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WILTON – The Springettes – one of the Saratoga Springs area’s premier girls gymnastics teams – continued to do their namesake hometown proud with an impressive showing at a recent state competition.
The Saratoga Regional YMCA Gymnastics Team, also known as “The Springettes,” attended the New York State YMCA Gymnastics Championships at SUNY Oneonta from April 22-23. At the meet, there were nine YMCA gymnastics teams from across NY competing, which amounted to just over 200 athletes. In all, 30 gymnasts from Saratoga Springs competed, taking part in the vault, bars, beam, and floor events.
The Springettes left SUNY Oneonta with an impressive eight all-around state champions, including Marissa Verro from Level 9, Abby Moller from Level 8, Jordan Toma and Katy Hawthorne from Level 7, Brynne Wright from Level 6, Rya Torres and Megan Wishart from Level 5, and Marianna Nasta from Level 4. In individual events, the team put up 29 first-place finishes.
“They did really well,” Kim Hewitt, director of gymnastics for the Saratoga Regional YMCA, said. “They held up against some tough competition.
In team competition, the Springettes entered four teams. The Level 7 and Level 5 teams placed first, the Level 4 team placed second, and the Level 3 team placed fourth.
“My Level 7 team has done a really good job this year,” Hewitt said. “They’ve been consistently placing very, very high, and they had a great day.”
The highest all-around score for the whole team was Abby Moller, Level 8, with a combined score of 35.8, followed by Katy Hawthorne, Level 7, with a score of 35.45. Another notable performance at the meet came from Marianna Nasta, Level 4, who claimed first place in all four individual events.
Going into the event, Hewitt had her athletes focused on repetition of their routines, making sure that they would be able to consistently get things right. Moving forward, the team will be competing at the Northeast Regionals from May 13-15. The focus on repetition remains the staple of their practices leading up to it. This year, regionals will take place in Waterville, ME. Around 40 teams from the northeast states will be competing, amounting to around 1,200 gymnasts.
“We’re really excited,” Hewitt said about going to regionals. “Our Level 5 and Level 7 teams are really strong, so we’re hoping to place in the all-around. It’s a little harder with 40 teams, but we’re hoping for those teams to do really well.”
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was a new beginning for little league baseball in Saratoga Springs last weekend.
Saratoga Wilton Youth Baseball, a new organization formed from a merger of Saratoga American Little League and Wilton Youth Baseball, held its inaugural Opening Day on April 29 at Gavin Park with an event that was as much a party as it was a little league meet. The day began at 8:30 a.m. with an “MLB Pitch, Hit, and Run” event on the softball field, which repeated at 12:30 a.m. From there, the young players in attendance gathered for a “player parade” at 11:00 a.m. Following a barbeque lunch courtesy of The 99 Restaurant, games finally began at 1:00 p.m. The league currently has over 500 players, ages 4-16, registered to play.
This merger leaves Saratoga Springs with two little leagues: Saratoga Wilton Youth Baseball, and Saratoga Little League, formerly known as Saratoga National Little League. Saratoga Wilton will play its games at both Gavin Park in Wilton and East Side Recreation on Lake Avenue in Saratoga Springs.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A strong season is continuing apace for the dominant Saratoga Springs High School varsity girls lacrosse team.
In a league game against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake on their home turf on April 22, the Blue Streaks dominated the visiting team from start to finish, ending the game with a strong 16-6 victory. The team made good on their intentions to dominate the game from the beginning, putting up the first point of the game, and by halftime, they had massive 10-1 lead. This win puts the team 5-0 in league games, with their only loss coming at the hands and sticks of Niskayuna in a non-league game. Coming up soon will be big games against formidable teams, including Shenendahowa, Shaker, and Bethlehem.
“We have really excellent momentum,” Coach Elaine Lotruglio said. “We’ve had one loss, and it was close. I think we’re in a real good place [going forward].”
