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Thursday, 30 October 2014 14:19

Vietnam Veterans Visit School

SSHS Students Learn From Firsthand Oral Histories

By Arthur Gonick 

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – As part of a nationwide effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ceasing of hostilities in Vietnam, the city of Saratoga Springs became one of the first to enroll as a commemorative partner in this effort. The roster of partners is now 100 in New York State and over 6,000 in the United States. 


There will be many activities scheduled by the appointed committee in this city, which is taking its role quite seriously. But none will probably be more important and instructive than those that occurred for two days this week. 


On Tuesday, Oct. 28 and Wednesday, Oct. 29 a panel of about a dozen veterans of the Vietnam war – drawn from all walks of life, all service company’s, some local, some regional and some who traveled a good distance – met with several classes of students at Saratoga Springs High School to share their experiences and pass on the history of that conflict. 


“This was a great experience for the students,” said Teacher Ron Schorpp, whose War and Diplomacy class, a mix of 11th and 12th graders, were in attendance. Over the two-day program, nearly 200 students attended. “After the city became an official partner, I was very glad that Jim Hartman (a member of the local committee who was part of the panel. Jim served in USAF Intelligence and was in Vietnam in 1970) reached out to us.” He said. 


“The students were attentive and asked some really interesting questions.” Schorpp said. Those questions ran the gamut: ranging from asking each what was the first thing they did when they finally came home, to the Veteran’s thoughts on how we should battle ISIS and the broader question of when and if to commit troops overseas. 


With a diverse panel assembled, a variety of thoughts and experiences were to be expected. But what was striking about this presentation is how the student exhibited rapt attention – particularly noticeable because the presentation itself was fairly sparse – no multi-media and scarcely any props save some yellowing newspaper clippings. Just men sharing and students listening. And it was stunning in it’s simplicity. 


Some examples: 


Marine Dave Kissick came home to be a Principal at Lansingburgh High School. He focused on the “What if?” aspect of history, noting that service in Vietnam was “nothing like HBO” – referring to Band of Brothers which got many knowing nods from all in the assembly. 


Lew Benton recalled being drafted into the Army at age 25, after having been married, and feeling grateful that he was able to serve as a medic – that thought tempered by the sobering reality that he treated about 1,000 combat wounds during his service. 


25th Infantryman Don Little, now the head of the County’s VETHELP program: “I didn’t know how much military service would affect my life… once, I didn’t want anyone to even know I served. Now I’m proud.”


Roy McDonald served in the Army and later came home to a career in the state senate. “The best part of service in Vietnam: The people. All kinds were accepted – we were all family.”


The worst part: “Everything else. Romance about war is a movie – not reality… you could tell what people cared about by what they carried in their pockets – family photos, mementoes of home. I never forget every day that I have 60,000 reasons to be thankful,” referring to the number of people lost in the conflict.


Other veterans expressed concepts like “survivor’s guilt” and their experiences under friendly fire. 


Jim Coyne was the military “lifer” of the group. 36 years service; rising from the rank of Private to Colonel. He used his time as a teaching moment, giving students baseline facts and figures that don’t appear in movies. For instance, Vietnam, a country of 19 million people, is only 10 percent Buddhist. 


The teaching was interspersed with good humor, as Coyne noted that some of his biggest wish list items in the field were “toilet paper and ice,” but never unmindful of how lucky he was to come through Vietnam alive. 


This event at Saratoga Springs High School was but one of several scheduled in our city, showing it’s commitment to do the important work of being a true commemorative partner – that this will be more than sewing a patch on a jacket or a hat. 


Events like today are not as showy as a parade, but serve incredibly important purposes. Chief among them is to educate and, hopefully, learn from the inhumanity of war. Specifically in the case of all our Vietnam veterans, events such as these serve to bestow honor to them for their service to our country that, in most cases, they never received. 


Their long overdue welcome home is finally just beginning now. Today was one example of a promise kept that everyone should be proud to see play out.


For more information, visit vietnamwar50th.com

Thursday, 30 October 2014 14:09

10,000 + Visits!

Community Health Center Meets Medical Needs

By Megan Harrington 

For Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – While many lower-income residents may have health care that covers catastrophic illnesses and events, that insurance often doesn’t extend to routine medical services and dental work. Saratoga Hospital’s Community Health Center (CHC) is offering a remedy with a one-stop shop for individuals who need non-urgent medical and dental care and have limited or no insurance. 


CHC’s Medical Director Dr. Renee Rodriguez-Goodemote says, “We’re one of the few programs in the area that is using an integrated model when it comes to behavioral health, dental services, and primary care.” This model is unique and effective because it removes some of the stigma often surrounding mental health care. People no longer have to obtain behavioral health services from a separate clinic – at CHC it’s all in one place. 


