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- New Owners Revive Sports Enthusiast’s Paradise
MIDDLE GROVE – A beloved institution among snowmobilers, outdoor enthusiasts and fans of “just good times” has returned. After a year of being idle, Tinney’s Tavern, at 450 Lake Desolation Road in Middle Grove, is back up and running, with new ownership that had barely little time to catch their breath since taking over late last month.
“We are fortunate to be near the Mulleyville and Galway snow trail systems,” said new co-owner Kevin Joyce. “The snowmobilers saw the flurry of activity and couldn’t wait for us to get opened again. Fortunately for us, the previous owner left the place in excellent shape.” So with some hard work overnight (an a tap-line cleaning assist from Saratoga Eagle) after officially taking ownership on February 28, Tinney’s was open for business the next day.
“We had a fantastic turnout the first two weekends, especially since we only had time to rely on word of mouth,” said co-owner Brian Brumley, who is also a co-owner of the Spring Street Deli in Saratoga Springs. The Brumley’s also own Saratoga Wine & Spirits.
If you haven’t been there yet, a perfect time to make plans is for next weekend’s (March 21-22) grand re-opening festivities, which will have a variety of giveaways from both Saratoga Eagle and Empire Merchants spirits, and a performance from Southern rocker’s HyTyde on Saturday, March 22 at 10 p.m.
The new owners have many plans in the works, which generally revolve around the concept of the word “expanded” as in, expanded food, beverage and music offerings that remain faithful to the concept of what made Tinney’s Tavern a great place to be year-round, while throwing a few extra things into the mix that will serve to put their personal stamp on things.
While certain plans are not ready to reveal at this time, expect that the new owners of Tinney’s Tavern are quite aware that they have 200 feet of waterfront and plan to develop promotions that capitalize on it.
In the meantime, Brian Brumley was excited about the idea of owning a special place, in a special place:
“We both are outdoorsmen and a big part of us buying the property was to cater to outdoor enthusiasts in a family friendly environment. “ He said. “ With both of us having young families we look forward to having them grow up in the beautiful foothills of the Adirondack Park. Tinney's has been around since the 1940s and has a lot of great history. We would like to carry on the tradition by offering fair priced quality food to the locals and visitors who come up to enjoy all the seasons.”
For more information about the new Tinney’s Tavern, visit facebook.com/tinneystavern or phone (518) 450-1066.
Will Seek County Judgeship
BALLSTON SPA – Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III is formally announcing his intention to run for Saratoga County Court Judge next Election Day, November 4.
Murphy will make his official announcement at a press conference that is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Friday, February 14 at the Saratoga Springs Holiday Inn.
“I love this office.” Murphy said, when reached by phone, referring to his 5-term tenure as county DA. He is beginning his 17th year in 2014. “But it’s time for some new challenges.”
DA Murphy will be seeking the judgeship that will be vacated by Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry Scarano. Judge Scarano will be concluding his second 10-year term at the end of 2014. As Judge Scarano has reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, the Board of Elections had already scheduled an election for this post and so a special election will not be needed.
DA Murphy had great praise for Judge Scarano, who he had worked with in various capacities over 26 years.
“When I began as an Assistant DA, Jerry was First Assistant DA. Later when he moved to the bench, he has been the one who handled all the big cases, the felonies throughout my term as DA. Judge Scarano set a standard that I hope to maintain.” Murphy said.
Murphy has run unopposed for all 5 elections to the District Attorney’s office, receiving endorsements from the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties. He indicated that he would seek multiple party endorsements for the coming county judge run. “The Saratoga County Court Judge, like the County District Attorney office, is not political. We serve everyone.”
Interestingly, should James Murphy III successfully win the County Court Judge race in November, the code of judicial ethics and conduct would go into effect immediately— thereby preventing him from either recommending or endorsing his successor.
New Role At Board Of Supervisors Brings Increased Impact On All County Residents’ Lives
BALLSTON SPA – Matthew E. Veitch is beginning his fourth two-year term as Saratoga County Supervisor, one of two supervisors representing the City of Saratoga Springs. Each year, the board elects new officers and for 2014, he was elected vice-chairman.
