Professor Andrew Corbett. Photo provided.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Modern technology definitely helps Andrew Corbett, PhD, to maintain his notable reputation at Babson College in Massachusetts.
Typically, from Labor Day through early May, the Saratoga Springs resident serves as the Paul T. Babson Chair of Entrepreneurship at the college, located near Boston, as well as the chair of its Entrepreneurship Division.
In an email this week describing his travel routine, Professor Corbett said he either commutes on the Massachusetts Turnpike “once or twice” each week during academic semesters at Babson; or he utilizes “digital assets,” often by teaching courses online in “the comfort of my attic office right here in downtown Saratoga.”
Previously, Corbett taught aspiring business owners for about a decade at the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy.
Brianna Radicioni, the spokeswoman for Babson College, issued a statement recently describing how Corbett had received a positive recognition in an academic journal for the overall usefulness of his research. “Yes, he makes that drive all the time,” she confirmed.
The Journal of Small Business Management, in a September study titled “Contributing Forces in Entrepreneurship Research: A Global Citation Analysis,” had named Corbett among a list of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurship Researchers in the World.”
“The study performed an analysis of all entrepreneurship articles published in leading entrepreneurship and management outlets from 2002 to 2013,” explained Radicioni. “It calculated the volume of work done by professors around the world together with each article’s citation impact (a measure that shows how much a researcher’s work is used by other scholars, entrepreneurs and practicing managers). The study concludes that Corbett ranks 20th in entrepreneurship research impact globally.”
“As a research scholar, Andrew Corbett continually creates impact above and beyond his role as chair, professor and mentor to Babson’s Butler Launchpad accelerator,” offered Babson College Dean of Faculty Bala Iyer. “This global recognition as one of the top 25 contributing authors to entrepreneurship research is well-deserved—one that brings great pride to the entire Babson community, especially its Entrepreneurship Division.”
Aside from the significance of his achievement, Corbett was asked how his work at Babson applies to Saratoga County residents who plan to start their own businesses.
“One thing that we can learn from the canon of entrepreneurship research is that many of the myths people hold are just not true,” he said. “The United States is a country built upon a strong work ethic and the concept of rugged individualism. But that concept of individualism sometimes gets stretched a bit too far in the popular and mainstream press.
“So we see stories on Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk of Tesla, Bill Gates, or Oprah and they are seen as Superman or Superwoman. And, obviously, that is not true,” Corbett added. “The myth of the single, super-entrepreneur is just not accurate.”
Corbett calls Saratoga Springs “a wonderful example of some of my work examining entrepreneurial ecosystems: a system of businesses and institutions that co-exist and co-evolve for betterment of all.”
The “anchor” businesses in the area, such as Saratoga Hospital, Skidmore College and SPAC, combined with the more recent presence of GlobalFoundries, all serve to “create more opportunities,” according to Corbett.
Corbett says his “methodology” proposes that “anybody can be an entrepreneur” with a proper focus on basic realities. “What do you know? Who do you know? What are you interested in?” he advises. “Don’t follow the latest trends or hottest industries, per se, but follow your interests and abilities.
“Think about it as testing your hypothesis with some first potential customers,” he said. “Small steps, small actions. Learn and readjust. It is an act, learn and build model.”
While Corbett sees “a growing opportunity for businesses that can help serve the semiconductor industry,” local entrepreneurs also may find success in technology, design, analytics and advertising, he said, “particularly in the medical area.”
Corbett singled out Fingerpaint on Broadway, noting how “anchors like those both create and attract superior individual talent that often can spin-off on their own to fulfill other growth needs.”
In photos: Sally Ellms (in red apron) enjoys taking part in the process; and Christmas trees being loaded at Ellms Family Farm. Photos by Chip Ellms.
CHARLTON – It is an annual holiday ritual that Chip Ellms has grown accustomed to: dozens of people descending on his family’s property to fill a FedEx trailer full of Christmas trees, which are then shipped to those serving in the military.
“We really have a lot of help,” Ellms said this week, more or less recovered from the flurry of activity on Monday at his Charlton Road farm.
As part of a national Trees for Troops program organized by the FedEx Corp. and the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, more than 150 trees—donated by the Ellms family as well as other local farmers and businesses—were tied up and stacked for delivery to Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
“It brings people a little bit of home,” Ellms said.
For 27 years, Ellms has been selling Christmas trees grown on his family’s roughly 220 acres of property. It was in the early 2000s, he remembered, that a group of New York farmers decided they would start lifting the spirits of U.S. troops with tree donations.
