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SARATOGA SPRINGS – The International Shooter Federation’s ‘Saratoga Frees and Threes’ contest came to the Saratoga Rec Center on Sunday, January 31. International Shooter Federation is an organization founded two years ago by Saratoga Springs resident and business owner Dan Britten.

The contest was split into two challenges - Free Throw and Three Point, where participants tried to outrank their competition by making as many shots as possible. The afternoon was well attended, with many of the 65 participating shooters bringing their own posse/cheering sections. Eventually, the shooters wound down to the finals. 

Congratulations to Free Throw winner Al Callejas, who came in from Archbald, PA, and netted a cool $5,000 prize in this division. Three Point Winner Shea Bromirski from nearby Cambridge, smoked all comers and netted the $7,000 first prize. Congrats also to those who came out to make this event’s debut in Saratoga Springs a smash!

Thursday, 04 February 2016 11:51

Local Delegation Skis In Austria

Team Lake Placid, SSHS Ninth Grader in International Children’s Games

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It’s always nice to do a follow up piece like this. Saratoga Springs High School ninth grader Hugh Dempsey, the subject of our October 16 cover story, has successfully completed his journey as part of the first Team Lake Placid delegation to Innsbruck, Austria to participate in the 2016 Winter International Children’s Games (ICG). 


They were over for the games from January 11 to 16, and Hugh, who participated in the Giant Slalom as a member of the New York Ski Educational Foundation, reported that he got a mega-dose of both alpine activity and cultural immersion in his time there. His experiences were enhanced by the fact that they were acquired under ICG’s banner of international goodwill and friendship. 


In fact, the teams were often mixed as part of the games and Hugh had the experience of not only competing against athletes from all over the world- such as Bosnia, Greece and Germany - but having them as teammates as well. 


Among the many highlights of this whirlwind trip, Hugh noted that he was particularly impressed with touring the Old City portion of Innsbruck, as well as sightseeing in Zurich, Switzerland on the way home. He scored an Australian football in a trade with members of that team; competed in the Boys Giant Slalom and finishing a strong 20th out of 88 athletes in that event (for complete results, visit http://www.innsbruck2016.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Resluts_GS_boys.pdf); and was particularly proud to cheer on and congratulate his teammate Inez Burkard, from the Rochester area, who grabbed the bronze medal in her Giant Slalom event.


A major part of this adventure was not only forging friendships with Hugh’s international counterparts, but also with those members of his Team Lake Placid who competed in other events such as Nordic and freestyle skiing, and speed skating. 


An experience of a lifetime. With many more on the horizon to come from this young man whom it has become a pleasure to get to know. We can’t wait for the next chapters!

Committee Report Details Roadmap for City to Become Solar Leader


SARATOGA SPRINGS – Solar power is becoming more viable each day, and a Solar Committee, formed last summer by Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan, delivered a comprehensive report to the Saratoga Springs City Council at their Tuesday, February 2 meeting. The report surveyed the “state of the local solar landscape” and made several recommendations how the City can take action itself and encourage others to increase its usage.


Solar Committee Chairperson Larry Toole delivered a summary of the report, which began by examining current local solar situations from environmental, technological and financial perspectives – all trending towards increased favorability for solar power. As a result, the report cited research that “more solar {was} installed in one week during 2015 than was installed in all of 2006.” This is due to a variety of factors including improved efficiencies in solar panels and equipment, leading to the lowered cost of generating solar power, which Toole noted had dropped significantly: from $12/watt in 1998 to around $4.50/watt in 2013. 


The report also discussed various solar implementation models, from individual residence/businesses, community solar parks (where the solar array or panels are shared by a group of people, such as the inhabitants of a community or an apartment building, much the same way community gardens work), and larger “Utility Scale” installations, such as the city’s proposed Weibel Avenue Solar Park, which, when built out, could have the potential to generate 40-50 percent of city building energy needs. Commissioner Madigan has forecasted that the groundbreaking on this will occur this year. The report also listed opportunities for financial assistance from Federal and State sources to encourage solar installations.


The Solar Committee made seven action recommendations to the City Council to help encourage, emphasize and incentivize continued and increased utilization of solar in all areas of Saratoga Springs’ economy:


1- Replace the current Solar Access Ordinance 6.4.8 with the New York State Unified Solar Permit or a variation. By standardizing the process, the goal would be to encourage easier and a greater number of solar permit applications. 

