Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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Thursday, 24 February 2022 14:20

Sheriff’s Office Issues Fraud Alert

A company selling T-shirts emblazoned with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department logo has been tagged as a fraud alert by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.

“The Sheriff’s Office has been made aware of suspicious text messages being sent by a company claiming to be selling t-shirts on our behalf,” the county Sheriff’s Office reports in a press statement released this afternoon.  “If you receive this message, it is a scam and not a company doing business on our behalf.  We encourage residents not to respond to the message and not provide any personal or financial information.”

Similar fraud alerts depicting the phony T-shirts with their own respective logos have similarly been issued in recent days by the Clermont, Florida Police Department and the Middletown, Pennsylvania Fire Department. 

SARATOGA COUNTY — In advance of November’s election in the 21st Congressional District, the Saratoga County Republican Party this week announced it had unanimously endorsed Congresswoman Stefanik for her re-election campaign in 2022. 

“Saratoga County Republicans proudly and unanimously endorsed Republican House Chairwoman Elise Stefanik for re-election in New York’s 21st Congressional District,” said Saratoga County Chairman Carl Zeilman said, in a statement. 

Stefanik has thus far been endorsed unanimously by nine Republican committees in the 21st district, including: Saratoga, Franklin, Herkimer, Fulton, Jefferson, Clinton, Hamilton, Warren, and Oneida Counties. 

Saratoga County Democrats meet this week to endorse their candidate for the Nov. 8 election, said County Essex County Democratic Chairperson Margaret Bartley. Thus far, Matt Castelli has been endorsed by Democrat committees in 10 of the 18 counties of the 21st district. Castelli is a Saratoga County resident a former CIA officer and Director for Counterterrorism at the National Security Council who served in both the Obama and Trump White Houses. 

In addition to Castelli, Democrats Bridie Farrell, Matthew Putorti, and Ezra Watson have announced they will be running for the seat. 

Republican Lonny Koons has declared candidacy for the Republican primary. Primaries take place June 28.

As of Nov. 2021, the 21st Congressional District had included approximately 431,000 active voters – about 67,000 of those in Saratoga County, according to NYS Board of Elections data. The majority of voters in the district were registered Republicans (about 175,000). Registered Democrats were 125,000 and registered voters unaffiliated with any party were 99,000. Those ratios are likely to change.   

State legislative and congressional districts are currently being re-drawn in New York – a process of redistricting typically conducted every 10 years.  The expanded NY-21 district likely will see its geographic land  border and county distribution increase from 12 counties to 18 counties. Those six new counties of the 21st Congressional District: Montgomery, Oneida, Oswego, Otsego, Rensselaer and Schoharie. Conversely, the number of Saratoga County voters in the 21st Congressional District will be smaller, with a larger number of voters being placed in the 20th Congressional District, than had previously been the case. 

Tuesday, 22 February 2022 14:41

Dopiest Scam Attempt of the Day?

A company selling T-shirts emblazoned with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department logo has been tagged as a fraud alert by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.

“The Sheriff’s Office has been made aware of suspicious text messages being sent by a company claiming to be selling t-shirts on our behalf,” the county Sheriff’s Office reports in a press statement released this afternoon.  “If you receive this message, it is a scam and not a company doing business on our behalf.  We encourage residents not to respond to the message and not provide any personal or financial information.”

Similar fraud alerts depicting the phony T-shirts with their own respective logos have similarly been issued in recent days by the Clermont, Florida Police Department and the Middletown, Pennsylvania Fire Department.

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Between 5 p.m. on Saturday and 4:30 p.m. Monday, there have been four reported robberies of retail establishments in the city of Saratoga Springs, police said.

“A weapon was not observed in any of the incidents, no force was used, and no injuries took place that we are aware of,” said city Assistant Chief of Police Bob Jillson, in a statement released Tuesday.

The general descriptions of the involved man, as well as how the incidents took place appear to be similar and police, who are conducting an active investigation, said they believe they may be related.

The times and locations of the incidents are as follows:

Saturday, Feb. 19 at 5 p.m. at Super Smoke N’ Save at 109 West Ave.

Monday, Feb. 21st: 1:45 am, XtraMart at 154 South Broadway; 4:22 p.m., I Love NY Pizza at 26 Congress St.; 4:30 p.m., Post Time Wine & Spirits at 170 South Broadway.  

Police said in every case a man entered each establishment alone and demanded cash. Police did not say whether they believe a vehicle was involved. The two locations where Monday afternoon’s robberies are said to have occurred are in walking distance of one another.

