Opal Jessica Bogdan
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs City School District has seven candidates running for the Board of Education 2020 vacancies.
Each year, there are three BOE vacancies, each for three-year terms. On June 1, the candidates will discuss issues in a virtual forum from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. hosted by the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County. The discussion will be hosted on Webex and a log-in will be available on the school’s website with the ability to sign in as an attendee.
The seven candidates running are as followed: Marissa Altimar, Erika Borman, Anjeanette Emeka, Scott Jackson, Tony Krackeler, Casey Putnam and Matthew Taylor.
On May 1, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the 2020 school budget vote and BOE election will take place on June 9. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the executive order moved the vote to exclusively be done through absentee ballot. The following information is according to each candidate’s Facebook page.
“I have lived in Saratoga Springs for over 2 years now. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, I started out as a single mother at age 22, and worked my way through college after my daughter was born so I could give her a better life, and serve as her role model. She now attends SSHS, and I couldn’t be happier that she is in such a remarkable school.”
• Improve our continuity of learning platform to reach all students during these challenging times.
• Support policies that address equity in education, mental health and overall safety of our students.
• Provide teachers with the resources they need to be successful.
• Protect our education and sports programs. Encourage engagement with our entire school community”
“Neighbors, I am finishing the third year of my first term as a board trustee for the Saratoga Springs City School District. It has been hard work, incredibly rewarding and I love it! I hope to gain your support”
“I would be proud to serve and represent the SSCSD community if given the opportunity. It takes vision, effective communication skills and business and personnel experience to be a positive contributor to a school board. These are all skills that I use in both the USPS and the U.S. Army every day. All SSCSD students, families, and taxpayers deserve a unified school board that works together towards the future, with the goal of providing children the absolute best public school education and experience.”
“I think the coming few years are going to be uniquely challenging for our district as processes, procedures, and finances will change and be disrupted. I want to make sure we look out for the students, families, teachers, and staff who will be asked to do things differently in the years ahead but who will still need and deserve the levels of excellence and humanity that they are used to, and which our district continually strives to provide. I would very much like to use my long experience in both education and running a business in the service of an institution (American public education) that has given me and my children far more than I could ever repay.”
“It is clear that the months ahead will require creative solutions to unprecedented financial, instructional, and logistical problems. I would like to be part of addressing these challenges in a way that keeps students moving forward academically and perhaps enhances their capacity for empathy, their stores of patience, and their ability to be flexible. I believe we have already seen this is possible from our educators, our students, and our community.”
“I believe my perspective as a recent graduate is a great benefit and a voice that has never been but should be on the board. I look forward to listening to you and working hard to earn your vote on June 9 (via mail in ballot!).”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Southern Adirondack Library System (SALS) created an online survey to document life during COVID-19.
“Leaving Our Fingerprints” is an online survey SALS is asking people of all ages in the community to fill out online. The information is collected anonymously and will be used to document COVID-19 in the Southern Adirondacks.
The survey consists of 20 questions, and each question does not have to be answered. There is no limit to how many times the survey is done, and a second survey can be submitted if more information was discovered at a later time.
Erica Freudenberger, outreach and engagement consultant for SALS, created the idea for the documentation. She was scrolling through Twitter when she noticed a post that recommended keeping a journal through the COVID pandemic.
“Scientists, epidemiologists and historians had learned so much about the Spanish Flu from journals they found,” Freudenberger said. “When we began to work from home in mid-March, I spent a lot of time thinking about how we could create and maintain community in a time of pandemic. As a librarian, my first thought was: sharing stories.”
Freudenberger shared her idea with Sara Dallas, executive director of SALS, who was enthusiastic and told her to go for it. SALS is comprised of 34 member libraries in Hamilton, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties, and each library is autonomous, with its own board and director. They create the Director’s Council who very supportive of Freudenberger’s idea.
In addition, the Saratoga Springs Public Library, Crandall Public Library and Schuylerville Public Library put her in touch with library staff to help with any efforts. She then formed a committee at the end of April with Lorie Wies, local history librarian at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, Michelle Isopo, adult services librarian at the Schuylerville Public Library, and Jack Scott, tech and youth services consultant SALS.
According to the “Leaving Our Fingerprints” website, by collecting stories the community can become witnesses to history, helping to provide insight into daily life during the global pandemic.
