Displaying items by tag: Saratoga County
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Last week, Saratoga Springs Supervisor Tara Gaston posted a statement and graph image on her official government page depicting the recent spike in the percentage of county residents testing positive for COVID-19.
“Saratoga County is a leader in the state with COVID19 vaccinations in all ages, and I’m thrilled with the number of residents who have completed their vaccine series (however) when we compare today to one year ago - before vaccinations and before the lifting of many restrictions - it’s clear that the vaccines are not enough to get us out of this,” Gaston said.
Gaston asked residents to get vaccinated if they had not already done so, obtain a booster if eligible, and to wear a mask.
Following the recent holiday weekend, the State Department of Health on Friday, Dec. 3 reported the 7-day average positive test rate among Saratoga County residents at 8.7%, with the neighboring communities of Warren and Washington counties reporting 10.7% and 11.9%, respectively.
“The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors sits as the Board of Health for the County, and can issue guidance or directives accordingly,” said Gaston, one of 23 members of the Board of Supervisors - the legislative and executive authority of Saratoga County government. “Unfortunately, the Board is unwilling at this time to take additional steps to #StopTheSpread, and there is little I can do alone.”
Saratoga County Public Health Services (SCPHS) has “recommended” the wearing of masks in certain situations, but the county board – which directs and oversees SCPHS - has not taken legislative action regarding the matter. Some other communities have been more aggressive.
In late August, the Saratoga Springs City Council adopted a resolution requiring all employees and visitors regardless of vaccination to wear a face mask when entering City buildings, facilities and/or indoor events sponsored by the city. The resolution additionally called for all public-facing employees to wear a mask.
And in New York City, residents and visitors age 12 and older are required to show proof of vaccination to participate in indoor activities at restaurants, bars, fitness gyms, and entertainment and recreational settings such as movie theaters, museums and concert venues. Compared to Saratoga County’s 8.7% rate, the 7-day average positive test rate in the five New York City boroughs range from a low of 1.6% in Manhattan to a high of 3.5% on Staten Island.
To combat the rising COVID-19 infection rate in the region, state Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Nov. 29 that a mass state vaccination site would re-open in Queensbury. The location will provide vaccinations (8 a.m. -7 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays), as well as COVID-19 PCR testing
(8 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays). Pre-registered as well as walk-in appointments will be available.
Upcoming Booster Clinics. All are COVID-19 Moderna boosters.
Wednesday, Dec. 8
For Age 18+ (9 a.m. – noon); For Age 65+ (1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.) at Saratoga County Public Health, 6012 County Farm Road, Ballston Spa.
Friday, Dec. 10
For Age 18+ (9:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.) at Mechanicville Senior Center, 178 N. Main St, Mechanicville.
Saturday, Dec. 11
For Age 18+ (9 a.m. – noon) at Saratoga County Public Health, 6012 County Farm Road, Ballston Spa.
Monday, Dec. 20
For Age 65+ (9 a.m. – 3 p.m.) at Clifton Park Senior Center, 6 Clifton Common Boulevard, Clifton Park.
Booster Clinics are by appointment only. Visit www.SaratogaCountyNY.gov/COVID to register. Seniors may also call 518-693-1075 to register for a clinic.
Vaccine Clinics for individuals between the ages of 5-11 years old
Clinics are by appointment only. Make an appointment for your child at the NYS operated vaccination clinic at Crossgates Mall (via am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/) or at a pharmacy near you by visiting vaccines.gov.
BALLSTON SPA — In a move that promises to increase the quality of life for local residents as well as provide a future opportunity to secure tourism dollars for municipalities throughout the county, the Board of Supervisors on Nov. 16 unanimously approved and adopted an official Saratoga County Bike Route Map.
The map was created through the collaborative input of representatives from area cycling clubs and government leaders in Saratoga Springs and
“It’s the culmination of about three years of work with a subcommittee of city residents and county officials,” said city Supervisor Matt Veitch, following the adoption of the measure. “You’re going to start to see those green bike route signs on roads all over the county, so it will be great to see people start doing some bike tourism, all over the county.”
