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Thursday, 23 January 2020 12:36

Fire & Ice Bar Returns

ROUND LAKE — For the fourth year in a row, The Mill on Round Lake defies the bleakness of winter with their 30-foot Fire & Ice Bar. Fire pits will be available to keep customers toasty warm as they enjoy the frosty surroundings, including ice sculpture shuffleboards, and corn hole. Patrons can also retreat to a cozy spot by the indoor fireplace.

Creating the longest ice bar in the Capital Region is a Herculean event requiring 10,000 pounds of ice and countless hours of planning and set-up. Charlie “The Ice Man” Jones and his sculptors bring the event to life and The Mill staff does everything from making ice shot glasses to stacking firewood in preparation. Installation of the ice bar will be Jan. 29 around 4:30 p.m. and usually takes two to three hours. The Fire & Ice Bar will be open only six days, but the novelty has made this time of year one of the busiest at The Mill.

Speciality cocktails will range from an Artic Cosmo to Sex on a Snowbank. Moscow Mules, bottled beer, wine and ice shot glass shots will also be served, as well as hot drinks such as Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie and Hot Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The drink menu will be available via the website’s What’s Happening homepage section: www.myfavoritetaverns.com 

The Fire & Ice Bar will be open as follows:
Friday, Jan. 31 • 5 – 10 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 1 • 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 7 • 5 – 10 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 8 • 2 – 10 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 14 • 5 – 10 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 15 • 2 – 10 p.m.

Published in News
Thursday, 18 February 2016 17:18

A Brighter Day For Blue

Code Blue Partnership with United Way Announced


SARATOGA SPRINGS – Always nice to report progress - particularly when the community and its leadership come together to solve a problem. Three weeks ago (Issue dated January 29), we reported that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, in requiring local shelters to be in operation when the temperature reaches 32 degrees or below, issued an unfunded mandate, Executive Order 151. 


The City of Saratoga Springs’ Code Blue Shelter had its “triggering” temperature at 20 degrees - a benchmark that has been used by many similar organizations throughout the state. The Code Blue Shelter, which is operated by Shelters of Saratoga at the Salvation Army on Woodlawn Avenue had not been resisting the State mandate, but was struggling to secure the funds it would need to operate for the many extra nights this would involve, as well as volunteers to work at the facility. Shelters of Saratoga’s (SOS) Executive Director Mike Finocchi had estimated that it would take an estimated $32,000 to make up the cost difference. 


All this changed, and for the better, on Tuesday, February 16, when Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen announced the formation of a partnership between the City of Saratoga Springs and the United Way of the Greater Capital Region (UWGCR) to benefit Code Blue. A drive has been launched to raise the necessary $32,000, and UWGCR President and CEO Brian Hassett was on hand to present Code Blue for the first $8,000 on Tuesday. 


“This is why we exist,” Hassett stated. “We have four platforms that we focus on and one is basic needs – food, shelter, safety. We’ve been working in the community for 90 years and when there is a need or a problem, we’re here. We are the friend you can call in the middle of the night.” 


Mayor Yepsen, who was instrumental in establishing the city’s Code Blue facility just prior to taking office in 2014, stated that the eventual goal is to have a year-round operational emergency shelter. This phase and the campaign to raise the funds for the goal of having Code Blue open every winter evening when the temperature drops to 32 degrees, is a very important step towards that goal. Noting last weekend’s frigid temperatures, well below zero, the Mayor spoke to the ongoing need, “without Code Blue, people would have likely died on our streets,” she said. 


“We are thankful to Mayor Yepsen and the United Way of the Greater Capital Region for stepping up and help make a difference,” Finocchi said, “it’s amazing how much the community gets involved.” He cited statistics showing what a difference Code Blue actually makes. “Last year, we had 14 people transition from Code Blue into our program at Shelters of Saratoga. None of these people have been back this winter,” he said. 


Here’s the part where you can make a difference too. Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help Code Blue reach its goal may go to a special webpage set up by the United Way. Visit www.unitedtoconquer.org. All donations made through this page will go to Code Blue. 


Also, if you are already contributing to the United Way through payroll deductions or other methods, Hassett told me that the United Way staff would be delighted to assist anyone who wants to designate that their contributions be earmarked for Code Blue. Call the UWGCR staff at 518-456-2200, or visit www.unitedwaygcr.org to do this. 


And, of course, volunteers are always needed. Visit www.codebluesaratoga.org to sign up for daily shift schedules. 


With the United Way contribution, and it’s fundraising support, a major step was taken towards a better life for many in need on the streets of our community. Like Code Blue itself, this is something every citizen should be proud of.

