Jonathon Norcross

Jonathon Norcross

SARATOGA SPRINGS/BALLSTON SPA — As plans for multiple cannabis dispensaries in Saratoga Springs continue to progress, the budding industry now has ambitions to expand into Ballston Spa. 

According to Ballston Spa Mayor Frank Rossi, on March 15 the village received an application for a cannabis dispensary that would be located at 303 Milton Avenue. The site is currently the home of Russell’s Deli. The application was made by Sachmarie Crowley of Saratoga Springs for Island Vibes Cannabis Dispensary, LLC.   

At a March 20 Board of Education meeting, Rossi said that the village could’ve opted out of having dispensaries in 2021 but didn’t. “There’s nothing we can do per se to stop a cannabis [dispensary] from locating in the village, it’s just a question of now doing the right thing, giving it its full review, etc.” 

Rossi wrote on his Facebook page that comments about the planned dispensary could be emailed to him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line “Proposed Dispensary Comment.”

Saratoga Springs also has a new dispensary application to review. At a Planning Board meeting earlier this month, a special use permit was considered for a High Peaks Canna Inc. dispensary that would be located at 137 Maple Ave. The site is currently used as an office building for The Towne Law Firm. Roohan Realty has the property listed as pending sale. 

Recently, New York has faced a number of issues regarding cannabis sales, including lawsuits, increased competition from illegal operations, and complaints about the difficulties of opening  dispensaries. On March 18, Governor Kathy Hochul began an assessment of the Office of Cannabis Management. “Today, we take the first step in revamping New York’s legal cannabis industry to ensure its long-term success,” Hochul said in a statement.

In addition to the proposed High Peaks dispensary, Saratoga Springs also has plans to open cannabis shops at 75 Weibel Ave, 95 West Ave, and 1 Kaydeross Ave West.


A slide from a Ballston Spa Central School District budget presentation shows enrollment impact from the opening of the first GlobalFoundries plant. Image via the district’s March 20 Board of Education YouTube livestream.

MALTA — After billions of federal and state dollars were invested in GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor manufacturing company headquartered in Malta, the Ballston Spa Central School District stands to benefit from the windfall, perhaps for decades to come.

As GlobalFoundries plans to build a second plant in Malta, school officials are trying to determine both the enrollment and financial impact the new plant might have. “Next year right now is financially difficult, but the future is actually quite bright for Ballston Spa because of that plant, no other reason,” said Clerk of the Board and Records Access Officer Brian Sirianni in a Board of Education meeting on March 20. 

When the first GlobalFoundries plant opened, an immediate impact was felt on the district’s enrollment. The number of total students jumped from 4,185 in 2011 to 4,322 in 2012. The increase of 137 students was the first time enrollment had climbed in years. Since then, enrollment has steadily declined from 2012 until the present day, when students number around 3,860. 

Sirianni said that predicting the enrollment impact of the second GlobalFoundries plant would be difficult. Compared to 2011, today’s housing market is in significantly worse shape, with inventory rates being especially low. “That’s why we’re seeing so many apartment complexes being built in the area; literally hundreds and hundreds of units,” Sirianni said. 

When it comes to the district’s finances, a second GlobalFoundries plant is nothing but good news. Sirianni said that in the first year or two, the district could see an additional few hundred thousand dollars. “But it’ll grow into the millions like it did before,” Sirianni said. “So that will offset our loss and, in fact, starts to subsidize the rest of the district.” Sirianni said the second plant could benefit the district financially for the next ten to fifteen years.

Construction on GlobalFoundries’ second plant is expected to begin this year. The company estimates that more than 1,500 manufacturing jobs and about 9,000 construction jobs will be created.

Thursday, 28 March 2024 13:31

Ballston Spa Scholar-Athletes Recognized

BALLSTON SPA — At the Ballston Spa Central School District’s Board of Education meeting on March 20, Athletic Director Dave Sunkes formally recognized the district’s winter sports scholar-athletes.

“It goes without saying that we do put the student before the athlete here, which is something we pride ourselves on,” Sunkes said. “Three years in a row we’ve been a school of excellence in New York State.”