As such, he will assume the chair the board of supervisors’ important law and finance committee, which renders an advisory opinion on virtually every matter that involves any expenditure of county money.
He also will have primary responsibility for the preparation of the county’s 2015 budget and is chairman of the board of supervisors’ agenda meeting. By rule, given that he will not face re-election, he is also in a direct line to become 2015’s chairman of the board.
All told, this means he is in an increased position to have an impact on every Saratoga County resident’s lives. We sat down at a local coffee shop to discuss the workings of county government and to gain some insights as to some of the things he hopes to achieve in this increased capacity.
How does the process of being elected to the chair and vice-chair work? Is it a true election akin to running for office?
MV: Yes and no. There is an actual vote to ratify officers, but unlike a general public election there are different rules in which seniority controls. The chairman is the most senior member of the majority party (Republican), who has not previously served as chair. In this case, Malta Supervisor Paul Sausville was elected to that post. The vice-chairman is the second most senior supervisor who also has the most time served as a member of the seven-person law and finance committee. I was appointed to that committee three years ago.
What are some of the major areas that the Law and Finance committee has primary responsibility for?
MV: The county budget itself is passed at the end of the previous year. Law and Finance renders an advisory opinion on any budget amendment after that, and can modify an amount it recommends if it feels an adjustment is called for. This committee is responsible for all rules and regulations, oversight of the county sewer district and outside standing agencies. We also oversee donations to not-for-profit agencies as they occur, and as needed screen and interview candidates for personnel vacancies for department head level and above (non-civil service positions.)
In your new role, you have primary responsibility for the preparation of the 2015 budget. When does the process begin, and how does the timetable to passage play out?
MV: We begin in July, with a survey of all department heads for their requests, and work on this into October. We generally release the preliminary budget in late October, shortly before Election Day. While I intend to keep an eye on and be involved in each request, I also will rely on County Administrator Spencer Hellwig and Management Analyst Ryan Moore for their expertise. In November, law and finance holds a meeting to take any recommended adjustments to personnel by the county’s Personnel Director, and other special changes as needed. In early December, the Board of Supervisors holds a budget workshop and we adopt our budget at the Board’s last meeting of the year.
Looking ahead to the 2015 budget, what would you like to see accomplished?
MV: First of all, I have to give credit to my predecessors. We had some rough budget years in the past, but the measures that they have taken, including the sale of Maplewood Manor, the county landfill and the setting up for a new strategic economic plan, has put us in great shape going forward. Assuming the economy stays the way it is, we should have some extra revenue to develop in ways that will be beneficial and visible to all county residents.
The first thing I hope will happen is for us to refund our open space activities, which had to be defunded during lean times. I don’t expect to fund it to the previous high level it once was, but reestablish it. Second, I hope to develop a new county trail grant program, in which all towns could competitively submit projects for the county’s support.
I’d also like to see support for a county wide green initiative, in conjunction with our buildings and grounds committee. This takes many forms- from looking at ways to save on energy by removing some of the excess florescent lighting in county buildings, putting high-efficiency LED lighting in our parking lots. We should look at the feasibility of establishing a solar park somewhere on county land. It would be great if we could take the county buildings off the grid, perhaps return some surplus. It would be an investment and a long-term project, but I’ve never been against spending money if there’s a strong potential for a payback to us.
The biggest goal I would like to shoot for, given a good budget year for 2015, is to not increase taxes, which was necessary the past three years. I’m hopeful and optimistic.
How will you involve your colleagues, either from rural towns unlike Saratoga Springs, or from the other party?
MV: I’ve always been of the belief that a good idea doesn’t come from one side or another. Show me a good idea, and I’ll back it.
You just had your first agenda meeting. How did it go?
MV: We were out in six minutes. I got a lot of compliments about that!
Destination Saratoga says the answer is already here for a decade.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – “I want to do this. Usually I get asked to serve on a board or office. This is a position I have chosen.”
So states Daniel D. Hogan, one of three co-chairs for the recently formed “Destination Saratoga” group, which is seeking to support the expansion plans at Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) to include live table gaming.