Purchased for $1.95 million dollars two years ago, the facility opened at its 24 Hamilton Street location in September 2013. The Community Health Center is within walking distance to downtown apartments, businesses and a CDTA bus stop. The CHC also offers early morning and evening hours, essential for patients who need to come in before or after work. According to the CHC’s September 2014 Stewardship Report, in its first year, the Community Health Center provided services for 3,381 needy patients during 10,113 visits.


All services are provided regardless of an individual’s ability to pay; however, there is on-site staff at CHC that are available to assist uninsured patients apply for low-cost coverage and/or enroll in the Hospital’s financial assistance program. According to the recent CHC Stewardship Report, more than 250 previously uninsured patients now have coverage due to these efforts. 


Amy Raimo, Executive Director of the Saratoga Hospital Foundation and VP of Community Engagement explains that the success of the Community Health Center has been a long-term project for the Hospital. “When they began to work on this project, they set a $3 million dollar goal which would allow them to buy the building at 24 Hamilton Street. The remaining money would go into an endowment fund to support the health center in to perpetuity.”


Currently the endowment fund is at a little over $700,000 and the investments have already begun producing dividends. Raimo explains that once the endowment reaches $1 million dollars, it will begin generating around $50,000 dollars in income per year. This money will be used to help purchase equipment, perform building renovations and offset hiring costs for doctors, dentists and mental health workers. “One of our big priorities is to grow the endowment each year,” says Raimo. This endowment is essential because there’s a large gap between revenue that comes in (via reimbursements) and what it actually costs to provide services. Saratoga Hospital has committed to covering the difference, which is estimated to be $1 million dollars per year, but to close that gap even further, fundraising events are held.


To aid in this process, all proceeds from Saratoga Hospital’s Summer Gala have been designated for the Community Health Center. “We can’t think of a better use of those funds because the Community Health Center is such a valuable resource to the community,” says Raimo. This coming year’s annual appeal has also been earmarked to help the facility. “We only mail to donors once per year and the donors appreciate that. They know that when they receive an appeal, it’s important,” says Raimo. 


In addition, the CHC will receive fundraising dollars from Saratoga Hospital’s Employee Campaign and an upcoming Business Appeal. Raimo explains, “For a lot of employees of downtown businesses, this is an incredible resource. We all know that a healthy employee is a more productive employee.”


Saratoga Springs’s official motto is “Health, History, and Horses”, but “Wealth” might also come to mind when you think of our fine city. Unfortunately, the staff at the Community Health Center knows all too well that there are many underinsured residents living right next door. Many families face a choice between seeing the dentist or getting a flu shot and buying essentials like groceries. “The focus of the Community Health Center is to fill a gap in the community. So that people who are uninsured or underinsured have a place to go to get high quality medical, dental, and mental health services,” explains Raimo. 


Receiving routine care at the Community Health Center ultimately means fewer Emergency Room visits, which is important because an ER visit costs, on average, twice as much as a primary care doctor’s appointment. 


To help individuals get set up with routine care, the Saratoga Hospital Emergency Department works with the Community Health Center to provide a list of people who come in without insurance and a primary care provider. Each month about 30 of those individuals become established Community Health Center patients. In this case, the saying by Benjamin Franklin rings true: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


“We really are committed to the health center and its success”, says Raimo. “If you go down and hear some of the stories – from an elderly person who needed dentures to kids who needed immunizations to start school – you’ll realize how the staff is helping people in this community and how grateful those people are.” Raimo explains, “That’s all we need to hear to continue doing what we need to do.”


And at 24 Hamilton Street, you’ll feel the personal touch. Rodriguez-Goodemote explains, “We’re not just a medical practice, we want to be a part of their life and help them navigate their stresses.” 


The CHC’s comprehensive approach includes not only health care, but services such as a food pantry and clothing if needed. Raimo agrees, “The staff is so caring and amazing and they really take the time to get to know their patients and find out their needs.” For example, staff saw that many patients were struggling to come up with prescription co-pays, so the CHC recently established a patient Rx fund. Due to it’s popularity, the fund was almost depleted, but when this was mentioned at a Foundation Board meeting, members gave whatever they had in their own pockets and came up with nearly $1,000 on the spot. “That’s how important this is to us,” says Raimo. 


With over 10,000 visits in its first year and numbers on the rise, staff and supporters of the Community Health Center are poised to make 2015 even healthier for area residents.


For more information, visit saratogahospital.org/locations-directions/saratoga-community-health-center

Friday, 17 October 2014 11:17

Project Lift Lifts Community Spirit

SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Thursday, Oct. 9, a festive gathering occurred at Longfellows Restaurant to benefit an important cause in the community. Project Lift is a free after-school prevention program operating for 30 years in the Saratoga Springs School District that serves grades one through five. It is a program that places emphasis on positive youth development, including self-esteem, good decision-making and communication skills. Thursday’s event raised nearly $50,000 for Project Lift!

Operated by Franklin Community Center, this unique program is designed to equip children with information to make important decisions on their own. For more information, visit FranklinCommunityCenter.org. 


