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Friday, 13 March 2015 10:01

The Price of Growth

Luther Forest Pushing for Tax Incentives to Further Develop Campus

SARATOGA COUNTY – Malta’s Luther Forest Technology Campus is home to a huge economic development project – the U.S. production site for GlobalFoundries Inc., the world’s second-largest computer chip manufacturing plant. 

Since settling into the Luther Forest Technology Campus, GlobalFoundries has shattered its projected growth. The $10 billion plant now employs roughly 3,000 people and is planning to expand its 1.7-million-square-foot foundry. Just last month, GlobalFoundries proposed adding nearly 500 parking spaces to Fab 8, bringing the total available parking to 2,832 spaces.

While a record incentives package totaling over $2 billion from New York state helped attract GlobalFoundries to the area, LFTC is struggling to acquire other technology-oriented tenants, as evidenced by the fact that the rest of the 1,400-acre campus remains undeveloped.

Representatives from LFTC say the campus needs local tax incentives to attract high-tech businesses and the thousands of jobs that they bring. Developers point out that local law blocks PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) incentives for Luther Forest and that the campus is not eligible for Start-Up New York incentive programs. 

The Luther Forest Technology Campus Economic Development Corporation (owner and developer) recently submitted a new draft environmental impact statement to the Malta Town Board, citing these concerns and is requesting certain amendments to the 2004 Luther forest Technology Campus Planned Development District.

The requests of LFTCEDC have the backing of the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency (SCIDA). The group has submitted a letter to Malta Town Supervisor Paul Sausville, citing its support.

“The State has invested approximately $120 million in infrastructure development to support the Campus…the towns, county and Agency have also invested their time and monies to ensure that the Campus is a success,” SCIDA stated in the letter. “Without the requested changes all that investment may continue to go unfulfilled. We urge the town decision makers to take affirmative action on the applicant's request.”

The SCIDA believes the amendments LTFCEDC is requesting are “the essential element” needed to attract new high-tech companies, capital investment and well-paying jobs to the county. The organization also says the prohibition against the granting of tax abatements (with the exception of GlobalFoundries) to those companies potentially interested in setting up shop in LFTC, puts the campus in a non-competitive position.

“GlobalFoundries is the only company in there {LFTC] after 10 years and it’s just not acceptable for many reasons. One being the public investment that was made here,” said Larry Benton, President of SCIDA. “People get hung up on granting tax incentives, but they’re a part of doing business today and attracting companies from state to state, from county to county.”

In fact, one of LFTC’s biggest competitors is the NYSERDA Step Park, which is located adjacent to the campus. Because the park is owned by NYSERDA, the businesses housed there – such as General Electric – are not required to pay property tax, according to Benton.

Benton and the SCIDA would also like to see the list of “allowable uses” of the campus expanded. During the initial planning of the campus, the focus was on the nano-technology industry; but since that zoning was adopted, GlobalFoundries continues to be the only tenant of LFTC. Benton says broadening the allowable uses could attract other high-tech businesses to the campus.

“The IDA has committed to making an investment of its own money into the park if these changes are made,” said Benton. “Hopefully reason will prevail…I think if these changes are made, we’re going to see some significant activity in there and it probably wouldn’t be too long before we get another company in there, in my opinion.”

Supervisor Sausville released his comments from the public hearing Monday, March 2 regarding LFTC’s third draft supplemental environmental impact statement. Sausville requested the developers address eight areas of their application: identify IDA tax abatement incentives; develop a campus financial plan; determine financial impact on government; determine future maintenance/repair of campus roads; show the depreciating assessment for semiconductor manufacturing; address Start-Up New York eligibility; sponsor a process for reviewing/revising proposed amendments; and evaluate  the application’s consistency with the Town of Malta’s Economic Development Plan.

Sausville could not be reached for comment. 