Mr. Hogan is one of three co-chairs of a 16-person steering committee composed from a broad cross-section of the local and regional business community and other areas. We sat down with him and steering committee member Gordon Boyd to gain insight as to the group’s advocacy and strategy.
The composition of the steering committee is notable for its makeup alone – bringing together diverse factions such as longtime Republican County Chair Jasper Nolan with former (and also longtime) Democratic Commissioner of Public Works Tom McTygue. Current officeholders are, as to be expected, not represented. Yet Carrie Woerner, candidate for State Assembly in the 113th District, is named as a steering committee member. (Visit destinationsaratoga.com for the complete list of committee members).
While no employee of Saratoga Casino and Raceway is part of the steering committee of “Destination,” the website makes it clear that this group’s activities are supported and funded by SCR. “It’s our role to be supportive of their activities,” noted Rita Cox, SCR’s senior vice president of marketing and external affairs, “We’ll be involved as things proceed.”
Mr. Hogan brings to the table an accomplished background, which includes both relevant industry experience and public service. Until earlier this year, he served as Chairman and Board Member at the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, a three-person panel which set policy, made and enforced rules for the state’s horse racing and charitable gaming industries. While in that capacity, he became an admirer of SCR’s acumen and business practices, particularly how they were able to capitalize on, and revitalize harness racing as a result of being named a video lottery terminal (VLT) destination nearly 10 years ago.
“The quality of racing, the purse structure is like night and day now,” Hogan said. This led him to approach SCR officials after Proposition 1’s statewide passage, with a plan to form a group that would support the proposition that SCR would be the best siting for the Capital Region’s casino.
In fact, Hogan stated that there has been a casino here, well run in concert with the community’s values, since SCR gained VLT’s. “They have proven to be fiscally and socially responsible; I approached them because I feel that this is the best place for expanded gaming, for the city, county and the region’s best overall development.”
Hogan is a resident of Albany, a fact that also includes a stint as Deputy County Executive. He said that he expected competitive applications would come from Albany and Rensselaer once the application guidelines are formulated. Nonetheless, for overall economic impact, he concludes that SCR is the best location.
He has put together the steering committee team and has reached out to the community at large. The group claims over 500 members, which was the estimated number of supporters that were brought in by Upstate Transit to the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce organized casino fact-finding forum on Monday, December 16 at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
The bussing in of supporters was noted in some quarters as being somewhat illegitimate in some way as if people were being planted but Hogan saw it more as good planning:
“Look, we knew that parking by the City Center with a group that large was going to be an issue.” Hogan said. “We decided to meet in a central location to make sure everyone that wanted to get to the forum was able to.” Hogan estimated that the supporters were composed of “about 200 SCR employees, 200 horsemen in some capacity and about 100 union members” in trades that would benefit from expanded gaming at SCR.
It is relevant to point out that Mr. Hogan said that he is a paid consultant for Destination Saratoga at this time, and he is devoting full-time effort to the organization and it’s goals. Their budget is not public, but it is reasonable to presume that the lion’s share, if not all of the funding comes from SCR. The other steering committee members are volunteers.
Gordon Boyd articulated the economic impact numbers. “The revenue sharing provisions in Proposition 1 estimate that both the City of Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County would receive about 5.5 to 5.7 million dollars annually. This is more than one-third of the annual property tax rate.” In fact, the 2012 property tax assessment was just over $15 million, which supports Boyd’s calculation. “This does not take into account the hundreds of new jobs that will be created; good paying positions with decent wages and benefits.”
Hogan stated that he supports an open application process, a fact echoed by SCR’s Rita Cox, although both disclaimer this statement that this will be “to the extent possible.” As the regulations are yet to be issued, they could be legally prevented from revealing certain documents and data. This will obviously be subjected to both media and community scrutiny as the process moves forward.
To date, there have been the beginnings of a multi-media campaign, and the Saratoga Casino and Raceway has planned a full-schedule of promotional and public relations activities surrounding it’s tenth anniversary of VLT’s (which came on line on January 28, 2004).
Much of the activity regarding this issue is still ahead. Hogan did find reason to be optimistic, even finding some small yet significant common ground with their worthy opposition:
“They are against a Vegas-style expansion and so are we. We want a Saratoga-style casino, one that works with and benefits our community at large. The best place to make this happen is at The Saratoga Casino and Raceway.”
