Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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Thursday, 17 September 2020 13:03

City Hall Reopens

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Temperatures were taken at the door and mask-wearing visitors shared their contact information on a sign-in sheet. A scattering of chairs were set socially-distanced from one another inside the council room.

For the first time in 25 months, the city this week hosted an on-site public meeting at City Hall. The 1871 building has been closed since an Aug. 17, 2018 lightning strike and subsequent fire and water damage forced its closure. An extensive, multi-million dollar renovation project followed. The building has yet to be fully re-opened. This week’s City Council meeting allowed for the temporary opening of a side entryway and main floor hallway and council room use. The building is expected to open to the public on Sept. 28. 

City Council Meeting:
The city resident U.S. Census 2020 response rate is 63%  - “far below our goal of 80%,” Mayor Meg Kelly said Tuesday night. “Each child counted in the census represents, on average, $2,700 per year for our school district’s federal funding every year for the next 10 years.”  Residents who have not already done so, are asked to complete the census questionnaire at: My2020census.com. 

• The council adopted a resolution to extend temporary outdoor seating areas through Oct. 31. A previously adopted resolution allowing more space for restaurants to seat customers - as per COVID protocols – expires Oct. 7.

   

• Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan announced the city’s proposed 2021 Comprehensive Budget will be presented at the next City Council meeting, on Tuesday Oct. 6. The budget is currently working with $41.9 million in revenues for the 2021 budget – down from the $48.7 million budget adopted this year – a pandemic related shortfall of just over $7 million. “This is one of the most challenging budgets that I’ve faced during my 9-year tenure,” Madigan said. “Without assistance from the Federal government for state and local governments, and in particular for the city of Saratoga Springs, we are looking at large across-the-board expense reductions.”    

• The search is underway for a Public Health Commissioner at the county Board of Supervisors. The hiree will be, for the first time at the county level, a medical doctor, Supervisor Matt Veitch said.   

• The county is initiating a lease agreement to run Oct. 1 – March 31 with Shelters of Saratoga at the county’s building at 31 Woodlawn Ave. A portion of the building is to be used as a potential overflow location for the Code Blue emergency shelter. That main shelter is located on Adelphi Street. The building will also house a variety of county departments - employment & training, veterans, Dept. of Social Services, and Mental Health – to assist the homeless population, Supervisor Tara Gasto added. The county is seeking a buyer for the building, and the city is interested in purchasing it, Mayor Kelly said. 

• Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton informed the council she is developing a report regarding homeless and vagrancy issues on Woodlawn Avenue, which is anticipated to be presented at the next City Council meeting. 

ALBANY — The state is launching a new website that will provide COVID-19 infection rates for every school district across New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week. 

Every school district must report every day to the Department of Health how many tests were taken and the results of those tests. The data will be posted to a state website and count both students and staff, regardless of whether the school is in-person, remote, or a hybrid of both. 

“We’re going to have a COVID report card for every school in the state,” Cuomo said. “I think this will give parents confidence and teachers confidence. They will know on a day-to-day basis exactly what is happening. They won’t be reliant (just) on the school district or the principal.” 

Any parent who wants to know how their school is doing may check on the status by punching in their zip code.  When that site goes live, it may be found at: www.SchoolCOVIDReportCard.health.ny.gov. 

Colleges across the country are seeing outbreaks. 108 colleges have reported more than 100 cases each. Today, the NYS DOH will issue regulations to require colleges to notify the state when they have less than 100 COVID-19 cases and may have to transition to remote learning. 

A COVID-19 Case Tracker for SUNY schools may be viewed at: www.suny.edu/covid19-tracker. 

A dashboard that shows aggregate data related to testing, infection rates and alert levels at Skidmore College may be viewed from the college website, via skidmore.edu/fall-
planning/dashboard. 

Thursday, 10 September 2020 12:28

Long Lines for Casino's Reopen

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Casino Hotel reopened their doors to the public, Sept. 9, after being closed for nearly six months due to COVID-19 protocols. 

The scheduled 2 p.m. opening was moved up one hour earlier to accommodate hundreds of people who queued up outside beneath entryway signs that read “Welcome Back!” and “We’ve Missed You.” The line of people continued atop the extended sidewalk and deep into the parking lot. 

Last week Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced casinos were permitted to reopen starting Sept. 9 with a 25% occupancy limit and strict enforcements of guidelines including face coverings, social distancing, and enhanced air filtration and cleaning protocols. 