Friday, 06 March 2015 11:36

Glitz & Glamour: Saratoga Elegance Opens

Local Seamstress, Fashion Lover Takes Over Former Bird of Paradise Boutique

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Nestled inside the historic Grant Plaza in downtown Saratoga Springs is the city’s newest formal wear boutique – Saratoga Elegance. While the location might ring a bell for many, as it was formerly the home of Bird of Paradise, the boutique is now under the ownership of Yana La Page. 

Bird of Paradise Boutique operated for more than 30 years under the direction of Denise Eliopulos and later, Connie Redgrave. A community favorite and formal wear boutique staple, La Page says when the business went up for sale she knew it would be the perfect fit for her.

“I purchased the business and decided to give it a fresh start…new owner, new name,” said La Page. “I love dresses and gowns.”

La Page is also a seamstress and owner of Saratoga’s “WillFitUin” alterations, specializing in four key areas with high quality precision and craftsmanship: wedding gowns, prom gowns, tailored alterations, and custom-designed clothing. Her experience as a seamstress, La Page says, gives her an advantage when consulting with women searching for the perfect dress for a special occasion.

“I can look at a customer’s skin tone, hair color and body type and find dresses they’ll look great in because I know the structure of the garment and how they’re made,” said La Page. “And if a customer loves a garment that needs to be altered, I can tell whether that garment can be altered and still look great.”

Saratoga Elegance has been in operations for the last two months and while the name and ownership have changed, the boutique still carries collections from favorite designers like Sue Wong, Sophia Tolli and Beverly Siri and has hundreds of dresses and gowns to choose from.

La Page recently attended several fashion shows in New York City and hand-picked garments for the boutique, incorporating new styles and color palates. From high-school aged clients searching for that perfect prom gown, to mothers looking for a “Mother of the Bride” dress, La Page says she keeps every customer in mind when picking out garments for the boutique.

Although Saratoga Elegance is a rather new business, La Page is already looking to the future and hopes to grow the boutique and possibly combine both Saratoga Elegance and “WillFitUin” one day.

“We would love to expand. I’d like to carry even more gowns and eventually carry accessories to be a one-stop-shop,” said La Page. “That way, it’s more convenient for customers to have their accessories paired together with their gowns by someone with a professional eye. I’d also like to have both of my businesses in one building so if alterations needed to be done, customers wouldn’t have to go anywhere else.”

La Page says she’s also looking to grow further into the realm of custom-designed pieces and being able to provide plus-sized dresses and gowns.

 

“We love to make women look beautiful for their special day,” said La Page. 

Saratoga, Ballston Spa Students Put Math and Science Knowledge to the Test

SARATOGA COUNTY – Thousands of middle and high school students across the U.S. will soon be pitting their math and science knowledge – and their reflexes – against one another in regional competitions of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Science Bowl (NSB). 

2015 marks the 25th National Science Bowl, which the DOE Office of Science launched to interest today’s youth in pursuing careers in science and math.

Maple Avenue Middle School and Ballston Spa Middle School will compete against teams from Albany, Cherry Plain, Delmar, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Scotia on Saturday, March 7 at the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, to determine the team to represent the region in the middle school National Finals of the NSB.

The winner of the regional competition will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Office of Science’s National Science Bowl in late April and the winner of the national competition will win prizes for the team members and their schools.

This is the first year in the last decade, at least, that Maple Avenue Middle School has a science bowl team to send to the regional competition. The team consists of Julianna Hachenski, an eighth grader who also serves as the team captain; Quinn Montgomery, eighth grade; Rian Davis, seventh grade; Corwin Freedman, seventh grade; and Alec Johnson, seventh grade. Science teacher, John Scrivo, is the team’s advisor and coach.

“These guys wanted to do it. They approached me saying they wanted to participate in the science bowl, so it was all student driven,” said Scrivo. “Honestly, I just supply the food and the questions and I’ve made t-shirts, that’s really what I’ve done. The kids have done all of the leg work themselves.”

