Jaynie Ellis

Jaynie Ellis

MALTA — Yana Yoga announces a new owner along with a promotion for new clients interested in the benefits of yoga. 

Amber LaPointe and Samantha Lyman each have 13+ years of experience practicing and teaching yoga. After founding Yana Yoga 12 years ago, Amber hit all the milestones she was hoping to accomplish with the studio and was looking to step down from the ownership role when she created a post on Facebook along the lines of – “Want to own a yoga studio?” Samantha Lyman responded, and after 9 months of ironing out the details, she became the new owner of Yana as of Feb. 1. Amber will continue to stay on at Yana teaching classes. 

The studio has many offerings including Beginner, Gentle to Moderate, and Restorative Yoga classes, along with Reiki Healing, Inner Alignment Coaching, and Intuitive Tarot Readings. Restorative Yoga and Reiki Healing are very popular at the studio right now as their goal is physical, mental, and emotional relaxation, which has become a focus for people following the pandemic.   

Yana Yoga is running a 50% off promotion for 1 month of unlimited in-person and online yoga classes for new clients or clients who have not been to Yana for at least 6 months. The all-access pass, originally $99, will be available for $49 from March 1 to March 7 only. To get the pass and start signing up for classes, clients will need to create an account on Yana Yoga’s website (www.yanayoga.net) and enter promo code WELCOME2022 when signing up for a class. 

Read the full story on Saratoga Business Report (www.saratogabusinessreport.com).

Thursday, 24 February 2022 14:50

Tensions on the Rise in Our Local High Schools

BALLSTON SPA — Two altercations at Ballston Spa High School last week led to a School Resource Officer from the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office monitoring lunch periods from a lifeguard chair. 

The two incidents, happening shortly after each other during a single lunch period, add to the nine reported fights the school has had since the beginning of the school year, with four in just the last two weeks. Reportedly, the first altercation was between two students and was deescalated quickly, while the second involved two other students and a staff member in which a student sustained minor injury. A representative from the school stated that the School Resource Officer has always been a part of the staff and was not added as a direct result of the incidents. 

“We are continuing to review statements and video footage of the incident and will take disciplinary action necessary once our review is completed,” stated High School Principal Gianleo Duca in an email sent to parents. 

Speaking on the high number of altercations recently, Superintendent Ken Slentz stated that over the years there has been a pattern of increased student behavior concerns close to winter break. 

At other schools across the state, there have also been reports of altercations and spikes in violence. Last Thursday, a student and hall monitor were sent to Albany Med with minor injuries following a fight at Albany High School involving a weapon; an investigation is still ongoing. Albany High School moved to remote learning the following day as a precautionary measure. 

Green Island Union Free School District, just outside of Troy, went remote for a full week last week following recent altercations between students at the high school, one in which a student was arrested and charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Recently there have been 10 in-school suspensions and over 57 out-of-school suspensions at the high school. 

The school district held an open forum in which parents and school administrators argued over the reason for the violence. Students at Green Island are scheduled to return to school in-person on Monday, Feb. 28, following winter break. 

There has been rising tension in New York school districts lately surrounding the mask mandate, However, it is not clear at this time if there is any direct correlation to the incidents at these high schools, and at Ballston Spa High School in particular. 

CAPITAL REGION — MetzWood Insurance donates $5,000 to Make-A-Wish® Northeast New York as part of its “Help Our Community Referral Program” after one of its employee’s heartwarming experiences with a similar organization. Each year, MetzWood chooses one Capital Region nonprofit to receive the funds by raising ten dollars for each referral received. 

MetzWood Service Advisor Jamie Leader lost her 12-year-old brother Jason to neuroblastoma in 1994. During his lengthy stay within the hospital, the Jimmy Fund, an official charity of the Boston Red Sox, fulfilled a wish he always dreamt about. A big Boston Red Sox fan, Jason met team player Mo Vaughn and threw the first pitch at the major league teams’ game. 

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity the Jimmy Fund gave to my brother during a very difficult time,” said Jamie. “It’s wonderful to be able to give back to a similar organization like Make-A-Wish®, and I’m very proud to work for an agency that’s so passionate about supporting the community.” 

In 2022, MetzWood’s charitable referral program will support Girls on the Run Upstate New York. The organization aims to inspire young girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident through a fun curriculum that integrates running. 