Authorities are asking anyone who may been in the area at the time of the reported robberies and believe they have information to call the Saratoga Springs Police Department at 518-584- 1800, or via an anonymous Tip Line at 518-584-TIPS.

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The 45th Annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival will return for a full two-day and two-stage exhilarating festival experience on Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

The roster of 24 musical groups is headlined by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, returning to the festival for the first time since 1998; soul music legend Booker T. Presents: A Stax Revue; powerhouse vocalist Ledisi for her festival debut; jazz/hip-hop crossover great Robert Glasper; and New Orleans funk and jazz collective Galactic featuring Anjelika Jelly Joseph for its festival debut.

“The 2022 Festival promises to be a memorable one in so many ways. Not only thanks to a stellar and varied line-up, but also to the sheer joy of being back to full scale,” said SPAC President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol, in a statement. The 2022 gathering marks the 25th anniversary of its partnership with Freihofer’s bakery, with parent company Bimbo Bakeries USA having reaffirmed their commitment to the festival with a multi-year title sponsorship.

“We’ll be celebrating 25 years of partnership with Freihofer’s, as well as the first of a new multi-year commitment from the company. While a number of other jazz festivals are changing and downsizing, Freihofer’s support is allowing us to go back to the full Saratoga Jazz Fest experience its long-time fans have come to love and expect,” Sobol said.

 Highlighting the 15 festival debuts, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Booker T. Jones, the famed front man of Booker T. & the M.G.s, and the acclaimed producer of the legendary Memphis-based Stax Records, will showcase his 10-piece band with three lead vocalists performing his smash hits with the M.G.s, “Green Onions,” “Hang ‘Em High” and “Time is Tight” and classic Stax songs “Try a Little Tenderness,” “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding), “Hold On I’m Coming” (Sam and Dave), and “Gee Whiz” (Carla Thomas), among others. Also making her festival debut is 2021 GRAMMY winner and fourteen-time GRAMMY-nominated vocalist Ledisi, who will return to SPAC on August 3 as part of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s season in a program dedicated to the music of Nina Simone.

 Returning for the first time since 2019 is the popular Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage with rhythmic, global and funk grooves by groups from Red Baraat to Cha Wa to Tiempo Libre and some of the most exciting contemporary artists in jazz: Matt Wilson, Craig Handy, Connie Han, Ryan Keberle, Emmaline and Dan Wilson. In addition, the Skidmore Jazz Institute Faculty All-Stars will celebrate George Wein, the founder of the festival who passed away at the age of 95 in September 2021.  Following stunning Jazz Fest debuts in 2021, Hot Club of Saratoga and Garland Nelson leading Joyful Noise will return to kick-off the amphitheater line-up on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

 “My mentor and the festival founder, George Wein, always focused on producing events for everyone and that’s exactly what we’ve done for our big return,” says Danny Melnick, the festival producer and President of Absolutely Live Entertainment. “Our 45th festival features award-winning musical legends, unique all-star collaborations, cutting-edge bands and many popular rising stars.”  

In addition to two non-stop days of great music on two stages, fans can also enjoy a host of amenities including a fine arts and crafts fair, artist CD signings, southern style barbeque and other food vendors at SPAC’s newly renovated concession area. Guests are welcome to bring in their own food and beverages, as well as blankets, tents and lawn umbrellas. Parking for the event is free. Performances will begin each day on the Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage at 11 a.m. and on the Amphitheater Stage at 12:00 p.m. 

Tickets for the festival start at $65 and will be available online at www.spac.org beginning March 16 at 10am to the general public and starting on March 7 at 10am to SPAC members (tiered by level). Two-days passes are also available for a savings of $10 per ticket (offer ends 5/1). $20 amphitheater ticket options are available for children ages 12 and under and students with school-issued ID at time of entrance. Seating is best available with some exclusions. Lawn seating is free for children ages 12 and under.

SPAC is offering a $20 student and child amphitheater pass, available for children ages 12 and under and students with school-issued ID at time of entrance. Children ages 12 and under are admitted free on the lawn. SPAC will continue to monitor health and safety guidelines mandated by New York State and the CDC and will adjust ticketing and safety policies accordingly. Full guidelines will be published in advance of the ticket on sale and may be found at spac.org.   