“We all like science,” quipped Davis.

“And we’re all kind of competitive at times,” added Freedman.

“Team Nerdy,” as they proudly call themselves – they even have t-shirts that say that using the periodic table of elements – practices every Wednesday after school for an hour, sometimes longer, preparing for Saturday’s competition. While the students are focused on winning, they’re also appreciative of the friendships that blossomed through their mutual interests in science.  

“I really like that we all just got to know each other,” said Hachenski. “There are not a lot of opportunities for seventh and eighth graders to combine.”

The team over at Ballston Spa Middle School, however, isn’t new to the Science Bowl. Ballston Spa has sent a team to regionals every year for the past decade, at least.

Coached by sixth grade science teacher Hilary Northrup and a volunteer of 9 years, Roberta Nahill, the Ballston Spa team consists of seven students: Paige Crouther, eighth grade; Ethan  Tabachneck, eighth grade; Tommy Anderson, eighth grade; Natalie DiStefano, seventh grade; Caitlin Doyle, seventh grade; Kiana Pearson, seventh grade; and Renee Madcharo, seventh grade.

“The kids have been incredibly motivated this year,” said Nahill. “We have a very bright and vivacious group, so we’re pretty confident that we should make a good showing.”

“They are so smart,” added Northrup. “They really put in 110 percent and that’s motivating for a teacher.”

“We’re like a big, science bowl family,” said Madcharo.

With an almost even mix of seventh and eighth graders, the team agrees everyone brings their individual strengths. The team recently finished its entry for the electric car competition, a featured event for middle school teams at the science bowl. The electric car competition invites students to design, build, and race battery-powered model cars, testing the creative engineering skills of the participating teams.

There’s no question the Ballston Spa team is confident in their entry.

“We’re looking forward to a first place trophy,” said Anderson.

 

In 1991, some 500 high school students vied to become the first NSB National Champions. Today, the NSB draws more than 14,000 middle- and high-school competitors. Approximately 240,000 students have faced off in the NSB Finals since that first competition. 

Friday, 20 February 2015 13:06

Blue Streaks Prep for Worlds

Robotics Team to Compete in Kentucky

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Only in its second year, the Blue Streak Robotics Team at Saratoga Springs High School is already making a name for itself. The team recently qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championship and will head to Louisville, Kentucky this spring to compete with and against the best of the best.  

The road to qualifying for the World Championship, let alone being considered as one of the top robotics teams on a global scale, was one filled with laborious evenings designing and building robots for entry into multi-state competitions throughout the school year.

The teams built robots to perform critical tasks in competitions – the more tasks the robot completes in the allotted time, the more points each team can earn, and the highest scoring team is the winner.

From conceptualization and design, to prototyping, full-scale assembly and programming, these students weren’t just exposed to robotics and STEM-related work – they lived it.

The Blue Streaks Robotics Team is comprised of three teams in itself – two teams of ninth graders and one team of sophomores and juniors. All three teams competed in the Northern NY VEX Toss Up State Championship at Onondaga Community College Sunday, Jan. 25 and all three finished in the top 10 after 78 rounds of qualification matches. In the end, it was Saratoga’s team consisting of Mitchell Gerhardt, Paul Harrington, Derek Raushi, Lucas Beitzell, Elizabeth Palmer and Stephen Furstoss who came out on top.

“There were 39 teams there from all across the Northern New York region,” said Preston Sweeney, club advisor and technology teacher at Maple Avenue Middle School. “The championship round was Saratoga versus Saratoga, so that was exciting…having our team compete against each other at the same time. The team of upperclassmen pulled out a victory and now they’re headed to worlds.”

While only one of Saratoga’s teams will compete at the world championship, it’s all hands on deck in preparation for the event taking place April 15-18 at the Kentucky Exposition Center. The team, comprised of six students, will go up against the top teams from over 400 VEX Robotics tournaments happening in cities around the world from June 2014 through March 2015.

