Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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SARATOGA SPRINGS - City police have made an arrest in connection with an overnight incident during which a 38-year-old man was slashed on the arm.

The incident is believed to have occured shortly after 2 a.m. on Caroline Street between Pavilion Row and Henry Street where a fight had taken place between two men, police said.The assailant had left the scene prior to officers arriving. A person of interest was quickly identified.

Chalmers D. Davis, 43, of Saratoga Springs was charged with felony assault, and with criminal possession of a weapon - which rises to a felony based on a previous conviction.

Police said their investigation shows the incident started as a verbal argument between the two men and escalated into a physical confrontation during which Davis is accused of using a knife. 

The victim, whose name was not released, suffered a significant laceration to his left arm and was transported to Albany Medical Center. His injury is not considered life threatening.

Davis was arraigned in City Court and sent to Saratoga County jail without bail. Additional charges are possible, city police said.

BALLSTON SPA – The Capital Region in general, and Saratoga County especially, has seen an upswing of COVID infection rates over the past few weeks.

On July 29, Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Kusnierz announced the formation of the Saratoga Health and Readiness Planning (SHARP) Task Force, which was tasked to analyze guidance issued by state Department of Health and the CDC, and make recommendations for the community.

“We had a meeting with senior staff here at the county (on Aug. 2) and we expect to have a full Task Force meeting – we’re shooting for the end of this week - and hold a public event to update our county residents,” Kusnierz said this week. 

“The county is strongly recommending our residents follow CDC guidelines. However, the county is not going to do mandatory requirements for masks. At the end of the day the most effective way to protect yourself, your loved ones, the people you interact with, is to get vaccinated - so we are strongly encouraging anyone who has not been vaccinated to do so. “

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tagged Saratoga County as having a “substantial” level of transmission and as such recommends the wearing of masks indoors, whether or not a person has been vaccinated. According to Saratoga County data this week, the fully vaccinated population accounts for 1.5% of overall county infections to date. Of the 168 deaths in the county, all were unvaccinated.

Approximately two-thirds of the county’s population – just over 150,000 of the approximately 230,000 Saratoga residents – have received at least one vaccine dose. According to the state’s Vaccination Zip Code Tracker - Saratoga Springs, Ballston Spa, Clifton Park are each above the 70% threshold for vaccination rates, while Victory Mills (46.7%), Porter Corners (48%), and Corinth (52.5%) are the three municipalities with the lowest vaccinated zip codes, according to the state.  

SHARP Task Force members include: Chairman Todd Kusnierz; Clifton Park Supervisor Jonathan Schopf, Vice Chairman of the Board; Malta Town Supervisor Darren O’Connor, Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee; County Administrator Steve Bulger; Dr. Dan Kuhles, Commissioner of the Saratoga County Department of Public Health Services; Scot Chamberlain, Saratoga County Director of Human Resources; Pete Bardunias, Senior Vice President of Community Advancement with the Capital Region Chamber; and Anita Murphy, Capital Region BOCES District Superintendent.

The city announced Aug. 3 it has begun appointing members to the COVID-19 Memorial Committee. The group will be tasked with creating the language and placement of a memorial for those who have lost their lives to the pandemic. Among the members are: Charlie Samuels, Tara Gaston, Susanna Combs, and Dr. Robert Donnarumma, chair of Emergency Medicine at Saratoga Hospital.

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Statements from local political leaders were swift in response to the report of the Attorney General’s investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable. Today’s report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories -- and we commend the women for doing so.

“The New York State Attorney General has conducted an independent, thorough and professional investigation that found the Governor violated state and federal law, had a pattern of sexually harassing current and former employees, retaliated against at least one of the accusers and created a hostile work environment. No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.” -  Democrat U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, in a joint statement.

“The just-released comprehensive, thorough, and independent report from New York State Attorney General Letitia James into the Governor’s disturbing pattern of sexual harassment, and workplace intimidation while breaking state and federal laws leads to one inescapable conclusion – one that I reached months ago: Cuomo must resign, now! As detailed in the Attorney General’s findings and a five-month-long investigation, Cuomo is a serial sexual harasser that has brought disgrace upon his office and stained our state. For the good of New York, Cuomo must go. He must immediately resign or face bipartisan impeachment during a Special Session of the state Legislature.” – Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon.

