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SARATOGA SPRINGS - Singer-songwriter Howard Fishman will lead a troupe of performers in a street-side serenade on Sunday in Saratoga Springs.
BUSK! - a free public event presented by The Orchard Project - will incorporate circus performers, theater companies, live music and local food vendors in an event to be held in and around the Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Visitor Center on Broadway from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 4.
Billed as “a spontaneous, outrageous, family-friendly event” that promises to “elevate the form of busking” by creating designated performance spaces and stages, BUSK! will culminate in an evening cabaret at Putnam Den featuring artists who performed throughout the day, kicking off at 8 p.m.
Visiting performers include musical performances by Howard Fishman, Jimy Graham, Katie Louise, Mike Campese, Nightmare River Band, Ramblin’ Jug Stompers, Shane Guerrette, and A World For You. Additional performs include: Atlas Circus Theatre (circus productions), LubDub Theater Co. (a hybrid physical theatre company), The Red Trouser Show (acrobats, comedians, and jugglers), and. Local participants include Balloon Gal Jenny, traveling puppetry by Heldeberg Marionettes, face painting by Jojo's Fabulous Faces.
SARATOGA COUNTY – Voters across New York State took to the polls at their local schools to vote on proposed budgets, board of education elections, and the odd proposition. Across the board in Saratoga County, budgets were passed and propositions were approved. Here are some of things that area voters decided to approve:
Saratoga Springs City School District:
-$122,712,342 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Purchase of six 66-passenger school buses, four 30-passenger buses, one 23-passenger wheelchair bus and one SUV: Passed
-Establishment of Capital Reserves Fund to ““finance future construction, general improvements, reconstruction and renovations”: Passed
Ballston Spa Central School District:
-$90,340,742 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Purchase of buses and vehicles, $907,000: Passed
-Public library funding, $55,650: Passed
-Creation of Ballston Area Recreation Commission, $30,000: Passed
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District:
-$64,492,019 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Creation of student-held school board position: Authorized
Schuylerville Central School District:
-$34,849,537 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Bus leasing proposition: Passed
-Schuylerville Public Library funding: Passed
South Glens Falls Central School District: -$57,842,074 2017-18 budget: Passed -Purchase of five buses, one with wheelchair option, and one vehicle: Passed
Galway Central School District: -$21,058,918 2017-18 budget: Passed -Proposition to purchase four school buses: Passed
Mechanicville City School District: -$25,480,499 2017-18 budget: Passed -Proposition to purchase school bus: Passed -Sale of 0.44 acres of land on Elizabeth St. to Saratoga County for $1,000 for expansion of the Zim Smith trail: Approved
Posters of White Supremacy Flyers: “Pathetically Insecure Individuals We Should Pity, Not Fear”
Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen said no direct threats to the local community were made and apparently no laws were violated in the placing of white supremacy propaganda flyers on a number of vehicle on the city’s west side last week.
“It’s very disturbing some people may harbor such sentiments, but it’s not surprising,” Mathiesen said. “We have a long history in our country of white males exerting their sense of superiority over people of color, females, Jews, Catholic, immigrants.”
Mathiesen said while those views have drastically diminished over time, there continues to be “a small fringe on the far right of our political spectrum” who continue to hold on to those convictions.
“These are pathetically insecure individuals who we should pity, not fear. I caution against over-reacting to these poorly-executed recruiting efforts and instead suggest we focus more on education and equal opportunity,” he said. “This is a movement that continues to decline as people of the world fully accept that we’re all in this together.”
Discussions Continue Regarding SPA Zoning Ordinance
A public hearing was held Tuesday night regarding a proposed plan that would mandate all new housing developments and apartment complexes across the city include as much as 20 percent of their units designated as “affordable” to people with moderate incomes. The Inclusionary Zoning ordinance, or IZ, would create “workforce housing” residences with rental rates targeting approximately $45,000 to $70,000 income households, and purchase rates targeting households earning approximately $55,000 to $85,000 annually.