Then FedEx signed on to provide key logistical support.
The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation serves as a liaison between tree suppliers and the U.S. Defense Department to determine where the shipments go each year, Ellms said. One farm in Ohio supplies most of the trees that are sent overseas, he added.
Ellms indicated that he and his wife, Sally, were joined in the Nov. 27 loading by their children Garth and Ashley Ellms DiPaola; active-duty personnel from the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Glenville; students in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District; Girl Scouts; and for the first time, he said, Patriot Guard Riders.
“It’s really my favorite part of Christmas,” offered Sally Ellms.
The young ladies present donated star-themed Christmas ornaments cut from “retired flags” that were previously flown at various municipal offices, according to Chip Ellms.
In a prepared statement, the FedEx Corp. and Christmas SPIRIT Foundation reported that the Trees for Troops program has been organized for 13 years. This year, a delivery “milestone” of 200,000 trees will be surpassed.
The shipments reach every branch of the military, directly impacting service members scattered across domestic and international bases.
“The Trees For Troops program is about more than just delivering trees—we are delivering a piece of the Christmas spirit to our U.S. military and their families,” said Mike Ducker, president and CEO of FedEx Freight. “To be able to say we’ve helped bring more than 200,000 trees to so many of our heroes is an honor, and it shows our appreciation for the sacrifice these men and women and their families have made for our country.”
WILTON – Construction of a new Cumberland Farms store at the intersection of Daniels Road and Maple Avenue is being held up by an environmental cleanup at the site.
Wilton resident Ross Galloway, the site acquisition and development manager for First Hartford Corp. in Connecticut, confirmed last week that a real-estate transaction has not been finalized for the property.
The state Department of Labor is conducting “oversight” of a cleanup project whose completion is required by the current property owner, he explained.
Soil and water tested clean at the site but certain amounts of asbestos and lead paint were found in the debris of a home that was destroyed by fire, according to Galloway.
Previously, Galloway had expected construction of the new Cumberland Farms to start in September, following the issuance of final approvals from Wilton town officials.
“We just want to make sure it’s all clean,” he said.
For more information about asbestos, visit the website https://www.maacenter.org/asbestos/.
Ready for the road in Wilton (left to right): MaryAnne Tagliento, Susie Barber, Thomas R. Drew Sr. and Robin Corrigan. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
WILTON – Earlier this week, Robin Corrigan admitted her relief in knowing that her 2004 Cadillac will no longer be used to transport local seniors to and from the Lillian W. Worth Senior Center on Traver Road.
“It costs me, big time,” Corrigan said.
For the last two years, the senior center director was using her gas-guzzling personal vehicle to transport Wilton residents each week to the cozy space in the town complex.
Of the seniors who gather there regularly for coffee, cookies and games, among other activities, most drive themselves in their own vehicles. Still, a handful do rely on rides.
In September, the Wilton Town Board authorized the purchase of a new van for $37,000 to be used exclusively for that purpose, ensuring that Corrigan is able to remain at the senior center on the days it is open.
On Tuesday, Corrigan and several others took a break from the action inside the senior center to demonstrate the functionality and comfort of the handicap-accessible van that was purchased. Next week, the white Dodge BraunAbility officially goes on the road.
Secretary to the Supervisor Nancy Riely has reviewed the experience and credentials of several driver candidates. She said Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks are part of that process.
Soon, Riely added, Wilton town logos will be affixed to the vehicle.
Corrigan’s husband, John, has been selected as the main driver of the van. Yet several other individuals are being considered as well, including Ann and Charles Collins and Lynn Green, according to Corrigan.
A maximum of four people are allowed in the van for any given trip. At present, only three Wilton seniors require transport each week to and from the Lillian W. Worth center, but that number usually increases in bad weather, Corrigan said.
She added that the main driver should expect to make three separate trips with seniors in the new van, especially on Tuesdays.
BALLSTON SPA – In a small village, a $50,000 increase in the annual cost of health insurance for employees may seem excessive.
Yet local industry analysts say that is among the lowest amounts possible in the long-term trend of escalating health insurance costs.
On Monday, the Ballston Spa Village Board unanimously approved a measure that enables Mayor John Romano to prepare the 2018 contract renewal with MVP Health Care for the village’s employee health-insurance policy.
In its “schedule of salaries and wages” in the current village budget, Ballston Spa lists more than 90 employees, including many different part-timers such as crossing guards and library staff.
The village Police Department alone has six full-time employees and about 18 officers who work part time.