Thursday, 16 October 2014 11:48

The Heart Of A Hero

18-Month-Old Preston Stewart Carries The Torch For Bravery At Saturday’s North Country Heart Walk

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – In many important ways, Preston Stewart is a “typical toddler” according to his mom, Theresa. He likes to play with trucks, go down slides, make noise at restaurants, play with his adoring sister and he runs, runs everywhere. 


But in the most important way, 18-month-old Preston is anything but typical. He is a hero. A little boy who has so far beaten back an anomaly that affects a percentage of children that is small in number, yet far too great for our society to accept. 


Preston is both a symbol of hope and achievement, and when The North Country Heart Walk occurs on the grounds of Saratoga Racecourse this Saturday, Oct. 18, Preston will be there, torch held high. He and the Stewart family (Theresa and Charlie, daughter Theresa, 7, and Preston) want you to join them.


There is no fee to enter, although donations will be graciously accepted. Katherine McCarthy, senior regional director of communications for the Capital Region Chapter of the American Heart Association, said that this walk has annually raised over $100,000. Pre-registration is not necessary; the event begins at 9:30 a.m. with activities for the entire family, including health screenings and information, a kids zone and breakfast. Kate Sullivan of Froggy 100.3 and Cody Holyoke from CBS 6 will be the MC’s. 



To be a hero, you don’t have to be victorious, but you must take up a heroic effort. 


At 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, a ceremony will take place that is both hopeful and somber, as both Preston’s (this year’s “Heart Hero”) story as well as other survivors, are celebrated. But it will also be a remembrance of those who lost their battles to America’s number one and number four killers – heart disease and stroke – and remind the expected 1,000+ walkers that there is a very long way to go.


Earlier this week, at a torch ceremony and banner hanging on Monday, Oct. 13, other heroes that lost their valiant struggles were remembered.  


Matt Westervelt was just 16 when, in March, he lost the battle he had fought with heart disease since birth. Matt had been the Junior Ambassador to the 2011 North Country Heart Walk, and on Monday, his father Joe Kramer joined in the ceremony. 


“Matt was a great kid,” Joe said. “He was my hero. I will hold my torch high in Matthew's memory at Saturday’s North Country Heart Walk to help make it so no other child has to fight to live their lives like Matthew did.”


The walk itself will commence at 10:45 a.m. During that time, survivors will walk alongside people with memories of heroes they lost. Following the walk, at about noon, lunch will be provided by Subway. 


Rick Knight, a popular North County DJ, was 59 when he died of a heart attack. 


“Rick is missed every day and I am honored to share his memory,” said Kate Sullivan of Froggy 100.3, emcee of Saturday’s Walk. “I hold my torch in the hopes that others will be able to live longer healthy lives.”


Cramer, Sullivan and the entire Stewart family joined Diane Bartos of Saratoga Hospital and Dr. Mandeep Sidhu of Albany Medical Center at Monday’s ceremony to show the coroplast torches that will be available at Saturday’s Heart Walk. 


“This is the second year we will have the torches available at the North Country Heart Walk,” Sidhu said. “There is a great moment before the start when everyone raises their torch high to honor those they walk for that day.


“As a cardiologist, I see these torches as a symbol of all the advances we have made in cardiovascular care, and all the advances we still need to make. My torch burns for all my patients.” 



For Preston and his family, his heroic struggle began in the womb. 


“At 18 weeks, the ultrasound practitioner thought they found something,” Theresa said, forcing the family to learn about new terms like “coarctation of the aorta” and “hypoplastic left heart syndrome” – terms that no young parents-to-be should ever have to learn about. 


Eventually, Preston’s condition was determined to be a bicuspid aortic valve in his heart, which would result in a team of Boston surgeons performing preliminary procedures on Preston beginning no more than 10 minutes into his new life. 


Following about 30 anxious weeks for Theresa and Charlie.


“It was,” Theresa said, “the worst feeling every day. I counted Preston’s kicks, and spent a lot of time crying.”


Preston was born on March 21, 2013. Surgical procedures that were characterized in the beginning as undefined or exploratory took place four days later. 


Preston was a fighter. Pushing out his breathing tube within hours after surgery. Shortly after that, he had his first real meal outside the womb. He had a remarkably quick rehab period and by March 30, he was on his way home. 


Though mostly covered by insurance, the costs to the Preston’s were still several thousand dollars. In addition, Charlie, a contractor “was not able to start any new jobs during the period before, as we had to be ready” to go to Boston. 



The most important reason to support these heroes, both past and present, this Saturday, is that their heroic mission continues. Even for Preston.


“People look at him at think ‘he’s OK; he’s cured.’” Theresa said. “But the fact is, for him, this is not a disease; there is no ‘cure’ at this time for Preston. He may well face additional procedures throughout his life.” 


“My torch is one of hope,” Theresa said. “Preston is normal and very active. I want to make sure that research continues so that he lives a long and healthy life.”