“We want everyone to participate. There are 20 questions, but you don’t have to answer them all. We’re also collecting images, gifs, and digital documents, if people want to share artwork, poetry, photos, or TikToks – we’re open to however people want to share their pandemic story,” Freudenberger said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A local neighborhood on the west side of Saratoga has brought up concerns regarding an access road for which Canadian Pacific Railway uses an easement.
Property owner Joseph Ogden noticed the access road when he first moved to the residential area with his family almost eight-years-ago. After looking into the history of the access road, he began to question if Canadian Pacific actually requires use of the path, or is even legally entitled to it.
“When there was only a couple houses in this neighborhood, use of the access road made sense…maybe it was more out of the way, but the neighborhood now is residential and it’s problematic,” Ogden said.
Adjacent to Grand Ave, Ogden said the easement was originally given to the property owners when the overpass was built so residents could have access to Grand Ave and not become landlocked. From what Ogden has noticed, the only use of the path is from unauthorized vehicles using the road to privately dump garbage on an adjacent parcel of undeveloped land.
“People come in and they bring truck loads because they think that this is something they can get away with. They don’t understand that this is really private property. The railroad and the property owners themselves are the ones that hold the easement,” Ogden said.
The undeveloped parcel of land now holds loads of broken cement, rocks and even a CRT (cathode ray tube) television. As the neighborhood grew with more families and houses, he grew concerned over the path’s overall safety, adding to the environmental concern.
“They have not articulated to us that there is something unique about this particular path that gives them some kind of different functionality,” Ogden said.
He started contacting the railroad company about a year ago, voicing his concerns over the safety and asking if the rail company actually needed access to the path.
He asked: “you have several other access points on the west side as a railroad company and just here in the city, do you really need this? We also noticed we don’t use it a whole lot. It’s not even plowed in the winter…it’s covered in snow for those months and if you’re only using it seldom throughout the year, do you really need it?”
He said at first, Canadian Pacific said they would look into the access road and it’s use, but after nine months of follow-up by Ogden, finally answered they were not willing to submit the use easement.
“They’ve admitted to me that they don’t use it, that they don’t need it,” Ogden said. “My goal, as a citizen and property owner and our goal as a neighborhood here, is to have Canadian Pacific acknowledge that they do not use this access road anymore. They don’t need the access road anymore. It’s private property and the full ownership and full use of it really needs to be returned to the property owners, given that it doesn’t appear to have any extra functionality for the railroad. I know they don’t use it a whole lot and it’s engendering this unauthorized dumping. The safety of our entire neighborhood is in question, including the well-being of our young children. We cannot tolerate this any longer.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Eight middle school students attending Saratoga Springs School were honored in memory of Billy Wardell, a sixth grader who passed away in March 2016.
The eight outstanding students were recognized for showing kindness, maturity, anti-bullying and helpful towards other students. The students awarded this year are: Jasmin Mercer, Alyssa Connors, Dylan Muller, Dylan Pincelski, Kari Reilly, Aubree Ketcher, and Josh Malo’Kai Merchant.
Each student receives a certificate and a $50 Target gift card to help purchase school supplies for the next academic year. Sherry Wardell, Billy’s Grandmother, said each year since they have given out $50 gift cards to students at the middle school.
“The teachers pick out the students. They’re not the top of their class academically or all-star athletes, they are kids that the teachers have watched all year that have strived to help others…if they see someone hurting and get involved.
“Billy was against bullying,” Wardell said.
Billy Wardell was a 12-year-old sixth grade student when he was killed riding an all-terrain vehicle on his father’s farm in Greenfield.
“It was truly very hard to get through and you still struggle with it,” Wardell said. She added: “people wanted to give some sort of a memorial and we didn’t know quite what to do. It was just one night - in the middle of the night - I felt God talk to me and tell me to do something at the school, to do a memorial,” Wardell said.
Wardell spoke with Amy Totino, assistant principle, April 2016 about honoring students and that they had enough money through family, friends and a few construction companies in the area to give the gift cards to eight students.
Wardell continued that they will continue to honor students until 2022, the year Billy Wardell would have graduated. For that year, Wardell plans to ask high school teachers to select two students who honor the memory of Billy and award each with a $4,000 check to the skill school or college of their choice.
“I think I’m going to miss it after 2022 when we don’t do it anymore,” Wardell said. “People have been great. People have reached out and it just helps with the grieving. We have been blessed big time.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — After receiving a donor match that saved his life three years ago, Jim Calhoun is excited to announce that his donor, Christian Montano, signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a rookie free agent.