Sweeney says he would like to take the other two teams to the world championship as well, to support the qualifying team and to network with other high school students who share their interest and passion for robotics.

“The team that qualified is going to Louisville, but my plan is to bring all of the kids because it’s such a great experience,” said Sweeney. “They’re going to see robots down there that do incredible things and just to be a part of that global community, it’s important.”

But making the trek to Louisville, Kentucky isn’t cheap. Sweeney estimates the trip will cost around $15,000 total. The Blue Streaks are also trying to work with Granville High School and Rome Free Academy, both also qualified for the world championship, to possibly organize travel on a charter bus.

“We have a little bit of money in our team account for the registration, which is $850,” said Sweeney. “A charter bus will be about $10,000 and the hotel will be about $5,000. It’s a big chunk of money. Clubs aren’t really funded through the district, so we’re kind of on our own and we’re trying to make it happen.”

The team is exploring business sponsorships and other fundraising opportunities. They’ve even set up a “Go Fund Me” page to help raise the remaining $13,000. So far, they’ve received a little more than $1,500 through their page. To make a donation, visit gofundme.com/mc0do8.

“This season has definitely exceeded my expectations,” said Sweeney. “I remember having a conversation with them three months ago where we didn’t think we would make it to state. Now, we won the state tournament and we’re headed to worlds…it’s just incredible what they’ve accomplished. They’re a phenomenal, dedicated group of kids.”

The team is taking a well-deserved break and will reconvene in March to make preparations to their robot before it hits the world stage.

 

VEX Robotics, the largest and fastest growing middle and high school robotics program globally. Roughly 4,800 teams from 20 countries comprise VEX and play in over 300 tournaments worldwide.

Friday, 20 February 2015 11:37

Local Dairy Farm Fundraising for Creamery

Curtiss Family Hopes to Make More Products from their Raw Milk

BALLSTON SPA – The Willow Marsh Dairy Farm in Ballston Spa has been selling raw cow’s milk from generation to generation; and with the enthusiasm for raw milk gaining ground, it’s only fitting the business is looking to expand operations by building a creamery. 

Owned by the Curtiss family, the 234-acre farm sells a variety of dairy products at their farm store located at 343 Hop City Road. While they’re famous for their raw milk, Willow Marsh is one of the only farms in New York State licensed to sell it.

“It took us five years to get certified to sell raw milk because you have to pass various inspections to make sure our milk and our barns are up to standard,” said Kayla Curtiss, employee and fundraising coordinator at Willow Marsh. “

The family also makes small batches of cheese and yogurt from their sweet, cream-on-top, raw milk, but they don’t want to stop there; they say they’d like to create more dairy products from their infamous raw milk.

“We want to make more things out of it like ice cream and butter and we want to be able to sell our cream and chocolate milk,” said Kayla.

The Curtiss family says the demand for fresh and local products is growing at a rate they can’t keep up with – they need a creamery to help them manufacture at capacity. So the Curtiss family turned to Crowd Rise, a fundraising website, to help them reach their $500,000 goal.

“As of now, we’re making the cheese and yogurt off-site, which is a huge time consumption,” said Chuck Curtiss, owner of Willow Marsh. “Putting the creamery together here would make it much more efficient and really streamline the whole operation. There are so many different dairy products we could be making, and it’s frustrating right now because we can’t do it.”

Not only is the Curtiss family setting out to fundraise for their creamery dreams, they’re also looking to educate dairy lovers about raw milk. The health virtues of raw milk are constantly pitted against the concerns over dangerous bacterial pathogens. Studies show nine million Americans, roughly three percent of the population, drink raw milk on a regular basis – either from cow, sheep or goat. Raw milk is said to improve the immune system and prevent asthma with its powerful enzymes, antibodies, and flora of bacteria. Raw-milk enthusiasts say this unpasteurized, un-homogenized milk, straight-from-the-cow’s udders, poses very little health risk when it comes from a clean dairy farm with periodic bacterial testing. The Curtiss family says their farm is tested twice monthly and consistently passes health inspections.