Lotruglio was impressed by the rhythm of the game, noting that the younger team was really coming into its own. Compared to previous years’ teams, this team skews much more towards the lower grade levels, with five freshmen and four sophomore players. Lotruglio guesses that by the time these young players make it to their senior year, their familiarity with one another will make them a force to contend with.
“They love to be together,” Lotruglio said about the team’s chemistry. “They pass well, and they’re learning each other’s moves, so to speak.”
A strong practice routine is also helping the team put up impressive numbers, in particular their warm-ups developed by the players themselves alongside assistant coach Elise Britt, a personal trainer and Maple Avenue Middle School health teacher. Lotruglio also noted how the team pulls certain shortcomings from each game they play so that they can work towards fixing them in future practice sessions.
Alongside the younger players, this season’s team has four senior players, Olivia Oskin, Cameron Parry, Emily Fischer, and Francesca Mangino, the latter three of which have signed their letters of intent to play inter-collegiate lacrosse in the fall. Lotruglio also highlighted the skills of sophomore Lindsey Frank, junior Ellen Payer, and junior Katie Wendell.
“They all just have a lot of fun together,” Lotruglio said.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SCHUYLERVILLE - The Hudson River village that played a vital role in the turning point of the American Revolution can add “The Demon of Screamin’” to its feathered cap of historical significance.
Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler and daughter Liv Tyler - an actress perhaps best known for her role in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy - visited the adjoined Saratoga villages of Schuylerville and Victory in January after learning of their 19th century ancestral ties to the community.
Those local connections came to light in an episode of the TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?” which premiered on the TLC channel this week.
Steven Tyler’s great-great-grandfather, George Washington Elliott, was a drummer who was present at the battle of Antietam and at Gettysburg. He set down roots in Saratoga County while in his 20s, shortly after the Civil War.
“I can see my dad in his face,” Liv Tyler told Saratoga County Historian Lauren Roberts, after being shown a photograph in a 1912 brochure during a segment that depicted “Mr. and Mrs. George Elliott and family, Schuylerville, N.Y.” with their 17 children.
Liv Tyler, the daughter of Steven Tyler and Nashville based singer, songwriter and pop culture icon Bebe Buell, was filmed while driving around Saratoga and visiting the office of the Saratoga County Clerk in Ballston Spa. She was joined by her dad at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Victory, where in the shadow of the a 155-foot tall Saratoga Monument, they visited the burial sites of their ancestors.
“I thought it was a fun show and great piece of history about her family,” said the Saratoga Town Historian Sean Kelleher. “When you start doing these family searches, you just never know what you’re going to find.”
It is not known what prompted the relocation to the Schuylerville area of George Elliott, who had African-America roots. In the 19th century, the greater Schuylerville area counted two Abolitionist Societies who lobbied politicians, published abolitionist papers, and invited speakers into their communities - Frederick Douglass among them, according to Village of Schuylerville Historian Kristina Saddlemire.
In the village by the latter part of the 19th century, local kids found their winter recreation ice skating on the frozen canal. They attended classes at Schuylerville’s Union Free School, a four-story building that stood on Green and University Streets, and played host to a visiting music teacher from Northumberland who would arrive by pony and provide piano lessons for the entire family.
Research conducted independently of the show points to at least one member of the Elliott family being employed at the historic textile mill building in Victory, Kelleher said.
The family were members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Schuylerville. Of George and Eliza’s 17 kids, 15 were born in Au Sable Forks.
“Two of the children - Jennie May, and Arthur - were born in Schuylerville,” said Don Papson, co-founder and curator of the North Star Underground Railroad Museum, in Ausable Chasm, N.Y.
Jennie May Elliott was born in 1889, and Arthur Earnest Elliott two years later. According to a 1976 obituary, Arthur was a groundskeeper who had been employed By Skidmore College and lived in Saratoga Springs for many years. Jennie May’s descendant, Mary Briscoe, currently lives in Watervliet. She recalled meeting many of her relatives as a young girl growing up in Victory, where she lived until the age of six, before relocating during the 1940s. Watching the TV episode, Briscoe said she was able to learn more about her own ancestors, particularly those who lived during the Civil War Era and beyond.
