Opal Jessica Bogdan
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Only one of the 31 seniors of the 2020 Saratoga Central Catholic School (SCC) graduating class was asked to put on their cap and gown this past weekend.
As the graduates drove through the school to pick up their caps and gowns, graduate Ria Walsh was honored. Her fellow students and teachers beeped their car horns and showed their support through the purple and gold school colors. Faculty and Staff wore their SCC spirit-wear with pom-poms and signs. They also handed out goodie bags, yearbooks, academic and athletic awards and caps and gowns to each senior as they drove up.
“We had them all park their cars in the parking lot while beeping their horns and yelling. Ria was so excited. The students got to support her and she got to see them and have a little celebration as well,” Mary Guarnieri, director of advancement at SCC, said.
Last August, Walsh joined the Army National Guard. Her recruiter, SSG Brandon Moseman joined the celebration and honored Walsh with a personal level of achievement.
The district has planned a tentative graduation ceremony for Friday, July 10. However, Walsh will leave for basic training on June 30, and SCC still wanted to honor her.
Interim Principal Michael Kondratowicz handed the graduate her diploma along with two awards she earned. Walsh received one award from the Gurtler Brother VFW Post 420 Patriotism award and also received the Knights of Colombus 4th Degree Assembly Patriotism award.
Guarnieri said the event was great and the students appreciated it.
“It went very well. We had a dunking booth where students could attempt to dunk our Athletic Director Alphonse Lambert,” Guarnieri said.
A local DJ, Elaine Gaynor of DJ Smalz, played music for the duration of the event. Along with picking up their caps and gowns, students were welcomed to receive their awards for the school year. Guarnieri said for the ceremony this year, two faculty members recorded a video of the awards in their gym.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The residents at Prestwick Chase enjoyed a pop-up farmers market this past week.
Mother-daughter team Meghan Barker and Sharon Anderson, co-owners of Clyde O’Scope Farms, hosted the pop-up market. They offered fresh veggies, flowers, free-range eggs, and home made potpies to residents. Since COVID-19 struck the community this past March, John Rowe, director of marketing at Prestwick, said they have shut down access to the building and asked residents not to leave. To help social distance guidelines, Rowe said his team has done the shopping for each resident.
“We’re doing some shopping for them. Some of the fresh vegetables they might not be thinking about or putting it on their list so now, they can go right outside and grab the fresh produce for themselves,” Rowe said.
As the second week hosting the market, Rowe said residents have been overjoyed to be able to purchase and enjoy locally produced items.
“Last week we had a limited supply of things and the residents purchased flowers, potatoes, all sorts of vegetables for themselves. The people that ran it were very happy,” Rowe said.
PALMERTOWN — The Palmertown Range project announced a new four-part series showcasing the possible benefits of the 20 mile trail system.
Saratoga PLAN, preserving land and nature, in partnership with The Saratoga Film Academy and Open Space Institute released the first-part this past Monday, June 15. Each episode in the mini-series will last from three to seven minutes, and takes viewers on a visual and informational journey. Saratoga PLAN Executive Director Maria Trabka said the videos will demonstrate the ways in which an integrated trail system will benefit conservation, recreation and economic development in the Saratoga County region
“The Palmertown Range is just an incredible place…it’s sort of a hidden gem that we wanted to feature and let people know about it. As we get to know the range better, we wanted to share that with other people and let them know about it. The Adirondacks are just outside our doors,” Trabka said.
The videos depict the trail system along with the surrounding community. The goal is to showcase different habitats located in the range, recreational opportunities and the type of economic development that is available in the range.
The first film is an overview of the vision for the Palmertown Range, located 20 minutes north of Saratoga Springs. Each subsequent film focuses on one of the key aspects of the plan – conservation, recreation, and economic development.
“From protecting water quality to linked trail systems to maple sugaring, the series shows how conservation and various types of land use can be beneficially interwoven,” PLAN’s community engagement manager, Alex Fylypovych said in a press release.
