Opal Jessica Bogdan
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
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Families with loved ones living at Prestwick Chase at Saratoga were invited to drive around the building as they smiled, waved and said hello to their mothers and fathers this past Sunday.
Since COVID-19 restrictions struck the community, John Rowe, director of marketing at Prestwick Chase, said they have shut down access to the building and asked residents not to leave. Since no visitors are allowed in, residents were missing a connection with their families.
“We try to help people Facetime with their family members on phones and we have taken Facetime videos. We walk through the hallways and through the buildings so families can see them, but they really don’t have the connection with them that they want,” Rowe said.
Rowe said the whole team at Prestwick came up with the Mother’s Day Drive after being inspired by other senior apartment buildings.
“For Mother’s Day we’re giving all the mother’s an Adirondack chair. The chairs will be spaced apart on a couple of the different wings so people can drive around. It’s a family parade of cars,” Rowe said.
Residents saw a plethora of cars in the parade. Families were invited to wave, but were asked to not hand anything directly to the residents. Rowe said a sanitation room has been set up with ultra violet lights they put all groceries, deliveries and packages in before distributing to the residents.
“We have asked everyone to stay here. The staff has been doing all the residents grocery shopping for them, the pharmaceuticals…anything the residents might need we are doing it all for them,” Rowe said. “We’re just trying to make it the best we can for a situation like this.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The iconic Larry’s Barbershop has welcomed a new owner, Hayden Sias, who has plans to renovate the inside.
“The place is an icon. Larry’s Barbershop has been in town for 50 years…I learned from him. Basically I’m trying to bring in today’s look but still keep the old flair,” Sias said.
Despite having some big shoes to fill, Sias hasn’t been in the barbershop business for his whole life. He previously owned a trucking company and has a background as a professional musician. Both jobs called for a lot of travelling and he found himself growing tired from it. In response, he sold his company. Sias added his sister has been a hairdresser her whole life, and it inspired him.
“I love my job. I don’t think I really intended being a barber originally, it never really crossed my mind, but it feels amazing. This is an amazing opportunity,” Sias said.
The historic barbershop is seeing a re-model as Sias hopes to completely redesign the look of the shop. However, he doesn’t want to lose the history of the place.
Sias added: “this is a center hub, it’s a piece of history. Where I am [Larry’s barbershop] this is an institution. This shop has been here for 50 years. I have been lucky to learn from Larry and then carry on some of the traditions of the art itself. I’m finally able to have an opportunity to grow the business myself. It’s a once in a lifetime scenario.”
Sias is currently renovating the interior of the shop to grow the business. He aims to attract a younger audience in addition to the regulars who have been visiting the barbershop for years. He hopes that by adding some personal touches to the place will help bridge the gap between the two generations.
“I took the interior and made it a combination of my personal tastes, some of the things that surround me,” Sias said. “But I didn’t want to lose the old school flair. It’s a combinations of the things that are going to make me happy and bring it into a modern world.”
Larry’s Barber Shop is located at 74 Washington St. in Saratoga. The classic old time barbershop has welcomed generation of barbers. Sias hopes to finish construction this week.
Although renovations finish this week, Sias is keeping safety at the front of his mind for the new design. Even though it’s just a haircut for most people, Sias noticed that others enjoy that personal contact and he can really connect to customers. He knows the new normal will be different for a while, but Sias will ensure safety and understanding as soon as his doors open.
“I’m going to do everything I can do to keep the safety of the customer in mind. I want people to be comfortable in addition to knowing and understanding,” Sias said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Contact tracing, tracking where someone has been for a period of time, can become a key aspect in fighting the battle with COVID-19.
Aarathi Prasad, assistant professor of computer science at Skidmore College, started studying contact tracing six years ago, a time when no one understood why she chose to focus on that topic.
“I couldn’t convince people that was an important problem because at that time people had the flu and measles. Measles was too rare and the flu too common, so it was hard to convince people that it was an important problem to work on,” Prasad said.
She found herself immersed once again in her studies when COVID-19 hit the community. Prasad believes using contact tracing technology is key to completely stopping the spread.
“The process of contract tracing is as follows: When someone has symptoms, they go to get tested. When they get tested positive, it’s up to the public health workers who will reach out to people they may have been in contact with. That’s what contact tracing is,” Prasad said.
Prasad aims to focus on developing a method to compliment the work of public health workers. Using wireless technology, Prasad wanted to help people see the value in sharing while protecting their privacy. She focused on preserving identity and location privacy.