Veitch thanked current city council members Michele Madigan and Robin Dalton, city supervisor Tara Gaston and former city commissioner Peter Martin, as well as other city and county officials and bike advocacy groups.
“This is a great start for improving the health and quality of life benefits that we bring to our residents, as well as the potential for tourism dollars,” said Martin. “I’ve taken many day trips that have included just about every part of the map route.”
Martin cited states such as Colorado, which have multi-day biking tours that provide positive economic impact for local communities.
“I’ve had the pleasure of riding several times on one of these tours – it’s called Ride The Rockies – and is in its 38th year. It’s estimated to generate a quarter of a million dollars of revenue – per day – for the towns and villages it travels through.” In Iowa, the RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) is in its 47th year, and draws 15,000 cyclist to its 7-day, 500-mile trip. “The economic impact in 2021 was estimated to be $25 million in direct spending in the cities and towns the tour runs through.” Martin said.
“You have a real opportunity here. Our county roads are a real resource,” echoed Ed Lindner, of Bikeatoga. “This beginning is an important step, and you need to build on it.”
Budgets: City Approves 2022 Plan, County Public Hearing Nov. 30, Vote in December
• Having made revisions to the Saratoga County tentative 2022 budget, the Board of Supervisors, as required by county law, approved a public hearing regarding the revised tentative 2022 budget. The public hearing will take place 4:45 p.m. on Nov. 30 at the county complex, 40 McMaster St., Ballston Spa. The county initially proposed its $381 million budget in October. It is anticipated budget adoption will take place Dec. 8. The 87-page 2022 Tentative Budget with Amendments may be viewed via the county website at: saratogacountyny.gov/wp/wp-content/uploads /2021/11/2022-Budget-Workshop -Report.pdf.
“I did try in our workshop to amend the budget to provide more funding for non-profits. That did not pass,” said Supervisor Tara Gaston. “We’ve heard from non-profits in the city and throughout the county interested in some support recovering from COVID, and I would recommend they come speak to us in order for supervisors to hear that and potentially amend the budget before we pass it in December.”
• In the City of Saratoga Springs meanwhile, the City Council on Nov. 16 adopted a $54.2 million operating budget for 2022. The City Council will seat four new members on Jan. 1. DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco is the one returning member. The current council members, completing their respective two-year terms and it is anticipated the final two meetings of this current council will take place on Dec. 7, and Dec. 21.
This summer Brookside opened an exhibit: “Century of Ice Cream! The Dake Family and Stewart’s.” One might wonder why this successful business, with almost 350 convenience stores is named “Stewarts” and not “Dake’s” Actually, the original founder of Stewarts had a strong reputation for high-quality dairy products, long before the Dake family purchased the business.
Technically, Donald K. Stewart was not a Saratoga County native. He was born in Austin, Minnesota on May 26, 1897. However, he lived most of his life in the Ballston Spa area, where his father, Thomas F. Stewart, was in the grocery business. Stewart’s grandfather, A. B. Stewart was a farmer in the Town of Ballston, per the 1880 census. So, the Stewarts' had been in Saratoga County for a while. The father of Donald’s mother, Lizzie, was from Minnesota, so Lizzie likely went there to be with her parents during her pregnancy.
Donald, at age 18, was already working as a retailer. The 1915 state census gave his occupation as “Salesman, Tea and Coffee Wagon.” Details of this business can be gleaned from an ad in the Saratogian in September, 1915: “Wanted: Man to take the tea and coffee business of D. K. Stewart, covering Galway, Milton and Greenfield.” Another ad, placed by Stewart, offered for sale a “kind and gentle” horse—perhaps the steed that had hauled him around.
Thomas had left the grocery business by this time. A notice in the Troy Times of October 15, 1912 said that he’d moved from Ballston Spa to a farm west of the village. Ill health had induced him to seek an outdoor occupation. Probably his son gave up his tea and coffee route and went to help with the farm. The 1920 census listed the occupation of Thomas as “farmer,” and Donald, living in his father’s Town of Ballston household, was a “milk dealer.” He had been at this for a while, because a 1919 article about increased milk prices mentioned several dairies, including D. K. Stewart’s. In March 1920, his firm, the Milk Depot, had a telephone installed at the store on Bath Street.
