Larry Goodwin

Larry Goodwin

Thursday, 05 October 2017 17:49

Milton to Hold Public Hearing on Boyhaven Land

MILTON – On Sept. 26, the Milton Town Board voted to set the public hearing for a pending sale of the former Camp Boyhaven property on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 6:35 p.m. The town complex is located at 503 Geyser Road.

In the summer, the Boy Scouts of America Twin Rivers Council selected Milton’s $1 million bid to purchase the roughly 300-acre property, which is located off Route 29 near the Town of Greenfield border. 

Milton Planning Board Chairman Larry Woolbright said an anonymous donor has pledged to match $500,000 from the town to make the purchase. It would be subject to a public vote.

Milton officials are considering several options for the land, including selling a portion or all of it to New York State as a means to extend the Middle Grove State Forest.

Woolbright also informed the town board that a developer whose bid placed second, behind Milton, is still expressing interest in the property.  

Thursday, 28 September 2017 18:33

‘Trail to Nowhere’ Heads to Court

In photos: The popular Avenue of the Pines recreational trail; and Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano (standing, at left) addressing the Sept. 25, 2017 meeting. Photos by Larry Goodwin.  

BALLSTON SPA – Ballston Spa officials voted this week to hire the Saratoga Springs law firm Harris Beach, formally initiating a legal case against city leaders to challenge their eminent domain proceedings over the proposed recreational trail on Geyser Road.

“I refer to it as the trail to nowhere,” Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano said before the 4-1 vote was taken. “And for the record, I enthusiastically vote yes.”

The recreational trail, which would be built on the north side of Geyser Road between Route 50 and the Milton town line, was first proposed by city officials more than 10 years ago. But Romano claimed he was rarely consulted through much of that time.

“The high-and-mighty attitude of the city speaks volumes about the city’s—what I call—arrogance in dealing with the village,” the mayor said.

The Southwest Neighborhood Association (SWNA), the largest group of trail supporters, deferred to the city for comment. 

The office of Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen, another enthusiastic promoter of the trail, did not return a request for comment.

“No one is ‘against’ a bike trail,” offered Geyser Road resident David Morris, in a previous email. “They are against the safety, cost, environmental and land-grab issues with it, and how it was all handled by the SWNA and the city.”

The village-owned land in dispute is part of Ballston Spa’s watershed, but it falls within the outer district of Saratoga Springs. Romano explained that the village pays the city a total of about $28,000 in property and school taxes annually at present.  

According to Romano, Saratoga Springs officials contacted the village earlier this month to communicate an appraised value of $1,800 for the narrow strip of land that would be affected by the Geyser Road trail project. The village maintains 12-inch water lines there that run from Baker Road to Rowland Street, he explained.

The village has until Oct. 12 to take legal action against the city's effort to seize Ballston Spa’s land and numerous other Geyser Road parcels, as a means to start construction of the trail.

Karl Sleight, the Harris Beach attorney representing Ballston Spa, said multiple separate legal challenges to the city’s eminent domain proceedings are now pending in the state Appellate Division in Albany and Saratoga Supreme Court.

“This will take quite a period of time,” Sleight said this week.  

In late March, the two neighboring municipalities attempted to resolve their differences at a meeting in Ballston Spa, which was attended by Yepsen, Romano and other officials.

But the village board’s action on Sept. 25 effectively ends all such amicable efforts. Romano said he anticipates legal fees of $15,000 in the case.  

Village Trustee Shawn Raymond, a state Department of Transportation employee, cast the only vote in opposition to hiring Harris Beach.

“I’m just looking at the numbers,” Raymond told his fellow board members. “We’ve got a small piece of property that really can’t be developed for anything else, but perhaps a bike trail.”  

“Initially, we’re going to spend—just to file the petition—three times the amount of that value,” he said of the $1,800 appraisal.

“I’m trying to take emotions out of the equation and just look at this as numbers and sense,” Raymond continued, noting how $15,000 could easily be spent to improve sidewalks and other infrastructure in Ballston Spa.

Raymond also faulted the mayor for basing his concerns largely on events that may or may not occur in the future. “I can’t spend, in good conscience, constituents’ money on pure conjecture,” he said.  