Steven Tyler’s mother, and Liv Tyler’s grandmother, Susan Ray Tallarico – whose maiden name was Blancha - was the daughter of Bessie June Blancha (Elliott), who in turn was the daughter of Robert J. Elliott and Edna Wheeler. Robert J. Elliott was one of the sons of George and Eliza Elliot, the first members of the family to settle in Saratoga. Their connection to Schuylerville and Victory seems to have lasted at least until the early part of the 20th century.
“Robert J. Elliott married Edna Wheeler. She was the daughter of Charles E. Wheeler, who as much as I can figure out was a photographer in the village,” Papson said. Advertisements published in local newspapers in the early 1900s take note of photographer C.E. Wheeler’s a shop located on Broadway in Schuylerville.
The historians best pin-pointed the family home as having sat on Pearl Street in the village of Victory and just around the corner from St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on nearby Grove Street in Schuylerville.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A crowd of cheering friends and families filled the bleachers in the Saratoga Springs High School’s blue gym as 14 young athletes embraced their futures.
In a special ceremony held on April 12, the Saratoga Springs City School District honored 14 senior athletes as they signed their letters of intent to play inter-collegiate athletics at the universities of their choice in the fall. Athletic director Peter Sheehan addressed the attended crowd – which included other student athletes allowed to attend before their various practices and meets by their coaches – before the actual signings, thanking them for their attendance and congratulating the athletes on their achievements.
“We are so very proud of each and every one of you, and of the time and effort you’ve put in to make this day possible,” Sheehan said.
The athletes honored at the ceremony were, in the order they were seated at the table from left to right: Sarah Winters, who will play field hockey at Skidmore College; Francesca Mangino, who will play lacrosse at SUNY Brockport; Cameron Parry, who will play lacrosse at Quinnipiac University; Emily Fischer, who will play lacrosse at Clarkson University; Tucker Pierce, who will play lacrosse at Westminster College; Elizabeth Maguire, who will play soccer at Le Moyne College; Gabe Olsen, who will play soccer at Mount Ida College; Daniel Varsames, who will play soccer at Utica College; Michael Moran, who will also play soccer at Utica College; Autumn Boxley, who will swim at George Mason University; Victoria Breslin, who will swim at Le Moyne College; Morgan Hoffman-Smith, who will swim at Ithaca College; Nick Cavotta, who will run track and field at Winthrop University; and Mary “Mimi” Liebers, who will run track & field at the College of the Holy Cross. Griffin Taylor, who will play lacrosse at SUNY Oneonta, was not present at the ceremony due to attending a meet at his soon-to-be school, but he was mentioned by Sheehan and was present on the list of athletes at the ceremony.
“I just loved the campus as soon as I stepped on campus,” Parry said about her choice of Quinnipiac. “I knew that that was the place for me. The coaching staff was just really welcoming, and all the girls on the team were super welcoming, and I just really got a good feel for the team and for the… kind of program that I’d be going to.”
“I’m very excited,” Liebers said about attending Holy Cross in the fall. “I’ve always known I wanted to do college sports, and track has been my main sport for five years now. So getting to continue track in college is a dream come true… I wanted a D-1 program, but I particularly liked the Patriot League. And I just loved the school, and I knew I needed to see myself at the school without track, so it all just fell into place.”
“I was looking at schools in the south, and I found Winthrop, it has my major in business and a minor in sports marketing, which is just awesome for me,” Cavotta said about his choice of Winthrop. “It’s a beautiful school. It’s down south, lot of warm weather. Not a huge school, which I like, so I can get some more individual time with my professors. It just has everything I could look for in a college.”
“Super proud,” Cavotta’s mother said about her son’s achievement. “I like the school. Like he said, it’s a nice small school, homey, they focus on academics and education, and parent involvement.”
Notably, two of the athletes at the ceremony, Varsames and Moran, will be playing the same sport, soccer, at Utica. This is fitting, as they have been close friends for years.