About this time, Thomas sold his farm, and moved into the village. The Stewarts, in Ballston Spa, mostly seem to have lived in the Ballston Avenue/McMaster Street neighborhood. Donald earnestly pursued the business of selling dairy products. The 1930 census showed him and his wife, Pearl, in Ballston Spa, with his occupation given as “retail merchant, milk and cream.” Stewart had married Pearl Jones at her parents’ home in Rock City Falls. Their honeymoon plans included touring the Adirondacks.
Cleanliness was important at the Stewart dairy business. The “Kleen Kaps” on the bottles were touted in advertisements, and customers could join the “Kleen Kap Klub.” Reliability of delivery was also a priority: a 1929 ad promised bottles would arrive on porches “regardless of the weather.” In 1932, the firm received an award from a state agency. Stewart’s milk scored high on aspects such as bacteria content, flavor, sediment, odor, butter fat, and temperature.
The year 1934 was eventful. Stewart was appointed justice of the peace, and he also purchased the Westcott garage on Church Avenue, and converted it to “one of the most modern milk dealer’s plants in this vicinity.” This was the first Stewarts shop (though the Milk Depot had been operating for quite a while before this). The site still is the location of a Stewarts store.
Stewart apparently kept up with developments in the dairy trade, as, in 1936 he graduated from a program at the Massachusetts Agricultural College. This interest in improved techniques for managing a dairy firm characterized his concern for his business. He made a modest expansion by opening a store in Saratoga Springs: an ad from 1944 warned customers that the Stewarts Ice Cream store on Church Street would be closing for an indefinite period. Pearl Stewart was identified as the proprietor. It seems there were just the two shops then.
That year, a trade publication noted P. W. and C. V. Dake, of Saratoga Springs had acquired Stewart’s milk and ice cream business. It stated that he’d started the firm in 1917, and had run it for 27 years. The Schenectady Gazette of October 4, 1944 specified that the Ballston Spa and Saratoga Stewarts stores had been purchased by the Dake brothers, but that Stewart would stay on for a short time as an advisor.
His time as an advisor may have been quite short, since in mid-October, employees gave him a surprise farewell party at the Church Avenue shop. Two days after the party, employees visited Donald at his Ballston Avenue home and expressed regret at his departure. But there were refreshments and games, so it was not totally a sad occasion. The Dakes started expanding the business, adding new stores over the years, eventually becoming the chain we know so well today.
After parting ways with the business. Donald took an interest in the Ballston Spa Village Cemetery, which was not far from his house. He was a sales agent for Temple Brothers, Inc. of Rutland, Vermont, who were. “builders and designers of cemetery memorials.” In the 1950s and 1960s, he was a director of the nearby cemetery.
Stewart died on October 31, 1971, while visiting his son, Donald K. Stewart, Jr. in Florida. Pearl died the following year, also in Florida. Both are buried in the Village Cemetery, as are their son and daughter-in-law.
BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors held their monthly meeting Sept. 21. The in-person meeting was attended by approximately 50 people. The Board addressed the following issues:
Cost-of Living Increases Approved for Some County Officials
• The board approved a local law amending the 2021 county compensation schedule to provide a cost-of-living increase for certain county officials. Effective Jan. 1, 2021, the measure calls for the compensation for the following county officials to be increased to the following levels:
Elected Officials - Susan Hayes-Masa, County Coroner $31,182; David DeCelle, Coroner $31,182; Michael Zurlo, Sheriff $139,601; Craig Hayner, County Clerk $120,848; Andrew Jarosh, County Treasurer $120,848.