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In photo: Hutchins Road homeowner Dorothy Christiansen leaves the podium after her allotted time to speak; Tom Samascott, his son Wayne and Michael Toohey are seated near the podium. Photo by Larry Goodwin. 

MILTON — After its usual pledge to the flag of a republic Tuesday night, the Milton Town Board basically allowed one final exercise of free speech regarding a contested construction project that involves 14 acres off Hutchins Road. 

For the last time, a Malta developer publicly updated the board about his plan to raze one house and build 80-plus apartments behind that property in the quiet, wooded area. The units would be designed specifically for Saratoga County’s aging citizens 

“That is land that is going to be developed. You can’t leave it dormant. It’s not going to become a park,” concluded Saratoga Springs attorney Michael Toohey, who again gave a presentation in favor of the project. Toohey did the same at a similar public hearing in July.

“We think there’s a tremendous benefit to the town,” Toohey added, “for decades to come.” He cites statistics indicating that the county’s population over age 55 will increase to 90,000 by 2030, from the current level of more than 40,000.   

Then board members welcomed a lengthy rebuttal from the woman who, for months, has led the plan’s most vocal opponents. “There are a lot of questions that still need to be addressed,” stated Hutchins Road homeowner Dorothy Christiansen.   

The town board had deemed the exchange necessary in response to a Sept. 19 letter that was sent to residents by Thomas Samascott of Malta Development.

Samascott sent his company letterhead to dozens of residents on Red Oak Lane and White Oak Path in Milton, using capital letters to convey a sense of urgency about the project site less than a mile away. He requested that residents “contact each of the TOWN BOARD MEMBERS listed below and push them to approve my project.”  

“In an effort to gain approval for my Hutchins Road 55+ community I am going to agree to secure a source of water and also run the pipes in the streets of your neighborhood,” Samascott wrote. “The one catch is that if I do not get approval for the 83 senior units on Hutchins then I will simply build single family homes which I already have enough water for and then I will not secure the ADDITIONAL SOURCE OF WATER or run the water line in your neighborhood.”  

According to Toohey, Samascott has committed to spending a total of about $432,000 for water line extensions. Samascott had announced previously that he reached an agreement with Heritage Springs Water Works for his main Hutchins Road supply.

A vote is required to change Milton’s residential zoning code and establish a Planned Development District for Samascott’s project to move forward. It would impact two 50-year-old neighborhoods of single-family homes between Hutchins and Margaret Drive, connecting them with a new roadway. 

Most owners of existing homes in the area signed petitions opposing the apartment complex, but now say they would prefer to see more single-family houses built. 

“Absolutely. I’d love to see houses there. The major issue is where does Milton want to go as a community,” exclaimed Christiansen, before her time at the podium had ended. She was a primary organizer of the petition drive.

Milton Supervisor Dan Lewza said he was unsure at which board meeting in October—either Oct. 4 or 18—a formal vote on the zoning change would take place. 

Samascott, Toohey and their associates had left the Milton town complex before the public comment section of the meeting. Still, local residents took full advantage of the opportunity to voice their concerns.

“For Mr. Samascott, this is about money,” argued Hutchins Road homeowner Cindi Cox, whose backyard abuts the project site. (Her husband, Ralph, had kindly brought Christiansen a cup of water during her presentation.)

Brian Handley, a resident of Red Oak Lane, spoke favorably about Samascott’s proposal to extend water lines beyond Hutchins Road. He described longstanding issues among his neighbors with poor water quality.

“It would be like a dream come true to have public water,” Handley said.

Saratoga Springs developers Bruce and Tom Boghosian urged the board members to scrutinize the information presented by Toohey and Samascott for accuracy.

“That’s what’s so distasteful in this town,” stated Tom Boghosian, after alleging that a number of “misrepresentations” were made about the Hutchins Road project with no attempts by board members to clarify them.   

Boghosian called it a “threat” for any developer to send a letter to residents suggesting that, without an approval, “you’re going to have crappy water for the rest of your life.”

“It’s patently disgusting,” Boghosian said. 

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Graphic provided by 

WILTON – The Wilton Planning Board has approved a project for 210 kilowatts of electricity production by large fuel cells that will be installed on the property of Home Depot, possibly before the end of the year.