“We’re open,” Saratoga Casino Hotel General Manager Alex Tucker said simply, watching as people moved along the pattern of shoe prints painted atop the pavement with the spacing requirements of social distancing in mind.  The large reopening day crowd was not a surprise. 

“We had a feeling this was going to happen because of how long it’s been and there’s also been a lot of chatter on social media,” Tucker said. “This is the new normal. We’re asking people to be patient, and we’re really trying to do this as safely as we can and still ensure guests have a great experience.”    

Over the past several months, Saratoga Casino Hotel developed a plan to implement physical modifications as well as policy and procedural changes to protect the health and safety of workers and attendees. That “Safe Bet Plan” includes heightened cleaning, sanitation and hygiene protocols, the use of MERV-13 air filters throughout the property, the Installation of several hand sanitation stations and other measures. All guests will be required to enter and exit through the south entrance, located near Crescent Avenue. 

The 25% building occupancy enforcement equals 800 to 900-person capacity, Tucker said. 

“We have driver license scanning for contact tracing – it’s an opt-in program. You can opt-in, or you don’t have to. Masks are required. Were going to take your temperature, social distancing inside the building, six feet in between the machines in every direction.” 

The property first began hosting harness races in 1941. The season was extended in 1978 to include winter racing, and also began to host recreational events and music festivals to make ends meet, when the introduction of off-track betting plunged the sport into decline. 

In early 2004, video lottery terminals arrived, contributing to the annual purses of the harness track. The machines have been credited by some with saving the local harness racing industry. A 2007 expansion brought with it the on-premises Vapor nightclub and in 2016 a $40 Million project developed a 117-room hotel with an indoor resort, steakhouse and other amenities. 

Hours will be limited to 10 a.m.-2 a.m. The four-hour shutdown will allow time for proper disinfecting and sanitation, the company says.

The Hotel, Morton’s The Steakhouse and the Jackpot Deli with simulcasting are all currently open. Casino amenities such as cocktail service, Mane Bar, Garden Buffet and Vapor remain closed. Their reopening will be reevaluated as restrictions are lifted. 

Earlier this summer, the city of Saratoga Springs received $1.86 million in funding from the state for hosting a center with the video gambling terminals in the community. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A new six-story building to be constructed atop a currently vacant lot is under consideration for architectural review this week by the Design Review Commission. 

The building location is 269 Broadway – just north of Saratoga Central Catholic School at 247 Broadway, and just south of NBT Bank at 295 Broadway. 

According to plans submitted to the city, the building will measure 70 feet tall, 82 feet wide and 179 feet long.

The mixed-use building is proposed to consist of retail on the first floor, office and restaurant on the second floor, and offices on floors three through six. According to plans, approximately 2,250 square feet of civic space will be provided between the first floor and Broadway. Two levels of underground parking will contain 71 spaces. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city will host its annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 11 at the Tempered by Memory Sculpture at High Rock Park. The 25-foot-tall sculpture was commissioned by Saratoga Arts and created by artists Noah Savett and John Van Alstine from five twisted pieces of Trade Center steel. Four pieces came from the North Tower, one came from the South Tower.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — With the return of students for the fall semester, Skidmore College announced it has developed contingency plans should the transmission of COVID-19 spike among the college community. 

As of this week, Skidmore reports 2 total positive tests to date – counting students and employees – and 6 people in quarantine. The dashboard may be viewed at: www.skidmore.edu/fall-planning/dashboard.php. 

The college contingency plan is framed by five “alert levels” of increasing severity. They are: 

Alert Level 1 - At this lowest level of alert, very few positive test results exist, and contact tracing shows a very limited number of employees and students on campus may have been exposed. Epidemiological analysis and contact tracing suggest that the situation can be contained, isolated and controlled. Affected students and employees are quarantined pursuant to DOH guidelines and this Plan. Affected areas are contained, isolated and decontaminated. Other campus operations or residential life activities are not affected.

Alert Level 2 - The number of positive test results and numbers of exposed individuals in quarantine are slightly higher than at the lowest level of alert, but Saratoga County Public Health is able to conduct effective and timely contact tracing and the college has been able to act swiftly to identify, isolate and contain transmission. There is no evidence of community transmission at this level. This level may require limiting operations in specific operations, areas or programs for a period of time to prevent ongoing exposure. A larger number of students, employees and/or facilities could be impacted but that impact is likely to remain time limited and is directly related to specific and already identified infections.