2- Ensure that consideration for solar will be pervasive across all of the City’s decision making bodies, including City Council, and its Land Use Boards.

3- Encourage the City to offer “incentives” (monetary or otherwise) to encourage the inclusion of solar and other clean energy options within proposed development projects. Such incentives could be above and beyond what is available at the state and federal level.

4- The City should participate in the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program (an elective program administered by the State’s Energy Improvement Corporation. This provides financing for eligible clean energy projects) for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to buildings.

5- Encourage builders to include a solar component within all new development proposals. Such encouragement should be included at all process gateways to ensure that at least adequate consideration be given to solar and/or other renewable energy or energy efficiency options.

6- Pursue community solar as an alternative option, especially when the installation of solar directly on a consumer’s property creates a negative impact for adjacent properties or to the community as a whole.

7. The City should adopt policies and promote actions that recognize and are sensitive to balancing the growth of solar with competing interests within the community (such as historic preservation or the environment). For example, under most circumstances it is self-defeating to advance solar installations by removal of the tree canopy.


The complete committee report is on the city website. Visit www.saratoga-springs.org. A copy is also in the City Clerk’s office at City Hall.


Thursday, 04 February 2016 11:41

Weibel Goes White and Streaks Ice Shen

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Wednesday, February 3 was “White Out Weibel” Night, and the Saratoga Blue Streaks rose to the occasion by shutting out rival Shenendehowa, 2-0, on third period goals by Caleb Smith and Josh Dagle, to keep their undefeated (11-0) league record intact. More importantly, The Saratoga hockey team raised $9,500 for the American Cancer Society’s Coaches vs. Cancer Program through this event. The game was also Senior Night for the Blue Streaks and 10 senior players were honored before the game. 


Friday, 29 January 2016 13:53

Hot Potato at the Freezing Point:

Homeless Seek Shelter at Saratoga Hospital ER

SARATOGA SPRINGS – What you have here is a textbook case about an unfunded government mandate in action. Well intentioned, perhaps, but in this case it has to date led local organizations, also well intentioned, but in some cases underfunded, in others under-equipped, to scramble for an effective solution to fulfill the mandate. Meanwhile, the weakest segment of our society – our homeless – has their safety and very lives in limbo.


On Sunday, January 3, in advance of an anticipated drop in New York City’s temperature and large snowfall amounts, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order requiring local governments to take identified homeless people off the streets and into shelters, by force, if necessary, once the temperature reaches 32 degrees or below. While many statewide were quick to criticize the force component of the order, it became an economic issue locally this week. 


The City of Saratoga Springs Code Blue Shelter is operated by Shelters of Saratoga at the Salvation Army on Woodlawn Avenue. The shelter is “triggered,” or goes into operation, when the temperature is expected to drop below 20 degrees, or when a foot of snowfall is expected.  It should be noted that this is a benchmark that has been used by many similar organizations throughout the state. After the Governor’s mandate, the local Code Blue Shelter continued to operate under that same threshold, as they had no immediate way to secure the funding to keep it open more often.


“We’re certainly willing to look at (raising the threshold),” said Shelters of Saratoga’s (SOS) Executive Director Mike Finocchi. “We actually did raise it once, from 10 to 20 degrees. The issue with us is securing funding for the costs involved, and of course staffing. We are primarily a volunteer organization, and though we get some grant money, we are principally funded through generous donations from the community.” Finocchi said that the Code Blue Shelter accommodates an average of 38 people when open.


During the overnight hours of Tuesday/Wednesday, January 22/23, the temperature was below freezing, but not cold enough to activate the Code Blue Facility. A subset of the homeless population, 10 to 12 people, was transported to the emergency room at Saratoga Hospital to seek an alternative shelter. Some have speculated that a homeless volunteer transported this group; other sources have told Saratoga TODAY that a part time resident of the shelter had organized the group of people. Regardless, the people appeared on the hospital’s doorstep.


For it’s part, Saratoga Hospital did all it could to accommodate the unexpected people, despite the fact that it’s Emergency Department is not set up to do this kind of hosting. A statement released by Saratoga Hospital’s Vice President for Community Engagement, Amy Raimo on Wednesday, January 27 seemed to strike a proper chord: Caring and yet not possessing the proper facilities. The statement read in part:


“Last night, approximately 10 to 12 people from the homeless community were brought to our Emergency Department…. We have had this occur before, but this is the largest number we have accommodated.