Lucy Harlow, the board’s executive secretary, said the “solid oxide fuel cell facility” proposed by California-based Bloom Energy for use at the Home Depot was “approved with conditions” during the Sept. 20 meeting.  

Those conditions, she said, include sufficiently addressing the concerns of local firefighters who are unfamiliar with the technology, and ensuring that proper amounts of space are allowed near the fuel cells in the event of an emergency.   

Firefighters need to “examine and inspect; and indeed be instructed in how these fuel cells work,” Harlow said. 

Harlow provided a copy of the Bloom Energy informational flyer, which states: “Our unique on-site power generation systems utilize an innovative fuel cell technology with roots in NASA’s Mars program. By leveraging breakthrough advances in materials science, Bloom Energy systems are among the most efficient energy generators, providing for significantly reduced operating costs and dramatically lower greenhouse emissions.”

Other large national corporations use the company’s “energy servers” as well, including Google, Wal-Mart, AT&T and Staples.  

Asim Hussain, vice president of marketing and customer experience for Bloom Energy, said the company has worked with Home Depot on roughly 200 similar projects to supply the electrical needs of stores in California and the Northeast.

“The whole concept is to provide clean, sustainable energy…without any harmful emissions on site,” Hussain said.

Hussain explained that Bloom Energy’s solid oxide fuel cells, which remain fixed on the ground in a specific location, typically generate power for 15 or 20 years. But they can be upgraded as well. 

The upgrades are completed using “whatever is our latest stack technology, which is how we refer to fuel cells,” he said.

Local managers deferred to Home Depot corporate offices in Georgia, but numerous requests for comment there were not returned.

The progress at Home Depot in Wilton is being closely monitored by state agencies.

Bill Opalka, a spokesman for the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), provided an email this week that explained the details of Bloom Energy’s proposal.

Opalka wrote, “NYSERDA received Bloom Energy’s application for this fuel cell project (210 kilowatts) in February 2016, under NYSERDA’s Renewable Portfolio Standard Customer-sited Tier Fuel Cell Program."

He added, “NYSERDA has a contract with Bloom Energy for $963,837 in incentives with the expectation that the project would be built approximately within a year (end of 2017).

“In order to receive this full pay-out,” Opalka continued, “the fuel cell must be installed in a manner that enables it to run on regular days in conjunction with the utility grid to provide a fraction of the power needed by the store, and also to be able to run during a utility grid outage to provide power to high-priority areas at the store. 

“Furthermore, in order to receive this full pay-out, the fuel cell must also demonstrate reliable operation for its first three years of operation,” Opalka said.

In conclusion, Opalka wrote: “Bloom Energy has shared with NYSERDA this project is expected to become operational by end-of-December 2017.”

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In photos: Joe Ruff (at left), Dr. Jonathan Gainor and Paul Chartrand enjoying the moment at Brookhaven Golf Course on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017; and scenes from the greens. Photos by

GREENFIELD – On Wednesday, nearly 70 people attended the 17th annual “Best Foot Forward Golf Tournament” at Brookhaven Golf Course organized by the staff and doctors of OrthoNY.

The company has offices throughout the Capital Region that connect patients with physicians who specialize in hip, knee and joint replacements; the treatment of foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow and back injuries; plus general orthopedic and sports medicine. Its website is

“The idea is to celebrate the patients’ return to physical activity,” explained Regina Colaes, the OrthoNY site operations manager. “Over the years it’s built a lot of camaraderie. There’s no pressure about being a good golfer.”

A $10,000 prize was offered to anyone in the tournament who managed to get a hole-in-one, but Colaes said it did not happen this year. There were other awards handed out, and most attendees were grateful for the abundant warmth this late in September. 

Colaes said about 80 people attended the luncheon at the tournament, which included a presentation given by Dr. Jonathan Gainor.

Dr. Gainor shared his experiences from a recent volunteer trip he made to the South American country of Bolivia, organized by a group called Operation Walk Virginia. According to Colaes, the doctor spent days performing “non-stop knee replacements and hip replacements” in Bolivia. Earlier this year, she added, Gainor joined Dr. Lawrence Fein in another trip to the African country of Rwanda to teach medical students.  