“That’ll help a lot,” Varsames said about attending school with someone he is so familiar with. “We both know how each other plays. It’ll help team chemistry, obviously. We’re best friends, so it’ll be fun… [We’ve been playing together since we were] probably like around 10, 12 maybe.”
“I think we have an outstanding group of coaches, we have very supportive parents who allow our student athletes to have opportunities, both in-school and out-of-school, that kinda give them a chance to compete at the collegiate level,” Sheehan said about the SSCSD athletics program. “I think that’s important to have that year-round commitment and to have those year-round opportunities.”
All photos by Thomas Kika.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Code Blue Saratoga Emergency Shelter’s annual “Blue Needs You” 8K run and expo took off through the streets of Saratoga Springs last weekend, and the results were all that the organization had hoped for.
Each year since beginning the 8K run event, Code Blue, a local emergency shelter for the homeless, sets a budget-level for the year going forward with the hope that the funds raised at the event will match or exceed it. This year, the proposed budget was $40,000, which the Blue Needs You event raised almost exactly, according to executive director Michael Finocchi.
“We were right on target,” Finocchi said.
This budget was up slightly from previous years’ races. Despite raising a larger amount, this year’s run saw fewer runners, 470, compared to last year, though still significantly higher than the first year. Finocchi and other at Code Blue say that this lower attendance may be due to other runs that were being held at the same time. This had not been the case in previous years.
This year’s run started out from High Rock Park in downtown Saratoga Springs. From there, runners took Lake Avenue for a ways, crossing up and down a number of side streets before ending up on East Avenue. From East, the runners went all the way to Excelsior Avenue where they took a right, following the street all the way through a loop it makes near the Residence Inn near the Northway. Coming back down Excelsior, they turned onto Excelsior Spring Avenue briefly, and then turned once more onto the Spring Run Trail. Following this trail all the way back down to East, they once again returned to High Rock where the run concluded.
Code Blue is a shelter that provides emergency housing for the homeless during severe winter weather conditions, such as when the temperature drops below freezing or when more than 10-inches of snowfall is predicted. Code Blue also works to transition its residents to more stable living situations, including apartments or rehab services.
“It was very reassuring when you’re down there and you see how many people care about those we help,” Finocchi said.
All photos by Photoandgraphic.com.
SCHUYLERVILLE – The Schuylerville branch of the National Honor Society inducted 45 new members in ceremony held on April 12. Inductees were chosen based on several criteria, including scholarship, character, leadership, and community service. Students and other attendees were also treated to words from guest speaker Khamel Abdulai, the director of training and talent management at Excelsior College and adjunct professor at the College of Saint Rose.
The inductees are as follows:
- Hailey Abruscato
- Cameron Alber
- Brandon Aschauer
- Grace Beaulac
- Freya Birkas-Dent
- Kassandra Brennan
- Alison Burnham
- Amanda Carlstrom
- Emily Carlstrom
- Lillian Claus
- Cassaundra Darrah
- Thomas Donovan
- Ryan Durie
- Samantha Ellis
- Hannah Eustis
- Elizabeth Fordyce
- Zachary Galcik
- Aidan Garry
- Sidney Gregorek
- Morgan Gunter
- Mikhail Hailu
- Grace Hanehan
- Nathan Hefner
- Jack Hemingway
- Jessica Hinners
- Devynn Hough
- Caitlin Kelleher
- Johnathan King
- Kadon Lane
- Jessica Melita
- Amy Moreau
- Teghan Murray
- Cassie Patrick
- Matthew Peck
- Lyndsey Prince
- Christine Putman
- Casey Renner
- Trent Thomas
- Tristan Turner
- Emily Vallee
- Dominic Vito
- Alice Voell-White
- Emily Warmt
- Katelyn Weed
- Derek Willson
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Galloping up and down the emptied corn filed behind Pitney Meadows Community Farm, “Claude’s Alley Cat” begins its preparation for the 2017 racing scene in earnest with some gentle exercises. Before long, the two-year-old stallion will move onto the Oklahoma Training Track, across the street from the Saratoga Race Course, to begin more intense training.