To learn more about MetzWood Insurance’s “Help Our Community Referral Program” or to make a referral, visit their website at www.metzwood.com. 

CLIFTON PARK — Mind Matters Regional Neurofeedback Centers are helping patients heal from the inside out. 

Dr. Adriana Steffens, BCN, QEEG, T is the Owner and Clinical Psychophysiologist of four Mind Matters Regional Neurofeedback Centers across New York. Dr. Steffens started her practice in Oneonta 16 years ago. 

When Dr. Steffens opened her the first Mind Matters Center, there was nothing similar within a 200-mile radius. Neurofeedback Training is still a highly specialized field with only 700 board certified providers in the country and 1,600 in the world. Locally, the Clifton Park/Halfmoon clinic has been serving patients for close to four years. 

“In terms of health, we look at organs to heal them, but we were not looking at the brain,” said Dr. Steffens on why she started her own practice in this field.

Mind Matters specializes in neurofeedback training, which is a long-lasting, drug-free, 100% non-invasive healing process that uses brain imagery and the power of self-regulation. Neurofeedback training directly addresses areas of the brain that have started to function outside of normal ranges and encourages the brain to use its neuroplasticity; reducing or eliminating negative symptoms to help people lead overall healthier lives. 

Neurofeedback training is perfect for anyone ages 5-99 who have physical symptoms associated with mental health, psychological disorders, or brain injuries. Mind Matters has also worked with Peak Performance gyms to help those that train there who are suffering from symptoms related to their physical injuries. 

Read the full story on Saratoga Business Report (www.saratogabusinessreport.com).

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The newest Benson’s Pet Center on Ballston Ave. is a hit with local customers and their pets who live near downtown Saratoga Springs. 

The store, at 175 Ballston Ave., is inside the plaza where Slugger’s Den batting cages and Cutting Edge Martial Arts used to be located. They didn’t hold an official grand opening and instead wanted to serve customers right away; the completely remodeled store opened its doors just after Christmas while they were still stocking shelves. This is Benson’s 7th location in the Capital Region, and it’s in a perfect spot for customers in the area to stop in while on walks with their furry friends. 

“This store is a great opportunity to support and serve customers new or old in the area, and we are so happy to be here,” said Benson’s General Manager Moira Nowc, who is in her 16th year with the company. “The dogs know the path here and always want to come in to get cookies.” 

One of the unique features at this location is the do-it-yourself dog wash station, which will be added in other locations in the future. After speaking with a Benson’s associate about your dog’s needs, they provide shampoo, towels, etc. and disinfect the station after each use. Appointments have been on a walk-in basis, and they have seen about 90 dog washes since opening only two months ago. 

Some other popular products include treats from the Lazy Dog Cookie Co. which is a local brand out of Ballston Spa. Other items include puzzles and mental enrichment toys to help dogs with “cabin fever”, whether from being couped up during quarantine or the cold winter months, and Musher’s paw treatment to help heal dog’s paws from the salt on the roads and sidewalks. 

This location sells crickets and feeder insects but doesn’t plan on having any other live animals or fish for sale in the store, as Benson’s Fish Room is also in a great location just minutes down the road. 

A knowledge-based company, Benson’s locations and staff support each other and are always working towards getting customers the answers they need for their pets. 

“I enjoy making a difference in peoples’ and pets’ lives, and I think we all feel that way,” said Nowc. “We know our products and like being the people who have the answers. We all like what we do and are all active volunteers in the community.” 

In fact, Benson’s started their own 501(c)(3) called Benson’s Pantry. Customers can donate their change to help buy resources that go to local animal shelters. They also announce other charity events they participate in on their Facebook Page or on their website at www.bensonspet.com. There, you can also sign-up for their newsletter to get promotions and sales sent directly to your inbox. 

If you’re going to be in the area, stop in and check out the new Ballston Ave. store – remember to bring your furry friend along too! 

STILLWATER — On March 1, Saratoga National Historical Park will begin a $6-plus million, multi-year project to rehabilitate the interpretive battlefield experience. This important work is being funded through the Great American Outdoors Act.

The project focuses on improving accessibility and interpretation of the Saratoga Battlefield. The work includes rehabilitating the parking areas and pathways at all tour stops to address deferred maintenance, improve accessibility, and replace aging waysides exhibits to enhance the interpretation experience of the battlefield. 

