bidders and winning with a $1 million offer.
He said the Gloversville ZZ Mart is taxed at a rate of $16,000 per year.
There may be electric car charging stations and a Tim Horton’s at the Malta ZZ Mart, he said. He added that most of the trees behind the station would need to be cut down.
“I want to make a ‘Wow,’” Zulfi said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — With construction of the first building known as Excelsior Park Apartment Homes nearing completion, the Albany firm that manages the property hopes to have new tenants moving in before the end of March.
Peter Rosecrans Jr., president of Burns Management, calls the project “the first ‘Smart Apartment’ community in the country.”
In partnership with Epproach Communications, a North Carolina company, new tenants will be able to download Burns Management Apps on their smartphones in order to remotely operate thermostats, lights and door locks.
Epproach connects such devices through its specialized ZigBee system, utilizing digital deadbolts, a “learning thermostat” and 60-watt LED bulbs in all of the apartments.
Property Manager Rachel McDermott explained how that technology at Excelsior Park will enable tenants who are traveling to make their apartments cozy by the time they return; or to simply extend the courtesy of letting in friends who arrive first.
There are 35 units in each Excelsior Park structure that will range in monthly rents between $1,100 and $2,500, she said.
Construction began in the autumn of 2015 at the end of Excelsior Avenue. At a later date, Burns Management is expected to add a third apartment building across the road from the first two.
According to a statement provided by McDermott, the Excelsior Park apartments will offer “modern kitchens, quartz countertops, porcelain tile, large balconies, custom closet organization, fireplaces...and a variety of unique floor plans ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartment homes.”
Burns Management partnered with another Albany company, First Light Fiber, to offer tenants “unprecedented Internet speed and quality” in the apartment buildings.
“The property’s gigabit capacity will accommodate video streaming, online gaming and Internet browsing across multiple devices,” the statement said.
During a recent showing of several Excelsior Park apartments, McDermott said that military service members often prefer studios—especially in new buildings.
Aside from the barely noticeable wall sensors of the Epproach Zigbee system, all of the apartments had high ceilings and very spacious rooms. Each building also offers large garages with spots for about 30 tenant vehicles.
Rosecrans explained how Burns Management is looking toward a future of apartment living that caters to the “great” technology needs of young professionals. It’s part of a national trend, he said, affecting several urban real-estate markets.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Wesley Health Care Center, a component of The Wesley Community, announced on March 16 that it received a $14,000 grant from the Arnold Cogswell Health Care Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region.
The grant, which is designed to serve the center’s long-term care residents, sup- ports the purchase of multi- ple EKG machines and stands, two mechanical Insufflation- Exsufflation machines, and an AED device. The new
equipment will assist clinical care teams at Wesley Health Care Center in providing the highest quality of care to their residents.
The Wesley Community, a 36-acre continuum of care campus, provides indepen- dent and enriched living, sub- sidized independent senior housing, short-term rehabili- tation and long-term care, as well as outpatient therapies for individuals of all ages.
For more information, visit the website www.thewes- leycommunity.org.