Alert Level 3 - A small outbreak has occurred on campus in a defined population, such as a building, department or residence hall. Confidence in the ability to accurately complete contact tracing in a timely way is moderate. It is also the case that it may be difficult to identify a specific area for containment, isolation and remediation. This level may require shutting down the areas impacted by the outbreak but does not require a campus-wide shutdown. Select programs may move back into an online-only environment with non-resident students staying off campus, resident students staying in their rooms and non-essential affected employees working from home. Individuals who test positive and who have been exposed are isolated and quarantined, potentially in bulk (e.g., entire building or more). The College may order shelter-in-place for students (stay and study in their rooms). Careful consideration will be given to whether on-campus services for employees, such those provided by the Greenberg Childcare Center, can be maintained.

Alert Level 4 - The College is experiencing a sizeable outbreak, as evidenced by numbers of current cases, increases in positive test rates or by multiple positive tests without clear sources of infection, and the College has clear evidence that contact tracing, containment, isolation and remediation efforts are not effective The College will “pause” and move to remote learning alternatives and remote work arrangements where possible. Non-resident students and employees whose presence on campus is not essential to the College’s daily operations will be restricted from coming on campus. Resident students will be required to shelter in place or return home for the pause. The “pause” is intended to be temporary (one to four weeks) and to control further transmission.

Alert Level 5 - The situation has escalated to the point where ongoing campus or community transmission is occurring at a significant rate. There is no realistic strategy to contain or control the situation. Given the timing in the academic calendar, the College has no other option than to shut down on-campus operations completely. All campus operations come to a halt, non-essential employees shift to remote work arrangements when possible, and students move to remote learning for the remainder of the semester. Campus will close for the rest of the semester and students will be moved out following the College’s protocol. Those unable to leave will appeal to remain on campus. Skidmore College will support any student who, for financial or other hardship reasons, cannot depart campus in response to a shutdown scenario.

If the College’s RO infection rate is < or = 1, meaning individuals who are infected infect no more than one other person, Skidmore says it will generally be able to continue in-person learning. Scenarios necessitating decreasing on-campus activities and operations or closing the campus will be communicated to all faculty, staff, students and parents by email and the College’s Fall Planning website.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A sleek 1951 Nash-Healey Series 25 Roadster - the first post-war sports car from a major American manufacturer, a classy 1931 Ford Model A – which features a classic “Ah-Oo-Gah” horn, and a 1958 red-and-white body hardtop which famously performed on the silver screen will be among the hundreds of cars at the fourth annual Saratoga Auto Auction in mid-September.      

Billed as “an auction experience unlike any other,” the 2020 Saratoga Motorcar Auction takes place the Saratoga Automobile Museum Sept. 19. 

“We’re going to have between 250 and 300 cars, and there will be three different bidding platforms,” says Bill Windham, auction director for the museum.

Perhaps the most notable, if not the most outright notorious is the 1958 Red and white two-door Plymouth Fury hardtop with automatic transmission and red vinyl and cloth interiors. 

“Christine. The movie car,” Windham says, simply. 

Bearing “her” famous CQB 241 license plate, Christine is burned into the memory of millions of cinephiles and book-lovers alike - screaming across street corners, battering architecture to fiery structures of rubble, and coming back from the dead in the 1983 film directed by John Carpenter, and the Stephen King novel that bears her name. In both book and film, she is vengeful, doesn’t take kindly to being disrespected and in every way lives up to her “Fury” name. 

“This here is the best car I ever owned. Bought her in September 1957,” says Roland D. LeBay, an old man with a bad back introducing himself as a character in King’s novel, while reminiscing about the first time he laid eyes on Christine.  “Brand-new, she was…red as a fire-engine on the inside.” 

When Carpenter set out to make the film and match the vehicle King had placed as the lead character of his book, he reportedly placed ads across California searching for models of the car, eventually securing more than a dozen.   

“With a lot of movie cars, depending on the shot and how it’s being utilized in the movie, it may just give the appearance of being the same car,” Windham explains. “Depending on the stunt it may have roll bars in it, it may not even have an interior in it - but this car is, inside and out, the real car. It is thoroughly documented as being one of the movie cars. The director of the movie used this car to go back and forth to the set, and it was used in some of the shots.”   

Previous auction years by the Saratoga Automobile Museum have featured two-day bidding events, with staging at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. This year, vehicle check-in and on-site bidder registration begins Sept. 15. Preview day is Sept. 18, and the auction itself will take place during one, long, single-day event, which will run from 9:30 am until 6 or 7 p.m., and take place at the Saratoga Automobile Museum on Saturday, Sept. 19. 