Nine of the district’s winter teams qualified as New York State scholar-athlete teams. In total, the 114 students had a combined GPA of 93. Specific teams finished the season with the following GPAs (which have been rounded slightly): 

  • Girls indoor track - 94.7
  • Boys indoor track - 94.7
  • Girls basketball - 93.8
  • Boys basketball - 93.7
  • Girls bowling - 92.7
  • Boys bowling - 91.8
  • Boys swim and dive - 94
  • Ice hockey - 90.9
  • Boys alpine ski - 90.8

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Dolly Cairns, a Saratoga Springs native and the all-time scoring leader at Saratoga Springs High School, competed in the first round of the NCAA women’s “March Madness” basketball tournament last weekend. 

Cairns and the No. 12 seed Florida Gulf Coast Eagles faced off against a tough competitor: the No. 5 seed Oklahoma Sooners. The game was a nailbiter that came down to the final shot.

“It was a very fun and exciting experience,” Cairns told Saratoga TODAY. “I am extremely thankful to have gotten the opportunity to play in Assembly Hall against a very well-coached and competitive team like Oklahoma.”

The Eagles dominated the game in the early minutes, leading by 10 at the end of the first quarter. But Oklahoma quickly redeemed itself with a 10-0 run to open the 2nd quarter. At halftime, the Eagles had the lead. Florida was a perfect 28-0 in games they led at halftime. Momentum was on their side, but the Sooners didn’t give up without a fight. 

Cairns made the first shot of the second half, a smooth layup to maintain an Eagles lead. But Oklahoma chipped away at Florida’s defense and finished the third quarter with a 53-50 lead. In the fourth, the Eagles hit three straight shots from beyond the arc, showing why they’re regarded as three-point specialists. (Some fans wearing ponchos opened up umbrellas every time the Eagles “rained” three-pointers, but the umbrellas were apparently confiscated). 

The Sooners went on another run in the fourth, however, to put them up by 5 points with less than 4 minutes left to play. Cairns hit a huge three-pointer to put Florida within 3 points late in the quarter, causing an ESPN broadcaster to refer to Cairns as “deadly” beyond the arc. Later, Cairns fought for a rebound, and ran it all the way back for a layup, which put the Eagles up by 1 point, 68-67. With less than a minute left in regulation, the game was tied.

With only 5 seconds on the clock, Cairns attempted a three, but seemed to have either been blocked or fouled (though no foul was called by the officials). In the final play of the game, Florida was down by 3 points. With one second left, the Eagles quickly tossed up a three-pointer, but the ball bounced off the front of the rim. Oklahoma won with a final score of 73-70. Cairns finished the game with 10 points and 2 rebounds. She had the third highest point total among all Florida players.

In a postgame interview with ESPN, Sooners Coach Jennie Baranczyk praised the Eagles’ performance. “You don’t want to play them in this tournament,” Baranczyk said. 

Cairns looked back on her season at Florida Gulf Coast with no regrets. “I am so proud of our team for the way we carried ourselves all season,” she said. “The relationships I have made this year with my teammates have been like no other, and I am so happy that I made the decision to come play here.”

As for the future, Cairns, a senior, said she’s keeping her options open. “I am planning to take my extra year of eligibility and stay at [Florida Gulf Coast University] for another year,” she said. “After next year, I will be pursuing a career in healthcare.”

Cairns played for the Saratoga Springs Blue Streaks girls basketball team, scoring more than 2,000 points to set the school’s all-time scoring record. In 2019, she committed to the University of Rhode Island, where she played for two seasons before transferring to Florida Gulf Coast. With the Eagles this season, she averaged 9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal per game.

BALLSTON SPA — Ballston Spa was one of six schools that launched unified bowling 14 years ago. Back then, the school struggled to find enough participants. Nowadays, not only is the team the largest in school history, but it also captured the Division 6 Championship earlier this month.

“We did have a successful year,” said Coach Rob Immel when his team was being celebrated by the district at the March 30 Board of Education meeting. “With unified bowling, one of my favorite aspects of it is the small celebrations, whether you get a strike, whether you win, get a spare, maybe even hit a pin, eat as many fries as you can; we celebrate all the successes.”