Restaurant Week now through December 12 with “Toys for Toga” Donation Drive
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Think of it as one big weeklong dim sum sampler platter, with 57 choices (as of press time) spread over Saratoga County, and you get the idea.
For foodies, dining enthusiasts and holiday shoppers alike, the (lunch and) dinner bell has rung. Restaurant Week has returned.
As usual, the task is to make a great happening better and one thing worth noting is that the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau has added an important new aspect to the event. In conjunction with DeCrescente Distributing Company and Olde Saratoga Brewing Company they have initiated the “Toys For Toga” campaign.
During Restaurant Week, you can donate a new and unwrapped toy at any of the participating restaurants.
These donated toys will be distributed on December 16 to local charities Franklin Community Center, Captain Youth and Family Services and Mechanicville Area Community Services Center. Last year, these 3 non-for-profits assisted over 1,400 children at holiday time.
A complete updated list of participating restaurants can be found throughout Restaurant Week at discoversaratoga.org/restaurantweek.
Restaurants span from Clifton Park through Wilton. These are the new restaurants that are participating in the ninth edition:
Nanola - Route 9, Malta
Legends Café – Congress Street
Healthy Living Market and Cafe – Wilton Mall
Lucky Joe’s – Saratoga Casino and Raceway
Merry Monk Saratoga – Henry Street
Thirsty Owl Bistro – Broadway
The Brook Tavern – Union Avenue
The Crown Grill – Broadway
Peabody’s – Phila Street
Javier’s Nuevo Latino Cuisine – Maple Avenue
Nanola is worth noting as they just opened last month, so Restaurant Week is a perfect time for them to invite you to sample. Nanola is a New Orleans themed restaurant, specializing in both American and Cajun/Creole fare.
Restaurants have the choice of offering any or all of these price options: $5 or $10 lunches; $10, $20 or $30 dinners.
Todd Garofano, Bureau president said, “The change in price structure we implemented last year was overwhelmingly successful. It allowed more restaurants (we had a record 54 restaurants last year) to participate throughout the county which led to more visitors trying them. Saratoga County restaurants truly offer something for everyone this week.”
Whether you discover a new or re-discover an old favorite, Saratoga’s Restaurant Week is always a tasteful signpost on the event calendar. Bon appetit!
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Before 9/11 there was 11/22. And 50 years later, the passage of time dulls none of our memory of that day.
We may forget what we had for breakfast this morning, but no one old enough who was asked where they were on that day replied “I don’t remember.”
Despite the lack of mega-mass media, we learned of events rather rapidly. A neighbor, teacher, toll-taker told us to put on the radio, something had happened in Dallas and our President was slain. It didn’t matter where we were; it was a national, indeed worldwide shared experience.
We asked people at our farmers’ markets and the Wesley community, a cross-section of residents of our region, to share their stories about that signpost day. All live locally now, though most were in other places on November 22, 1963.
I’ll bat leadoff. It is one of my oldest memories altogether.
Second grade. P.S. 49, the pride of New York City public schools in Middle Village, Queens. Mrs. Broadhurst was our teacher, and she told us to be quiet because Principal Burson was going to make an announcement over the loudspeaker.
This happened nearly every day, but in the morning – never in the afternoon. After the announcement, we were sent home early.
It was my first experience with death of anyone close to me and for many in my age group, JFK was like our friend. It was a simpler time and we wanted to believe. His family was our family.
On November 22, 1963 John Fitzgerald Kennedy was also the only President I ever knew. And he was gone.
“I was in my final year as a Yale undergraduate in November 1963,” noted former Saratoga Springs mayor Kenneth Klotz. “The first word of the shooting of the President began circulating on campus in the early afternoon, about ten minutes before an advanced Russian class on my schedule.”
“The teacher was a native, elderly and somewhat pedantic, who conducted the class in Russian. We told him excitedly, in Russian of course, that the President had been shot. He looked puzzled and uncertain, and said “Oh, is that so?” I don’t think he believed us, because he delivered his planned 50-minute lecture on early 19th century Russian literary history. Just as the class was finally over we heard the Branford chapel bell beginning to toll and realized with horror that the President was dead.” Klotz said.