“We monitor every cow very closely, every day, every milking. It’s very important. The cows have to be cleaned and they have to have their udders checked every milking, etc. There’s a lot to it and we take it very seriously,” said Chuck. “Raw milk…it comes straight out of the cow and that’s what makes it sell so well, because it tastes exceptionally good. If you keep your raw product in a higher standard than what the end product of pasteurization would be, you’re better off…but it takes a lot of work and there’s a lot of focus to it.”

The 30 milking cows on Willow Marsh Farm are milked twice daily – once at 6 a.m. and again at 6 p.m.; providing the milk, cheese and yogurts the Curtiss family love to sell and many customers love to buy.

“There are people who come from hours away and buy 12 gallons at a time to take home,” said Kayla.

“Seeing how widely, positively accepted all of the products are…there’s no question the products will sell as fast as we can make it,” added Chuck.

The Willow Marsh Farm store is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The store is closed on Tuesday. For more information and to donate, visit willowmarshfarm.com. 

Friday, 20 February 2015 11:35

Code Blue Needs Help

Record Number of People Seeking Shelter

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A Code Blue is in effect in many cities across the area, including Saratoga Springs. With the great amount of snowfall, freezing temperatures and harsh winds, Code Blue Saratoga Springs (CBSS) is providing much-needed shelter to around 40 people a night. 

The emergency shelter serves the homeless citizens of Saratoga Springs who might otherwise remain unsheltered during periods of extreme winter weather – defined by the shelter as 12 inches of snow or more and temperature of 20 degrees or less, including wind chill factor.

Volunteers say the shelter, located in the Salvation Army Center on Woodlawn Avenue, has already welcomed guests more nights this winter than during all of last year. Code Blue Saratoga Springs has been open for 31 consecutive nights and is scheduled to remain open through Sunday, Feb. 22 – a record stretch for the organization.

“This is only our second year so the history isn’t that long, but this is definitely the most we’ve been open consecutively,” said Ron Deutsch, steering committee member for Code Blue Saratoga Springs. “And there’s no end in sight, it seems, so it’s essential that we’re open because we’re averaging 40 or more people a night. Last year, we were averaging about 20 people a night and at the beginning of this winter season, we averaged 20 a night as well.”

The record-high number of those needing shelter also means Code Blue needs more volunteers. While more than 150 community members have worked shifts since the start of winter, the frigid weather has put a damper on volunteer sign-ups.

Deutsch says while CBSS has had a great outpouring of volunteers from the community and great support, the shifts most challenging to staff are the ones between the hours of midnight to 8 a.m., where they need volunteers the most. CBSS is also looking for volunteers for other shifts throughout the day, to help alleviate the current volunteers who have donated their time day after day.

“We’re getting some volunteer fatigue as well from a lot of diehard volunteers who work a lot at the shelter,” said Deutsch. “We’ve just been open so many nights that they really need some new blood in terms of volunteers.”

There are a variety of different shifts available for interested volunteers including: setup – preparing the shelter for operation; meals pickup – delivering food to the shelter donated by local restaurants and families; kitchen/cook – serving and preparing food and cleaning the kitchen afterward; companions – greet guests, help them settle in, generally help keep everyone comfortable and welcomed; cleanup – preparing the shelter for the next day’s operation; laundry pickup and delivery; and shift supervisor.

Volunteers say it takes a community to help a community and they’re hopeful that Code Blue will be able to meet the needs of everyone needing shelter.

“The guests at our shelter are extremely grateful to everyone that’s volunteering and really appreciate the fact that they have a warm bed they can sleep in at night and a hot meal in the evenings as well as breakfast in the morning,” said Deutsch. “Volunteering is beneficial to the guests, but beneficial to the individual as well…you get quite a big out of it…more than you realize.”