The Hospital has a long-standing practice: If someone from the community comes to the Hospital, we will not turn them away. We will be as responsive as we can be to meet their needs. However, we are not equipped to be a shelter, and refer anyone in need to the local community organizations best prepared to help. As always, our primary focus is to take care of our patients, but we will continue to work closely with local authorities and organizations to identify the best solutions when there is a need and we can help.”


As stated above, Shelters of Saratoga’s people have more than expressed willingness to raise the threshold to activate Code Blue. Perhaps this is a good time to enlist the reader to consider making, or making another, donation to help fund this worthy cause. Visit SheltersOfSaratoga.org for information. Meanwhile, this remains a story in progress that is frustrating to well-meaning people that are seeking a solution. And the homeless remain in limbo.


Finocchi added a note of irony. “On that night,” he said, “we actually had six rooms available at our regular shelter (on Walworth Street), which operates year-round. But nobody called us.”

Friday, 29 January 2016 13:43

Eighth Grade Wrestling Phenom!

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It wasn’t shaping up to be Saratoga High wrestling’s night. 


Going into their match against a strong Averill Park squad on Wednesday, January 20, the wrestlers had sported an impressive 18-2 record and came in riding a nice winning streak. But even the best teams can have one of “those nights”. 


The match began with the 132 Lb. class, and Saratoga couldn’t get itself untracked. After finishing the 285 Lb. class, they found themselves down, 48-0. Certainly unfamiliar ground for a team that had done so well this season, and just as certainly, no would have blamed them if they just packed it in at that point and resolved to go get ‘em another day. 


But that’s not the nature of this team – and not the nature of its 99 Lb. wrestler, eighth-grader Eric Griskowitz. He approached his rival as if the match was just starting: Outpointing and ultimately pinning his opponent, he registered the first points Saratoga would earn on that evening. Although I must admit that I am still learning much about this sport (thank you, Publisher Beatty), it was readily apparent that Eric demonstrated a tremendous level of technical precision and prowess that belied his young age. He provided a spark as well; Saratoga registered two more pins and a victory on points, before the match ended. The Blue Streaks did fall on that day, 21-54, but they made it respectable and more importantly, never gave up. 


Because of Eric and other underclassmen on the wrestling squad, Saratoga Springs appears primed for a long run of success – and it’s character-building nights like these that contribute a large element that sweetens those victories to come.



Eric Griskowitz has been at this awhile, despite his young age. After a 26-8 debut record on the varsity last year, yes, while in the seventhgrade, he became the all-time school leader in the 99 lb. class early this season, and just keeps adding to his own record. This year, he’s at a sizzling 32-2, and the only thing that may stop him is his own growth. “I trained down from about 115 at the beginning of the year,” he said, so it is likely that he will jump more than one weight class in his next year, perhaps several more before he is honored on a senior night (see back page) similar to before the January 20 match vs. Averill Park. 


Eric’s actually been at this a lot longer, wrestling in kindergarten as a member of the Pee Wee Squad, and was a manager of the modified varsity wrestlers while in the sixth grade. Eric started to develop two of his favorite moves – the arm bar and spladle, during that time, and got inspiration along the way from his older brother, Drew, who was on the Blue Streaks wrestling squad as a senior with Eric last year and is now a freshman club wrestler at the University of Delaware. His gets a lot of support from his family (which includes parents Greg and Gloria, younger sister Catharine and younger brother Kyle) as well. 


In talking to Eric, you tend to forget that he’s only in the eighth grade. He’s serious about his craft, and you come away with the sense of pride he has in his accomplishments, and the drive he has to accomplish more, without sounding cocky. When we spoke, he noted that he needed only three wins in his last 10 matches to tie the all-time eighth grade record at SSHS. His 58 wins to date also puts him on a good pace to threaten the school’s all-time wrestling victory mark of 208, a number Eric knew and volunteered instantly. He felt some of his most important wins came in his first match last year, where he beat his Niskayuna opponent in the last quarter to clinch the victory. “It made me feel like I belonged on the team,” he said. Among his many victories this year, he felt his biggest were at the Mohonasen Tournament, and at Saratoga Invitational Wrestling Tournament earlier this month.