The call to be a hero of this type comes to families randomly. What happened to the Stewart family could strike anyone. 


It’s what you do in response that makes all the difference and that is why all these heroes walk on Saturday. With torches held high. 


For more information, visit heart.org

Friday, 10 October 2014 09:35

A Weekend Of Wellness Awaits

October 18 and 19 At Healthy Living Market

WILTON – Now that the family has settled in to the fall routine: back at school, at work, etc. The Healthy Living Market and Café (3065 Route 50 at the Wilton Mall) Wellness Department has put together a weekend of free, informative and fun family activities for everyone to eat smarter and just live better. 


According to David Wolfe, wellness manager at the Market, “It's all about sustainable education. We want to provide important information that gives families choices throughout the season, every day, every year. Healthy Living has so many resources that help to educate families in making the transition from unhealthy, toxic eating habits to wiser, healthier food choices that are just as convenient, but serve the body well.” 


“A Healthy Living Wellness Event not only provides free education for raising awareness they are also intended to open the eyes and hearts of families in our local communities to make healthy lifestyle choices that last their entire lives.” Wolfe continued. 


The growing trends of childhood and adult obesity and the desire of many families to have information to combat this dilemma are at the heart of the philosophy behind Healthy Living’s offerings next weekend. “Healthy Living’s Wellness Department is here to help families win the obesity and diabetes epidemic that is sweeping over the entire nation, including Upstate New York.  This two-day event provides a number of demos and free Wellness Classes out of our Learning Center that will help parents and kids make healthy and wise food choices... for the rest of their lives.” Wolfe concluded. 

At the Market’s wellness center, an emphasis is placed on hands-on experience and demonstrations.  While food is at the core of the experience, the offerings go beyond food into the realm of overall lifestyle. 


All the presentations are one hour and they are full of information to benefit mind, body and soul. It’s all there for you – and it’s all free!


Here are detailed descriptions of the presentations at next weekend’s event: 

Saturday, October 18

Presenter: Lisa Cartier

Your Nutritional Guide to a Healthy Fertility

Are you looking for guidance with nutritional protocols to help on your fertility journey? Are you experiencing PCOS, Endometriosis, POF, or other fertility issues? Are you looking to see how you can change dietary choices to help with conception in the future? Discover just how much we can do nutritionally for each of these issues. You will be given specific protocols that will help start you on the path to healthy fertility.

Time: 1 hour


Presenter: Nini Gridley

Emotional Eating and Bach Flower Remedies

In this workshop you will learn about the Bach Flower Remedies, a simple system of emotional healing developed in England by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930s.  Experts claim that 75 percent of our overeating is triggered by our emotions. We’ll discuss the symptoms of emotional eating and highlight the underlying negative feelings you may experience to identify which of the 38 Bach Flower Remedies would help. Whether the urge to overeat is because you are tired, stressed out, bored, or lonely, there is a combination remedy that will help bring you back to emotional health, balance and harmony.  Suitable for the whole family.


Presenter: Trent Millet

Unveiling the Springs of Saratoga

In this presentation, participants get to explore all there is to know about the special water springs that are found throughout the Saratoga Springs State Park and local areas.  Trent unveils the numerous health benefits that the springs offer and how they can enhance the body’s functions.  Trent loves sharing the medical history and present-day delights that these waters behold!  Be amazed by learning just how wonderful these springs truly are and how they can benefit your personal health, as well as the health of your family.


Presenter: Pierre Zimmerman

Stress Reduction and Meditation

This stress-relieving class will uncover the neuroscience behind stress and how it affects the body and mind. Body relaxation techniques will be explored, as well as experiential meditation and communication skills that serve people effectively. This class helps connect people to their actual life experience and lends a hand in reducing stress levels on a daily basis.


Presenter: Erin Marzilli

Applying Make-up 101; An Introduction to Facials and Makeovers

Learn all there is to know about applying and using all natural, gluten free, vegan-safe and cruelty-free make-up. Pick the brain of a local master make-up artist and learn how to apply make-up and cosmetics the right way.  Leave the toxic ingredients behind and get on board with a class that shows you the best way to approach your eyes, lips, and your personalized facial makeover.


Sunday, October 19 

Presenter: Shannon Beckwith

Kid-Tested Healthy Snacks

In this fun demo-style class, Chef Shannon Beckwith will show you how easy it is to get your kids more involved in the kitchen.  She will be making a few fun, delicious and healthy snacks you and your children can make together. Shannon will also talk about how to help kids make healthy food choices when they are away from home.  Everyone in the family can benefit from this presentation.


Presenter: Donna Panzl

Juicing with the Season-Fall Juices

Juice with the seasons for the greatest health benefits. This is a class for both beginners and seasoned juicers. Learn how to create the best juices the first time. Get to taste a variety of recipes and ask all the questions you may have about juicing and your health. 