 

To sign up as a volunteer, or to donate supplies, meals or money, visit codebluesaratoga.org. For those seeking shelter, Code Blue will continue to be open through Sunday, Feb. 22. 

Friday, 13 February 2015 12:21

Snow Angels

Local Family “Plows” it Forward

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Old Man Winter made another appearance this week, bringing even more snow to upstate New York; but the recent storm also brought out Good Samaritan activity. A local family, with help from their neighbor, took to the streets after the snowstorms to clear the way for neighbors, family members and strangers. 

Lee Rothaupt, with help from sons Brian and Christopher and their neighbor, Zachary, have spent the last week putting their shovels and snow blowers to good use, helping people clear snow from their homes, sidewalks and driveways. Lee says it all began with one elderly woman who needed help clearing snow that had blocked her van so it wouldn’t get towed.

“From there it just kept going,” said Lee. “I’d say we’ve done about 50 just from Facebook, but while we were out we’d see other people who were stuck in driveways and we’d help them too.”

Once word spread online that this team of snow angels were helping those in need, requests for snow removal assistance came pouring in via Facebook. Lee’s wife, Debbie, says she compiles lists when she gets home from work and the messages have jumped in the thousands.

“The last I looked at it, Monday night, we had over 1,500 and it’s still going,” said Debbie. “My heart goes out to the guys because I worry about them when they go out.”

The guys don’t accept payment of any kind. All they ask of the people they help is to pay it forward. They’re hoping their efforts will start a chain reaction of kindness throughout the community.

“One woman tried to throw $30 in the window and we took it and put it back in her mailbox and drove away before she could give it back to us,” said Brian. “We went on our way, we don’t want anything, and we just want people to pay it forward.”

“We’re just like everybody else. We live paycheck to paycheck, we survive, we get by,” added Debbie. “But if we can do something for somebody else who is in a little more dire need than we are…it’s all about helping people and hoping that they’ll pay it forward.”

The family’s kind acts have even inspired one snow removal company in Glens Falls to help some customers at no cost.

“We’ve got snow blowers and shovels, but he’s got plows and snow blowers…he’s got it all,” laughs Lee. “We have one new snow blower, one old snow blower that’s about to go out and three shovels.”

The word “help” seems to be the connecting theme for this family. Lee says he met Debbie while helping her fix her car and their daughter, 6-year-old Danni, is planning on raising chickens this spring to give the eggs to the hungry.

"It's better to give than to receive," said Lee. 

Northshire Bookstore Transforms into Hogwarts for Magical Night

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Aspiring wizards and witches flocked to Saratoga’s Northshire Bookstore Thursday, Feb. 5, to take part in the first-ever global Harry Potter Book Night. The world-wide celebration saw schools, libraries, bookstores and community centers join Bloomsbury UK Publishing to celebrate the work of J.K. Rowling. 

The global book night was intended to give new and existing fans a chance to share the Harry Potter stories and to introduce the next generation of readers to the magic of Hogwarts. The Northshire team transformed the bookstore into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, setting the mood for the dozens of Harry Potter fans who attended, for a magical night of activities and events.

Bookseller Amelia Stymacks, who dressed up as Bellatrix Lestrange for the event, helped organize Northshire’s Harry Potter Book Night. She says she grew up reading and loving the Harry Potter series.

“I’m a Harry Potter fan,” said Amelia Stymacks, bookseller. “I have vivid memories of doing Harry Potter weeks at my local library and we used to do a lot of things like this, so it’s fun to be taking charge and organizing it now.”

Fans of the film and book franchise enjoyed participating in a scavenger hunt to find horcruxes and hallows, designing wands, trivia, eating some Harry Potter-themed treats, and fortune telling from one of the professors from the magical school.

Many opted to come as Harry Potter himself, complete with drawn-on lightning bolt scars, glasses and wands, like 8-year-old Charlie, a local fan.