His serious and calm manner presumably extends to schoolwork, where Eric listed math and science as his favorite subjects, but it definitely extends to his hobbies. “I like to make money,” he said. To that end, you’ll find him cutting lacrosse fields and lawns as well as snow removal. Lest you fret that his snow removal business has taken a hit on his wallet this year, Eric noted that he also logs some after-school hours at his mom and Aunt’s Putnam Market, where you’ll see him packing and stocking the shelves, and taking a turn or two at the cash register.  


Speaking of lacrosse, that’s another sport that Eric plays. He’s a goalie on the modified squad. He’d like to pursue both in college, but when the day comes where he might have to specialize in one of the other – lacrosse would get the nod. 


I’m guessing he’s probably pretty good at that too. Another reason to look forward to spring.

Another Section 2 Crown for SSHS Gymnasts

SARATOGA SPRINGS – So you want to guarantee your picture on our back page? It’s really no secret- here’s all you need to do to assure your spot: 


  • Win an unprecedented 13th consecutive title in your sport.
  • It doesn’t hurt to win every dual meet – home and away – against your opponents during that time.
  • It’s not mandatory, but it certainly helps to do all of the above with grace, precision and style. 


Do all that, and that back page is yours…I promise. All of which is to say congratulations to the Saratoga Springs High Gymnasts, who are now well into their second decade of Section 2 dominance! 


Pure and simple, when you’re in the presence of greatness like this, it’s smart to get out of the way and let the pictures tell the story. And the scores - like these from their latest victory against Bethlehem on Tuesday, January 19: 


Team totals:

Saratoga - 172.4

Bethlehem - 148.85



1. Julia VanHorne - 9.0

2. Sophie Hrebenach - 8.8

3. Carmen Cusick - 8.6



1. Julia VanHorne - 8.35

2. Sophie Hebenach - 8.2

3. Kelsey Jackowitz - 8.1



1. Kelsey Jackowitz - 9.0

2. Courtney Kirshe - 8.9

3. Sophie Hrebenach - 8.85



1. Julia VanHorne - 9.35

2. Courtney Kirshe - 9.3

3. Sophie Hrebenach - 9.2


All Around:

1. Julia VanHorne - 35.4

2. Sophie Hrebenach - 35.05

3. Courtney Kirshe & Kelsey Jackowitz - 34.2

Thursday, 21 January 2016 10:33

Rolling Into Senior Night!

Spa Catholic Girls Get Hard-Earned Win

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It wasn’t easy, but they got it done. 


Overcoming a halftime deficit, the Saratoga Central Catholic girl’s basketball squad exhibited gritty determination on defense and earned a tough 38-29 victory over a pesky Northville squad that had come into the game on Tuesday, January 19 with only one conference victory. With the win, the Saints are now 7-4 in the Western Athletic Conference, good for third place in the WAC Northern Division, and 10-6 overall. Northville drops to 1-9 and 3-10 overall. 


In the first half, the Northville Falcons played nothing like a one-win team, giving Spa Catholic all it could handle. They held the Saints to just three points in the first quarter, en route to a 17-10 halftime lead. 


But in the second half, it was a different story. The Saints found their scoring touch, led by junior Kristen Mahar, who led all scorers with 12 points. The Saints scored 28 of their 38 points in the second half. In the fourth quarter, timely free throws by senior Chloe Ethier and three-point baskets by junior EmmaVanDeCar (each with 9 points), coupled with a stifling defense that limited Northville to just 4 points in the last quarter, and the Saints won running away at the end. 


The Saints will need to summon that kind of fourth-quarter effort throughout the whole game in their next contest, at home on Friday, January 22, when they host Northern Division leader Mayfield (10-1; 11-3).  This will also be Senior Night, and both senior co-captains Ethier and Mariah Murray will be honored at a ceremony preceding that game, which is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. 



The Junior Varsity Saints were also winners of their game against Northville, 50-41

Thursday, 21 January 2016 10:28

MOO-vers And Shakers!

City Center to Host Holstein Convention

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Please forgive me, but I want to milk this for all it’s worth. 


The Saratoga Springs City Center will join such luminary cities such as Calgary, Alberta and Fort Worth, Texas as it transforms Saratoga Springs into a version of “Cowtown,” when it will be the site of the annual National Holstein Convention from June 27 to July 1. The Co-chairs of the event are Jeff and Becky King from King Brothers Dairy and Kings-Ransom Farm, located in Bacon Hill just outside of Saratoga Springs. 