Published in News
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.”

Published in News
Friday, 07 November 2014 09:46

A New Home For Code Blue

Salvation Army Will Host Emergency Shelter


By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – As the city prepares for the holiday season, another set of preparations have been underway to assure that many who are not as fortunate as others will have some relief from winter’s icy chill. 


The result is that in 2014-15 the city’s Code Blue facility will have a new home –  The Salvation Army at 27 Woodlawn Avenue. Because of the building’s physical plant, combined with the ability to plan and routinize procedures, there should be several improvements to the delivery of services as a result. 


Mayor Joanne Yepsen was central in leading the initial effort in establishing a Code Blue facility. In announcing the new location officially, she stated:


“I am thrilled that Code Blue will be back for a second season, this time at the Salvation Army on Woodlawn Avenue.  I'm incredibly proud to be involved in this on-going partnership between non-profit organizations and our citizens to provide shelter to our homeless citizens during winter months. I can't thank all of my Code Blue partners, including the Salvation Army, enough. Their passion for helping others is inspiring and is what has made this effort so successful.”


Indeed, while this is a milestone, several critical needs are ongoing according to Saratoga Code Blue Coordinator Cheryl Ann Murphy, due to the nature of the task involved.


A readily apparent improvement is the increased length of the Code Blue Season, which will begin on Nov. 15 on those evenings where the temperature fall to 20 degrees (including wind chill) or 12 inches of snow are expected. 

Last winter, a Code Blue facility in Saratoga Springs was established for the first time right before Christmas Day - in response to the tragic death of Nancy Pitts on the streets of the city due to exposure. With little time to plan at the time, a remarkable and rapid response from many sectors of society was something to behold and be proud of. 


Another improvement is the existence of a Code Blue Coordinator from the beginning of the season. Ms. Murphy’s position was not established until near the end of the first Code Blue season. She outlined the changes that the move to Woodlawn will bring, as well as the ongoing needs.


“Because we will be at the Salvation Army this season,” Murphy said, “some logistical challenges will arise, but overall it’s a very good development. For one thing, the building is handicap accessible. Also, guests will have the opportunity to shower in the evening between 9 ­ 11 p.m.”


When Code Blue is activated, the shelter facility will open at 7 p.m. It will close at 8 a.m. Monday – Friday and 9 a.m. on weekends. The Salvation Army already has a breakfast program in place during the week and Code Blue volunteers will supplement this on weekend mornings. 


The actual notification procedures for activation of Code Blue involve weather forecasting and coordination in order to make sure that both guests and volunteers are notified in a timely manner. 


“We’ll be making announcements to volunteers through several sources,” Murphy said. “Announcements will be on our website (CodeBlueSaratoga.org), our Code Blue Facebook page and through email - people can sign up online to be added to an email tree.” 


For guests “we reach out placing signs will in the soup kitchen and library.” Murphy noted. “This year, we will begin a program where there be electric ‘candles’ with blue bulbs placed in several area businesses and public buildings that will be ‘lit’ (plugged in) when Code Blue is open.” Businesses that want to participate program in this can contact Murphy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Volunteering procedures have been somewhat modified. “People will continue to sign up for shifts through the website.” Murphy said. “The basic shift has been lowered to three hours instead of four, although we are allowing people to register for a double shift if they wish.”


Access to training has been improved for 2014-15 as well. “For shift supervisors, like last year, training is mandatory.” Murphy said. “This year, training will be offered to all volunteers ­ they will have the opportunity to attend a training class. There will be an online orientation all volunteers will need to read before they are permitted to volunteer.


As always, there is an ongoing need for donations of all kinds, given that this is essentially a community effort with little if any endowment. 


It’s no surprise then when Ms. Murphy states “cash donations are always welcome. But there are plenty of other ways people can make contributions and donations.”


“Last Code Blue season, we got an excellent response from local restaurants, food purveyors and bakeries to help provide the evening meal for Code Blue guests,” Murphy said, “and thankfully they have all responded positively to helping us again.”


When asked what kind of hard goods that individuals could donate – food, clothing, etc. they were seeking, Cheryl had no trouble coming up with a good-sized list. 


“The needs do change all the time as we go through the season, but as of now some of our biggest needs are meal replacement supplements - items like Boost or Ensure, individually wrapped snacks, Slim Jims, new men’s and women’s underwear (all sizes), new men’s and women’s warm socks and gallon size Ziploc bags.” She said. 