Saratoga PLAN received a $500,000 grant this past May from the Sarah B. Foulke Charitable Fund, the largest private cash gift made to the organization. The grant will go towards the planning and design of roughly 20 miles of trails built in the Southern Palmertown Range. Home to 8,000 acres of protected lands, the project will establish the area as a recreational destination while conserving its natural resources. This project began more than a decade ago and has grown into a collaboration between local and state governmental entities, non-profits, and academic institution.
“Currently we have received funding to design a master trail plan that incorporates trails for all different types of uses; people using strollers, wheelchairs, horseback riders, snowmobilers, trail runners, hikers, mountain bikers, paddlers…really the whole gamut of trail users,” Trabka said.
She added: “There are a number of public lands in the area and there are also a number of private land owners. The landowners said they would be willing to let the public recreate on their properties with a conservation easement on their property.”
The videos will premiere on Facebook and YouTube at 9 p.m. on Monday nights. Following the premieres, videos will be available for regular viewing on Facebook, YouTube and Saratoga PLAN’s website. The release schedule for the next is Monday, June 22, 9 p.m. focusing on recreation potential. The third mini-series will premier June 29, 9 p.m. with economic opportunities. The series will end July 6, 9 p.m. with conservation priorities. Following the series, an informal Q&A session with various partners on the project will take place July 13 at 7 p.m.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A local team ran four-miles every four-hours, for 48 hours straight, until they reached a total of 52 miles.
Alexandra Besso and friend Simon Wood joined together to complete the 4x4x48 challenge, designed by David Goggins, a retired Navy Seal, author and motivational speaker. Completed this past weekend, Besso said the experience was one to remember.
“The reason I chose to do this is because I got into triathlon and ultra-running a few years ago and this year was my first big year of really intensely running. I signed up for a 50-mile ultra-marathon over in Vermont. Due to COVID-19 that race and all of my smaller training races were cancelled,” Besso said. “I set a goal for myself of running 50 miles and it was something that was important to me to achieve. I figured if I couldn’t do it through my race in Vermont, I would do it on my own.”
Besso used the challenge to give back to the Saratoga Community. There are 12 separate runs, broken into four-hour segments, that are completed to make up the 4x4x48. Besso and Wood decided as part of their charity run, they would donate one of those segments to #SaratogaStrong and local businesses.
“What better way to not only achieve my own goal, but also do something to help the local community that I love so much,” Besso said.
The seventh segment Besso and Wood completed occurred this past Saturday at 12 p.m. The two ran down Broadway, sporting #SaratogaStrong t-shirts, and visited five of their favorite downtown businesses. They then purchased a gift card through the help of SIX Marketing, a full-service marketing agency.
Another aspect of the charity run was a $520 donation to Wellspring. Spoken Boutique, located at 27 Church St, sponsored $5 for every mile Besso and Wood completed. They each ran a total 51.2 miles during the challenge raising $260. SIX Marketing then matched that donation, bringing the total to $520.
The pair plan to keep on giving this weekend, when five Facebook friends of Spoken Boutique will be the winners of a gift card.
“I think we will pick five random individuals in the community after they comment on a photo of Simon and I running down Broadway. We’ll ask them how they support their local community and randomly select the people to give away the gift cards to,” Besso said.
The gift cards purchased and given away include $75 to Spoken Boutique and $50 each to Kru Coffee, Max Londons, iRun Local and Impressions of Saratoga. They will post the photo on the Spoken Boutique Facebook page on Saturday and choose winners later next week.
Besso added: “part of the motivation for me was setting this David Goggins challenge and doing it on my own. Setting a goal is important and I’m a very competitive person…it was important to me to achieve that goal even if it was more of a non-traditional way.”
Besso has completed local races in the past, such as the Hudson Crossing triathlon and Code Blue 5-mile race. One local company that made preparing for this race much easier was Greenfork. Based in Saratoga, Greenfork is a meal prep service that provides nutritious meals for the health conscious in the community by using fresh and local ingredients.
“Greenfork made everything a lot easier, not having to worry about going to the grocery store,” Besso said.