Presenter: Kaitlin Moen

The Art of Self Care with Essential Oils

This is a comprehensive introduction to essential oils; experience an effective, safe and all-natural way of sustaining your own personal health.  This class provides tons of useful information about “smart medicine” and demonstrates the difference between certified pure therapeutic grade oils and other oils available on the market. Learn about the quality, purity and potency of essential oils as well as diverse ways of applying them throughout the year.


Presenter: P K Dave

Natural Healing Through Ayurveda

As founder of Nature’s Formulary, P K Dave has over 20 years of experience in integrating Ayurveda with herbal products and lifestyle plans for people to achieve optimal health. Dave has lectured on this subject for more than 12 years and has written articles in and/or has been interviewed in magazines such as Natural Foods Merchandiser, Vitamin Retailer, Yoga Journal, Health Supplement Retailer and Taste for Life. Learn what it means to create true balance in your health.


For more information, visit healthylivingmarket.com/Saratoga or phone (518) 306-4900



Healthy Living Market’s Wellness Weekend Event:

Schools in Session:

Parents and Kids of All Ages Staying Healthy


Schedule of Classes at the Healthy Living Learning Center

All Classes are FREE, No registration required


Saturday, October 18

11 a.m.- noon:  Lisa Cartier, Your Nutritional Guide to Healthy Fertility

12:30-1:30 p.m.: Nini Gridley, Bach Flower Remedies and Emotional Eating

2 - 3 p.m.: Trent Millet, Unveiling the Springs of Saratoga

3:30 - 4:30 p.m.: Pierre Zimmerman, Stress Reduction and Meditation

5 - 6 p.m.:  Erin Marzilli, Applying All-natural Make-up 101


Sunday, October 19

11 a.m. - noon:  Shannon Beckwith, Kid-Tested Healthy Snacks

12:30 -1:30 p.m.: Donna Panzl, Juicing with the Season-Fall Juices 

2 - 3 p.m.: Kaitlin Moen, The Art of Self Care with Essential Oils

3:30 - 4:30 p.m.: P K Dave, Natural Healing Through Ayurveda 

Thursday, 09 October 2014 14:18

Bravo Limoncello!

Tenth Anniversary Celebrations To Last All Year

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


ROME – Every great Italian restaurant is like a love story. This restaurant began with one. 


It was Sunday, August 27, 1992. At 1 p.m. in Rome, Italy. A young American tourist by the name of Nancy Washburn was in Rome for just that single day and looking for directions to the Sistine Chapel. 


She stopped a random stranger on the street, who immediately called upon his Italian sense of chivalry and offered to escort her there personally. The man’s name was Giancarlo Balestra. It was, evidently, love at first sight. And they have been together ever since.


This chance meeting between the gentleman from Roma and the lady from Verona (New Jersey, that is) might never had happened if not for a lack of Scandinavian amusement. 


Giancarlo explains: “I was in Sweden and it was boring. So I went home that very day. Nancy was truly my destiny,” he says beaming. “The best partner I could ever want.” And you can tell he means business, in addition to life.


Their romance embodies the spirit that people cannot help feel when they enter Limoncello Ristorante (1 Ballston Avenue, Saratoga Springs) – a feeling of a Northern Italian oasis from the stresses of the day. Get comfortable; you’re home with family. 


La famiglia is enhanced with the recent return of Host Maurizio Nascimben, a long time friend and associate of the Balestra’s. “I came out of retirement for these two, but also for myself,” he said. Apparently, once it’s in your blood…


“I retired in 2007. Even got married to my beautiful bride, and we were fortunate to travel,” he explains. “But I started getting the ‘itch’; I expressed a great feeling of sadness about this to Nancy and Giancarlo. To my delight, they made me an offer, and I started the very next day.”


“Maurizio, to me, is the quintessential Italian gentleman in every sense of the word. He is the perfect host for Limoncello.” Nancy said. 


Indeed, each of them bring superior skills to the table, which has given them a lifetime of restaurant success that has stretched through out the country to places like Aspen, CO and Winter Park, FL. 


As one of the founders the highly successful Chianti when it opened on South Broadway in 1998, Giancarlo was delighted to come back with Nancy to Saratoga Springs in 2004 to start Limoncello. “There are great opportunities for restaurants in this area, and we were happy to reconnect with friends and family.” Giancarlo noted. 


The restaurant moved to it’s current location in 2008, giving the Balestra’s more room to welcome diners inside two spacious indoor dining areas as well as outdoor garden seating when the weather is friendly. “We have many reasons to celebrate in our tenth year in Saratoga.” Nancy said. “In addition to Maurizio joining us, we have an enhanced energy about having our best track season ever.”

Look for that to be reflected in our menu, which is always transitioning to some extent.”


Giancarlo noted that some dishes he often features as specials, such as papardelle with Osso Buco, are becoming so popular that they may take a permanent spot on the menu. Based on the absolute feast they arrayed in front of Mark’s camera for this feature, I have no doubt that whatever they add will be winners. 