Unified bowling teams include a mix of people with and without disabilities. Students with limitations in adaptive areas (players) are paired with other students (partners). According to Special Olympics New York, bowling is a particularly beneficial sport to people with intellectual disabilities because it includes physical exercise, participation, and social integration.

Thursday, 28 March 2024 12:54

Skidmore Blows Out Bard in Snowy Series

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Baseball might be a spring sport, but it sure didn’t feel like spring during the Skidmore College baseball team’s home opener last Friday afternoon against Bard College. A gray sky and near-freezing temperatures not-so-subtly hinted at the winter storm that would begin pummeling the region later that night. Flurries fell intermittently throughout the game, causing occasional white dustings across the infield. But despite the cold, Skidmore starting pitcher Ameer Hasan was on fire.

Hasan announced his presence by striking out all three batters in the first inning. In six total innings, he threw 87 pitches, allowing only 2 hits and 1 walk. The single run scored against him in the fifth was the result of throwing error.

While Hasan commanded the mound, the Thoroughbreds went to work driving in runs. In the third inning, the team tallied nine of them. Nate Vandersea and Sam Kornet both drove in 2 RBI each. Ewen Donald worked a walk with the bases loaded. Zachary Leiderman got hit by a pitch, also with the bases loaded. Eddie Galvao hit a single to left-center that drove in yet another run. By the time the third inning was over, Skidmore was in the lead, 11-0.

Bard starting pitcher Kane Morgan was a bit unruly, walking several batters and hitting another within the first couple innings. He left the game in the bottom of the third after allowing 4 earned runs.

After Hasan departed the game, Skidmore’s relievers struggled, allowing 7 runs in the 7th inning. But Skidmore’s third-inning performance was too much for Bard to overcome. The Thoroughbreds won with a final score of 16-9.

After the home opener on Friday, Skidmore played two more games against Bard on Sunday, winning both in shutout victories. After taking all three games of their series against Bard, the Thoroughbreds improved to 8-6 on the season. 

Thursday, 28 March 2024 12:51

A New Era for Saratoga Catholic Softball

SARATOGA SPRINGS — New uniforms. A new coach. New players. A new team culture. It seems like the Saratoga Central Catholic varsity softball team has hit the refresh button and is prepared to enter its next era.

“We want to try to change the culture until we expect to win,” said Coach Abby Arceneaux. “We’re trying to set expectations that we can compete with anybody.”

This season will be Arceneaux’s first as coach of the Saints, but she’s been developing the team since last summer. During more than a dozen open gyms, Arceneaux worked on the fundamentals with her more inexperienced players. Thanks to these sessions, Arceneaux said her girls already knew what to expect coming into the season. “We were kind of all on the same page right away,” she said.

Saratoga Catholic has six returning players this year. “They’re all very good softball players even though some of them are young,” Arceneaux said. But it was a struggle to fill in the team’s holes. This year’s roster includes four freshmen with no recent competitive softball experience, as well as an 8th grader and two 7th graders. 

In a meeting at the start of the season, Arceneaux went over all of the team’s games from last year. Arceneaux said she wanted to change the team’s mindset to believe they can compete with anybody. “These girls, we’ve heard them say, ‘Oh God, that team is so good.’ And we’re like, so should we not show up? You want me to take that day off?” 

Arceneaux has been drilling the message into her team that they have what it takes to win. It seems that strategy is paying off. Arceneaux said morale is high, and she hasn’t “noticed any kind of negativity.”

Unfortunately, the team did suffer one setback. During a batting practice, Arceneaux tore her Achilles. Thankfully, she had an experienced veteran on her coaching bench ready to help out: her dad, John. Arceneaux said she was lucky to have her father’s support. “There’s no better coach in this area that can develop kids and knows the game, in my opinion,” she said. 

The Saints will also undoubtedly have help from Ryan McDonald, their standout senior catcher who hit over .450 last year. “She’s 100% the leader of our team,” Arceneaux said. “She’s a player to watch. I don’t know how she’s flown under the radar so much because she’s impressive.”

Fans can get their first look at the revamped, McDonald-led team when the Saints kick off the season on Monday, April at 1 p.m. against Tamarac High School.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus told attendees of an Industry Influencers event on Wednesday morning that Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran’s proposed short-term rental regulations, which have been the source of controversy, will be “dramatically changed.”