Moving forward, Besso and Wood will compete in a 50k run, 32 miles, in the Battlefield sometime in August.
“Once I achieve something I’m always looking for another goal that is more difficult, a little more mileage or more intimidating. We’ll see what the future holds. I would love to complete a 100-miler one day,” Besso said. “Being able to combine my love for participating in the sport of running and the challenge of doing something that seems almost out of reach…being able to accomplish those two things feels amazing. Saratoga has been a wonderful community to me since I’ve been here. The community helps each other and everyone helps in their own way…this is just my way.”
GREENWICH — The Washington County Fair will host the Fantastic Food Truck Corral allowing the community to enjoy fair food in the comfort of their own home.
Rebecca Breese, co-manager at the fair, said at this point, the status of 2020 fairs is still in limbo, and she wanted a way to support vendors in the area. For a lot of the vendors their entire calendar of events has been cancelled until August.
“The Food Truck Corral is a great option. We have the food vendors, we know how to work with food vendors and we have all this space,” Breese said. “For the last couple years, we have been talking about the food truck route. Food trucks are very popular now and people love it.”
However, COVID-19 struck the community and the idea was placed on hold until a few food vendors reached out to Breese.
“We are really excited. The response has been amazing from the community and we are really grateful. We really hope that people will come out and safely support these food vendors,” Breese said.
The Food Truck Corral will begin this Friday, June 12 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Breese said they would start out small with only a few vendors selling food. They wanted to ensure that everyone is comfortable being at the corrall with masks on along with social distancing guidelines and protocols in place. Breese said they hope to hold the corral into July.
“It’s a different kind of atmosphere for us but it still is a way to support our community and give people something to look forward to. I think right now there may not be a lot of that around unfortunately,” Breese said.
The corral will offer multiple ways to purchase and pick-up food. Community members can pre-order online as every Monday, Breese and her team will post the pre-order links. Orders can then be picked up curbside through contactless curbside pickup or customers can walk up to the vendor and pick up their order from the truck. The same options are available for day-of orders. To ensure safety and comfort, orders must be taken home and cannot be consumed on the fairgrounds.
“However, that’s the beauty of it. You can go home and enjoy fair food in the comfort of your own home,” Breese said.
The vendors featured this week include Coffee And, Miller’s Backyard BBQ, Giovanni Fresco, Slavonian European Café and Reggis Veggies. Coffee And will offer ice cream cookie sandwiches, baked by the owner who has then teamed up with Adirondack Creamery for the ice cream filling. They will also be making coffee floats featuring Adirondack Creamery and coffee from Iron Coffee located in Hoosick Falls.
“It’s a great way that local businesses can partner together to help each other,” Breese said.
Giovanni Fresco will be making fresh pasta that they roll out in front of customers along with additional Italian food classics.
The biggest way the community can give help is by ordering food and sharing with their friends and family. That supports these businesses,” Breese said. “A common misconception when you talk about fairs is people don’t realize what kind of an economic impact that fairs have on their whole community. Not just the gas stations or the local food markets…for these vendors this is their life. It’s a full time job.”
Breese added: “I just want to thank our community for supporting us in this venture so far. We hope to continue this for years to come. This is a bright spot in the pandemic and hopefully something fun comes out of it.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Second Chance Sports Founder Bill Yaiser has partnered with Jack Knowlton to raise funds to benefit Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Autism through local business Second Chance Sports and the Learning League.
Together, the two have developed a unique item called the “Six Foot Social Distance Stick” as a keepsake and souvenir of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Yaiser said the stick represents just one way the community has worked together.
“It’s just a great way to have community members and small businesses work together,” Yaiser said.
With a $40 donation you receive the “I Survived Coronavirus’ six-foot social distancing stick. One of the community members who donate will be the winner of a large canvas poster personally signed by jockeys. The winner will also receive a Health Club Without Walls membership that can be used at local colleges.
“It’s a big fundraiser,” Yaiser said. “It’s something funny and a nice keepsake and souvenir.”