Romano reported that the MVP policy cost would rise from $486,341 in the current contract to $536,382 next year, or an increase of more than 10 percent.
The renewal contract has to be finalized before Dec. 31, he said.
The village has long opted for the most “reasonable” insurance rates for its employees, Romano added, citing the goal of keeping out-of-pocket costs low for them.
“It will be a topic of conversation come budget time,” offered Trustee Noah Shaw, during the discussion prior to the board’s vote.
Shaw indicated that there is no $50,000 “cushion” in the $4.1 million village budget to accommodate the insurance increase.
“Your renewal is the lowest,” offered Richard Schultz, the village’s health insurance broker, who attended the Nov. 27 board meeting.
Schultz said the village’s MVP plan is “by far” the most affordable in comparison to similar plans offered by the region’s three other major insurance companies: BlueShield of Northeastern New York; CDPHP; and Empire BlueCross BlueShield.
“This is the best plan out there in terms of benefits and costs,” he explained.
Schultz said “any health-care encounter” by employees—filling a prescription, a routine doctor visit, a sudden trip to the emergency room, etc.—drives up costs in the annual policy of any municipality.
The rate increase in Ballston Spa is simply part of a trend that has lasted for about 12 years, according to Schultz.
“All the plans across the board, across the entire spectrum, have seen double-digit increases,” he said. “There’s no way to soft-sell or sugar coat it.”
Schultz pointed to more than 60 New York State mandates that complicate healthcare decisions at the local level. Those mandates contain provisions that must be included “in every single health insurance policy,” he said.
Kelly Smith, vice president of sales at MVP Health Care, said efforts are being made at the federal level to allow out-of-state companies access to New York’s health insurance marketplace, which currently excludes them.
That type of change may drive down overall costs, she said, but New Yorkers would most likely find that cheaper policies equal less comprehensive insurance coverage.
“Our regulators simply won’t allow those types of policies to exist in New York,” Smith said. She called the New York healthcare market “robust” and “below where the national average is” in terms of increased costs for consumers.
For every $1 spent by the village, according to Smith, 85 to 90 cents “cover pure health care costs,” including upwards of 30 cents just for prescription drug coverage. She said the recent popularity of expensive “specialty drugs” has further complicated the matter.
“We have a very large problem in this country with pharmaceutical spending and how to control costs,” Smith explained.
For its prescription coverage, Smith said MVP partners with “the largest purchaser of pharmaceutical drugs in the country,” CVS Caremark, and “constantly” seeks ways to lower costs for consumers.
In addition, Smith said, MVP staffers work directly with hospitals to ensure that patients are not “being re-admitted to the hospital for the same condition.”
It is more than likely that 20 percent of the employees in Ballston Spa “are driving 80 percent of the costs,” Smith continued.
Ultimately, she said, people “need to take some accountability” for reducing insurance costs by living healthier lifestyles.
“We want people to go to the doctor for preventative health,” she added. But patients also should fully consider where they obtain medical care and the specific services they choose to utilize.
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Melanie Foundation Founder and President George O’Donnell (center, in glasses) was joined by his son Kennan, Vicki and Steve Merola, Saratoga Senior Center Executive Director Lois Celeste, volunteers and patrons at the check presentation on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. Photo by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – If Melanie Merola O’Donnell is watching from somewhere up above, chances are she is very impressed by the throngs of people who conquer racecourses on city streets and through the state park every September in her memory.
A special type of gratitude should be reserved for the “incredible group of young women” who organize the annual event, says her mother, Vicki Merola.
On Wednesday, Nov. 22, a $15,000 check was presented to the Saratoga Senior Center from proceeds generated by the Sept. 17 Half Marathon and 5K Run and Walk, which for 12 years has been promoted by Merola O’Donnell’s family and friends.
The Saratoga Palio: Melanie Merola O’Donnell Memorial Race happens on the third Sunday every September, starting at the City Center and finishing in Congress Park. The half-marathon participants run through most of the Saratoga Spa State Park.
The event was first organized in 2006 several months after a drug-impaired driver reportedly caused a motor vehicle crash that took the life of Merola O’Donnell, a city native and mother to 21-month-old Kennan at the time.
At 33 years old, Merola O’Donnell was a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at a New Hampshire graduate school; she also was actively involved in local, national and international efforts to provide rape and domestic violence services and disaster relief, according to her January 2006 obituary published in the Times Union.
Her husband, George O’Donnell, promptly established the Melanie Foundation after his family’s tragic loss. The nonprofit raises money for the Palio event in September and for college students who specialize in mental health, as well as for community donations.