In March, the Tour Road will be closed during the week to all traffic, including vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles. It will be available on weekends for pedestrian and bicycle use only.

From April 9 through May 27, the Tour Road will be open on weekends only for use by vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians. The South Entrance Parking area will be used as a construction staging area and closed for the duration of the project. 

The battlefield grounds can be accessed by foot via the Wilkinson Trail at the Visitor Center. Equestrians may use the lower visitor center parking area for their trailers and access the Horse Trail via the Entrance Road. Visitors should use extra caution when crossing the Tour Road and when passing through or near Tour Stops actively under construction. Construction vehicles will be traveling in both directions along the road. 

For more information about Saratoga National Historical Park, call the Visitor Center at 518-670-2985, or visit www.nps.gov/sara/index.htm.

SHENENDEHOWA — Saratoga’s Varsity Boys Swimming and Diving Team had a 7th place finish to wrap up an outstanding 2021-22 season. 

Under the guidance of Coach William Asay, who has been the Head Coach of the program for the past 20 years, the hardworking group had 13 members qualify for the Section II Division 1 Championships on Feb. 18 and Feb. 19 at Shenendehowa. 

Top finishers in each of the events during Friday’s prelims swam in the final heats on Saturday; Saratoga made it the finals in 9 out of 12 events with tough competition from other local schools. 

“We had a young squad with just 2 senior and 4 juniors,” said Coach Asay. “We have had big improvements all year long and it will take a couple years to develop, but we are happy with the progress we have made so far.” 

Last month at their senior night meet, the team recognized their two seniors – Noah Ernst and Charm Feng Ang. Ernst, who is a versatile swimmer, and Ang, who specializes in the breaststroke, will be missed greatly next season. 

“At every meet they have been supportive of the team, and they were very productive as far a scoring,” said Coach Asay. 

Coach Asay also commented on how bright his student-athletes are; the team has maintained a 90+ average and will most likely be earning the scholar-athlete team award following this season. 

As one of the only teams without their own pool to practice at (they use Skidmore College’s facilities), the Blue Streaks had some impressive results at the sectional meet. 

Event Results: Saratoga had 8th place finishes in both the prelims and the finals for the 200 Yard Medley Relay. The 4-man team made up of Mason Cartier (Jr.), Charm Feng Ang (Sr.), Noah Ernst (Sr.), and Duncan Smith (Jr.) had a time of 1:50.12 (27.48, 30.28, 27.09, 25.27). 

Junior Calvin Baird placed 12th in the overall in the 200 Yard Freestyle, just beating his time in the prelims by .20 seconds with a time of 1:53.50 in the finals (26.43, 28.77, 29.49, 28.81). 

Two boys placed in the finals for the third event, the 200 Yard IM. Junior Connor Baird placed 4th with a state qualifying time of 1:58.74 (25.05, 30.31, 35.07, 28.31). Freshman Anthony Sanchez placed 10th and beat his own score in the prelims with a finals score of 2:09.34 (28.59, 32.92, 37.73, 30.10). 

Connor Baird also had a state qualifying time with a 2nd place finish in the 100 Yard Butterfly with a time of 52.98 (24.47, 28.51). 

Calvin Baird just missed state qualifiers with a 4th place finish and time of 4:58.90 in the 500 Yard Freestyle. 

Event 9 was the 200 Yard Freestyle Relay, in which Duncan Smith, Hannes Lohse (So.), Kevin Baird (7th grader), Noah Ernst participated for Saratoga. They earned another 8th place finish with a time of 1:39.95 (26.38, 24.09, 24.68, 24.80). 

Junior Mason Cartier had a 7th place finish in the 100 Yard Backstroke, beating his prelim time by .24 seconds with a finals time of 58.78 (28.11, 30.43). 

Following the backstroke, freshman Anthony Sanchez has a 9th place finish in the 100 Yard Breaststroke with a time of 1:05.01 (31.05, 33.96). 

The last event was the 400 Yard Freestyle Relay. Competing for Saratoga, Connor Baird, Hannes Lohse, Mason Cartier, and Calvin Baird earned a 4th place finish with a time of 3:31.55. 