“We were waiting for the draft that weekend because we knew that this would be his year…he just graduated. We watched the draft all weekend,” Calhoun said. “As soon as the draft ended they called him immediately and said he was probably being looked at by 13 teams. We were ecstatic when we found out.”
Montano is a recent graduate from Brown University where he joined the football team as an offensive lineman. Calhoun admitted that although he’s a diehard NY Giants fan, he would cross over to the Steelers to support Montano.
“I’m always going to be a die hard Giants fan, but since saving my life I’ve drilled more into football than I ever had,” Calhoun said. “I follow the Steelers app and try to read the stats on everything. I was never one into stats on anybody, but it’s amazing the position that [Montano] plays and how he always has to be an alert person…I appreciate what he does as far as on the field. It’s just an amazing thing.”
Ironically, the Steelers season opening game is against the Giants in New Jersey this year. Currently, Calhoun is waiting in anticipation to order Montano’s jersey as soon as the player’s numbers are established.
“I would love to go to that game and I’m hoping I could somehow get my chance to go watch,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun’s battle began in 2017 when a blood test revealed he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In addition to chemotherapy, Calhoun needed a bone marrow transplant.
During his first year at Brown, Montano had signed up for a cheek swab for “Be The Match” with the football team. The swab revealed he matched all 12 genes for transplanting capability with Calhoun.
The two keep in close contact to this day, speaking and texting a few times per week. Calhoun said Montano has a busy schedule now filled with meetings, as Montano isn’t at the Pittsburgh training facility due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We text quite often and his family has welcomed us in like we all have been family forever. I’m waiting for this quarantine to be over so we actually hang out with them again,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun had previously worked for 15-years as a Human Resources Assistant at St. Peter’s Health Partners. This past March, he was excited to get back to work when two-hours into the job, he was sent home. The next day there were two reported cases of COVID.
“I was just getting ready to get out and go to work and then this [virus] happened. It kind of put me back to square one where I’m not working…but there are a lot of people out there now that are not working,” Calhoun said. “I try not to worry about work right now, there is nothing I can do about it, but I just try to make the best out of every day.”
Calhoun is excited for the football season and knows Montano will do well.
“I’m excited and I can’t wait for the season to start,” Calhoun said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — As the community faces the first phase of the regional re-opening, Cheveux Design Hair Salon in Saratoga is hoping to open within the next three weeks.
Hair stylists and barbershops in New York will be allowed to re-open during phase two of regional reopenings as announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo this past week. Although specific guidelines were not shared in regards to re-opening, Cheveux Design Hair Salon owner Kelly Slywka already implemented safety precautions and practices.
“The salon had already implemented what other salons are doing now. I told the staff to use minimal products so they could pick them up and clean off after every visit. We also no longer offer magazines, coffee or water,” Slywka said. “We already restricted access to the building before we closed down. You get a text to enter, or waved in if you’re older and your phone doesn’t do texts.”
Slywka continued to say she plans to open the exact same way she closed, with minimal contact and safety precautions in place. She has installed plexiglass walls between each station.
The salon has been closed since late-March and Slywka has 95 appointments already lined up due to the closure. To help save time with appointments, Slywka has cut down on some of the salon’s services.
“It’s going to be about getting your cut and getting your color. It’s just about getting everyone in and getting everyone back on their book safely,” Slywka said. “My staff will only see one customer and clients cut down at least 30 minutes of an appointment if they don’t get a blow dry. Now they wont be in the salon for a longer period. Let’s just get everyone on the book and everyone caught up to where they need to be.”
Despite feeling ready to open, Slywka said hairdressers are feeling frustrated. Hair salons are mandated by the state and undergo a yearly test to ensure everything is in proper shape.
“It’s a surprise visit that can possibly have hefty fines. Salons have already done cleaning and safety practices… these are all things that have always been this way,” Slywka said.
Despite the frustration, Slywka said clients shouldn’t be afraid when they venture back out into the community. She said those with underlying conditions or autoimmune should stay safe for a while longer, but urges others to get back out in the community.
“If you are a healthy person you have got to get out there. We are avoiding the inevitable, you can’t beat nature,” Slywka said. “The only person who can advocate for you is you.”
Saratoga Springs started phase one reopening this week, joining other regions as they reopen. Regions are expected to pause for two weeks before moving on to phase two reopening. Slywka said, “I’m excited and ready to go.”
GLENS FALLS — The sale of flavored e-cigarettes statewide and all tobacco sales at pharmacies ended May 18.