The Melanie Foundation board chose the Saratoga Senior Center as the recipient of this year’s main award because it serves seniors who have been “marginalized,” Vicki Merola explained, when contacted this week for comment.
The Saratoga Senior Center, located at 5 Williams Street, “is trying to do a lot of positive things in the community” on matters often perceived as not “popular,” she added.
Merola called her daughter Melanie “a classy lady” who left behind numerous close friends in the community. Several of those friends now serve on the foundation board with Merola or on the Palio race committee.
A family friend named Mimi, who is close to her other daughter Michelle, initially devised the idea to organize an athletic race every year, according to Merola.
A number of dedicated women “are doing a good job of making this a classy event,” Merola said, considering the logistical challenges involved in such planning.
The next memorial race for Merola O’Donnell is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018.
The Avenue of the Pines recreation trail. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
BALLSTON SPA - The City of Saratoga Springs was dealt a setback this week in its attempts to seize properties through eminent domain proceedings, as a means to start construction of the Geyser Road recreational trail.
On Monday, according to a statement provided by attorney Karl Sleight of the law firm Harris Beach, state Supreme Court Judge Robert J. Chauvin issued a 60-day stay that "prevents the city from taking title" to properties on Geyser Road owned by the Saratoga Spring Water Company, the Pompay family and the Village of Ballston Spa.
Those three "petitioners" are represented by Sleight in a lawsuit filed this October in the state Appellate Division in Albany. The petitioners are "seeking a review of the City's compliance with environmental and eminent domain procedures," Sleight said.
For nearly 10 years, outgoing Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen and many residents have strongly supported construction of the recreation trail (among them dozens of homeowners in Geyser Crest, in the city's outer district). Plans call for it to be built on the north side of Geyser Road in a manner similar to the popular Avenue of the Pines trail east of Route 50. Proponents say it will provide runners and bikers with a vital link between the city's other trails and the Town of Milton.
Yet Sleight said city officials "plowed forward" with eminent domain proceedings against his clients, calling Monday's ruling by Chauvin "a very big win" that would allow the Appellate Divsion case to proceed without complication. Chauvin's 60-day stay expires on Jan. 19, 2018.
Earlier this year, Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano voiced concerns about the increased risk of public access to the village's property and water infrastructure. Some of those pipes, he said, are located underground where the Geyser Road trail would be built.
Other local residents have criticized the plan because of the dangers posed to trail users by heavy tractor trailer traffic connected to the W.J. Grande Industrial Park.
Sleight said he strongly recommends that the city reconsider a proposal made this summer by the Saratoga Eagle and Slack Chemical companies to access 54 acres of land they own to build the trail, rather than proceed with the Geyser Road plan. He called it "the Duplainville Woods alternative."
"Spending taxpayer dollars on constructing the safer, Duplainville Woods alternative would seem wiser than litigating this and possibly ending up with no trail at all," Sleight said.
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A tin can with bullet holes found in the Louden Road nature preserve in Wilton; and signs posted in the parking area. Photos by Larry Goodwin.
BALLSTON SPA – Apparently, in a wooded area east of the Wilton Mall, what one town resident calls “common sense” does not deter gun enthusiasts from disturbing nearby homeowners by shooting trees and cans at will.
This week, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors voted to officially ban target shooting in the natural preserve, which occupies 60-plus acres of county-owned land in Wilton.
New signs have been placed to discourage gun owners and the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department will enforce the ban, effective Jan. 1, 2018.
The woods are popular among local residents for walking trails. But many have voiced complaints to town and county officials about a sharp increase—over several years—in the noises and inherent dangers associated with the daily presence of target shooters.
“The last three years have been hell for everybody,” claimed Carlyle Terrace resident Kyle Fillion, during a Nov. 15 public hearing that focused on the matter at the county complex in Ballston Spa.
According to minutes of that hearing prepared by county Board of Supervisors Clerk Pamela Wright, only seven residents signed up to speak and not one voiced opposition to the target-shooting ban.
The ban does not apply to properly licensed seasonal hunters in the preserve who adhere to New York State hunting laws.
Fillion said county supervisors should be made aware of the “weaponry” being used, lamenting the “trees that have been shot down, cut down, mowed down.”
Kempton Place property owner Bill Morris said he supports the county ban due to the significant amount of development that has occurred near the nature preserve. He also faulted target shooters for routinely leaving bullet shell casings behind.
Ted Van De Ven, a Cedarcrest Drive resident, indicated that he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—the one that prevents federal lawmakers from infringing upon the rights of Americans to purchase and possess guns.