“This is truly a disappointing day for all New Yorkers but an important one to begin to provide some closure for all the women who were victims of this Governor’s actions. The New York State Attorney General’s disturbing report confirms what I’ve been saying for months, that Andrew Cuomo must be impeached and removed from office immediately.  Enough is enough!” – Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville.  

“No one is above the law and today justice must be served. Governor Cuomo must resign and be arrested immediately…President Joe Biden must immediately call for Cuomo’s resignation. In December, I was the first federal official to publicly call for an independent investigation into Governor Cuomo’s sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. The independent investigation led by the Attorney General's office confirms Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed and assaulted multiple women, including employees in his office and state troopers. The media and Democrats smeared me and closed ranks to protect Cuomo, a shameful chapter in New York history. All of them including his staff must be held to account. These brave women deserve swift and definitive justice.” - U.S. Rep Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, 21st Congressional District.  

“I called for a full and independent investigation earlier this year into credible allegations that Gov.  Cuomo sexually harassed several women including members of his own staff. In March, as those allegations grew even more troubling, I called on him to do the right thing for the people of New York and resign. The New York Attorney General’s report today confirms my worst fears. The governor‘s victims deserve justice, the people of our state deserve better and the governor needs to resign.”  - U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, 20th Congressional District.

“I called for the Governor’s resignation when these credible allegations came to light earlier this year. Now that we see this thorough and well documented investigation released by the Attorney General, there is no doubt that Andrew Cuomo cannot continue in a leadership role in this state. In light of the pervasive appalling behavior documented in this report, he should immediately resign. Failing this, the Assembly should impeach Andrew Cuomo. As a voter in New York, I am angry. As a human being, I am disgusted.” - Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake.

The 168-page report may be read at:

BALLSTON SPA – On July 28, Saratoga County hit 4.6% positivity rate for COVID tests over a 7-day average, the second highest of all NY State’s 62 counties, and the first time to reach that high a weekly measure since Jan. 29.

Saratoga County Public Health Services announced July 29 it will be returning to providing daily COVID number updates after going to once-a-week posting schedule in late June. Since that time, local and regional numbers have multiplied in each of the past successive weeks. On its July 6, the county reported 7 people had tested positive for the virus in the previous 7 days, and a positive test rate of 0.30%. This week, the state reported 167 people tested positive with a positive test rate of 4.6% over a 7-day period.  

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Kusnierz also announced the formation of the Saratoga Health and Readiness Planning (SHARP) Task Force in anticipation of continued changes to COVID guidelines from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The recent increase in infections rates in Saratoga County is concerning, and with the formation of the SHARP Task Force, our county leadership will be able to quickly analyze any new guidance issued by New York State Department of Health and the CDC and make recommendations that make sense for our community,” Kusnierz said, in a statement, on July 29.

The SHARP Task Force will be reviewing guidance issued by other governmental entities, reviewing relevant local data, and providing recommendations and guidance to the Saratoga County community.

SHARP Task Force members include: Chairman Todd Kusnierz; Clifton Park Supervisor Jonathan Schopf, Vice Chairman of the Board; Malta Town Supervisor Darren O’Connor, Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee; County Administrator Steve Bulger; Dr. Dan Kuhles, Commissioner of the Saratoga County Department of Public Health Services; Scot Chamberlain, Saratoga County Director of Human Resources; Pete Bardunias, Senior Vice President of Community Advancement with the Capital Region Chamber; and Anita Murphy, Capital Region BOCES District Superintendent.

According to the county, 65.4% - or just over 150,000 of the county population has completed the vaccine series. Saratoga Springs Supervisor Tara Gaston reported this week via the supervisor’s social media channels there have been a total of 174 “breakthrough” cases in Saratoga County – that is, 174 of the 150,000 who have been fully vaccinated had tested positive for COVID. Overall, more than 15,600 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and there have been 168 cumulative deaths.

(Note, this article has been updated to reflect stats released July 29) 

Thursday, 22 July 2021 14:40

Notes from Saratoga County

BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation to honor and memorialize the life of Spc. Abigail Rose “Abby” Jenks, who was killed in April while participating in an Airborne training operation from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter over Sicily Drop Zone in Fort Bragg

Jenks, of the Town of Wilton, grew up in the Greenfield-Saratoga area and was a 2018 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School. She enlisted in the U.S. Army and entered active duty in October 2018

In addition to the reading of the proclamation Tuesday, Wilton Supervisor John Lant presented to members of Jenks’ family the flag that was flown for 30 days in honor of Jenks at the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. 