Appointed Officials; Christopher Schall, County Auditor $ 89,598; Andrew Blumenberg, Public Defender $135,095; Margaret McNamara, Director of Human Resources $135,182; Anna Stanko, Director of Real Property $ 89,209; Tina Potter, Commissioner of Social Services $141,918
Saratoga Springs Supervisor Tara Gaston cast the lone vote against. “I’m not opposed to the increases. I just would have don’t think that now is the time,” Gaston said. “There are a number of financial issues with regard to COVID that do impact the staff at the county that I would like to see handled prior to that – but again, it’s nothing against the staff here, I fully support them.”
Positions Created for COVID Testing in Schools
• Earlier this year, the board accepted a $3.98 million Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Reopening Schools Grant. The funds are targeted to assist with establishing COVID-19 screening and testing programs for students, teachers and staff to support and maintain safe, in-person instructions for schools.
As such, the board approved the creation of temporary positions of COVID-19 School Epidemiology Officers - as needed at the discretion of the Commissioner of Health - at the base salary of $40/hr.; as well as the temporary creation of positions of COVID-19 School Testing Site Supervisors (base salary of $25/hour); and COVID-19 School Testing Site Coordinators (base salary of
The Impact of COVID on the County Court System
• Due to the impact COVID-19 had on the Court system in 2020, many cases could not proceed through the system to conclusion, creating a backlog of cases which are now being disposed of in 2021, the board reported. The backlog has caused an increase in assigned counsel attorney invoices. To this purpose, the board approved a transfer of $160,000 from its Fund Balance to the Human Resources Department to pay for additional assigned counsel attorney services.
October Proclaimed Domestic Violence Awareness Month
• The Board proclaimed October 2021 as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” In Saratoga County. The resolution cited “the horror of domestic violence (that) continues to plague our society.” In addition to resulting physical and emotional damage inflicted, the national financial ramification of domestic violence is $8.3 billion in expenses annually. The following statistics were also cited:
- 30% to 60% of families where adult domestic violence is present, child abuse is also present;
- Despite underreporting, domestic violence calls make up more than half of all calls to the police;
- More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced rape, severe physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner;
- The NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline received 8,584 calls last year.
The proclamation reports heightened public awareness is an effective tool and urges all citizens to support and participate in ongoing programs designed for the reduction and eventual elimination of domestic violence. The help hotline, which operates 24-7/365 is 1-800-942-6906.
BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office and other police agencies will participate in a special enforcement effort to crack down on impaired driving. The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts continue through Sunday, March 21.
St. Patrick’s Day Weekend is a notoriously deadly period for impaired driving due to the number of celebrations and drivers on the road. New York State Police, County Sheriff and municipal law enforcement agencies across the state will be out in force in this across-the-board effort to reduce the number of alcohol-related injuries and deaths.
The STOP-DWI St. Patrick’s Day Weekend Crackdown is one of many statewide enforcement initiatives promoted by STOP-DWI NY and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. The campaign also targets Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day Weekend, Halloween and the national Holiday Season in December.
While STOP-DWI efforts across New York have made great strides in reducing the numbers of alcohol and drug-related fatalities, still too many lives are being lost because of crashes caused by drunk or impaired drivers.
W.D. Boyce, a wealthy Chicago publisher, encountered a Boy Scout while lost in London. Impressed by the Scout’s “Good Turn,” Mr. Boyce returned to the U.S.A. chartering the name “Boy Scouts of America” (BSA) in February 1910. Mr. Boyce never formed a unit nor enlisted a youth in his movement.
Edgar M. Robinson, Boys Work Secretary of the International Committee of the YMCA, oversaw all YMCA youth programs and summer camps in the U.S. and Canada. Mr. Robinson travelled to Chicago to meet with Mr. Boyce in May 1910. Mr. Robinson, a quiet, charming man, not particularly charismatic, but a man of vision and substantial organizational skills, convinced Mr. Boyce to allow the YMCA to serve as the organizational arm of the BSA.
Mr. Robinson contacted the heads of all youth (boys) organizations and convinced most to reorganize under the auspices of the BSA. The national office of the Boy Scouts of America opened in New York City on June 1, 1910. The first Boy Scout summer camp was held at the YMCA’s Silver Bay on Lake George that summer.