For trainer Melvin Winney, Claude’s Alley Cat, named in memory of his late father, looks to make his return to the horse racing business a successful one. Running his first winning horse back in 1996 with “David Parson,” Winney went on to run eight winning horses during his career, including “Back Door Deal” and “Ms. Will a Way.” Now, after five years away from the business, he sees the potential for victory in his latest horse.
“He’s been doing everything right from day one,” Winney said. “He broke easily, quietly.”
Winney’s new horse was sired by celebrated stallion “Desert Party,” which currently resides at the Irish Hill Century Farm in Stillwater and was previously owned by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai.
“Most two-year-olds will go out with other two-year-olds to keep each other company,” Winney said about his new horse. “This guy, he doesn’t need any company, he’s very attentive, he’s focused. He’s like an older horse for a baby. He’s just a baby.”
All photos by Photoandgraphic.com.
BALLSTON SPA – It was the warmest and sunniest day of spring so far on April 10 when the Ballston Spa High School baseball team took to the diamond for the first time. Heading out onto solid turf that had recovered from recent bouts of rain, the team warmed up for the first game of their spring season against Albany High School as a playlist of high-energy hip-hop filled the air. Varsity head coach Curtis Nobles stood to the side near the dugout, monitoring his players and directing them to help improve their play-styles.
“[We’re] very confident,” Nobles said about his faith in the team heading into the season. “Everyone’s chasing the same thing, getting sectionals, and trying to make a run at a sectional title.”
This goal to grab a sectional title got off to a solid start, as the Scotties bested the Albany High Falcons with a strong 11-5. Standout players from the game, according to Nobles, were sophomore Luke Gold, who put up two hits and two RBI’s, and senior Aaron Hinman, who scored two RBI doubles.
Practice began for the spring season on March 7, but it was mostly indoors on account of the damp and frigid weather that only let up recently.
“They’ve been productive,” Nobles said about the Scotties’ spring preparations. “Lately they’ve had to be short and sweet because we’ve been inside so much. So, just to kind of keep things efficient but not over-dragged we made sure that we come in and gets quality reps rather than quantity.”
Nobles expressed particular excitement for senior Grady Gawrys, citing impressive relief appearances last season and the hard work that he has been putting into practice for this season.
“He looks like he’s prepared and ready and willing to do whatever it takes to have a winning season,” Nobles said about Gawrys.
Jared Winkle, a team captain, was also singled out as a strong, quiet leader for the team, one that leads by example on and off the field
The Scotties are coming into spring off of one of their strongest runs ever. Last season, they became Ballston Spa’s first ever state-ranked baseball team, being ranked 11th in the state, and put up a 15-5 win-loss record.
“The best [season] in school history from what I hear,” Nobles said.
All photos by Photoandgraphic.com.
The southern gateway into the city may appear radically different in the near future if all goes according to plan.
A proposal currently under consideration calls for the demolition of the Saratoga Diner - closed in 2012 - and the development of more than 100 workforce housing units in its place on a five-acre parcel of land on South Broadway. Mayor Joanne Yepsen this week met with a Florida developer who anticipates soon submitting an application for the proposed plan. The owner of the property, who was not publicly named, first engaged Yepsen in discussions about potential leasing uses for the land three or four years ago, according to the mayor.
“The owner said, ‘I don’t want to sell, I want to lease. What does the city need?’ I said workforce housing,” Yepsen said.
The lease proposal calls for the development of 120 affordable workforce housing units in a mixed-use configuration consisting of residential apartments and retail space. More than 100 of the rental units would be offered to those earning in between 60 and 100 percent of the AMI - a $50,400 to $84,000 range - while 14 units would be offered at a “fair-market rent” to military veterans. AMI, or the Area Median Income for a family of four in Saratoga County is about $84,000, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Parties involved in the potential transaction anticipate an official deal being in place by late April, or early May.