Jenks was awarded the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and the Army Parachutist Badge.  Spc. Jenks was also posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

• The Saratoga County Department of Public Health Services updates its reportage of county level COVID data once a week, on Mondays. 

July’s data, Saratoga County, by posting date:
July 6 – Positive tests previous 7 days: 7. Avg. positivity: 0.30%. Active Cases: 10.  Hospitalized: 1.
July 12 - Positive tests previous 7 days: 16. Avg. positivity: 0.70%. Active Cases: 16.  Hospitalized: 1.
July 19 - Positive tests previous 7 days: 54. Avg. positivity: 1.90%. Active Cases: 46.  Hospitalized: 2.

The NYS DOH tracks data daily in all 62 New York State counties. As of its July 21 posting, the 7-day average positivity rate in Saratoga County was 2.2%.  That rate ranks sixth highest in the state, just behind Essex (3.0%), Cattaraugus (2.7%), Greene (2.6%), and Warren and Schoharie (2.5%) counties.

In terms of vaccinations, just over 150,000 of Saratoga’s 230,000 county residents – 65.4% of the overall county population - have received at least one dose of the vaccine

“The county is doing very well on vaccinations (and) the good news is that the hospitalizations haven’t spiked, the fatalities haven’t spiked,” said Malta Supervisor Darren O’Connor, who on Tuesday was publicly named Chair of the Health & Human Services Committee. 

What impact the Delta variant has on the country in general and Saratoga County specifically remains to be seen. 

“It’s disturbing to see that uptick on the graph for infections and doubly concerning because we’re in late July and the fall is on the horizon,” O’Connor said. “And we know what happened last year in the fall, so we’re just hoping with the vaccinations being really effective – even against this Delta variant – that we’re not going to go back in to a place where we were.” 

The Saratoga County Public Health Services Department announced this week it will offer free community pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the following times and locations: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Friday, July 23 through Sunday, July 25 at the Saratoga County Fair, next to the Sheriff’s Department, Gate 5 - Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson available; 4 -6 p.m. Thursday, July 29 at Stewarts, 208 Broad St. in Schuylerville - Johnson & Johnson available; 10 – 11:45 a.m. Friday, Aug. 6 at Living Hope United Methodist Church, 126 Middletown Rd in Waterford - Johnson & Johnson available. 

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is a two-dose series authorized for use in individuals ages 12 and older. The Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is a single dose series authorized for use in individuals ages 18 and older. Those who receive the Pfizer vaccine will be scheduled to get their second dose at the Saratoga County Public Health office on a later date.

The vaccines are free and neither proof of insurance nor pre-registration is required.  Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. In addition to community Pop-Up clinics, SCPHS regularly offers vaccination to residents at its facility in Ballston Spa. For more information call 518-584-7460 Extension 8327. 

• Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Kusnierz announced the replacement of Supervisor Tara Gaston as both Chair and Member of the Health & Human Services Committee with the appointments of Supervisor Darren O’Connor and Supervisor Sandra Winney, respectively, in those positions through the end of the calendar year. Kusnierz also announced the replacement of Gaston as member of the Law & Finance Committee with Supervisor Joseph Grasso.       

• The Board approved a resolution that authorized the execution of agreements for the provision of School Resource Officer services with the following school districts: Ballston Spa Central School District, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District, Corinth Central School District, Galway Central School District, Mechanicville City School District, Schuylerville Central School District, South Glens Falls Central School District and Shenendehowa Central School District, and Saratoga Springs City School District for the assignment of Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department Road Patrol Deputies as School Resource Officers.

Previous school district agreements expired on June 30, 2021. The renewal of each agreement provides up to 12 Road Patrol Deputies to the school districts, subject to each school district agreeing to be pay to the County $74,093.75 per assigned Deputy Sheriff serving in the capacity of School Resource Officer for 2021-2022 school year to cover the school district’s pro-rata share of the County’s employee, transportation, equipment and patrol car costs for each assigned deputy.

The agreement commences with the 2021-2022 school year and is subject to the approval of the County Attorney and the Saratoga County Sheriff.

“We’re seeing substantial improvements in city revenues”

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Citing significant venues such as the Saratoga Race Course and Saratoga Performing Arts Center reopening and the ability of restaurants and other businesses to welcome an increasingly number of consumers, there are early indications that the city is rebounding from the pandemic afflicted budget crunch of 2020.