With the new facility secured at the Salvation Army, at least for this year, Murphy is working on developing a donation drop off schedule that will be posted shortly on the website. But if you have something to donate, she would love to hear from you now. 


“Call me directly,” she said. “My number is (518) 812- 6886. We’ll make it happen.


For more information, visit CodeBlueSaratoga.org


Published in News
Friday, 02 May 2014 08:15

A Code Blue Thank You

The Community’s Finest Hour


SARATOGA SPRINGS—A triumph of hope, of a community rallying to bolster those among us who are the least fortunate, was celebrated at a reception gathering for Code Blue volunteers and donors on Sunday, April 27 at Bethesda Parish House on Washington Street.  


A Code Blue program swung into action just four days after the death by outdoor exposure of city resident Nancy Pitts on December 20, 2013. She was remembered in remarks by community resident Joy King. Also, an original new song, Homeless Heart, inspired by Ms. Pitts was written and delivered by songwriter Jeff Brisbin and Mayor Joanne Yepsen and Code Blue Coordinator Cheryl Ann Murphy made remarks.


Between Christmas Eve, 2013 and March 27, 2014 the Code Blue Shelter was open for 58 nights during one of the severest winters in several years. There were 928 overnight stays, an average of 16 guests per night. 


While there was much to celebrate, there appeared to be a sense among those gathered that there is much to do. A permanent Nancy Pitts Memorial Code Blue shelter is still to be located and tentative plans for necessary fundraising (such as a Code Blue Road Race next spring) were discussed. 


But this was a day to be thankful, and to take note of the tremendous community member and business response to an emergency situation. Here then, is an honor roll of sorts:


Restaurants and Other Services Donated By:

The Holiday Inn


Georgia’s of Woodlawn Commons and Embury


The Olde Bryan Inn

The Wishing Well

Maestros at the VanDam

Saratoga Casino and Raceway

Jacob and Anthony's

The Bread Basket 

William Neimer, age 14 of Schuylerville and Rachel Dwyer, who made meatball subs and salad as part of his STAR project for Boy Scout Troop 4013.

PJs Bar-B-QSA 

Parkside Eatery

50 South

Spring Street deli

Capriccios Saratoga



The Stadium

The Inn at Saratoga


Gaffney’s Restaurant

EL Mexicano

Irish Times

Panza’s restaurant

The Kettle

Country Corner Cafe



Cobble Pond Station of Malta

Spot Café

Unity Lodge No. 22

Dunkin Donuts, S Broadway

Pizza Hut, Ballston Avenue

Treasures of Saratoga Hospital

Catholic Charities


Price Chopper of Ballston Avenue

American Red Cross Adirondack-North Country and NENY chapters

New England Presbyterian Church

The Giving Circle

Cudney’s of Broadway, donated fresh linens daily

St. Peter's Church

The Salvation Army

The local U.S. Navy


Individuals from the community who volunteered their time making meals and time serving the homeless, as well as those who made financial contributions:


Jasper Ian Aganon        

Helen Atwell

Andrea Barry             

Audrey Belt              

Mark Bertrand            

Robert Beyer             

Bill Boehmke             

William Brennan          

Kristin Brenner          

Kate Breslin             

Paul Brisson             

Ann Bullock             

Bob Bullock              

Margaret Bushee          

Lisa Capasso             

Gail Capobianco         

Frank Capone             

Tammy Chandler          

Margaret Cocozzo        

Rob Colangelo            

Jen Colangelo            

Doreen Collins           

Catherine Commerford     

Coqui Conkey             

Ellen Cuminale 

Robert Curry

Brian Dailey             

Barb Dalton              

Gail and Ed Decker       

Mary Beth Delarm         

Edward DeLuca            

Nathan Detweiler        

Ronald Deutsch           

Gurdeep Dhaliwal         

Ann Diller               

Brittany Dingler         

Patricia Downing         

Leann Driscoll           

Sharon Drosky            

Stanley Drosky           

Rachael Dwyer            

Jesse Elwert-Peters      

Carol Fallon             

Jeff Fortman             

Mitchell Frost           

Pam Funiciello           

Susan Gaddor  

Leo Geoffrion          

Thomas Gibbs             

Rachel Gill              

Conor Golden             

Bo Goliber

Arthur Gonick              

Michele Goyette 

Kathy Gregory

Sherie Grinter           

Susan Hamlin             

Jamey Hardesty           

Andrew Haskins           

Jami Hawthorne           

Rob Hawthorne            

Michelle Hicks           

Rolland Hoag             

Alex Hodor-Lee           

Catherine Hurley

Rev. Dominic S. Ingemie 

Sarah Ireland            

Janice James             

Jeri Jannicelli          

Eric Jenks               

Peggy Jenny              

Whitney Jobmann          

Chauncey Jones           

Beth Kane                

Mollie Kavanagh          

Aaron Kay                

Joy King                 

John Kirwin              

Douglas Klein            

Colin Klepetar           

Ian Klepetar             

Chuck Kochheiser        

Laura Kruegler           

Bill & Laura Kyer        

Laura Kyer               

Mark Lawton              

Alexas Leach             

Norine Lee-Wagner        

Devante Lewishearns      

Dave Lindberg            

Chip Locke               

Peggy MacArthur          

Mary C Mahoney           

Peg Mangano              

Tony Mangano             

Andrea Mann              

Ernest Mann              

Jackie Marcelle          

Robert McChesney         

Laurie McDermott         

Lisa Meade               

Erica Miller             

Kay Moberg               

Mary Monigan             

Amanda Moore             

Megan Mumford            

Cheryl Murphy            

Bradley Nagle            

Richard Naple            

Kelly O'Connell          

Betty O'Connor           

Kathryn Oppedisano       

Patricia Paduano         

John Penzer              

Michael Phillips         

Gary Picher              

Lisa Plue                

Steven Poissant          

Kim Poli                 

Joseph Potrzuski         

Elizabeth Powers         

Kelly Pressley           

Traci Radigan            

Lillian Ramsey           

Lisette Rayher           

Carol Reynolds           

Joyce Rice              

Patty Riggi   

Vincent Riggi

Julie Roberts

Bruce Robinson          

Marian Roth              

Marc Russo               

Melissa Russo            

Stuart Schultz           

Val Schultz              

Caroline Sgorrano

Ray Simboli              

Robert Simpson           

Janet & Bernie Singer    

Julie Slovic             

Karen Solomon            

Edward Solomon           

Beau Stallard            

Mary Starr               

Susan Steer              

LaVerne Stiles           

Brian Straughter         

Conrad Swiers            

Crystal Swinton          

Stephen Toman            

Chuck Tyree              

George Van Deusen        

Pam Volzone              

Karen Wadsworth          

John Waechter            

Krick & Sophia Wahl 

Shirley Waterfield       

Peter Whitten            

W Winz                   

Peter Wohl               

Ashley Wood              

Rob Wright               

Cathie Wright            

Sharah Yaddaw

Joanne Yepsen            

Karen Zanni              

Monna Zuckerman         


“But if we fail, then the whole world… including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister…. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if {we} last for a thousand years, {people} will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’.”


- Sir Winston Churchill

Published in News
Friday, 10 January 2014 10:46

Code Blue Diary

Note: Andrea Barry has been Saratoga TODAY’s intern for this past semester. She is currently a senior at Saratoga Springs High School. To complete her internship she was asked to choose an assignment based on current events and write about her experiences. She elected to become a volunteer at Saratoga Springs’ new Code Blue shelter, which is located on the campus of St. Peters Church and became active on December 24. She visited on what could be one of the coldest nights of the new year. SARATOGA SPRINGS - Going into Code Blue on Friday, January 3, I wasn’t sure of what to expect. I knew it would be eye opening and awakening to say the least. But what I didn’t realize was the power that strangers had to touch me in such a way. My experience there was undoubtedly life changing. In Saratoga Springs, the Code Blue facility at St. Peters Church becomes active when the temperature outside drops below 10 degrees (with wind chill factored in) or a foot of snow falls. On this night the forecast was severe: potentially falling to 20 degrees below zero or even lower. In circumstances so extreme, this facility could mean the difference between life and death for several in our community. Upon arriving, my first task was to help organize the donations table. Clients then would come and pick out the items they needed most. From something as simple as of pair of socks, or every day as jeans, the appreciation was tremendous. Later, I helped serve food. I don’t think there was a single person who didn’t say thank you. When I wasn’t involved with a task, I was speaking with the clients. I was touched by our differences, but even more was amazed about our similarities. Each person there had a story, a past and a purpose. Sadly, something went awry for them along the way. I got to know some wonderful, giving volunteers as well. Listening to what most endure on a daily basis was incredible to me. It was then that I realized just how fortunate I was. Although only for a night, the facility takes people off of the streets and provides them with a hot meal and a bed to sleep in. These simple things are so commonly taken for granted yet are capable of meaning the world to some. Thanks to Code Blue, I was able to engage in a life altering experience and encounter some of the strongest individuals I have ever met. If you wish to volunteer or donate, visit codebluesaratoga.org.
Published in News


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