“Any technology can only help after there is the positive test. The goal is to make it easy for the memorabilia aspect,” Prasad said. “Suppose I ask you where have you been in the last 40 days? It’s easy now, because you’re safe at home most of the time; it’s easy to think about how many times you’ve left the house. But once the lockdown ends, it’s going to be hard if people just resume their normal activities and keeping track of where you went. That’s where wireless technologies can help.”
The tracking technology app can support public workers as they tackle the battle with the virus. The app can make it easier for those public health workers to reach out to people who may have been in contact with the disease.
However, Prasad studied not only tracing technology, but focused on how long a virus remains on the surface. She learned that tracing active viruses on a surface and alerting people of a contact they might not have seen to be a challenge.
“The technology that I see now is only looking at the following. Let’s say the infected person was in the library, we would alert everybody else that was at the library at the same time,” Prasad said. “But we’re not thinking about what happens after he leaves and before all the surfaces he touched were wiped down, what happens then? How do we alert the people that he did not see?”
Prasad hopes to have an app solution before restrictions are lifted. However, the problem lies in everyone using the same app. On April 29, the Washington Post released an article stating 3 out of 5 Americans are not willing or able to use an app tracking system. The article states that 1 in 6 Americans do not have smart phones, which would be necessary to use the app. Of the 82 percent of the population who have smart phones, 50 percent had a willingness to use an infection-tracing app.
“Most of them didn’t trust private companies,” Prasad said. “What we need is to build trust in whatever technology or app that would be helpful so people can see a value in that app. It’s a similar idea to everyone staying at home now, to protect others. By downloading the app it’s the same thing, except you can move around.”
Prasad said supporting an open source app, in which the code behind the app is on the Internet, would allow users to understand and view how the data is being collected and used. Being more transparent would build trust and allow altruistic sharing.
“Altruistic sharing, when you have some information you want to share with someone else because you see a benefit in sharing,” Prasad said. “But it can’t be just one solution. I think the technology compliments contact tracing. The technology cannot solve everything, it cannot detect the virus, that’s what public health does. So we want the technology to work side by side.”
PALMERTOWN — Saratoga PLAN, preserving land and nature, received a $500,000 grant 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.
“The Palmertown Range forms the southeastern-most corner of the Adirondacks. The undeveloped acreage of this semi-wild woodland provides climate-resilient habitat, replenishes streams and lakes, our source of clean drinking water, and fosters a sustainable forestry and tourism industry,” said Maria Trabka, Executive Director of Saratoga PLAN in a release. “Fast-growing local populations and visitors to the area will be able to enjoy a permanently conserved wilderness experience within easy access of their homes and lodgings.”
The project aims to protect and conserve the ecological areas in Palmertown. According to Saratoga Plan’s website, another goal is to use the grant to establish Community Forests. The Community Forests are communally owned woodlands managed by the local community.
The development of the multi-use trail will add to the spine trail system aimed to connect Saratoga Spa State Park to Moreau Lake State Park. Discussion of the trail master plan is currently underway. According to Saratoga PLAN website, the plan will be used to determine where trails can be sited appropriately and which recreational uses can be supported in the area. Developers of the master plan will design site-specific trail networks for properties with willing landlords.
“This grant will support the development of a recreational trail network within Saratoga County that will provide people with a place to enjoy nature and wildlife while also creating a vital protected corridor for wildlife habitat and movement. The trail system has been recognized as a top priority by business owners, partners, and outdoor recreation interest groups, and this funding will help make that goal a reality,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute (OSI). OSI has been collaborating with Saratoga PLAN on projects in the Palmertown Range for several years,” Elliman said in the release.
Saratoga PLAN aims to design Friendship Trails that will provide enjoyment through an inclusive spectrum of outdoor activities: walking, running, wheelchairing, dog-walking, mountain-biking, horseback-riding, bird-watching, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and learning about nature and local history. Saratoga PLAN will announce new trail segments as they open to the public over the next several years, beginning in late 2020 if public health restrictions are lifted.
Anthony J. (Tony) Izzo, one of three donor-advisors to the Sarah B. Foulke Charitable Fund, explained the grant in the press release.