Thursday, 21 September 2017 15:35

Hospital Creates New Addiction Team

Front photo shows the Saratoga Community Health Center on Hamilton Street. Photo by Larry Goodwin. In gallery photos (from left): Dr. Ginger Simor; Dr. Joshua Zamer; and Dr. Renee Rodriguez-Goodemote of the Saratoga Hospital Medical Group. Photos provided. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – For months, three doctors in the Saratoga Hospital Medical Group have been leading a team of medical professionals who are determined to offer solutions for the problem of drug addiction in local communities.  

The team operates a new program out of the Saratoga Community Health Center offices at 24 Hamilton Street, where more than 100 individuals struggling with addiction are currently being offered a comprehensive treatment regime that includes long-term primary care and behavioral health.

The new program is intended to serve as a local complement to the St. Peter’s Addiction Recovery Center (SPARC) and its affiliate offices. 

Drug addiction “is an equal-opportunity disease” affecting people of all age groups and backgrounds, says Saratoga Hospital spokesman Peter Hopper.

Earlier this week, Hopper arranged an interview with the trio of physicians leading the effort: Dr. Renee Rodriguez-Goodemote, director of the Community Health Center; Dr. Ginger Simor, a psychiatrist; and Dr. Joshua Zamer, the addiction medicine specialist who has been treating patients in the program since April.  

Case and social workers as well as health center employees provide crucial daily support and assistance, the doctors said.

The three doctors were asked to discuss the widely publicized growth in opioid addiction and the overall purpose of the new program.

“The definition of addiction is compulsive, out-of-control use that essentially takes over your life,” explained Dr. Zamer. “All you do is spend your time thinking about obtaining or using the drug…people lose their job, their spouse, their family, their money, their house, their car.”

Zamer talked about the “hijacked brain hypothesis” in the addiction field, which stipulates that people lose control of their normal cognitive functions by allowing the pleasure-seeking limbic system of the human brain to take control.   

Powerful drugs such as heroin raise the dopamine levels in the brain “a thousand times more” than “a piece of chocolate cake,” Zamer said, and the downward spiral begins.

That means addiction must be seen as a physical disease much like cancer and diabetes, according to Zamer.

“Addicts get a bad rap,” he said. “A lot of them want to be clean, they really do. This has ruined their life. They’re not choosing this like it’s such a great lifestyle.”

In four out of five cases, Zamer reported, serious drug addiction starts with prescription opioids. He referred to studies showing how 25 percent of all people hospitalized in the United States go home with an opioid prescription. Of those individuals, he added, more than half are still using opioids 90 days later. 

“The new push is for a three- or seven-day prescription,” Zamer continued, pointing to recent changes in both federal and state laws.

In the month of September alone, Zamer is projecting more than 170 total patient visits in the Community Health Center as part of the drug-treatment program. On a busy day he may see 15 patients. He said he is actively “carrying” 107 patients.

Hopper indicated that the program is open to individuals struggling with any type of addiction, including alcohol and sedative benzodiazepines. 

Zamer commonly prescribes for treatment a milder opioid called Suboxone, which he said has a “ceiling effect” and negates the consumption of heroin. It is available in both pill and sublingual strip.

He also faulted doctors who are “preying” on opioid addicts by offering Suboxone—but only if the addicts can pay $500 up front and $200 or $300 for each follow-up visit.

“As I’m finding out, it’s rampant,” Zamer said. “Those docs are everywhere.” 

“You can’t really overdose” on Suboxone, Zamer explained, noting how the Community Health Center team members are very strict about requiring patients not to feed any addictions while they are in treatment.   

The federal government also strictly limits Suboxone prescribers like Zamer, who said current regulations cap his allowable patient number at 275.

“The team approach, by far, works the best,” offered Dr. Simor. “We try to treat the whole patient together. Their physical health, mental health and their addiction. It’s the best way to tackle this type of disorder.”

Simor added that part of the solution is helping patients figure out “how they got where they are today.”

She said treatment drugs such as Suboxone can “regulate neurotransmitters” in the brain, but ultimately conquering addiction involves each patient being “engaged” in the entire process.

Patients “can slowly start rebuilding their lives” when they realize that “living a sober life is bringing more enjoyment,” Simor said. The drug gets replaced with “happiness and health and goals, and that becomes what’s important.”