Still, Van De Ven said, he “couldn’t even believe that it was legal” for people to shoot targets on the land north of Louden Road in Wilton.
“Go join a gun range. Go do it safe,” he said.
Sally Gangell, another Carlyle Terrace resident, also called the situation “a living hell” that makes many local dogs uneasy.
On the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 19, a woman walking her little dog in the preserve said she had neither seen nor heard target shooters that day. She explained that they usually become active later in the afternoon. Like Fillion, she also noted how their bullets have felled numerous trees through the years.
“These people that are out there target shooting, they’ve got no regard for anyone but themselves,” offered Alan Kindl, a military veteran and resident of Ingersoll Road, at the Nov. 15 public hearing. “This goes on in the morning and all day long. All we hear is constant shooting and I don’t know if they are too cheap to just go join a range or what.
“It’s gotten to the point now where I’m not a big advocate of legislating common sense, but I think that’s what we have here,” Kindl concluded.
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Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
MALTA – A yearlong effort by the town supervisor to promote more parking spaces has produced results at Ellsworth Commons, a prominent mixed-use commercial and residential plaza on Route 9.
Earlier this month, work crews hired by Ellsworth Commons eliminated grassy areas at the edge of Route 9 to create nearly 30 additional parking spaces in front of the two most visible buildings at the plaza.
Malta Supervisor Vincent DeLucia said the minor road construction followed a lobbying effort on his part that started in late 2016.
“I kept insisting that the owners of Ellsworth Commons” do the work, he said, “even though I didn’t have the authority or control.”
The original site plans for Ellsworth Commons included the same parking spaces but were ultimately modified to include the grassy areas instead, according to DeLucia.
The state Department of Transportation (DOT) has authority over projects on roads such as Route 9.
DeLucia said the DOT’s approval of the project is at least partially connected to the Town of Malta’s wider effort to reduce speed limits.
The Malta town complex is located directly across from Ellsworth Commons. Currently, the area speed limit is 30 m.p.h., but many drivers travel much faster than that as they either enter or leave a 45 m.p.h. zone only a short distance to the north.
Ellsworth Commons offers 70,000 square feet of retail space and more than 300 apartments. Yet some local residents have questioned town leaders about longstanding problems with commercial vacancy rates at the plaza.
DeLucia said that apartments in Ellsworth Commons have “the highest percentage of rentals” due to the proximity of GlobalFoundries.
A call to Ellsworth Commons for comment was not returned.
For more information, visit the website http://ellsworthcommons.info/.
Kate Walsh and Max Yurenda pose last week near a photo of Double H Ranch founders Charles Wood and Paul Newman. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – On the night of Thursday, Nov. 16, tall outdoor flame heaters and about a dozen valet parking attendants in red jackets were enlivening Broadway in front of the newly remodeled Adelphi Hotel. The valets were on guard for the arrivals of well-dressed supporters of the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne.
A fundraiser for Double H Ranch had been organized in the Adelphi Hotel’s spacious ballroom as much to celebrate the hotel’s recent renovation, as it was to reflect on the nearly 25 years in which hundreds of children have found new friends and a welcoming staff at the Lake Luzerne facility.
The nonprofit Double H Ranch, founded by philanthropist Charles R. Wood and the late actor Paul Newman, provides summer camp experiences and year-round activities free of charge to children with serious health problems. Its doors first opened in 1993, on the Fourth of July holiday.
Max Yurenda, the executive director and CEO of Double H Ranch, excitedly greeted supporters as they arrived in the Adelphi Hotel’s main lobby. Yurenda was pleased to announce the start of a “long-term partnership” with the hotel for similar events.
Kate Walsh, the Double H Ranch sales and communications director, reported that 175 people had signed up for the Nov. 16 fundraiser.
According to a statement provided by Rubenstein Public Relations, ticket prices ranged from $125 for young professionals (30 and under) to $175 for general admission. Guests enjoyed multiple dishes and desserts prepared by the Adelphi Hotel’s “culinary team,” as well as the music of Garland Nelson’s Soul Session.
Separately, staff at the Double H Ranch are organizing a “Camper Holiday Party” on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the nonprofit’s main location, 97 Hidden Valley Road in Lake Luzerne.
On Wednesday, Dec. 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., there also will be a viewing of a new documentary film at Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas, located at 19 Railroad Place in Saratoga Springs. The film is titled “Double H Ranch—Magic Happens Here.”
Tickets are limited for the documentary viewing and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information, visit the website https://www.doublehranch.org/.