In September 1910, J.C. Smith, Boys Work Secretary in charge of youth programs at the Saratoga Spa YMCA, travelled to New York City to attend a meeting at the Waldorf Astoria. There, Smith heard presentations by General Baden Powell, Dan Beard and others, and received his appointment as a Scoutmaster. Upon his return, Smith organized a “Patrol” of Scouts at the Saratoga YMCA.
Smith announced the first nine youth members of the Patrol on Oct. 12, 1910. Because the YMCA was a Protestant organization, many early Patrols were formed at local YMCA’s or Protestant churches across the country.
Patrols also began in Mechanicville (sponsored by First Presbyterian Church), on Dec. 17, 1910; in Schuylerville, on July 13, 1911; in Corinth, on Oct. 18, 1911; and in Saratoga Springs (First Baptist Church) on Oct. 24, 1911.
Initially, each city or village operated as its own Council. The “Saratoga County Council” was founded in 1924. Troop 1 Ballston Spa, chartered to the Ballston Spa United Methodist Church in 1913, is the longest continuously operating Troop in Saratoga County.
Author Gene Phillips joined the Boy Scouts as a Charter youth member of Pack 24 Wilton in 1955. During more than 40 years in scouting, Phillips has served as Cub Scout Committee Chair, Scoutmaster, Sea Scout Skipper, Training Chair and Advancement Chair for the Saratoga District of Twin Rivers Council.
BALLSTON SPA – Saratoga 4-H staff delivered trophies to winners of the Youth Video Challenge for the Virtual Saratoga County Fair. 4-H members were asked to submit videos about the animal species they would typically bring to the Saratoga County Fair. The Video challenge provided youth an opportunity to showcase their animals and knowledge of the species they care for. Educators and animal science professionals judged the videos on Wednesday, July 22 and winners were awarded on Thursday the 24.
The Saratoga County Fair is the most anticipated event of the year for 4-H members. Youth work year round to breed, care for, and prepare their animals to be shown at this annual event. In the past, around 200 youth across the county participate in animal shows, species including: dairy cattle, beef cattle, horses, rabbits, sheep, goats and more. Youth and their animals are judged for cleanliness, animal confirmation, genetics, and other aspects of animal health. The cancelation of the Saratoga County Fair was devastating, yet youth came together to exhibit their animal in a fun and educational way.
The Youth Video Challenge for the Virtual Saratoga County Fair had three categories, Cloverbud, ages 8 and under, Jr., ages 9-12, and Sr., ages 13-18. Cloverbuds receive participation awards and first, second and third place trophies were given to the top three videos submitted.
Trophy Winners are as follows:
First- Kohlby Himelrick with his Goat
Second- Julia Bodien with her Rabbit
Third- Collin Anderson with his Sheep
First- Eva Anderson with her Rabbit
It’s Friday, June 19, 2020, and we’re about to hold the largest ribbon cutting celebration Saratoga County has ever seen.
It will take place today at 11 a.m. We really have no idea how many people will participate. We’ve invited everyone!
BUT, this ribbon cutting will feature the same ribbon being cut in more than 2 dozen locations across Saratoga County simultaneously. That’s what makes it the biggest.
Normally when we do a ribbon cutting, it is for one business in recognition of an investment they’ve made in our community. It can be for a new business or an expansion or a relocation or a significant milestone anniversary.
Today’s ribbon cutting at multiple locations simultaneously is designed to celebrate the reopening of Saratoga County’s economy.
The Chamber and our partners at the Saratoga County Reopening Advisory Board as well as Discover Saratoga, Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, the Saratoga Springs DBA, the Saratoga Springs City Center and SEDC will all be involved in one place or another.
We’ll be in downtown Saratoga Springs as well as the Villages of Ballston Spa, Schuylerville and Mechanicville. We’ll be in the Town of Day and Edinburg to the North and Waterford, Halfmoon and Clifton Park to the South.
We’re now in Phase 3 of Saratoga County’s reopening. And while there are still some sectors that remain closed, we simply cannot wait two more weeks to share the news that Saratoga County is open for business for those who are wondering what is open and what is not.