Dr. Rodriguez-Goodemote explained that the “integrated, longitudinal program” at the Community Health Center has been designed with each patient’s “wellness” in mind.

In addition to active drug treatment, information is shared with patients about the topics of nutrition, yoga and meditation. The goal, she said, is to assist patients in dealing with “painful experiences,” whether they are physical, emotional or mental. 

“This should be a set of providers that are with you for as long as you need us,” Rodriguez-Goodemote said. 

In a subsequent email, Rodriguez-Goodemote added: “We saw families and patients struggling with addiction. Access issues. Frustrations with relapse. I was the voice early on, but hospital leadership quickly recognized we had the expertise and the responsibility to commit resources to address this addiction epidemic head-on. And we took on the challenge.” 

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Thursday, 21 September 2017 15:18

Geothermal Partners Plot a Rapid Expansion

Front and gallery photos show the main geothermal unit and the home of Union College professor David Cotter on Charlton Road. Photos by Other gallery photo shows (from left) John Ciovacco, president of Aztech Geothermal; Katie Ullmann, vice president of marketing at Dandelion; and Cotter. Photo by Larry Goodwin. 

CHARLTON – The lawn in front of David Cotter’s quaint country home has yet to fully recover from all the digging done by machines and work crews last spring.

Cotter, a professor of sociology at Union College in Schenectady, is one of about a half-dozen homeowners on the scenic Charlton Road who hired Aztech Geothermal, LLC in Ballston Spa to install a geothermal heating and cooling system.

Thousands of feet of pipe—extending roughly 100 yards away from the house—are now buried six feet below Cotter’s grass. The pipes slowly circulate water through an impressively designed forced-air unit in his basement, which can provide hot or cold air as needed to Cotter and his wife.  

Cotter said they agreed to hire Aztech Geothermal for the job after his old furnace had failed early this year. “The long-term savings were pretty substantial,” he figured, adding that the company was recommended by his neighbors.

On Sept. 7, a statement was released by Dandelion, a geothermal startup firm with an office in Saratoga Springs, announcing a new partnership with Aztech Geothermal. (Both companies provided links to their websites: and  

Dandelion will make initial contact with homeowners interested in geothermal while Aztech will perform the inspections and installs. Homeowners can either pay $20,000 up front with no subsequent costs, or $150 per month over 20 years.

Aztech and Dandelion officials are aiming to rapidly expand the local market for geothermal power, which harnesses the natural energy capabilities of the Earth itself.

“Dandelion is making geothermal heating and cooling affordable by introducing a number of process and technology innovations, including analytics-based marketing, fixed-system pricing, a low monthly payment option and an innovative drilling method,” the statement indicated.

Katie Ullmann, Dandelion’s vice president of marketing, said she is working with Aztech Geothermal to create “classic economies of scale.” A partnership between Dandelion and Hudson Solar was previously announced.

“What we’re doing is targeting towns and blocks,” Ullmann explained, as she was wrapping up a brief visit this week to Cotter’s home for the production of a promotional Dandelion video.

John Ciovacco, president of Aztech Geothermal, said his company has already installed nearly 300 geothermal systems in the Capital Region, primarily using existing ductwork. He expects the new partnership with Dandelion to substantially boost that number, all in the effort to promote the “net zero” concept of local homes powered completely by renewable energy.

Ciovacco said Aztech specializes in “horizontal” geothermal systems like at the Cotters’ home. “You have to minimize the mess,” he said. “This isn’t for everybody.”

He added that numerous properties in Saratoga Springs have utilized the less disruptive “vertical” geothermal installation. Well-drilling companies can be called in and the pipes can be placed 400 feet straight down, which makes a lot fewer holes.

Skidmore College has an extensive geothermal network utilizing the vertical method.   

According to Ciovacco, approximately 2.5 million homes across New York State do not have access to natural gas, which forces property owners to heat with oil, propane or electric. Geothermal should be considered as a viable option for them.   

“It is silly, in today’s world, that we burn so many fossil fuels,” Ciovacco said, as he inspected the geothermal unit in Cotter’s basement and snapped his own pictures.

The unit includes a small “flow center” that quietly circulates water through the system, pumping it in or out as needed, he said.  