2022 FREIHOFER’S SARATOGA JAZZ FESTIVAL LINE-UP:

SATURDAY, JUNE 25

Amphitheater:

Booker T. Presents: A Stax Revue*

Robert Glasper

Galactic featuring Anjelika Jelly Joseph*

Con Tumbao* featuring Issac Delgado, Robby Ameen, Oscar Hernandez, Conrad Herwig, Pedrito Martinez, Juan Munguia, Alain Pérez, Mike Rodriguez, Tony Succar & Miguel Zenon

Ozmosys Band featuring Omar Hakim & Rachel Z

Amina Figarova Sextet plus Strings*

Hot Club of Saratoga

Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage:

Red Baraat*

Matt Wilson’s Honey & Salt with Dawn Thomson, Nadje Noordhuis, Jeff Lederer & Martin Wind

Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith* 

Connie Han Trio*

Emmaline*

Dan Wilson Trio*

SUNDAY, JUNE 26

Amphitheater:

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Ledisi*

SuperBlue: Kurt Elling featuring Charlie Hunter

Eliane Elias

Matthew Whitaker*

Garland Nelson’s Joyful Noise

Charles R. Wood “Jazz Discovery” Stage:

Cha Wa

Tiempo Libre*

Carolyn Wonderland*

Ryan Keberle & Catharsis*

Skidmore Jazz Institute Faculty All-Stars celebrate George Wein* featuring Mike Rodriguez, Steve Davis, Jimmy Greene, Bill Cunliffe, Dave Stryker, Todd Coolman & Dennis Mackrel

 *Indicates Festival debut for that project

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Performing Arts Center this week announced the return of its resident companies -- New York City Ballet and The Philadelphia Orchestra -- to their summer home in Saratoga in 2022.

The diverse season features SPAC premieres and debuts by women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) composers, choreographers, performers and conductors, alongside iconic masterworks of the classical repertoire.

NEW YORK CITY BALLET returns with the full company from July 12 – 16, with its roster of more than 90 dancers under the direction of Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford and Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan, accompanied by the New York City Ballet Orchestra, led by Music Director Andrew Litton.

The Company will present four programs including the full-length story ballet A Midsummer Night’s Dream; an evening dedicated to 20th Century Masters highlighted by Merce Cunningham’s Summerspace, returning for the first time since 1967; and a program showcasing works by contemporary choreographers including new pieces by Jamar Roberts and Pam Tanowitz, and the return of Justin Peck’s In Creases, gracing the SPAC stage for the first time since its World Premiere at SPAC in 2012. Back by popular demand is also a special “NYCB On and Off Stage” presentation designed to introduce the season with an intimate, up-close look at selected excerpts from the Company’s repertory of ballets that will be featured during the residency.

“After two long years without the full New York City Ballet in residence at SPAC, it is tremendously exciting to be announcing the return of the full Company in July 2022,” said Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center, in a statement.

“It will be a perfect celebration of their return with timeless works of Balanchine and Robbins, SPAC debuts by Jamar Roberts and Pam Tanowitz, the return of Merce Cunningham’s Summerspace, beloved story ballet A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and NYCB On and Off Stage. The latter, born from the need to conform to COVID guidelines in 2021, was a format that was immensely popular with audiences. It will be a perfect kick off to the residency – as both an intimate behind the scenes look at NYCB as well as a poignant reminder as to how far we will have come since March of 2020,” Sobol said.

THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA’s three-week residency (July 27 – Aug. 13) will feature Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin (Aug. 10–13) leading four programs including a finale featuring Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Highlighting the residency is the return of world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma (Aug. 5) and violinist Joshua Bell alongside star soprano Larisa Martinez (July 29). Making their 2022 SPAC debuts is a diverse roster of artists including fourteen-time GRAMMY nominee Ledisi singing the music of Nina Simone (Aug. 3), pianist and NPR host Lara Downes (Aug. 4), soprano Angel Blue (Aug. 12-13), 26-year-old superstar violinist Randall Goosby (Aug. 11), and Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet company, BalletX July 27), performing a new work choreographed by NYCB’s Tiler Peck.  

Also featured will be more than a dozen SPAC premieres including the East Coast Premiere of Contact by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts composed for the genre-crossing ensemble Time for Three (July 28). SPAC’s popular film nights will also return to delight audiences of all ages as the Orchestra accompanies, live to picture, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™ in Concert (July 30) and The Princess Bride in Concert (Aug. 6).

“SPAC’s ambitious and artistically inspiring programming continues our effort to bring significant contemporary works and iconic classics that have never been performed at SPAC to our stage, while also presenting a record number of works by BIPOC and female composers throughout the season,” said Sobol.

Tickets will be available beginning on March 7 for members (tiered by level) and on March 16 for the general public. New for this season, evening performances will be held at 7:30 p.m.

SPAC will continue to monitor health and safety guidelines mandated by New York State and the CDC and will adjust ticketing and safety policies accordingly.

The season kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 12 with NYCB On and Off stage. For a full detailed listing of performances, tickets, and other information, go to: spac.org.  