The ribbon we are using features the Stronger Together Saratoga County logo created a month or so ago to celebrate the many collaborations we’ve seen that have helped us get to this point.
We’re also providing every City, Town, Village and Hamlet with two Stronger Together signs personalized for their local community to use in the ribbon cutting photos.
We’ve created a Saratoga County Ribbon Cutting event on Facebook. There, everyone will be able to see all of the ribbon cutting photos and videos our staff, partners and volunteers shoot capturing this historic day.
This ribbon cutting celebrates the investment of time we’ve all made during New York’s PAUSE as we sheltered at home to put health first while placing our economy in jeopardy. Today is the day where we hopefully can feel the freedom and safely start to return to the businesses we know and love more regularly.
We believe every ribbon cutting is the celebration of a dream come true. For us here in Saratoga County as I write this, we dreamed of a day when there was no one in Saratoga Hospital fighting for their life versus COVID-19.
That day came a week ago, on Thursday, June 11. That was the day when we decided to break out the ribbon on June 19. That was the dream come true. Now we cannot let down our guard.
As Angelo Calbone, the President of Saratoga Hospital told a group of local leaders the other day, we still must be vigilant. We need to social distance. When we can’t, we need to wear a mask. We need to wash our hands. We need to disinfect surfaces. We need to take special care of our seniors and those with underlying conditions.
But if we continue to do this, this countywide ribbon cutting today will go down in history as the day we turned the corner.
The day we celebrated the sacrifices so many have made to get here as well as the potential of what we can do together going forward to rebuild our economy.
BALSTON SPA — Saratoga County officials - featuring staff from the Department of Public Health, the Office of Mental Health and Office of Emergency Services - hosted a Facebook Live event April 14. Among the information they shared is the following:
• As of April 14: 229 county patients had tested positive for the coronavirus and 122 of those 229 have recovered at this time.
• Fifteen people were hospitalized, and of those, five people were on ventilators. This number is down from the eight people who were on ventilators one day earlier; the three people who came off the ventilators were in stable condition. All those hospitalized are Saratoga County residents.
• Approximately 1,000 people had been quarantined under a mandatory quarantine/isolation order. Those 1,000 people had been in contact with the 229 people who had tested positive. Of those, 539 had since been cleared, released from quarantine and have recovered.
“What the public health department is doing is when someone is positive there is an infectability period and we look at every move that person made during that time frame. They identify to us where they’d been and who they’d been in contact with. We then reach out to each individual who is then at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 and we place them in isolation. That way if they become ill, they will not infect others.”
Testing sites: Saratoga Hospital has limited capacity; Albany has a drive-thru at the campus of SUNY- Albany campus, and Warren County has a testing site at their municipal site.
How to take a test: “Warren County requires a prescription from a doctor and an appointment. For Albany, you can go to the New York State Department of Health website where you can fill out a form to receive the test. However, they’re not testing everybody. There is a priority for someone who is ill and showing symptoms of illness, as well as health care workers. If you’re asymptomatic and you just want to have a test because you’re worried, then you may not be tested at this time. If you’re asymptomatic – you’ve had no symptoms, but you’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive, you’d be higher on the list.”
Is testing for antibodies available in the area? Not yet. Antibody testing is coming along, and there is a ramping up and developing of capabilities to widely disseminate testing, but it hasn’t come to the area yet. There is a trial underway at Albany Med St. Peter’s that gives plasma from people who have recovered from COVID to patients who are actively affected. People who have recovered can also have their antibodies tested as part of being a donor for that program.
Why has there been no disclosure of specific municipalities within the county where residents have tested positive? “We have cases in every area of our county, cases in every zip code. Giving zip codes at this point could be giving out a false sense of security of people are thinking: ‘oh there’s only one case that lives in my area.’ You have to assume that everyone has (the potential) to be positive at this time.”
The Department of Public Health encourages all individuals to wear a mask any time they are out in public. Given mask shortages, it directs residents to the CDC website as a helpful resource that outlines how to wear a mask and instructions on how to make a homemade mask. That link can be accessed at: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html