“We’re excited at the buzz this is already generating,” said Becky King, who had just attended statewide convention in Utica. “We can wait to show off our hometown area at our industry’s National Convention!”


The theme of this year’s convention is “New York Charm – City to Farm” and the estimated 800 -1,200 attendees, according to City Center President Mark Baker, will get a taste of some of the great attractions the Saratoga region has to offer – including the Saratoga Battlefield and The National Museum of Racing; fun stops like the Saratoga Strike Zone and Great Escape, in addition to Holstein breeder farm tours such as Kings-Ransom. 


The convention attendees are potential buyers for the approximately 80 head of Holstein cattle that will be auctioned. “These are the most prized breed in the dairy industry,” Baker said. “The highest quality stock is here in the Northeast, and we anticipate interested parties coming in from all 50 states, as well as from Europe, South America and Asia.” 


In explaining how this particular convention deal came about, Mark Baker cited several factors. “Our staff, in conjunction with the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau, are always on the lookout for new events. In this case, Jeff King was a key person – he and Kings-Ransom stepped up about six years ago; due to our recent expansion he said he believed that we were now big enough to host an event of this magnitude, and lobbied hard to get Saratoga on the schedule, which is planned years in advance.” He said. Baker also cited the emphasis that Saratoga County places on its agricultural industry as a factor in the decision to locate the convention here. 


The economic impact on the local area, which Baker estimates could run upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars during the conventioneer’s stay, should udder-ly delight local hoteliers and merchants. Sorry. 


But the convention attendees will also be here for serious business, and will spend from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars themselves on the prized dairy cattle. “Holsteins are the go-to breed in the dairy industry,” Baker said. While many of the events surrounding the convention are for attendees, Baker noted that there are several portions that the local residents could participate and enjoy. 


The day before the convention, on Sunday June 26, the public will be able to view the prized Holsteins as they arrive, are groomed and loaded into the City Center facility. This will take place in the Maple Avenue parking lot – across from the City Center loading dock. During the conference, in the hotel pavilion area, organizations including the local 4-H and area dairy farms will have an exposition booth. 


Then there is the live auction and sale itself, scheduled to be Thursday afternoon, June 30. The public can attend this, but much like Fasig-Tipton, you are advised to keep your hands in your pockets, lest you end up an unexpected houseguest. 


But at least, it will bring the milk. I herd that!


For more information about the 2016 Convention nyholsteins.com/2016convention/index.html 


Thursday, 14 January 2016 10:01

Keeping Sharp

Saratoga Hockey Stays Undefeated in League Play

SARATOGA SPRINGS – While many of us used the holiday period to relax and catch up on some rest, the Saratoga Springs High School hockey team did anything but that – hosting fellow top ranked teams from around the State (Massena and Williamsville North) on successive days, December 29 and 30 at Weibel Rink. 


While Saratoga was bested in each of these two closely contested games, they used it as an opportunity to sharpen their skills against some of these leading squads, with an eye towards finishing strong as they head into the New Year. Based on their performances in their return to league play, a 12-1 thrashing of Niskayuna/Schenectady on Friday, January 8 followed by a 9-3 triumph over Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa, both at Weibel, this approach appears to have yielded immediate and substantial dividends. The victory kept Saratoga undefeated (9-0) in league play, as well as a top state ranking: Saratoga was ranked seventh in the State – by the NY State Sportswriters Association poll on January 12. They are the highest-ranked squad from Section 2.


In the game against Nisky/Schenectady, Saratoga scored three goals in the first period, effectively putting the contest away at that point. They continued their onslaught – tallying six more times in the second before N/S could answer. Senior co-captain Elliott Hungerford, who had 4 goals and 2 assists, led the scoring. Junior co-captain Jake Fauler, sophomore Caleb Smith and senior Colin Paton had 2 goals each. Against BH/BS, Fauler and junior Jonathan Luse scored 3 goals each. 


Saratoga travels to Suffern for a tournament this weekend, and returns to Weibel contests vs. Glens Falls on Wednesday, January 20 and against Ithaca on Friday, January 22.Saratoga Springs high sc



Saratoga travels to Suffern for a tournament this weekend, and returns to Weibel contests vs. Glens Falls on Wednesday, January 20 and against Ithaca on Friday, January 22.

Page 10 of 39


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