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city’s three Land Use Boards – the Planning Board, Design Review Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals, launch their 2022 meetings this week.   

The city’s Design Review Commission hosts its first meeting of the calendar year at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 12.  Among applications under consideration are a historic review of a new 6-story mixed-use building at 269 Broadway, and a proposed fifth-floor addition to the existing four-story at 422 Broadway, the building that sites Northshire Bookstore Saratoga on its ground floor.   

A renewable Special Use Permit and Site Plan Review to maintain existing property as improved at 68 Weibel Avenue are two of the permits under consideration at this week’s meeting of the Planning Board, which takes place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 13. 

Applicant Gary Stone, of Saratoga Springs, is offering a proposal to operate and maintain existing mixed land uses on a 22.5-acre parcel on Weibel Avenue and a portion of a 40-acre parcel. The parcel includes approximately 145 feet of frontage on Weibel Avenue, with several existing commercial buildings on the parcel used either for storage, or as currently occupied office buildings. 

The land includes a 900 square-foot building, two storage buildings (2,400 and 1,500 square feet, respectively), a 12,500 square foot office building, a 1.5-acre boat storage area, a small clubhouse and 10-acre driving range area – the latter of which “has not been in used for few years,” according to documents filed with the city. All the buildings were approximately constructed in 1968.   

The existing buildings and boat storage are currently the subject of a land use and zoning violation identified by the city Building Department, and the application would attempt to cure those violations, according to documents seeking a Special Use Permit. 

The Zoning Board of Appeals hosts its first meeting of the new year at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 10.

Meetings are held at City Hall, 474 Broadway. For information regarding attendance at meetings, safety protocols and live stream options, go to: saratoga-springs.org. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Two proposals to honor former city officials were fulfilled by the outgoing council during the holiday break. 

Following up on a city Recreation Commission recommendation in 2020, city Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan in late 2021 brought a resolution to the council table, which was unanimously approved, to name the southside facility the Scott T. Johnson Recreation Center. 

Johnson, who served three two-year terms as Saratoga Springs mayor from 2007-2013, is largely credited for helping make the long-talked-about recreation facility a reality. The near-34,000 square foot building was completed for about $6 million and following 16 years of feasibility studies opened in the summer of 2010. The city turned to the center as an emergency location to site operations in 2018, after City Hall had been rendered inoperable due to a lightning strike and flood damage. 

Inside of City Hall meanwhile, a “Foy Foyer” depicting images of Remigia Foy was set up at the city’s Finance Office. Foy, who died in June 2020, served as city finance commissioner for three terms, two in the 1970s and one on the 1990s. 

CityHonors FoyFoyer

Remigia Foy foyer at City Hall. Photo: city of Saratoga Springs.

Outgoing city Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan announced in late 2021 that commemorations would be set up to honor former Finance Commissioners Remigia Foy and Matt McCabe. McCabe served as city Finance Commissioner from 2004 to 2007, as well as operating the popular Saratoga Guitar shops in the city for a quarter century. Jan. 12 marks the one-year anniversary of his passing due to complications from COVID-19. 

A double-bench with plaque honoring McCabe will be unveiled in the spring adjacent to City Hall and where Saratoga Guitar shop stood, Madigan said this week. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A new City Council for a new two-year term staged its first night meeting Jan. 4 at Saratoga Music Hall. The cordial meeting lasted just over an hour and included four new council members.

Mayor Ron Kim announced the appointment of Angela Rella as his deputy mayor, and provided guidelines for Public Comment period, during which speakers may address concerns or issues for up to two minutes’ time: Be kind; We’re a community; Speak to each other in a way that community members speak, Kim said. “Bickering and fighting, we prefer you not to do that, but, it’s your time. Be factual. We don’t want alternative facts. We want to hear the truth, as you see it, and we’re happy to hear it.”

One meeting change will be in the order of addressing the council. Returning City Supervisors Matthew Veitch, and Tara Gaston – who normally address the council at the end of the agenda – will speak first.

Limited Number of COVID-19 Rapid Tests Available for Residents

During her comment period on Tuesday, Gaston announced the city had earlier that day received “a small number” of at-home rapid COVID tests that were distributed from the state to the county, and then on to county-based municipalities. The city will be distributing their portion of at-home tests to city residents, while supplies last, from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday at Geyser Road Elementary School. The kits have two tests per box. Proof of city residence is required.

Outside of Saratoga Springs, county municipalities are distributing their allotment of at-home tests in a variety of ways. For specific distribution information, residents should contact their respective town or city hall. A list of municipal phone numbers and websites may be found HERE

The city had previously received 19,000 K95 masks from the state, which Gaston said she has been distributing to city residents. Masks continue to be available at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, the Saratoga Springs Visitors Center, and the city Recreation Center.