Governor Andrew Cuomo wanted to combat the use of tobacco and nicotine products, so he enacted a Comprehensive Tobacco Control Policy as part of the state’s fiscal year 2021 budget. Cuomo signed the budget on April 3 of this year.
The policy prohibits the sale or distribution of e-cigarettes or vapor products that have a flavor, unless approved as part of an FDA pre-market approval. The policy also restricts the public display of tobacco and vapor products near schools.
The NYS Tobacco Control Program includes a network of statewide grantees, including Adirondack Health Institute (AHI), who works on Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities. Kelly Owens is the program manager of Clear the Air in the Southern Adirondacks and oversees AHI’s Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities. Owens and staff have worked to educate local communities about the need to protect children from tobacco marketing in places where kids can see it. She feels the law will help protect youth.
“Selling tobacco products in pharmacies has been sending a contradictory message…” Owens said.
The mixed messages to clients by offering tobacco alongside products for illness either caused or worsened by smoking.
“We also know that flavors and e-cigarettes attract younger kids which causes them to become addicted. The law will really help protect kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction.”
In a release from AHI, research has shown 40 percent of NYS high school seniors have used e-cigarettes, also known as “vaping.” Over 25 percent of all high school students have used e-cigarettes. Flavored e-cigarettes are known to attract youths and they become addicted to nicotine in return.
“We are really happy that NYS was compelled to take action on this law and I really feel that without the flavor to attract youth, I think we will see the rate of e-cigarette use drop,” Owens said.
“This is a great step forward for New Yorkers’ health, including those who live in the Adirondack region where tobacco use prevalence is higher than most other areas in the state,” said Eric Burton, Chief Executive Officer, AHI in a release. “This legislation will have a major impact on helping individuals live free from nicotine addiction.” AHI administers the Clear the Air in the Southern Adirondacks initiative, which includes the Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities/Reality Check program.
For those who do wish to stop smoking there are different methods and options available.
“Those who are addicted to nicotine through vaping or cigarettes or smoking, there is more support than ever,” Owens said. “Folks can reach out to their healthcare provider, or they can call the quit-line and visit the website. “There is really a lot of support out there for people who really want to take that next step and quit.”
The New York State Smokers’ Quitline is 1-866-NY-QUITS and the website is nysmokefree.com.
AHI is an independent not-for-profit organization licensed under the New York State Public Health Law as an Article 28 Central Services Facility. Since 1987, the organization has supported hospitals, physician practices, behavioral health providers, community-based organizations and others in the region in sharing our vision and mission of transforming health care and improving population health.
MALTA — The Malta Drive-In Theatre will officially open this Friday, May 22 to kick off their summer season.
As the weather gets warmer, families are anxious to go outside and enjoy the community all while being safe. The Malta Drive-In Theatre plans to re-open with a few precautions set in place. The drive-in announced the new rules staff and guests must adhere to on their website this Tuesday. The safety precaution will be reviewed and modified on a weekly basis as conditions in the community develop and change.
Credit cards and contactless payment transactions are being encouraged by the staff to limit social interaction. The staff will wear gloves and a mask at the ticket booth and in the concession stand.
The theatre will allow 50 percent of capacity and guests are encouraged to arrive earlier to avoid long lines. They also will allow guests to bring food and beverages from home if they purchase a $5 permit. The theatre was unable to comment at this time.
The following are the Malta Drive-In Theater re-opening rules:
For parking and viewing, vehicles are instructed to park exactly in the middle of adjacent poles, allowing 12 feet of space between cars. Everyone should view movies from inside the vehicle in seats, through an open hatchback or from a pickup truck bed. Even though viewing is encouraged inside the vehicle, the theatre will allow two lawn chairs if they are placed between the vehicle and the screen.
If guest go outside the vehicle, masks must be worn at all times but guests should limit contact to necessary bathroom and snack bar trips.
For the use of restrooms, guests are asked to limit use and an attendant will not permit access to any guest not wearing a mask. They have also blocked every other stall and sink to increase distance.
In order to purchase concessions, guests are encouraged to order online though an online concession ordering system on their smart phone. When the order is ready for pick up the guest will receive a text message and can grab it from their dedicated snack bar window. They will allow restricted entry into the concession building where staff will be walled off from guests.
The drive-in also put in place a zero garbage policy as guests must discard trash directly in a dumpster or box office trash corral.