Team Results: Shenendehowa, 406; Bethlehem, 296.5; Guilderland-Voorheesville, 293; Niskayuna, 287; Albany Academy, 185; Shaker, 160; Saratoga Springs, 154; CBA-Troy, 145; Albany HS, 125.5; Ballston Spa, 99; Schenectady, 40

Headed to States: For Saratoga, Connor Baird was the only one to place in the Boys Section II Top 40 as a State Qualifier in his events. For both the 200 Individual Medley and the 100 Butterfly, Baird is 5th in the section and qualified for States with times of 1:58.24 and 5.84, respectively. 

“It is a big goal to get athletes to States, and Connor got there with his times this past weekend,” said Coach Asay. “It is always exciting because not many make it to that level.” 

The Swimming/Diving State Championships will be held March 4 and 5 at Ithaca College. 

LATHAM — Saratoga Springs Varsity Gymnastics Team had wins all around in the Section II Championships on Feb. 16.

Saratoga earned their 20th straight sectional win under Coach Deb Smarro, aside from last season in which Section II sponsored events were cancelled due to COVID-related reason. In place of sectionals, Suburban Council schools held their own year-end meet with the Blue Streak still able to secure a team title there. 

Before Saratoga’s run began in 2002 under Coach Andrea Snyder-Pedersen, Shaker was the last team champions in 2001; Coach Smarro took over Saratoga’s program in 2007 and continued the winning streak. 

This season, the Blue Streaks have been led by lone senior Carly Rushack and lone junior Erika Sudigala, in addition to three sophomores and three freshmen. The team is young but talented, with 11 out of 19 members being middle schoolers (five 8th graders and 6th seventh graders). 

Individually, Saratoga’s girls had top scores, aside from the balance beam in which Guilderland’s Miranda Putorti scored a 9.150 and BC’s Ella Bishop scored a 9.100. But, Rushack was able to claim the highest all-around score with a 34.500 which included a 1st place finish on the floor (9.250), a 2nd place finish on the uneven bars (8.200), and a 3rd place finish on the beam (9.050). 

Team Scores: Saratoga Springs, 168.725; Bethlehem, 162.150; Guilderland, 153.175; Shaker, 150.600. 

All Around: Rushack (Saratoga), 34.500; Seebode (Guilderland), 33.675; Skinner (Saratoga), 33.550; Browne (Bethlehem), 33.525; Putorti (Guilderland), 33.175; Kosoc (Bethlehem), 33.125; Kearns (Shaker), 33.100; Austin (Saratoga), 32.925; Gleeksman (Saratoga), 32.925; Sudigala (Saratoga), 32.525. 

Vault: Gleeksman (Saratoga), 8.800; Angelina Damiano (Saratoga), 8.650; Seebode (Guilderland), 8.400; Chiaia Poust (Bethlehem), 8.250; Sudigala (Saratoga), 8.175. 

Uneven Bars: Austin (Saratoga), 8.300; Rushack (Saratoga), 8.200; Skinner (Saratoga), 8.000; Browne (BC), 8.000; Gleeksman (Saratoga), 7.850. 

Balance Beam: Putorti (Guilderland), 9.150; Ella Bishop (Bethlehem), 9.100; Rushack (Saratoga), 9.050; Kosovo (BC), 9.000; M. Austin (Saratoga), 9.975. 

Floor: Rushack (Saratoga), 9.250; Seebode (Guilderland), 9.050; Sudigala (Saratoga), 8.950; Browne (BC), 8.775; Kearns (Shaker), 8.750. 

Miranda Putorti (Guilderland), Maddy Austin (Saratoga), and Charlie Gleeksman (Saratoga), along with top three all-arounders Carly Rushack (Saratoga), Addie Seebode (Guilderland), and Ayla Skinner (Saratoga), will be heading to the Section II State Championships on March 5 at Kenmore West High School in Buffalo. 

BALLSTON SPA —The Ballston Spa Central School District held a Board of Education meeting on Feb. 9. Consistent with other meetings held by districts in the county, community members requested for masks to be optional for their students as neighboring states move to end mandates. 

BSCSD Board of Education President, Jason Fernau, addressed the decisions made by Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey to end their school mask mandates on Feb. 28 (MA and CT) and March 7 (NJ), and that Governor Kathy Hochul’s decision to lift the mandate for businesses ultimately changed nothing for schools. The first week of March, Gov. Hochul will once again review the mandate and the next set of guidance will be given to schools. Until then, the ruling is that masks must remain in place.