“I was on my honeymoon in the Poconos!” noted Bronx native Barbara Garrasi. “My husband John and I came back from lunch. I was in the bathroom while John had the TV on when the bulletin came through. He called out to me… we spent the entire afternoon inside, holding hands, glued to the TV and crying.”
Our own Cindy Durfey remembers the great sadness. “I was in second grade in Loudonville. I remember coming home from school and my mom was watching television and crying. It was a very solemn time.” She said.
“Shock!” said Phyllis Marks from White Plains. “The kids were in their early teens and so upset. We spent a lot of time trying to explain this, to help each other understand.”
“I was in Albany,” said Alfred O’Brien. “I turned on the car radio and there it was…shock and disbelief.”
Johnstown’s Carolyn McClain was at her art class at Russell Sage College. “I couldn’t believe what I had heard. Within short order, the college was completely shut down.”
“We were driving a truck of apples from our farm in Schaghticoke,” noted Leonard and Phyllis Borden. “At the Thruway stop the toll-booth employee asked if we had a radio and to put it on — something had happened to the President.”
“I was in the Grand Union supermarket in Ballston Spa,” said Betty McCanty. “Someone turned off the music and the word spread like wildfire through the store.”
“I left my cart in the aisle and went right home. Life as we know it was suspended,” Ms. McCanty said. “I knew that my four children (spread through grade 2 – 6) would be sent home from school and all I thought about is to be able to get there when they arrived.”
“I was at work at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. in the rare book room,” remembers Roger Trienens. “The Chief stood up and made an announcement that the President had been assassinated and the closed the library.”
“It was a Friday; the beginning of a grim, depressing weekend.” Trienens said.
“My husband was a Marine and it hit him so hard to hear the news,” said Esther Badgley, who was in Minerva at the time.
Doris Lamont heard the news in the little town of Cochecton thanks to a relatively new innovation, the TV news bulletin. “I was lying down and settling into my favorite soap, As the World Turns when the bulletin came on. I remember being annoyed because they had already interrupted ATWT a few times that week because of a plane crash.”
“After Cronkite, I turned to David Brinkley’s newscast on NBC. I remember how he was so upset that they had to take him off the air for a while.” Lamont said.
“I was a substitute nurse at the A. L. Kellogg School in Treadwell,” said Joyce Hoven. “The teachers came out of an adjoining room and told me.”
Saratoga Springs native Marion Poukish was working in a Pediatric office on Lake Avenue when she heard. “It was very emotionally upsetting to realize someone would want to kill our President.”
"I remember our prayers were especially made for Jackie, Caroline and young John.” She said.
50 years. Like yesterday.
The Birth of a Citizens Movement
SARATOGA SPRINGS — An overflowing cross-section of the community gathered on Monday evening, November 18 at City Hall to learn about and make pledges to participate in activities to resist a casino inside the city and county limits.
The meeting, organized by the group Saratogians Against Vegas-style Expansion (SAVE) brought such a large response from the citizenry that the city council chamber was not enough to hold them, necessitating an impromptu second simultaneous presentation in the hallway by Sara Boivin, one of SAVE’s organizers. Inside the council room, a tightly packed agenda brought about a wealth of information and the revelation as to SAVE’s action plans.
SAVE organizers Colin Klepatar and Clem Marino described a multi-pronged approach which, in addition to an online petition, included neighborhood and event canvassing, media and political outreach.
They asked each attendee to speak for a minute about their reasons for attending if they wished. The major subjects that were stated involved concerns about potential rising crime, the social costs of gambling and a general deterioration in the quality of life should Saratoga Springs or Saratoga County host a table-gaming casino facility.
“We’re the ones to give voice to the 20 percent,” said Klepatar, referring to the weight that community support, or lack thereof would count on a casino application. He also noted that there were no specific guidelines as to how that aspect could be gauged.
Both Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County soundly defeated casino Proposition 1 in the recent November 5 election, though it passed statewide. In the Capital Region, Fulton, Montgomery, Rensselaer and Schoharie Counties passed Proposition 1.