The seven-day positive infection rate of Saratoga County residents is currently 18.6 %. 

New Methods, New Appointments

Mayor Kim explained a new “Question Period” segment will be launched in the near future during which community members in advance submit any questions they have for a specific council member. Those questions will typically be discussed and answered at the end of council meetings. Those inquiries will employ a pre-registration tool, and more information will be forthcoming in the near future.

Also soon forthcoming, perhaps later this month, will be a cost/expense tally presentation regarding the vacant city attorney position. The mayor said a discussion will take place regarding a plan aimed at both - reducing city costs and making the position more effective, while meeting the needs provided by a city attorney.

Kim also announced the establishment of a city Infrastructure Committee, which will be tasked with organizing a priority list of city infrastructure projects. The mayor said he has had discussions with U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko regarding federal funds targeting local infrastructure projects, and the local plan is to reach out to experts as well as the local community to initiate a list of needs and potential projects. Kim appointed former Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen as chair of the city Infrastructure Committee and requested each council member propose appointments to staff the committee during the next couple of weeks.

New Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran started his first term and announced Stacy Connors as his deputy commissioner.

New Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi started her first term and announced Heather Crocker as her deputy commissioner.

Returning Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco re-appointed Joe O’Neil as his deputy commissioner.

Mayor Kim, a Democrat, complemented DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco, a Republican, on the “exceptional job” Scirocco and his department has done on the recent renovations to City Hall. Commissioner Scirocco, during his agenda time, made an announcement commemorating the work of former DPW Commissioner and political rival Thomas McTygue on the work McTygue conducted in Congress Park specifically on the Carousel.

Public Hearing on Civilian Review Board Set for Feb. 1

New Public Safety Commissioner announced the appointment of Jason Tetu as Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety. Tetu spent a quarter of a century as a member of the Saratoga Springs Police Department.

Montagnino set a 30-minute Public Hearing to take place prior to the Feb. 1 council meeting regarding the creation of a Civilian Review Board, as per the recommendations of the city Police Reform Task Force. “Promises were made and now is the time for promises to be kept. I want to shepherd into existence a Civilian Review Board that is meaningful, that has authority and that is there to answer the questions that people have about the way our city is policed,” said the public safety commissioner.

The council unanimously approved that a letter be sent to the Saratoga County District Attorney requesting a grand jury investigation regarding the Darryl Mount matter. Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen said on Jan. 5 she would not be able to discuss the matter until she is in receipt of the letter.

Montagnino added he anticipates hosting an oral presentation regarding the Mount case in mid-February. Previously announced to take place as soon as he took office on Jan. 1, Montagnino said the delay was due to his being stricken and recovering from COVID-19, which recently landed him in the hospital for nine days. Montagnino said he was released from the hospital on Dec. 31.

“From what we heard tonight, it seems like there is progress and things are moving in the right direction,” said Saratoga BLM activist Lexis Figuereo, at the conclusion of Tuesday’s council meeting. “It seems that we may be able to have some actual answers in the community and maybe see some actual change, and not just talk about it. It was a very peaceful meeting and we’re looking forward to meetings being more like this, and to have dialogue with the council members,” he said.

Saratoga Springs City Council meetings are typically held the first and the third Tuesday of each month at City Hall.

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The post-election campaign financial disclosure statement regarding newly elected city Mayor Ron Kim has been posted by the state Board of Elections.

The disclosure statement was due 27 days following the Nov. 2, 2021 election. When that period passed without the post report, two attorneys filed a formal complaint against Kim with the state Board of Elections. Michael Brandi was one of the attorneys who had sent a letter to the state Board of Elections Enforcement Counsel.

Tuesday morning, following the posting of the report, Brandi said: "the complaint has been made and the Board of Elections has the ability to look at the facts and pursue enforcement. What that looks like, the ball is in their court.”
On Jan. 5, the state BOE Enforcement Counsel responded to an email from Saratoga TODAY seeking comment about the status of the matter.  “The disclosure of Enforcement Division materials not only has the potential to impede or obstruct investigations, but potentially undermines principles of fundamental fairness in investigations and prosecutions. Therefore, we do not comment concerning whether the Division received complaints, the status of complaints, or whether investigations are undertaken.” Signed: Michael L. Johnson, Chief Enforcement Counsel.  

Late last month Kim told the Times Union that he had filed his post-election report, but a technical issue prevented it from being viewed.

Campaign finance disclosure statements for candidates may be found at: the NYS Board of Elections campaign finance page.

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