Several speakers during the public comment period pleaded with the Board to adopt an emergency resolution to make masks optional. The Board refused to do so, briefly mentioning that a policy must go through a process of revisions and readings before being approved and adopted. 

“Why are our kids different from those in other states that are maskless,” asked one of the speakers. 

A large group of high school students were also questioning this and showed up to school the following day without masks. See Saratoga TODAY’s coverage of the student mask protest here: Ballston Spa High Schoolers Defy Mask Mandate

The following day, a Message from the Superintendent was released on the district’s website regarding the protest. The statement was intended to clear up any information on disciplinary action being taken: 

“No student who attended today’s protests were suspended. As we discussed with the initial groups of students, we understood their purpose today and noted that it was not our intention to apply the Code of Conduct rules for the day as a result, and instead wanted to take the opportunity to make this a learning opportunity. When the students asked what would happen if they continued the protest in the coming days, I stated that they could be suspended based on the rules in the Code of Conduct.” 

To read the full message and for any other updates visit bscsd.org. Watch the full meeting here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZq1s1u55rg. 

Thursday, 06 January 2022 13:24

County Addresses Transportation Issues

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Several local nonprofit agencies are dealing with the adverse effects of Saratoga Taxi’s suspension of services, speaking to the larger issue of the lack of transportation resources for Saratoga County. 

Saratoga Taxi has been serving the community for 55 years, and as of Nov. 1, 2021, they have temporarily ceased operations. In a Letter to the Editor of the Saratoga TODAY Newspaper, Taxi Owner Larry Kupper cited the reason for this as the $300,000 insurance mandate from the City of Saratoga Springs, without any temporary relief. For 40 years Saratoga Taxi has been operating with the required $50,000 NYS insurance that other taxi companies servicing cities with rural areas (such as Glens Falls for example) are operating with as well. 

With Saratoga Taxi out of operation for several months now, the lack of public transportation that has been an issue in Saratoga County for years is even more apparent. Local nonprofit agencies that help many low-income individuals and families in the community are now struggling to find reliable and affordable transportation options.

CAPTAIN Community Human Services (CAPTAIN CHS) relied on Saratoga Taxi to take homeless and runaway youth to school and healthcare appointments within a 50-mile radius of their shelter in Malta. 

CAPTAIN CHS has scrambled to contract other taxi services that do background checks and have GPS safety protocols like Saratoga Taxi. They have relied on staff to transport the youth they serve as well; however, they lack resources, and this is not a sustainable option for them. 

“Saratoga County is in need of transportation for low-income community members,” said Andy Gilpin, Executive Director of CAPTAIN CHS. “Saratoga Taxi was one of the larger fleets in the Saratoga area. This is an impact to the community at large.” 

Wellspring is another local non-profit that Saratoga Taxi has helped throughout the years. 

“Saratoga Taxi has been very valuable, and losing them affects all members of the community,” said Maggie Fronk, Executive Director of Wellspring. 

In addition to their clients, Fronk said that Saratoga Taxi’s services were valuable to senior community members and others who can’t drive, or community members that don’t own a car and need to get to work. The county’s lack of public transportation is especially an inconvenience to those that live in less densely populated towns at the outskirts of the county such as Corinth and Stillwater. 

 “Social determinates lead to disparities,” said Fronk regarding this. “The underserved in our county have limited employment opportunities.” 

CDTA and other taxi services in Saratoga County are very limited, as the CDTA bus route is confined to the Route 50 corridor. These non-profit agencies have demonstrated the high demand for CDTA’s pilot program, Flex. The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce is working with the CDTA to test the program in Mechanicville, Halfmoon, and Clifton Park. 

“This service is door-to-door with uniformed drivers and safety cameras. It’s been well received so far in helping people in those communities to get to work, healthcare appointments, and food shopping,” said Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. “If it works there, our hope is that we can expand CDTA’s Flex service to other parts of Saratoga, including here in the City. We’re hoping to meet with CDTA leaders soon to see what kind of resources would be needed to perhaps expedite that expansion.” 

Until there is a reliable and affordable transportation solution in place, Fronk suggested to reach out to those you know in need of transportation, as well as connect and communicate with county leaders as they gather to address the situation. 

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