To accompany all this, it must be noted that Limoncello sports one of the area’s most extensive wine lists, featuring the best from Italy and California, spiced up with some rare Tuscan vintages. But you haven’t lived until you have tried the signature drink: The Limoncello, naturally. Nancy personally mixes up each batch that is served. 


And beginning next week, the Limoncello family is planning a yearlong series of celebrations to commemorate their tenth anniversary. Between October 15 and December 31, all gift certificates bought will receive a 10 percent discount. 


Also, after the first of 2015, look for a ten week series of dining events that will be called ‘A Taste Of Italy’ in which a different region, such as Naples, will be featured each week from Sunday-Thursday with a moderately priced three-course meal. The specific menu details will be forthcoming. 


But this is a place you can go to with confidence anytime, not only knowing that you will have great food, drink and atmosphere – but a unique experience. It’s the attention to the little things – like Nancy growing all the restaurant’s basil; Giancarlo’s culinary expertise and Maurizio’s warm greeting for everyone – it all adds up to something special. 


La famiglia. Enjoy!


For more information, visit limoncelloristorante.com or phone (518) 580-8700.

CLIFTON PARK - Here they go again......

OK Go is back and touring to support their upcoming album, Hungry Ghosts, due out October 14 on the band's own label Paracadute.

Their Upside Out EP offers a taste of what's to come...

Also the band launched their new video with Rolling Stone Magazine - 


I could impress you with all of their accomplishments (the GRAMMY, New York Times op-eds, presidential re-tweets, the car that plays music video for a Super Bowl commercial...), but do we really need to go there?

New record was recorded last year with Dave Fridmann and Tony Hoffer.

The show will be full of OK Go surprises as well... For more information, visit http://upstateconcerthall.com/calendar/ok-go/

Friday, 03 October 2014 17:57


Three- Day Auto Museum Event Showcases Excellence.

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY

SARATOGA SPRINGS – “This is an event made in automotive heaven.”


So stated Ron Hedger, trustee and executive director of the Saratoga Auto Museum in welcoming the public to the eighth annual Hemmings Motor News Concours d’Elegance. This is the third year they event has been held in the Saratoga Region, and according to Hemmings’ (a luxury collectible auto enthusiast media giant headquartered in Bennington, VT) President and Publisher Jim Menneto, a perfect spot for this three-day spectacular with events to delight both the collector and the “ooh-and-ahh” people who just love cars, like yours truly. 


The three-day tribute to motorized eye-candy began on Friday, September 26 with a road rally of about 50 luxury and vintage cars cruising up to Lake George, where participants boarded Shoreline Cruise’s Adirondac for a two-hour tour of the queen of America’s Lakes. I was able to get an insider’s view of the proceedings, being driven in the auto parade by Paul Morrissette of Chubb Insurance, a firm that specializes in insuring all sorts of luxury collectables. Paul was behind the wheel of a 1969 MGC hardtop - royal blue and James Bond snazzy. 


But our photographer got an even better seat. Francesco rode shotgun in the lead car driven by Mr. Menneto – an open-air 1932 Ford Boattail Speedster. Barely a two-seater, this car is a veteran of five great races, most recently one that spanned from Maine to Florida. 


The parade of DeLoreans, Mercedes and Caddy’s kept a decent pace on the route up 9N. At many points on the road, people who apparently knew this was coming pulled over with their cameras (a few set up on tripods) or just to wave. Members of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department aided the cause by keeping us going through those pesky red lights that popped up now and again. 


Arriving in Lake George, participants enjoyed a cruise on nothing less than a chamber of commerce perfect early fall afternoon. On the way back, Paul showed me the MG’s capabilities on the Northway. Pretty darn sweet - let’s just leave it at that.


The weekend continued with some other notable events celebrating distinctive automotive engineering through the ages. A “cruise-in” on Saturday was open to cars, trucks and motorcycles – with awards bestowed in categories such as muscle cars, street rods, sports, exotics and classics. The evening reception featured a keynote speech by J Mays – a world-renowned auto designer for Audi, BMW, Volkswagen and Ford. 


Sunday’s event was the penultimate: the best of the best displayed around the reflecting pool at the Spa State Park. The Concours d’Elegance, ladies and gents. These are the vehicles that are brought in on trailers, rarely driven. Pre-1980s showroom-quality classics that included 1964-74 Pontiac GTO’s, Continentals, Alfa Romeo’s and vintage fire trucks. A special category this year heralded the centennial of the Dodge Motor Company. 


The Saratoga Auto Museum always has fantastic events and displays like this, making it a standout in a city of standout museums. In the fall, they will be concluding their highly popular “Mustang at 50” exhibit on November 2 – with a special promotion for Ford owners. Bring your Ford registration and receive a free admission ticket for yourself. You and your party will also get a 20 percent discount on any Mustang or Ford related souvenir items you purchase.