Ciovacco said water underground generally conforms to New York’s “average air temperature” of 52 degrees.  

He called the soil, which gets heated by the sun in warmer months, a “long-term solar storage battery.” That stored heat then warms up the unit’s water supply for use in winter, while cooler water is utilized for air conditioning in the summer.

Aztech designs each geothermal project with the specific square footage and energy needs of homes in mind, he added.

“We do tons of math,” Ciovacco said. “When you’ve done 300 of them, it’s not a guess.” 

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Thursday, 21 September 2017 14:39

New ‘Sox’ to Protect Saratoga Lake Shore

Gallery photos show unsightly growth in Saratoga Lake and Leo Nosal Jr.'s shoreline prior to the project. Photos provided. Front photo shows Nosal on Sept. 15 next to his nearly finished Shoresox project. Photo by Larry Goodwin. 

SARATOGA – Leo Nosal Jr. takes pride in keeping a close eye on his family’s 230 acres of property—commonly known as Lee’s Park—on the eastern banks of Saratoga Lake.

These days, Nosal explained last week, concerning him most are the algae blooms and erosion problems that seem to have worsened near the wooden docks he rents to more than 170 boat owners, just north of the Route 9P bridge.

Nosal recently contacted a Florida-based company, Sox LLC Erosion Solutions, to provide a fix for such problems that may prove to be quite effective for many years.

He said the company was recommended by CLA Site, the Saratoga Springs landscape architecture firm. "This is really going to make a big difference," confirmed CLA Site founder Peter Loyola, adding that he has seen related shoreline projects and recommended Sox LLC "for years."*  

At this point, according to Nosal, no local companies happen to offer the same product.  

“The shoreline project was long overdue,” Nosal admitted. “Anybody who has an erosion problem, and values trees and the environment, this is something that definitely works for them.”

The company’s patented Shoresox system consists of large sections of tough burlap and mesh, which are dug in (after the removal of topsoil) and staked according to a specific design. The sections closest to the water can be filled with organic, localized materials such as woodchip mulch. The burlap and mesh are then folded back over to tightly contain those materials (more details are available at

Nosal is only the second customer to order the “sox in a box” package, which Sox LLC offers to those who want to save money by performing their own installation. He might have paid in the range of $60,000 for a full install.  

Nosal said he ordered enough of the product to protect 450 feet of shoreline near his boat docks, and that he plans to complete an additional 360 feet soon. The mulch he used was produced on his property.

The Shoresox system reportedly prevents the runoff of nitrates, phosphates and other chemicals that are suspected of promoting explosions of algae in water bodies. It also allows natural plants to take root, which is viewed by experts as one of the most effective ways to prevent erosion and further protect water quality.

“What he’s doing out there is pretty impressive,” offered Daniel Schaaf, the founder and CEO of Sox LLC, whose round-trip airfare was paid by Nosal as the project began early in the week of Sept. 11.

“You’re average homeowner could do this,” Nosal said, explaining how he hired four trusted laborers and utilized his own machines—excepting one rented excavator—for the work. The project was mostly completed by that Friday afternoon.  

The temperature rose as the week progressed and the shoreline soil was churned up. Nosal said the work is “very physically demanding,” but added that the actual placement of the Shoresox materials “went so smoothly, so easy.” 

Schaaf was invited to the site “due to the size of the project,” Nosal said.

According to Schaaf, erosion problems can be more severe in water bodies that have fluctuating water levels, including Saratoga Lake. The banks are undermined because they dry out as water levels drop and then get saturated again, he said.

“With the sox there, that’s not going to happen again,” he said, noting how many golf courses have installed his system, including one owned by the famed Jack Nicklaus.  

Schaaf said his passion for promoting the Sox LLC system is rooted in a genuine desire to provide solutions for serious environmental problems. He runs a separate company, Midwest Erosion Technologies, which provides dedicated work crews for Shoresox installs or training teams that can explain the installation process.  

The water-quality problems that concern Nosal are affecting lakes and rivers across the entire country, Schaaf continued, noting in particular the emergence of “new hybrid algae” blooms that are toxic, especially in states like Florida.  