SAVE organizers asked each participant to sign their petition and to commit to at least one clear action to help spread the word.
The organization’s website, www.savesaratoga.org, has a mission statement which reads in part: “(SAVE) seeks to preserve our thriving downtown, rarely seen in America today and recognized nationally; our world renowned performance art spaces; our thriving economy and our social and individual security and pride that generations of thoughtful and caring Saratogians have worked to build, rebuild and preserve.
“Casino gambling is a single-destination activity, which succeeds only by keeping its guests at the casino. Casinos are a drain on local businesses, directly competing with them by discounting their hotel rooms, entertainment, and amenities, drawing customers away from downtown Saratoga. The projected tax-revenue benefits are guesswork and when gambling revenues decline, it is the taxpayers who are burdened – with lower property values and higher rates of real estate foreclosures. Critical and already overburdened local services, such as police, fire, and hospital services, will become further stretched.
“The social costs of full casino gambling are potentially significant as well. Gambling is a regressive tax, exacting its profits from those who are least able to absorb financial losses. This can result in spikes in poverty rates, unemployment rates, and crime. The projected benefits of full casino gambling have yet to be convincingly documented. We are concerned that the promise of a windfall for host communities will not be realized, especially in light of plummeting revenues at casinos across the country. Meaningful guarantees and demonstrated long-term value are lacking. SAVE Saratoga contends that the revenues will never outweigh the costs and this is a risk our community will not take.”
It is obvious based on last night’s attendance that these ideas have broad appeal. The SAVE organizers came ready with a plan it will be interesting to see whether we witnessed the beginnings of a new form of broad-based citizen action in Saratoga Springs.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – In the wake of recent accusations of a cover up, claims of police brutality and of an alleged choking of a female prisoner, Chief of Police Greg Veitch said he stands behind the men and women of his department and the investigations into the incidents.
Ballston Board Shuts Down County Water; Public Never in Danger
BALLSTON – The Ballston Town Board voted at its Tuesday, October 8 meeting to suspend taking in water from the Saratoga County Water Authority. As of Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. the county water was shut off pursuant to that vote.
The town is now receiving water from the Town of Glenville in Schenectady County until further notice. Prior to this board action, Ballston had already been purchasing about 25-30 percent of its water from Glenville, or about 100,000 gallons per day, according to town Water Superintendent Joseph Whalen.
Whalen wanted to assure the public that they were never in any danger at any time.
“We take samples of all our water, all the time.” He said. “We always act well on the side of caution in the public interest.”
His department was aware of a contaminant problem at the county and was monitoring quarterly sample results.
“When the average levels of contaminants exceeded, even slightly, recommended levels, as they did for chlorination by-products and lead, my department has the authority to act proactively before a town board vote, and we did just that.”
The shutdown of county water at the town of Ballston was actually a two-stage process. Whalen, upon reviewing those latest testing levels, immediately reversed the proportions of water that Ballston procured—a 75/25 percentage of water in favor of the county became a 75/25 percent mix with the majority coming from Glenville in advance of the town board vote. Because the levels were above the recommended standards, even a small amount for a brief period of time, that is considered a violation that requires a public notification.
The town board voted subsequently to make it 100 percent from Glenville.
“The town board acted appropriately, given the parameters they work with and the time frame involved,” Whalen said. “But I believe that there has been a lot of misinformation put out in the media and elsewhere.”
“I understand this can sound scary—resident’s turn on their tap and they expect a certain result, as they have a right to—but the situation has been made to sound worse than it ever was, or ever will be for that matter. Again, I want to emphasize that my department and the town board acted several steps on the side of caution, and the public was never close to being in any peril.”
When asked what it would take to get the Town of Ballston to resume purchasing water from the county authority, Whalen said succinctly, “A lot of testing.” Over the period of the next few weeks, however, he expects that the county water will test much better. “They have certainly been aware that they have a problem, and I know they are working on it.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Farmers’ Market Association has reached an agreement with the Saratoga Spa State Park, managed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, to hold its Saturday winter market in the Saratoga Spa State Park’s historic Lincoln Baths building at 65 South Broadway, adjacent to the National Museum of Dance, beginning Saturday, November 2.