“Somehow, I’m in Ravenclaw,” said Charlie after being sorted into one of the four houses at Hogwarts; Harry Potter was famously in Gryffindor. “I like Ron the most…I like the humor.”

Friends Logan, 8, Roman, 6, and Avery, 8, came as infamous Hogwarts students Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger.

“My favorite is Hermione because she knows all of the spells and she has the time turner,” said Avery.

“Harry went down in the Chamber of Secrets and it was so cool how he just pulled the sword out of his pocket,” said Roman.

“It was Dumbledore!” added Logan. “He was the one in the mirror!”

For Rachel Person, Northshire’s events and community outreach coordinator, organizing an event where readers can experience a book coming to life is rewarding and having that event be so well-received by the community is even better.

“Getting kids excited and engaged about books and seeing it not as this thing that is an assignment is essential,” said Person. “Maybe I’m a little biased, but things like this that show kids reading is exciting, reading is cool, reading is a party…I feel so happy to bring events like this into town because it can turn people into lifelong readers.”

Indicative of the great turnout, Charlie, Logan, Roman and Avery are examples of how the Harry Potter series continues to transcend generations and remain a popular book choice after all this time.

“For me, it’s always been the friendships and loyalty between the characters,” said Stymack. “…and it’s surprisingly relatable for such a difference universe. You have all of the school drama and the bullies, but then you get the added evil of Voldemort and the joys of the magic in Quidditch.”

"The whimsy, I think, really helps...that there's so much charm to them," added Person. "For some kids, the books can be quite dark and yet the joy and whimsy in the writing and the magic makes it work." 

Friday, 13 February 2015 10:50

Sweet Treats for Valentine’s Day

Mrs. London’s Delectable Desserts Set Hearts Aflutter

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Love is in the air at Mrs. London’s Bakery and Café in downtown Saratoga Springs. Between creations such as the Snowy Valentine, Puff Pastry Heart and Apassionata, to name a few, the infamous bakery smells lovelier than usual – if that’s even possible. 

Valentine’s Day is synonymous with candlelit dinners for grown-ups or fun, heart-themed parties for kids; but no matter how you celebrate, Feb. 14 marks a day to take time out to enjoy something sweet. While chocolate is often the standard fare for Valentine’s Day, a treat from Mrs. London’s can also win the heart of that special someone.

“The pastries sell themselves,” said Kim Faiola, front of the house manager for Mrs. London’s Bakery. “This treat is above and beyond your typical box of candy or something that has been commercially made or processed or comes off an assembly line. Our desserts are made from scratch, with the best ingredients, and there’s a lot of passion behind it.”

Some of Mrs. London’s Valentine’s Day offerings include: Puff Pastry Heart – puff pastry filled with pastry cream and topped with fresh fruit; Double Berry Charlotte – raspberry and strawberry cream wrapped in lady fingers and topped with fresh berries; Purple Passion – raspberry and chocolate mousse with layered chocolate and almond cake; Apassionata – passion fruit and white chocolate mousse with coconut meringue and almond cake; Chocolate Whiskey Heart- chocolate cake with ground almonds and whiskey-soaked raisins; Snowy Valentine – white chocolate mousse with a raspberry couli and raspberry cream on top of a raspberry macaron shell; Ischler Cookies – an almond cookie with apricot jam dipped in dark chocolate; and Linzer Heart Cookies – a heart-shaped almond hazelnut cookie with raspberry jam.

Mrs. London’s Executive Pastry Chef, Tim Hangarter, is a key ingredient to the bakery’s success. He oversees the day-to-day production of desserts and pastries and his specialty desserts have appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart’s Wedding Magazine and Food and Wine.

“I’ve always liked doing it,” said Hangarter. “It’s been my passion…the inspiration comes when you see people happy and enjoying what you’ve made.”