The risk of contact with toxic algae is higher for individuals with lacerations on their skin, Schaaf explained, because bacteria “gets into the human body and eats flesh.”

“It’s like a horror movie,” he said.

“It’s so nice to meet a man like Leo,” Schaaf concluded, saying he hopes more New Yorkers will inquire about the Saratoga Lake project and take similar proactive steps to improve their local water quality.

“People have to work together,” Schaaf said. “We’ve got to stop this thing.” 

*All print copies of Saratoga TODAY excluded a reference to the involvement of CLA Site. 

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Front photo provided. Gallery photo shows the main pumpkin patch this week at Sunnyside Gardens. Photo by Larry Goodwin. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – “You just can’t imagine how big they are until you see it.”

That is how Ned Chapman, the longtime owner of Sunnyside Gardens, described the oversized pumpkins that will be delivered to his property later this week from farms across New York and even from neighboring states. 

On Wednesday, Chapman was all smiles in anticipation of hosting his second annual Saratoga Giant PumpkinFest, which runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday. 

Chapman explained that an acquaintance had encouraged him to host the 2016 pumpkin festival after a similar event was canceled previously in Cooperstown. He was not expecting such a large turnout of pumpkin fans.

“I had no idea what we were getting into,” Chapman said. “We were hoping for 1,000 and 6,000 showed up.”

Last year’s giant pumpkins were grown in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont and elsewhere. When asked how farmers manage to grow them so large, Chapman joked that their methods are “top secret.”  

This year, Chapman said he is expecting more than 50 giant pumpkin growers to submit entries for the contest, which offers several thousand dollars in prizes for the winners as judged by pumpkin weight. The largest three entries may be close to 2,000 pounds.

The event at Sunnyside Gardens has been organized both years through the efforts of Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus. 

“He’s working hard on it,” Chapman said.

Other sponsors of the Saratoga PumpkinFest include the Adirondack Trust Company, Stewart’s Shops, Saratoga Honda, Dunkin’ Donuts, Farm Easy Credit, Shelby’s Four Corner Diner, Wallace Organic Wonder, Farm Family, Roohan Realty and more.

Visitors also will be able to enjoy hayrides, cider doughnuts and pumpkin ice cream courtesy of Stewart’s, according to a statement released for the Sept. 23 event.

For more information, visit the website

Thursday, 21 September 2017 14:07

Hospital Gift Shop Volunteers Celebrate 20 Years

In photo, the Saratoga Hospital Gift Shop Steering Committee (left to right): Grace Rosse, Patricia Cross, Noreen Wade, Yolanda Paolicelli, Vicki Milstein and Anne Hunscher. Photo by Larry Goodwin. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Customers in the Saratoga Hospital Gift Shop this weekend are bound to find cheerful women promoting 20 percent discounts, which are being offered to mark the shop’s nearly 20 years of existence.

During a monthly meeting of the Gift Shop Steering Committee on Tuesday, volunteer Yolanda Paolicelli reported that she ranks at the top of the list in hours worked over the course of 20 years, having put in 26,000 hours.

Manager Grace Rosse, who has 30 years of experience in the city’s retail market, and Vicki Milstein are the only two paid staff of about 20 people in the gift shop. The others belong to the Saratoga Hospital Volunteer Guild, which has about 250 members in total, says Director of Volunteer Services Betsy St. Pierre. 

The committee ladies agreed that hospital employees “are our best customers.” 

The gift shop started out in the late 1990s in cramped quarters. The steering committee members praised volunteer Patricia Cross for working “tirelessly” 10 years ago to advocate for a larger space near the main lobby, which is accessible from the hospital’s Church Street entrance.

Cross, who shares with Rosse a retail background in the city, also arranges displays on the gift shop’s racks and shelves and handles the overall design. 

All proceeds from gift shop sales—as well as from sales at Treasure’s Boutique on West Avenue—are managed by the Saratoga Hospital Volunteer Guild for the support of numerous annual donations, explained the steering committee ladies. 

Paolicelli pointed out that includes five $1,500 scholarships awarded to high school students throughout the Capital Region each year who can prove they are serious about “going into the medical field.”

The gift shop discounts are effective through Sunday, Sept. 24, according to Rosse. Its hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 12 to 4 p.m. on weekends.

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