Knowlton was the first to donate and receive the stick. He is the owner of Funny Cide in addition to Tiz the Law, an American Thoroughbred racehorse and winner of the 2019 Champagne Stakes.
The donation helps fund programs in PTSD and autism at local colleges such as Hudson Valley Community College. Yaiser said the programs at HVCC have been successful for over 30-years. The programs will extend and concentrate on law enforcement members and their families in addition to their veteran’s program.
Another prize that could be won include a dinner with jockeys and derby winners.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The 2020 school year was marked as unforgettable as students, teachers and parents all moved to distance learning.
COVID-19 changed the world of teaching and soon after the virus struck the Saratoga community, Saratoga Central Catholic School started to implement innovative distance learning. They began online classes on March 18, connecting students daily with set schedules, Zoom classes and encouraging messages for their students.
“This has been an experiment. We learned by doing and I think that many of the schools have proven they can continue education under very difficult circumstances, which this pandemic certainly is,” Michael Kondratowicz, interim principal said. “The distance learning with contact to the faculty, has allowed the students to be guided by their teachers. It’s helped parents by educating their children and allowing them to meet on a regular basis with their teachers under these unusual circumstances.”
The initial challenge Biology and Earth Science Teacher Kate Sedlak faced with remote learning was discovering methods to relay the education material to the students in a clear, concise manner.
“In the beginning, I think we never thought that we would be out for the whole year. We thought at the end of spring break we would be back. Once we realized that we wouldn’t be going back, we had to kick it up a notch,” Sedlak said. “Having the video classrooms has been a great thing…the school already has a digital platform we were using that really helped with the transition. It made it easier to communicate because students and faculty already knew the program.”
As a Biology teacher, living through a pandemic brought an ample amount of education material to Sedlak that students could directly relate to. The SpaceX Dragon launch also provided a learning opportunity for Sedlak’s students.
“I really took what was happening in the world that we live in and related it to the science they are learning. That’s what you have to do when you are teaching…you have to make up fun and relevant material with today’s world,” Sedlak said.
By relating the material to current events not only engages the students more, but also keeps them motivated as they can directly use the information they are discovering. Maria Izzo, dean of students and teacher for eighth-grade American history and twelfth-grade government, said seeing students online rather than in person has been difficult.
“It’s difficult for students to not have their teacher in front of them to explain assignments and material. They are all just different levels of learners. Keeping them engaged and motivated as they’re not in front of you has been a challenge,” Izzo said.
Thinking creatively has allowed both Izzo and Sedlak to keep the students engaged and motivated while learning through a new medium.
“There are a lot of resources out there, you just had to go through them and figure out what ones you could use,” Sedlak said. “When I started teaching we didn’t even have computers in the classroom. I had to do all my grades in a grade book with a calculator. Dealing with the technology was an issue and who knows what will happen next year. I’m trying to learn from this experience to see what I have to do next year.”
Izzo said she has run into technology problems as student cameras or microphones won’t work or the Internet crashes, which happened to Izzo just this week. Despite the disturbances with technology, Izzo can use multiple online platforms that allow the students to work in different ways, including group assignments.
“I have to give a round of applause to our faculty, parents and students who, under these circumstances, have worked really hard to work with programs and try to help educate our students,” Kondratowicz said. “We will continue [distance learning] until June 12 for our seniors and June 19 for other grade levels. Then we will be stopping it and we don’t know what the future will bring. All sorts of government planning and discussions are going on in New York State about what the school year will look like next year.”
Izzo said: “it’s kind of hard to start off a school year with new students. I can only imagine starting in a new school and you’re on a computer…but I can’t even imagine what it would be like for the younger kids. [Distance learning] would be some students first kindergarten experience. I know it’s technology but that in-person connection is needed.”
Sedlak said from what she knows thus far, there are three main options for schools next year. She said the transition would be fluid through the options.
“But nobody knows. No one knows what is going to happen but we have to be ready. Whether it’s partial distance learning, we just have to be ready and prepared,” Sedlak said. “I’m just really proud of my students.”