“We’re seeing substantial improvements in city revenues as a result,” Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said this week. 

Sales tax year-to-date revenue collected through the end of May are running 36% higher than in 2020, and 10% higher than in 2019. In mid-October, the city will receive reports for the months of June, July and August.

“We’ve got a new projection based on data received of potentially $14.5 million coming in in sales tax revenue – which is a lot more than what we received even in 2019. So, we’re trending well, which is good.” 

Mortgage Tax YTD amounts collected from October 2020 through June 2021 are running 60% higher than 2020, and 42% higher than 2019. The $1.56 million collected thus far already exceeds the $1.5 million that was anticipated in the budget. 

”Mortgage tax is performing very, very well for us,” said Madigan, adding that with additional mortgage tax revenue expected, total projections are being upped to $1.9 million. 

Occupancy Tax amounts collected the first two quarters “remain low, but are improving.” 

Year-to-date collections are 40% higher than in 2020 and are projected to exceed the $338,000 initially budgeted. A new projection has been set at $375,000. “(But) that does tell you that the City Center is probably not doing so well since that is one of their main revenue drivers as well as Discover Saratoga. Hotels are booked right now, so we’re anticipating some occupancy tax coming from that.” 

As a result of the uptick in revenue, the 2021 budget has been increased to cover an increase of police officers, overtime adjustments and citywide security measures - totaling about $1.4 million, and reinstated 2021 employee contracts based on MOU’s the council approved Tuesday – which will total about $1.1 million. The amendments will occur mid-to-late Autumn, Madigan said.    

“Right now, revenues are looking very positive, and it gives us the ability to adjust some of our expense lines.” 

• MLK Saratoga donated $1,500 to be used for siting a memorial bench near the War Memorial Pavilion in Congress Park. 

The bench, in memory of longtime Saratoga Springs resident Lt. Clarence Dart will hold a plaque that remembers Dart as a husband, father and community leader, and notes his role as a Tuskegee Airman, a World War II fighter pilot, Congressional Gold Medal, recipient. Dart died in 2012 and members of his family attended Tuesday’s meeting at City Hall. 

• The council approved putting up for sale two parcels the city owns at the southwest corner of Caroline and Henry streets, adjacent to the Saratoga Springs Public Library. The property is comprised of 0.17 acres and is currently used as a parking lot. 

The property was appraised by the city at $500,000 and that will be the minimum bid accepted. Bids may be received by 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10, at which time the sealed bids will be publicly opened and read.     

• Commissioner Robin Dalton requested the council recommend members for a COVID-19 Memorial Committee. Once formed, the group will suggest a location and design of a memorial that will recognize the more than 60 city residents whose lives were lost due to the disease, as well as recognize the efforts of first responders to protect the public health of the city.    

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring local and state officials and community members celebrated the installation of a rainbow-colored crosswalk Thursday night on Spring Street, leading to Congress Park.

Following in the footsteps of other cities in the state such as Albany, Buffalo and Kingston – which has four painted crosswalks – the rainbow crosswalk was installed to depict a symbol of Saratoga’s continued open and welcoming environment, and ongoing support for the LGBTQ+ community.

A few hours later, however, a local news report pointed to the anticipated permanence of the crosswalk as being in violation of state and federal rules.  City Mayor Meg Kelly told NewsChannel 13 that she had received an email from DOT saying the “non-conforming colors” should be “removed from the crosswalk.”

“It’s standards throughout the country,” Kelly told NewsChannel 13. “When you have a colored crosswalk, it’s not conforming to the state and federal standards.”

Since 2017, DOT crews have been painting a temporary rainbow crosswalk near the Stonewall Inn in New York City, onto the iconic intersection of 7th Avenue and Christopher Street in New York City to celebrate WorldPride.

Some American cities - Atlanta, Georgia and Washington, D.C. among them, have installed a permanent rainbow crosswalk in support of the LGBTQ+ community. In the New York State village of New Paltz, a permanent rainbow crosswalk was painted in 2018.  

“It has to be repainted for maintenance because the paint fades, but it’s permanent. And we’re a DOT community, our whole Main Street is a New York State road, so they’ve got their eyes on us in many ways. This crosswalk doesn’t go across a DOT road – it is a locally managed one – but if they had taken issue with it, we would know about it,” said Arianna Basco, assistant to the mayor of New Paltz .       

Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday night, said Friday that the Pride crosswalk on Spring Street was a project first brought to the city a year-and-a-half ago, in January 2020.

“The Public Safety Department did extensive research into whether or not it could be installed in the city, vetting both the design and placement. We followed every step required to ensure for a successful installation and outcome. To date, I have not been contacted by the NYS DOT or been provided anything to warrant readdressing the placement,” Dalton said.  

“Saratoga Springs joins a lengthy list of cities and towns across New York State and the country in hosting this symbol of inclusion, celebration and ongoing support for our LGBTQ+ community. As the Public Safety Commissioner, I proudly stand by our crosswalk and remain focused on celebrating pride month and all that it stands for.” City Mayor Meg Kelly did not immediately return a call seeking comment.  

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Northshire Bookstore opened the doors to its Saratoga Springs store on an August day in 2013, affecting in innumerable positive ways the downtown landscape of the Spa City. This week, it begins a new chapter.

“It is with excitement, confidence and sadness that I announce that the Northshire Bookstores are passing out of Morrow ownership,” said Northshire co-owner Chris Morrow, announcing in a statement that Clark and Lu French of Manchester, Vermont are the new owners of Northshire Bookstores, which sites locations in Saratoga Springs and Manchester, VT. 

Chris Morrow’s parents, Ed and Barbara Morrow, started the original store in Vermont in September of 1976. 

“When thinking about selling, my main worry was always finding someone, or two, who had the right sensibilities as well as the chops; someone who appreciated The Book, the art of bookselling and our amazing staff and who also had the background, energy, vision and resources to carry the bookstores into future decades,” said Chris Morrow.  In a generation of memories, Morrow explained it is the people he has come across he is most grateful for - from colleagues who have worked at the bookstores, authors who have dropped by, fellow bookstores, publishing houses, and the clientele “who have made all this possible for us. What a beautiful adventure.”

Ed and Barbara Morrow added that this is a personally bittersweet moment for them and expressed confidence they are passing the store’s stewardship into good and competent hands. 

Clark and Lu French, longtime patrons and supporters of Northshire, released this statement: “As this beloved family-owned business approaches its 45th Anniversary, we are thrilled and honored to become its next stewards. Along with our ownership team members Jon and Tom West, we are committed to continuing the legacy and high standards the Morrows have cultivated over their long tenure. 

“The Northshire is more than a bookstore to us. It’s a vibrant gathering and shopping venue where memories are made and discovery is encouraged. Supporting and nurturing this enriching experience is our highest priority. We are sincerely grateful to the Morrow family for trusting us with their life’s work and welcome the opportunity to continue their legacy for many years to come.” 

The French family has been involved in numerous Vermont area ventures, including the Taconic Hotel and the recent restoration of the former Mark Skinner Library building, as well as serving as board members of the Manchester Community Library, Taconic Music and Burr and Burton Academy. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council this week unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the sale of city-owned property at the southwest corner of Caroline and Henry streets. 

The property currently serves as a 19-space parking lot and is located next to the Saratoga Springs Public Library. 

Listed as two lots on the county tax map, the city says the lots – which it has owned since the early 1980s - have been recently appraised and determined to have a fair market value of about $500,000 and plans to sell it through a competitive bidding process. 

The city cited construction of the City Center Authority parking lot as having rendered the paved Henry Street lot as no longer useful, and notes efforts “to mitigate the serious financial impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Visually prominent on Henry Street is a large mural depicting a six-piece musical ensemble, which clings to a brick wall on Caroline Street. The mural was painted in 1998 by the Youth in Saratoga Mentoring Program of Catholic Charities, with funds administered by the Saratoga Arts Council.    

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A schematic design of the proposed Fire/EMS Station 3 was presented to the city this week. 

The one-story building measures 15,500 square feet, features dark green siding with white trim, and will be centered on a 2.4-acre parcel the city is leasing from the state at the east end of the Oklahoma Training Track property, with a drive-in entry on Henning Road. 

The city’s two other stations are located in close proximity downtown, and on the west side, respectively. Station 3 will largely serve residents on the city’s east side.

Review of the design will be referred to the city Planning Board and Design Review Commission for their advisory opinions. 

Environmental assessments are anticipated to be completed in July to be followed by the completion of final detailed building plans in January 2022. If that timeline stays true, the city can start receiving bids in February 2022 with construction to begin two months later. 

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