SARATOGA SPRINGS —The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation has added four new members to its Board of Directors: Chris Armer, Jim Gold, Michelle Paquette-Deuel, and Roger Woody.
• Armer is a Saratoga native and realtor for Berkshire Hathaway. His family ran a retail store at the historic Old Firehouse on Broadway. He previously served as a board member from 2009 to 2015.
• Gold is a long-time Saratoga resident and was, for 29 years, Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites for the New York State Office of Parks.
• Paquette-Deuel is director of the Pre-College Program at Skidmore and was a committee member for SaratogaArtsFest and the Saratoga Regional YMCA.
• Woody is a frequent visitor to the Spa City, and a Vice President at AmTrust Financial Services in New York City.
The Preservation Foundation was established in 1977 to “protect and preserve the architectural, cultural, and landscape heritage” of the city, according to a statement released by the foundation
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Arms Hotel celebrated its 25th year in business on Thursday night with a lavish party replete with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. At the event, General Manager Rachel Boggan unveiled a new marketing strategy designed to attract local residents.
“As a thank you to the community that has really made Saratoga such an amazing small city,” Boggan said, “we are launching a locals rate starting in January of 2024.”
The rate will apply to anyone who lives within 50 miles of downtown Saratoga. It’s available during the off-season and on select dates during the busy season. Bookings at this discounted rate will open next week.
Boggan announced that breakfast will soon be open to local reservations on select days. Some of the hotel’s signature morning dishes include cinnamon breakfast bread, lemon ricotta pancakes, and homemade buttermilk biscuits. A breakfast speaker series that will feature community leaders is also in the works.
“We’re thrilled to start our next 25 years with a focus on our community, and allowing our hotel guests to experience that community in the most immersive way possible,” Boggan said.
The building that houses the hotel was originally built in 1870 by Gideon Putnam’s grandson Loren. In February of 1999, it reopened as the Saratoga Arms after extensive renovations. Last month, the Saratoga Arms was ranked one of the best hotels in the Mid-Atlantic in the 2023 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A free Alzheimer’s caregiver conference will be held at the Saratoga Springs City Center on Tuesday, November 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will honor and support people who provide unpaid care to loved ones with dementia, according to a statement by the Alzheimer’s Association.
“This conference is one of our most popular offerings for new and returning families,” said Gwen Rowland, the outreach and program manager at the Alzheimer’s Association Northeastern New York chapter. “Knowing you are not alone and receiving support from others can be very cathartic.”
The event will include a variety of presentations and discussions, as well as lunch served courtesy of the CDPHP health insurance company.
To register for the conference, visit alz.org/crf or call 518-675-7214. To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association, visit alz.org or call 800-272-3900.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — One down, just 349 to go. On Friday, a gift tag order was placed on the Impressions of Saratoga online store by someone in Staten Island. Word of the new “Adopt a Grandparent” campaign had apparently already reached the Big Apple.
The owners of Impressions of Saratoga and The Dark Horse Mercantile have launched a holiday gift-giving initiative for seniors. The “Adopt a Grandparent” campaign officially begins on November 24 and ends December 17. During that time, $20 gift tags can be purchased. Buyers can write their own personalized notes on the tags. Then those tags will be hung on trees at the two stores.
Come December 18, store co-owners Maddy Zanetti and Marianne Barker will use the proceeds from the tags to buy gifts for the residents of the Wesley Community’s Health Care Center. The hope is that 350 gift tags will be purchased, thus allowing Zanetti and Barker to give one gift to every Wesley resident.
“We can talk to the Wesley Community and see what the residents might actually use,” Zanetti said. The goal is to buy the seniors gifts that are both practical and will “make them all feel special during the holiday season,” according to Zanetti.
For Zanetti, Wesley has special significance in her life. “My great-grandmother lived there when I was little,” she said, “and my grandmother just recently passed away and she was there.”
The Wesley Community “empowers seniors to live independently with choices, confidence, and peace of mind” in the heart of Saratoga Springs, according to a company brochure.
Zanetti said that she and co-owner Barker’s families were fortunate because they could go visit their elders during the holidays. “But sometimes people don’t have a local family member,” she said.
Those interested in buying a gift tag can do so at either Impressions of Saratoga or The Dark Horse Mercantile on Broadway in downtown Saratoga. Non-locals can visit www.ImpressionsSaratoga.com to purchase a tag online. Orders can also be placed over the phone by calling 518-587-0666.
SARATOGA SPRINGS —Dozens of people huddled together in the frigid darkness. With glow sticks and cell phones to light the way, they marched towards downtown Saratoga. Thus began a dramatic and emotional night for Saratoga Springs City School District teachers and their supporters.
The march began and ended at the Caroline Street Elementary School, where a Board of Education (BOE) meeting occurred on Thursday, November 9. The demonstration was in support of the teachers’ union, which has been negotiating a new contract with the district for two years.
During the board meeting, teachers criticized the current state of their schools.
“In all my years here, morale is at an all-time low,” said Robin Chudy. “I see a huge change. I see good, young teachers leaving this district; good teachers looking for jobs in different districts that pay more, and I can’t blame them.”
John Mishoe, a 2005 graduate of the district, spoke of teachers experiencing “nights of tears, searching for new careers, and early retirement.”
“I implore the board to take action in securing and maintaining teachers,” said Katie Cole. “It’s what our current and future students deserve.”
At a previous BOE meeting on October 12, teacher Melissa Deutsch said she has not received a “true raise” in over eight years. “Each contract that provides more salary also increases our healthcare contributions, wiping out any significant increase in take-home pay,” she said.