Izzo added: “What do I think the future holds for remote learning? I hope it’s short-lived and maybe not just the only way we are going to do it. I’m hoping our NYS education system can find a way that we can be with them some of the time. It’s going to be difficult, but we know what we are up against now and we know what precautions we need to take. I think anything is possible to get the kids back into the classroom if you put your mind to it. I think we owe it to [the students], for their education, to try to make it happen to get back into the classrooms.”
BALLSTON SPA — Authentic Salon opened their doors Wednesday of this week, bringing high quality hair service in a wholesome atmosphere.
Kayla Murphy, owner of Authentic Salon, was inspired to open the new business through her work as a National Color Educator for John Paul Mitchell Systems. Murphy has travelled around the country as a national educator and has worked in many different salons. By visiting and working in the salons across the country, Murphy had the opportunity to see both successful and unsuccessful work in the salon industry for other stylists in many different demographics.
“Working in so many salons in the Capital District, I have gotten to learn what works best for our demographic. And working with Paul Mitchell, I have had the opportunity to receive amazing quality training with the best in our industry globally,” Murphy said. “Once the Covid-19 crisis hit, my ideas and plans were solidified even more through the need for transparency in sanitation for my salon guests and coworkers. Also being pregnant and having asthma put me at a higher risk for contracting the virus so I knew I had to do something.”
The salon, located at 1 Lake Hill Road, Ballston Lake, will offer women's, men's and children's haircuts as well as blowouts, specialty color, keratin smoothing, event styling and airbrush makeup.
“Authentic Salon is unique in the way that we provide the highest quality hair services in a down-to-earth, community friendly, wholesome atmosphere. I think so many times in situations where you receive excellence in standards, you trade off a lot of the wholesome qualities the community appreciates and values,” Murphy said.
Since Authentic Salon is a new business, the doors will open in accordance to restrictions and guidelines set in place for the community. Following the mandated guidelines for New York salons, Authentic Salon will test for COVID bi-weekly, wear masks and face shields, provide a clean cape for services and limit the number of guests in the salon at one time.
“In addition to the mandated guidelines, we are taking extra steps of precautions such as having our guests sign waivers when they arrive, wearing disposable gloves for the duration of the appointments, running air sanitizers throughout the salon, using neck strips and wearing a clean apron for every client. If a guest arrives without a mask, hand sanitizer, gloves and a new mask will be provided for them,” Murphy said.
“I am most looking forward to creating the place I always knew I needed to work in to be as successful and prosperous as possible. And creating a safe work environment for my salon guests whom I have known for so many years, to come visit me and receive the services I love to provide for them,” Murphy said.
MALTA — Zegers Freedom Flags is a small business focused on creating handcrafted wooden American Flags.
The father-daughter team Arthur and Morgan Zegers create the flags together. The two came up with the idea when Morgan Zegers graduated in 2018 and she found herself left with student debt. At the time, Art Zegers had watched online tutorials on how to create the wooden American flags and suggested they try creating one themselves.
“After we made one, it was so beautiful we didn’t know what to do with it,” Morgan Zegers said. “We donated it to the local VFW, we were both members in Malta when we lived there. Our friend got cancer from Agent Orange when he served in Vietnam, so they had a fundraiser for him and we donated [the flag] and a ton of people wanted to buy more. We began selling them after that.”
Colonel Arthur Zegers served the country in Operation Iraqi Freedom and on the site of 9/11. Morgan Zegers is the founder and CEO of Young Americans Against Socialism and owner of Zegers Freedom Flags.
When the two first began making flags, Morgan Zegers would hand carve the stars with a dremel. Soon after, the Eagle-Matt Lee Fire Department in Ballston Spa purchased 28 flags as gifts for each member of the fire department.
“We just couldn’t make that many by hand so we ordered the CNC machine. That allows us to not only do the stars, but we can also do custom carvings,” Morgan Zegers said.
A Computer Numerical Control, CNC, is the automated control of machining tools and 3D printers by means of the computer. A CNC machine processes a piece of material, in this case wood, to meet specifications by following a coded programmed instruction and without a manual operator.