Originally known as the Spa City Diner, sections of its more recent incarnation as The Saratoga Diner date back to the late 1940s. It was a once-popular stopover spot for visiting performers and political dignitaries such as Mario Cuomo, Liza Minelli, Count Basie – who was particular to the beef stew, according to published reports, and singer Tom Jones – a fan of the diner’s spaghetti and meatballs. The Spa City Diner in 2001 was re-named the Saratoga Diner. It closed for good in 2012.
In an attempt to meet affordable housing needs in Saratoga Springs, the city also is pursuing potential plans for a large development off West Avenue, adjacent to the Saratoga Train station, as well as a project behind the Stonequist Apartments, where a mixed-income, mixed-use development facing Circular Street could feature as many as 60 to 100 housing units.
Public Hearing on Spa Housing Zoning Ordinance Draws Large Crowd
A public hearing slated to take 10 minutes regarding a plan to site a percentage of “affordable” housing in all new developments across the city, consumed the better part of an hour Tuesday night. The SPA Housing Zoning plan – based on a 2006 ordinance that was never enacted – calls for all new housing developments and apartment complexes across the city to include 10 to 20 percent of the units deemed affordable to people with lower to moderate incomes.
The Inclusionary Zoning, or IZ, would target potential renters and homeowners alike. Eleven members of the public as well as those representing area organizations addressed the council during Tuesday’s public hearing. Of those, three said they were in favor of some kind of affordable housing measures, but not the IZ as it currently stands, and six people said they were in favor of the IZ, at least as a starting point to address the city’s housing needs.
Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen had initially hoped the City Council may be able to vote on the measure as soon as May, but following a discussion that raised the concerns of local developers who would build the projects and of the banks that would finance them, members of the City Council expressed that it might be in everyone’s interests to hold one or two special workshops specifically on the topic in the near future, although no date for such a gathering was set.
New Tap Room Coming to Saratoga Springs in June
The City Council unanimously approved an Economic Development Revolving Loan Application for R.S. Taylor & Sons Brewery Tap Room. Richard Taylor, who operates a tap room on his 50-acre farm in Washington County, is looking to open a 1,600 square-foot tap room in the Congress Street plaza in June. The type of loan, initially federally funded, is for $75,000, carries a 3 percent interest rate, and calls for assurances that one position of employment is created for every $25,000 borrowed.
Collamer Lot/ East Side EMS Land Deal: “It’s Time To Move On”
Nearly four years to the date since Chris Mathiesen first began working on a pair of land transactions that would have the city sell a parking lot adjacent to Broadway’s Collamer Building and subsequently purchase a Union Avenue parcel to build an East Side Fire/EMS station was publicly declared a dead deal by the public safety commissioner on Tuesday. “It’s time to move on,” said Mathiesen, invoking a sentiment not unlike an emotionally abandoned lover in a relationship gone-wrong. The arrangement had been mired in a lawsuit – in which the city reportedly spent at least $50,000 in legal fees – an investigation by the state Attorney General’s office, and a long period of inactivity. It is believed some type of City Council or legal action may now be necessary to officially nullify the potential deal.
The Zoning Boards of Appeals will hold a meeting 7 p.m. Monday, April 10 at City Hall.
The Planning Board will hold a workshop 5 p.m. Monday, April 10 and a full meeting 7 p.m. Thursday, April 13 at City Hall.
The city’s Affordable Housing Task Force will hold a meeting 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 11 at City Hall.
Library Election and Budget Vote on April 13
On April 13, citizens of the Saratoga Springs School District will elect a library trustee and vote on the 2017-2018 library budget. The election will be held in the Library’s H. Dutcher Community Room from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saratoga Springs School District residents who are registered voters are eligible to vote. A public hearing concerning the budget and an opportunity to meet the trustee candidates will be held 7 p.m. on Monday, April 10 in the H. Dutcher Community Room.Library Trustees are asking the voters to approve a tax levy of $5,103,600 for FY 2017-2018, which is a 0.5 percent increase from the amount approved for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The library serves the residents of the Saratoga Springs Enlarged City School District. The proposed budget can be found by visiting the library’s website at: www.sspl.org.