Bidding may be done in-person, by phone, or online. 

The event will be streamed live so people may watch online via the Saratoga Automobile Museum website. All proceeds go to the museum in what is the largest generator of revenue the museum directs during the year. 

For more information about the auction and how to register to bid go to: www.saratogaautomuseum.org

BOLTON LANDING — The Sembrich has launched “Stravinsky and the Premiere of the Century,” the seventh presentation in its 20/20: Virtual Visionaries summer festival. 

The latest installment of the Alfred Z. Solomon Innovator Series transports The Sembrich audience back to the night of May 29, 1913, the groundbreaking premiere of The Rite of Spring with vintage images, video clips, and an article on the auspicious night by distinguished Stravinsky scholar, Charles Joseph. 

The program features an article adapted from a chapter of Joseph’s 2011 book Stravinsky’s Ballets. Charles M. Joseph is Professor Emeritus of Music and the former Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Skidmore College. He is the author of two other books, Stravinsky and Balanchine, the winner of an ASCAP Award in Biography, and Stravinsky Inside Out. He lives in Saratoga Springs.

The program also includes the eleven-minute opening segment of the 2009 film Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, which re-creates The Rite of Spring premiere at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. 

“This re-enactment, with its sweeping camera angles and multiple perspectives from stage, audience and orchestra pit alike, conveys the energy and excitement of that first performance,” says The Sembrich’s Artistic Director Richard Wargo. “And is as close as we can come to imagining ourselves as eyewitness to the momentous event. We’re truly grateful to film producer Claudie Ossard and to author Charles Joseph for sharing this wealth of material with us, allowing for this latest exciting entry in our Alfred Z. Solomon Innovator Series.”

“Stravinsky and the Premiere of the Century” can be found online at TheSembrich.org/online. The Sembrich is located at 4800 Lake Shore Drive, Bolton Landing. For more information, visit www.TheSembrich.org or call 518-644-2431 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” 
- 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women's Right to Vote (1920)

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A celebration marking Women’s Equality Day and the centennial of the formal certification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was held across the country on Aug. 26. 

In Saratoga Springs, a 12-hour gathering was staged at Palette, a female-focused coworking space and café on Broadway, where a full slate of events kicked-off with an 8 a.m. morning meditation, and featured a series of Q & A sessions and panel discussions with local political office-holders, healing energy practitioners, business leaders, and activist, among others.

The 19th amendment gave women the right to vote following several decades of struggle for women’s suffrage – a movement founded in the mid-19th century and spearheaded by people like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. 

While certified as an amendment in 1920, historians also point to the 1965 Voting Rights Act some 45 years later as finally outlawing discriminatory voting practices that restricted black men and women from voting. 

A new interactive website celebrating historic New York State suffragists was also launched in conjunction with Women’s Equality Day that includes historic and biographical information, and an interactive map with cemetery and gravesite locations about women and men who were active in the suffrage movement. That website can be found at: womenandthevotenys.com. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A new audio play providing a portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven at a time of personal crisis will celebrate its world premiere on Aug. 22.

SPAC is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth with Beethoven 2020 and “Testament” - written by Damian Lanigan and co-produced with the Saratoga Performing Arts Center will have its World Premiere streaming on both SSC and SPACBeethoven.org from 8 p.m. Aug. 22 until 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 23.   

“Testament” is a portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven grappling with the loss of his hearing and emerging from his suffering to write one of the greatest symphonies of all time. 

Directed by Marcus Dean Fuller and featuring recordings by The Philadelphia Orchestra, “Testament” had originally been planned as a live performance at SPAC’s Spa Little Theater as part of the SSC’s 2020 summer season, but in response to COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings, the company pivoted to an audio presentation that Fuller describes as a “musically driven audiobook.” 

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Blotter

  • COURT Jahelijah Davis, 38, of Watervliet, pleaded Nov. 18 to attempted sexual abuse in the first-degree, a felony, in Ballston. Sentencing scheduled Nov. 15, 2021.  Juan A. Vazquez, 47, of South Glens Falls, was sentenced Nov. 18 to serve 20 years to life, after pleading to murder in the second-degree. According to the Saratoga County District Attorney’s office,  Vazquez, at the time he entered his plea, admitted he intentionally caused the death of Kenny J. Shipski on April 10, 2020, following an argument that took place regarding drugs, and ended with Vazquez stabbing Shipski several times when visiting his room…

Property Transactions

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