To create the flags, Art Zegers said he purchases the wood that he then cuts into small strips. He will stockpile the lumber, then burn the wood and stain it. They then put together the custom flag.
“It’s nice to be able to make a flag, but when it comes out as well as we make it, it’s pretty rewarding to hand it to a customer. They just really appreciate it and they send me photos of it hanging in the living room or in their office. It’s very rewarding in that aspect,” Art Zegers said.
Two years ago, Megan Zeggers ran for New York’s State Assembly, which led to a plethora of networking for flag donations and sales.
“It’s really a big network of people who are already involved with great causes,” Megan Zegers said.
Both Megan and Art Zegers have full times jobs, and find themselves creating the flags in the evenings during their free time.
“I’m just doing this as a hobby now for when I do retire in four years as a civilian and a reservists. With all my military connections…this is where I’m getting my custom work. From different soldiers, engineers, military police and the units that I belong to are all ordering flags from me. So that was very rewarding especially since I worked with them,” Art Zegers said.
The business has grown to be a family affair, as Morgan Zeger’s brother now lends a helping hand. She added that her favorite part was the time she spends with her father.
“Working with my dad is the best. We don’t talk very much as we work because it’s pretty loud. Other times we’ll be really busy and sometimes we don’t work for very long, but it has been really nice to spend the time with him,” Morgan Zegers said. “All of our best customers are military family members or family members with people in law enforcement. It’s just really exciting to know that we are creating something that means a lot to the people receiving the gift. It means a lot to us.”
BALLSTON SPA — The 2020 Ballston Spa Farmers’ Market will open starting June 13 and run through September 26.
By following interim guidelines set by New York State Agriculture and Market for Farmers’ Markets, guidelines and precautions have been set in place. According to the market’s website, vendors will be properly spaced, social distance precautions will be implemented and masks will be required for vendors and customers. They will also offer hand sanitizer to customers and vendors.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market has currently been open on Wednesday and Saturday each week following the same guidelines. Emily Meagher, Market Administrator of Saratoga Farmers’ Market Association (SFMA) said the market only cancelled in mid-March, but moved outdoors to the Wilton Mall, occupying the parking lots near the Bow Tie Cinemas and the old Bon-Ton department store. Bracing cold weeks throughout March and April, Meagher said the move outdoors wasn’t the only change SFMA has made.
“Things have been going well for our farmers’ market. We’ve been heartened by the immense support from our local community. Now more than ever, it seems people are really appreciating local products and producers,” Meagher said.
Other changes SMFA has made to their set up includes: spacing out vendors’ stalls 10 to 15 feet, widening walkways to encourage and accommodate social distancing between customers, increasing hand washing stations and hand sanitizer available to customers and vendors, requiring masks to be worn within the market perimeters, and encouraging customers not to bring more than two members of their household and not to bring pets, to preorder when possible, and not to linger after they shop.
Meagher also mentioned vendors cannot give out samples and are the only ones to touch products. They are also encouraged to prepackage items to limit exposure. Every hour during the market, customer attendance is counted to ensure not too many customers are at SMFA at one.
“Farmers’ markets are usually a very social and communal place. Although we can’t create that atmosphere right now as a market, thankfully our vendors and customers still create a joyful and positive environment,” Meagher said.
Even as a social setting, Meagher added the community shouldn’t worry while visiting the market so long as proper guidelines are followed. Each market entrance, in addition to their social media page, posts the safety guidelines.
“For those customers who are vulnerable or immunocompromised, we do encourage preordering or having a friend or family member come to the market instead. But due to the precautions we’ve taken and the fact that we are operating outdoors, our markets are very safe. For those who might still be worried, I suggest trying out our Wednesday market, which is a smaller market with about 15 vendors. Especially after the first opening rush, which lasts until about 4 p.m., the market becomes a very intimate and socially distanced place to do your shopping safely and without any stress,” Meagher said.
Starting in June, SFMA’s satellite location in Clifton Park will also be opened on Mondays, outside the Shenendehowa Methodist Church.