At both BOE meetings, teachers said that the district was struggling to hire and retain employees.
In a statement to Saratoga TODAY, Saratoga School District’s Director of Community Outreach and Communications Maura Manny said that “teacher retention and recruitment are ongoing priorities for our district, and we continuously strive to create an environment that attracts and retains professionals who are dedicated to the success of our students.”
“Like many school districts across the nation,” Manny said, “the nationwide teacher shortage makes teacher recruitment and retention more challenging each year. Despite these challenges, our district has been fortunate to consistently attract a talented pool of applicants for our open positions.”
According to a November 2021 report from the U.S. Department of Education, New York State “has faced geographically widespread and persistent teacher shortages.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Two little libraries were vandalized last month in Saratoga Springs. The public boxes contain banned books that can be borrowed and returned for free.
One box, located near Caffe Lena on Phila Street, is stewarded by Nancy Weber. When she found the library vandalized, she said she “kind of did a double-take because it was so shocking.” Weber discovered that dozens of books had been taken from the library. Only one remained: “The Hate U Give,” a novel about race relations in the wake of a police shooting.
“We knew that it was just a matter of time before something like this would happen,” Weber said. “We’re living in very volatile, polarized times.”
The identity of the vandal or vandals is unknown. “It could’ve been a prank, or it could’ve been someone intentionally doing it,” Weber said.
Weber said that no further vandalism has occurred since the initial incident, but there was one odd book exchange.
“Curiously, one book came back: The Bible,” Weber said. “A few days ago, that copy of the Bible left and another copy of the Bible came in, which I thought was sort of pointless.”
Weber said that since the vandalization occurred, there’s been an increase in book donations to the library. But many of the donated books are not actually considered banned books. Donated books should be included on the American Library Association’s list of banned and challenged books, or the PEN America Index of School Book Bans.
The second vandalized little library of banned books is stewarded by Julie Holmberg. She said that one of the congregants at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Saratoga found the library’s contents under a nearby bush.
“There had been a rainstorm, and all of the books were destroyed,” Holmberg said. “They were all hidden away underneath there and had to be trashed.”
“It’s very frustrating that people would destroy property like that, especially books,” she said. “It just feels like right now things are so discouraging.”
Unlike Weber, Holmberg has not received a significant increase in book donations since the vandalization occurred, leaving the little library with an uncertain future.
“I just encourage people to open their minds, read things. If you don’t agree with it, that’s fine. But keep the conversation going so that we can figure out a way to live together,” Weber said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga High School welcomed 127 of its seniors into the National Honor Society on November 14. According to the school, the students “exemplify citizenship, leadership, and character development through community service and academic excellence.”
SCHUYLERVILLE — Schuylerville High School has had a robust agriculture program for decades. But now, after an 18-month process, the CTE (career and technical education) program has been approved by the state.
“Going through this certification process was almost seamless because of the high quality of the program currently,” said Sarah Battiste, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development.
“The CTE endorsement that we have now allows our students to use that as a pathway to graduation,” said Principal James Ducharme. “If students go through this pathway, take these courses, these four courses prescribed over this timeline, that is the equivalent of them going to the Meyers Center and completing a CTE-certified program over there. We now have our own program in agriculture.”
“We’ve intensified our offerings, we’ve intensified our rigor in the classes,” said Mary Elizabeth Foote, an Agricultural Education teacher. “We really solidified that we are meeting state and national standards, and that our students are really pursuing a speciality here in-house.”
The program provides a diverse array of classes, according to Agricultural Education teacher Carlyn Miller. These classes range from business to plants to animals to food science. “We cover just about all of it at this point,” she said.
“The diversity in the classes that our kids have the opportunity to take, you would not expect from a small school like us,” said Principal Ducharme.
As part of the program, students get a taste of what a career in agriculture might be like. One initiative allows students to take sap from maple trees and turn it into maple products such as syrup, candy, and cream. During this process, students learn about the maple industry, as well as the importance of conservation.
While some graduates do immediately enter the workforce, most pursue higher education. Recent Schuylerville grads have continued their agricultural studies at institutions such as Cornell University, SUNY Cobleskill, and Delaware Valley University.
Schuylerville’s agriculture program is open to all students, and according to Foote, an estimated 65% of them are enrolled in at least one agricultural class.
“This is not a gender-specific study area,” Miller said.
“There’s not a mold of what anyone in agriculture could look like,” said Foote. “It’s just someone who has an interest that develops into a passion, and then the rest is going to be history from there.”
For more details on the program, visit www.schuylervilleschools.org.
WILTON — A devastating blaze in Wilton derailed the lives of Skidmore men’s basketball coach Joe Burke and his family. Although no one was hurt, much of the family’s home was destroyed.
The Skidmore community quickly rallied together to show their support. As of November 20, more than $70,000 had been raised for the Burke family on GoFundMe.
To learn more or to donate to the cause, visit www.gofundme.com/f/9kmru-burkes-family.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs High School cross-country program has added more championships to its record books.
At the NYSPHSAA Class A championships on November 11, the girls’ team captured the team title for the fifth straight year, and senior Emily Bush won the Section 2 girls’ individual title. Alycia Hart finished fourth overall, and Anya Belisle came in seventh.
A week later, the girls won the Federation Cross Country Championships. Bush led the Blue Streaks, followed again by Hart and Belisle.
The boys’ team won the Class A championship in a tiebreaker, marking their first team title since 2012. Thomas Isenovski led the boys Blue Streaks, finishing 17th.