The Ozoner 29 Drive-In Theatre in Broadalbin opened their season this previous weekend with similar restrictions in place. Concession orders were filled out at a distance and collected with cash only for purchases.
The four movies featured this weekend at Malta include: Troll World Tour and Jumanji: The Next Level on the first screen as well as The Wretched and The Invisible Man on the second screen.
SARATOGA SRPINGS — Fat Paulie’s Deli in Saratoga Springs opened when COVID-19 struck the community, but co-owners Jason Friedman and Jo-Anne Lant have embraced the restrictions with open arms.
Friedman opened Fat Paulie’s in November 2019, as a tribute to the old school local delis he grew up with in the neighborhoods on Long Island. Everything the deli offers is made in-house, including deli salads, soups, sauces and now groceries.
“It’s slightly difficult to grow the business now, with everything that’s going on, but overall things are great. We have a lot of regular customers and we have actually grown the business a little bit even during this crazy time,” Friedman said.
The deli prides itself on locally sourced and grown products. In addition to everything made in-house, fresh bread is delivered from Anthony & Sons Italian Bakery. Lant teamed up with Friedman this past February, growing the business through her contacts and friends.
“Through the connections we both know, I already feel that Paulie’s has fans. I feel we need to gain new fans and let them know we’re here and we’re open for them,” Lant said.
Customers are currently not permitted inside the deli, but they are accepting online and phone orders as well as offering curbside pickup and free delivery.
“We have increased our delivery area so we are able to reach more people and we will deliver grocery items too. People can order sliced deli and sandwich meats with toilet paper or hand sanitizer. We do it all,” Freidman said.
Jo-Anne added: “People like that we’re one stop shopping. We do no contact delivery, so people feel safer. Even the curbside pickup, people can pop their trunk and we will place the items in.”
Friedman noted that their business model was designed as a delivery and take-out place originally, making it a smoother transition to fit social restrictions. The shop is located at 92 Congress Street.
“It was an easier transition for us than it is for some of these sit down restaurants who had to completely change their business models. I know it was difficult for some of them to do it,” Friedman said. “But just try us out. We really focus on where we are sourcing our ingredients and sourcing all these ingredients the right way.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — This unique hiking adventure challenges the community to partake in a hike, walk or jog with an unusual partner: a roll of toilet paper.
Local David Kelley designed the challenge around the time toilet paper couldn’t be found on shopping shelves. Trying to add humor to the sold-out toilet paper dilemma, Kelley created the toilet paper trio hike, challenging the community to partake in three different hikes with a roll of toilet paper.
“Every time I went down that aisle, I couldn’t find toilet paper and it was what everyone was talking about. I think everyone needs a little bit of fun and a smile right now and when I went out and did it the first few times, I couldn’t stop laughing,” Kelley said.
Kelley wanted the challenge to include any local trails, bike paths and nature preserves to discourage distance travelling. He also encourages hiking solo or with immediate household family members to stay socially distant.
“I thought it would be a fun way to get people out and get them staying within those two parameters. To also have some fun,” Kelley said.
While encouraging social distancing, Kelley designed the challenge to mimic other known challenges, such as the Adirondack 46, fire tower challenge and the Saranac 6. Participants can sign up for the challenge and once completed, Kelley will add their name to the roster and they will receive a patch and a sticker. Registration is $20 and Kelley said 50 percent of the proceeds would be donated to NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund.
“I always wanted to find a way to help the workers on the front line. The challenged was a good way to combine everything,” Kelley said.
So far, 20 people have completed the challenge. His Facebook group has over 75 members as of early this week, some of who went hiking this past weekend. Although photos are not required to complete the challenge, Kelley encourages them.
“You’re not required to take photos of you and your toilet paper, but it is fun and the idea is to get a few smiles. The folks that are hiking have fun and so can the people you’re sharing the photos with,” Kelley said.
Kelley’s feeling to give back started when he was 8-years-old. He would collect “change for the children in need” for Make a Difference Day to benefit the Saratoga Center for the Family. Ten years later, the effort grew to include a multitude of friends who collected over $10,000 for the Center for the Family.
“It’s great to be back home connecting folks, having a little fun and doing something good for New York,” Kelley said.
Above all, Kelley hopes participants in the challenge have fun and smile. To find out more about the challenge, visit their Facebook page.
“Even though we are hiking by ourselves, we are all in this together. Share your photos and videos on social media with #ToiletPaperTrio and #HikeLocalHikeSolo,” Kelley said