On November 9, the museum will be will be welcoming its next exhibit: Luxury cars through the ages. I can’t wait. 


A trip to the Saratoga Auto Museum is always a trip back in time, with side ventures into the lap of luxury. Even someone who drives a Camry can appreciate that.


For more information, visit saratogaautomuseum.org

Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:41

50 Years of Leadership

On Being Mayor: Historic Panel Looks Back On City’s History

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY


SARATOGA SPRINGS – In conjunction with the centennial (officially on April 7, 2015) of the incorporation of Saratoga Springs as a city, on Thursday, September 18 the Saratoga Springs Public Library convened an esteemed panel of 11 current and former Mayors of the city, whose tenure dated back to the mid-1960s. 


These mayors reflected on their experiences in their time in office – the challenges, accomplishments and rewards during their time in office. In attendance were former Mayors James Murphy, Raymond Watkin, A.C. Riley, J. Michael O’Connell, Ken Klotz, Michael Lenz, Valerie Keehn and Scott Johnson, as well as the current Mayor – Joanne Yepsen. The panel was moderated deftly with good humor by Dale Willman, who noted that the only topic that was out of bounds in the wide-ranging discussion was “charter change,” although some on the panel got their thoughts in on that subject as well.


Everyone on the panel, as expected, brought a wealth of insight and perspective on their office and their role in the city’s governance.


Mayors Murphy and Watkin held office at a time when there were no political parties on the council. Mayor Murphy, who was the youngest Mayor in the city’s history, taking office at age 28, felt that it was better to have a non-partisan approach to governing the city. Mayor Watkin agreed, noting that in the 1970s he felt it was an exciting time to govern, he characterized it as an age of transitioning government “from the bosses to the people.” 


People tend to wax nostalgic about the good old days, but it was by no means a simpler time for these Mayors. Watkin cited the fact that after taking office, the specter of Saratoga losing it’s exclusivity of 24 racing dates loomed large until through his and other lobbyists efforts resulted in then-Governor Carey intervening on Saratoga’s behalf. “We were in trouble.” He said. 


A gas crisis resulted in Watkin’s institution of an odd/even system and also the initiation of a special assessment district for the downtown core to counteract suburban sprawl such as the development of the Pyramid Mall. 


Murphy recalled his decision to remove the parking meters on Broadway in a similar vein to spur downtowns. Murphy listed among his proudest achievements the development of the Design Review Commission; annexation of land from the Town of Greenfield for what would become the new Skidmore College campus and getting sidewalks for the High School along West Circular Street so students “didn’t need to walk in the street.”


A. C. Riley came to learn about public service through her volunteer work, which continues today with the County Economic Opportunity Council and other organizations. She recalled that shortly taking office, she walked by a street cave-in near the Adirondack Trust and thought “this is MY hole in the ground” now. She was most proud of the development of the library property where this meeting was occurring, citing it as key element in the development of the downtown core. 


J. Michael O’Connell recalled being proud of many things while in office, primarily how he was able to evaluate all sides of an issue and communicate with his fellow commissioners, regardless of party lines. “You were always mindful that you need three votes to do anything,” he said. He noted that sometimes, even under the commission form of government, the mayor had to be strong in office, such as when he had to jawbone the New York Racing Association into paying their fair share of the costs for a new East Avenue sewer line. 


Ken Klotz listed several accomplishments that he looked back on with pride, the adoption of the 2001 Comprehensive Plan, Universal Preservation Hall’s restoration and the revitalization of the Beekman Street area chief among them. Many on the panel were seen to nod in agreement when he noted the unique aspect of governing a city with such a high level of citizen involvement. 


Michael Lenz, a Republican, looked back and noted that he was inspired by Watkin, a Democrat when he was mayor and how he operated “street corner politics” – talking to citizens about the issues and concerns of the day - outside Lenz’ family pharmacy building, in which Watkin was also a retail tenant. Later, current Mayor Joanne Yepsen, a Democrat, noted that she had reached out to A.C. Riley (Republican) for advice and council shortly after being elected last November. 


All the panelists discussed governing under crisis. Lenz noted that on 9/11, Mayor Klotz was in the hospital in a medically induced coma, necessitating him (as Commissioner of Finance) acting in his stead, noting that he worked with Mayor Klotz’s wife Karen and the other commissioners to keep the city functioning during that time. Valerie Keehn recalled the region-wide blackout during Dance Flurry weekend shortly after taking office as requiring special action that only a mayor could provide. “I was everywhere, helping all I could, but people urged me to interact with the media… at times like that, people want to see the Mayor. You’re the face of the community.” Later, Mayor Yepsen cited the death of Nancy Pitts and the establishment of a Code Blue facility that required her to act even before officially in office.