“The fee is coming way down,” Shimkus said, referring to the $1,000 biennial registration fee. “The rules are going to be different for folks that rent for three weeks over the summer or a couple days versus somebody that is an absentee landlord investing from outside the area.”

Shimkus said he had spoken to Moran on “multiple occasions” about the proposed regulations. “The impact that it likely has going forward is going to be, I think, dramatically different from what the original proposal was looking at,” Shimkus said. 

In response to Shimkus’ remarks, the Saratoga Springs Rental Rights Alliance, an advocacy group formed in opposition to the proposed regulations, said via spokesperson Anna Smith that “though Moran has hinted at substantial revisions in the upcoming draft, we eagerly anticipate reviewing the new proposal and remain eager to voice any additional concerns.” 

MALTA — After more than $2 billion in federal and state investments were awarded to GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor manufacturer headquartered in Malta, the town is continuing to see significant growth, including the addition of new businesses and residential developments. 

Most of these recent changes, said Town Supervisor Cynthia Young, are consistent with the town’s stated mission to create an active downtown area filled with amenities. “When I first moved to Malta almost 40 years ago, there were no amenities,” Young said. “I had to leave Malta to get my hair cut, to get my dog groomed, to buy my groceries; and now all of those things are things that I can do here in Malta.”

The funds sent to GlobalFoundries will be used by the company to both expand its existing facility and build a new microchip fabrication plant. The projects are expected to create more than 10,000 new jobs. Young said that she hoped GlobalFoundries’ expansion would “spur some other businesses to come into the tech park.”

GlobalFoundries isn’t the only tech-focused business making waves in town. Last week, the Albany Business Review reported that Active Solar Development will build its nearly 13,000-square-foot, $3 million headquarters next to the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta. 

As new and expanded businesses bring more jobs to the area, developers are working on increasing the housing supply. Construction is already underway for DeGraff-Bloom Custom Builders’ 25-home development on Dunning St downtown. Young said that new homes were also being built in the northern part of town near Route 9, and that additional senior housing was being planned. 

“I have been somewhat concerned about the escalating cost of housing in Malta,” Young said. “I’m hoping we can explore some opportunities to offer more modestly priced housing, but so far there’s nothing on the table for that.”

Young also said the town was working to protect some of its rural areas with conservation easements, in an effort to keep quality of life “balanced.” 

As Malta continues to grow, Young encourages residents to contact her with any questions or concerns via phone 518-899-3434, or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Hospital’s new dialysis unit has opened just in time for National Kidney Month. The unit was dedicated in February in honor of Dr. Rachid Daoui, a nephrologist whose journey to Saratoga began in Algeria.

“When I came to [the United States], I had very limited resources,” Dr. Daoui said. “I had to start all over. I was not sure if I would be able to be a doctor here.”

After emigrating, Dr. Daoui learned the English language, completed his residency in internal medicine at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, and then began specializing in kidney disease. He had a number of job offers, but was especially impressed with the people he met in Saratoga. “I felt that from day one, they were just like my family,” Dr. Daoui said.

Dr. Daoui began working at the Saratoga Hospital in 2003. By 2012, he had become chief of the hospital’s nephrology division. When Frank and Colleen Messa made a large contribution towards the construction of a new dialysis unit, they requested it be named in honor of Dr. Daoui.

The unit, which officially opened last month, allows two nurses to give five patients dialysis treatments. During the peak COVID years, nurses were working from 8 a.m. until past midnight, struggling to keep up with high demands and limited resources. But the Dr. Rachid Daoui Dialysis Unit has changed all that. Dr. Daoui said that patients and nurses “love” the new unit. “They say that it feels quite spacious and welcoming, and they feel that they’re getting treated with dignity and respect in their own private space.”

Of course, it’s best to avoid kidney disease in the first place. Dr. Daoui said some of the most effective ways to keep kidneys healthy include checking blood pressure, maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, quitting smoking, drinking plenty of fluids, limiting alcohol intake, and medicating diabetes (if necessary). “The best practice is to have a healthy life,” Dr. Daoui said.

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