“Sarah Blackwell Foulke, a Skidmore graduate and an attorney who practiced in Saratoga County, was a kind, giving, compassionate and courageous woman with an outgoing personality, strong spirit, and a great heart and soul. She sought respite and restoration in the woods, enjoying the company of her friends and four-legged companions. The Sarah B. Foulke Friendship Trails project embodies Sarah’s enduring love of Saratoga Springs, nature, dogs, horses, and the power of friendship. We are confident that this gift to the community will bring pleasure to many and benefit all forever. We hope that our donation will inspire others to donate their time and money to Saratoga PLAN projects for the benefit of present and future generations of Saratoga County residents and visitors,” Izzo said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — “Doors are closing. People are closing. It’s already too late for many businesses,” said Heidi West, Lifestyles of Saratoga owner.
West is just one voice of many small business owners all coming to the same consensus, it may already be too late for the once bustling downtown Saratoga. While some stores embraced reinventing to keep business going for them amid COVID-19 restrictions, others were not so lucky.
“A lot of doors are closing. We don’t have much time left to be honest. We do need to figure out how to be safe and be open all at the same time,” West said. “All of this makes it an uphill battle but…give us a fighting chance. Open our doors so we can get through it.”
The community of Saratoga Springs has felt the impact of economic restrictions before. In 1945, the community was filled with rundown structures following both the Great Depression and World War II. It was not until 10 years later, in 1958 the Planning Board moved forward with the city’s master plan for renewal.
For years to come, the city saw plenty of urban renewal. However, individuals and small businesses owners lost low-cost rents and had “no choice” in what was happening, seeing the destruction of neighborhoods and facing costly relocation expenses.
Small businesses worry that the town can revert back to those moments in history and time is not on their side as restriction stay in place. However, just as locals saw the creation of the new normal then, businesses are facing the new normal of today.
“It’s not like we are going to open our doors the way they were six months ago, not by any stretch. Our new normal will be gloves, masks, and disinfecting, but with our doors open. But we have to at least be able to open our doors,” said Pam Worth, owner of Spoken Boutique.
As restriction continue to wear on businesses, coming back from what was lost may not be possible. Safety is at the forefronts of any plans business owners create with the hopes
“It is my opinion…I can be safer than a big box store. I have a 12 step program already typed up about how I’m changing protocol,” West said. “Even being allowed to have an one-on-one appointment with that protocol in place would be helpful. We just need to keep moving forward.”
Todd L. Shimkus, president of Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, has drafted a “Plan for Saratoga County’s Economic Recovery” through a collaboration with the Downtown Business Association, the City Center, Discover Saratoga, SEDC, and the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership.
“We’ve been sharing [the plan] with Federal, State, County and local officials. The development of this plan is in part a way for Saratoga County to demonstrate that we have a plan to safely reopen. The Governor has said this is a pre-requisite for businesses and we’re hoping that by doing this collectively with common operating procedures that we will position Saratoga County in a positive light,” Shimkus said.
Shimkus shared two key aspects of the multi-part plan. Recovery kits for small business have been created to include a startup supply of PPE for all business. They also have met with local restaurants and will be doing the same with hotels and retailers to develop common cleaning protocols that those businesses will pledge to follow once reopened.
“Our focus is on making it crystal clear that health comes first in Saratoga County and that our local business community is united in working together to keep everyone safe so that we can reopen sooner,” Shimkus said.
Pam Worth feels that downtown has a strong impulse of businesses wanting to prove they can open safely.
“Saratoga is a much different town than most, being one of the top five downtowns in all of the United States. I feel who better to set the precedence in what should happen in a beautiful resort town but Saratoga Springs,” Worth said. “We all want to open our doors safely and set the right precedent to what is the new normal. But in order for all of that to happen, we have got to get the doors open.”
Maddy Zanetti, Impressions of Saratoga owner with Marianne Barker, said they plan to take extra precautions, clean things more, and stay distant from customers as soon as their doors are open. Zanetti feels that foot traffic will take a while to pick up, as people adjust to going out and feeling comfortable around others.
“We are definitely worried about how this year is going to pan out for us, but we are making the most of it and doing the best we can,” Zanetti said.
West believes it’s not too late to bounce back, but the key is getting safety plans in place as soon as possible. If she can’t open by June 1, she will have to focus on different plans in terms of closing doors.
“My success is the success of my 20 employees, who are suffering, and the success of the whole community. I really just want a voice for the small business. It’s becoming crucial at this point in my opinion,” West said.
Worth believes with the downtown leaders being business owners, everyone can bring an opinion and structure as to how they can get the town up and running again.
“Saratoga is an amazing downtown community that wants nothing more than to survive and to stay successful,” Worth said. “The strong local community that we have, and the local people that support our downtown, are the ones that are going to keep us alive.”
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