Scott Johnson noted that being the face of the community “turns every 5 minute walk into a 20 minute one” as people want to be heard on what is important to them. “We may not agree, but it’s important that you are open to hearing all sides.” Johnson, who served for three two-year terms, said he was proud to oversee moving projects forward, citing the Recreation Center and Woodlawn Parking Garage as two salient examples. Interestingly, he noted that while the job can involve long hours and take its toll, “It’s really harder on our spouses and family than on us. They are the ones who make the real sacrifices so we can serve.” He said.


Moving projects forward was sentiment echoed in a different manner by Lenz, noting that many projects are determined to be worthwhile regardless of who holds office. He cited the Waterfront Park - a 100-acre parcel had advanced through four mayoral administrations (two Democrats and two Republicans) and was now to the point where a groundbreaking was scheduled for Monday, September 22 (see page 4.) 


While there was a lot of agreement generally on the panel, one issue they were unanimous about was that the job didn’t pay enough! The current mayor’s salary is $14,000/year, up from $2,500 during Murphy’s and Watkin’s time in office. 


But you could tell by the pride in their collective voices that money was far down on the list of considerations when it came to public service.

Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:33

S e p a r a t e d

America’s First DivorceHotel Opens In Saratoga Springs

By Arthur Gonick

Saratoga TODAY 


SARATOGA SPRINGS – Divorce is a fact of life in modern society. In many cases the act of a couple uncoupling is thought to be, by its nature, adversarial, messy and expensive.  


Yet, for some time now a movement has existed in which mediation – finding shared goals and common ground between couples whose life circumstances have caused them to grow apart, has taken a larger role in proceedings.


This past Wednesday, September 24, a beachhead for a new school of that thought arrived on America’s shores. The historic Gideon Putnam Hotel inside the Spa State Park is now the first U.S. site where some progressive negotiating techniques are being brought to bear to the cause of civilized separation. 


Behold, America’s first DivorceHotel. Established in the Netherlands in 2011 (ironically on Valentine’s Day) by Jim Halfens, it has spread to six sites on the European continent and became the subject of international publicity, culminating in becoming the subject of a highly rated prime time reality series on Netherland’s RTL Network. 


At the center of the effort to bring the DivorceHotel concept to America is Saratoga Springs native / resident Michele M. Martin. Ms. Martin is a divorce mediator and certified divorce financial analyst for her own firm Divorce Agree (see DivorceAgree.com). She has been named the U.S. Manager for DivorceHotel, while continuing her local practice.


Ms. Martin took time to juggle the arrival of the first couple whose divorce would be mediated in a period of three days (they arrived from the Denver, Colorado area on Wednesday and had a finished agreement in hand on the day this issue is published), as well as being shadowed by cameras from ABC News programs Nightline and Good Morning America (look for segments to air on each next week) to discuss the evolution of her commitment to mediation and the DivorceHotel concept.


“I’m living proof that mediation works,” she said, referring to her own amicable divorce about 10 years ago. “I get together with my ex, his new wife and our children for meals and the like. It’s not an unusual occurrence.”


Ms. Martin had a career as a general financial analyst at that time. Two years ago, she modified her orientation to divorce mediation and related financial planning. About that time, an article in the Wall Street Journal about DivorceHotel peaked her interest. 


“I got on the phone, literally with the article in my hand” she said, “and asked Jim Halfens ‘How do we bring this here?’” At the time, the Netherlands-based firm was not ready to expand, but Michele stayed in touch – all the time becoming a mini-chamber of commerce – touting the virtues of Saratoga Springs as a perfect site for an American DivorceHotel.


“It’s important that people get away, to a relaxed setting, so they can focus on their mission.” She said. “The Gideon Putnam is the perfect locale for this. They were open and receptive to the idea. They said that they welcome all kinds of groups and this was just another one.” The strategic location of Saratoga Springs in the center of several northeast cities made it ideal as well. 


The process itself is something that naturally draws a lot of curiosity. For a fee of around $5,000 per couple (plus airfare and eventual filing fees) the two parties stay in separate rooms during their stay. While there are some joint activities and meals planned as part of the stay (the Denver couple are road bike enthusiasts and will do that together), it’s mostly some long days of mediating with Ms. Martin, as well as solitary time to study preliminary agreements, etc. 


At the end of the process, the former couple will emerge with a signed separation agreement, which then can be filed officially in their state of residence.


Obviously, this sort of thing is not relevant for couples that are coming to the end of their marriage acrimoniously.


Before arriving at the DivorceHotel, or even to a final mediation session, a lot of prep work and screening has to be done by Michele Martin and her colleagues. The couple from Denver has four children, therefore they have many issues related to them, as well as general financial ones to settle. 


So a commitment is essential. The parties involved have to believe that they will be better off in the end.


In that connection, it is hard not to be impressed with the enthusiasm and drive that Ms. Martin brings to her profession. 


“I always say: smart people mediate.” She said.


The world is about to see if the U.S. is ready for DivorceHotel. And it’s happening right here.


For more information, visit DivorceAgree.com 

Page 22 of 39


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