Hangarter says these picture-perfect desserts are truly a team effort; but it’s the use of fresh, quality ingredients that make them stand out.

“We use the best ingredients – the best chocolate, heavy cream, fresh fruit…a lot of stuff that nobody else does,” said Hangarter. “We have a lot of customers from [New York City] that come up just to get stuff to take back to the city.”

These desserts are safe to take back home, too. For those looking to pick up a treat for their sweetheart the day before Valentine’s Day, these treats stay fresh when refrigerated. The bakery accepts pre-orders as well, so customers can call ahead and have their order ready when they arrive. And if you’re undecided on what to get, the Mrs. London’s team is equipped and ready to help you make a selection.

“It tastes even better than it looks,” said Faiola. “I say you won’t find a place like this, this side of France.” 

Once Valentine’s Day is over, the team at Mrs. London’s Bakery will begin focusing on Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day, as well as other treats for upcoming Easter and Passover holidays.

 

At Mrs. London’s bakery, customers can dine in and enjoy a bite to eat, take some treats to-go, or make a special order. The bakery is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday. 

Complexions Talks Pampering with a Purpose for American Heart Month

SARATOGA SPRINGS – During the month of February, Americans see the human heart as the symbol of love. Not only is February the month home to Valentine’s Day, it’s also American Heart Month – a time to show yourself some love by learning about your risks for heart disease and how to stay “heart healthy” for yourself and your loved ones. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cardiovascular disease – including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure – is the number one killer of women and men in the United States. Cardiovascular disease costs the U.S. over $300 billion each year, including the cost of health care services, medications and lost productivity. The good news is you can control a number of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including: diet, physical activity, tobacco use, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes.

Denise Dubois, owner of Complexions Spa for Beauty and Wellness – with locations in Saratoga Springs and Albany – says a regular massage regimen is a great way to begin a healthy relationship with your heart.

“Massage therapy helps to reduce stress, induces relaxation and a feeling of wellbeing; and I think it’s very important in today’s stressful world that we live in,” said Dubois.

Various research studies show a good massage, done by a skilled and qualified therapist, can stimulate the nerve endings in skin, release endorphins and inhibit the stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline. Blood will also circulate more efficiently, diastolic and systolic blood pressure will drop and heart rates will slow down.

“We’re really fortunate to have a very qualified team of experienced and licensed therapists,” said Dubois. “Our clients are in good hands.”

Sarah Jurica is a member of Complexions’ team of massage therapists. Having been a licensed massage therapist for the last 15 years, Jurica says being a massage therapist is a rewarding and important career. 

“I think a lot of people think of massages as a treat or only as a way to relax, but it’s really important for your overall health,” said Jurica. “To go to work every day and be in a profession where you’re helping others and improving other’s lives, it’s very gratifying.”

Complexions Spa for Beauty and Wellness offers several massage services including: hot stone, Thai poultice massage, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, and Japanese Shiatsu massage, among others.

“The health benefits really come from having [massage therapy] done regularly,” said Dubois. “People need to come in at least once a month and in some cases, especially for heart health, twice a month to really get those benefits.”

To encourage the incorporation of regular massage therapy into your health regimen, Complexions is offering a limited-time special – a package of three, 60-minute therapeutic massage sessions at a reduced price of $235.

We really want people to come in at least three times in a row so they can physically experience and feel the health benefits,” said Dubois. “So many people just think of a massage or a spa visit as a luxury or a treat, but if they were to do it regularly as it is suggested, then they’ll experience the benefits.”

Regular massage therapy combined with the use of other services offered at Complexions such as the wellness lounge, sauna, steam room, deluge cold plunge and the relaxation lounge, creates ties the wellness experience together to truly pamper with a purpose.

Memberships to Complexions Spa for Beauty and Wellness are currently offered. For more information on memberships or to book an appointment, call Complexions’ Saratoga location at 306-5502 and visit complexions.com.

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