Two people spoke during Tuesday night’s hearing. City resident Dave Morris argued that the plan is more “exclusionary” than “inclusionary,” because it excludes lower income residents who need it most, disagreeing with some council members’ position that there is adequate help available to lower income residents. The ordinance is in the drafting phase and is anticipated to be brought to the City Council for vote in the near future. Initially, the council hoped to vote on the matter this month. The council next meets on June 6.
Public Safety: Close to Decision on Third City Fire/EMS Station
Eastern ridge resident David Bronner reminded the council about the need to decrease emergency vehicle response times to the city’s east side. “This is a super serious issue that has been going on for years,” he said. “The situation we have now is unacceptable. We’re playing Russian Roulette with anybody who may have a serious or life-threatening medical issue anywhere in the city, but most especially on the east ridge where distance is a big factor,” Bronner said, suggesting the city place a ‘Fly Car’ in one of its stations that would respond solely to emergency medical situations. The city’s two fire/EMS stations are located near the center of the city, and on the west side. Long-time efforts to place a third station on the east side have thus far been unsuccessful.
Commissioner Mathiesen responded that having a “Fly Car” would not be an acceptable solution, since the vehicle, while capable of going high speeds, would not be able to do so as it navigates through the city’s many 30 mph speed zones. In lieu of having a third fire/ems station, which would be sited on the east side, Mathiesen said the department is currently evaluating shift changes that would make available as many as three engine crews and two ambulances at any one time, should multiple events occur simultaneously.
“We continue to look at locations for a third fire/EMS station that would serve the entire city and make it possible to significantly cut down response times to the eastern ridge,” Mathiesen said. “We feel we’re very close to making some decisions along those lines.”
Resident Urges Community Support of Child Victim Act
A city business owner who identified herself as Mary Ellen asked the council and the public for their support in the passage of the Child Victims Act. “New York State is one of the worst in the Union for child abuse victims,” she said, explaining that alleged victims currently have until the age of 23 to be able to prosecute suspects, while the average age of disclosure for most victims is 42. The majority of council members said they are interested in learning more and would likely adopt a resolution in favor of the passage of the Child Victim Act. The public was asked to contact Sen. Kathy Marchione’s Albany office, at 518-455-2381, to urge its passage.
A Human Rights town hall will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 22 at Saratoga Music Hall, located on the third floor of City Hall. Mayor Joanne Yepsen will introduce members Saratoga Springs Human Rights Task Force, and will be joined by Angelica Morris, executive director of the Human Rights Commission in Schenectady.
A Planning Board workshop will be held 5 p.m. Monday, May 22 and a full meeting 7 p.m. Thursday, May 25 at City Hall.
A Zoning Board of Appeals meeting will be held 7 p.m. Monday, May 22 at City Hall.
Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) Technical Review Advisory Committee (TRAC) meeting will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23 at Saratoga Music Hall.
Who: Joe Deuel, photographer, sound man.
Where: Caffè Lena.
You’re a native Saratogian. How long has your family been here? What did they do?
I’m the fifth generation. And everyone in town knew my dad. He was a pro bowler in the ‘50s and had a photo studio on Phila Street. Later, he ended up being the manager of Saratoga Bowl and Hi-Roc Lanes. I kind of grew up in bowling alleys.
How long have you been interested in photography?
I always had a camera in my hand, from the time I was eight. It was a cheap little thing and I was always shooting pictures. Later, they had a photo club when I was in junior high – it’s the Lake Avenue School now - and the first time I saw a print develop, that was it.
Do you remember the first time you came to the café?
I was in 12th grade and came here with two friends from high school. This was late ’72 or early ’73. Utah Philipps was recording his album called “Good Though!” That was my introduction to Caffè Lena. Utah turned out to be a real influence, a real teacher.
You have been the sound man at Caffè Lena for several decades. How did that start?
I came here to do the dishes one night and got wrapped up in the place. Someone asked me to do the sound one night for Peppino D’Agostino, the Italian guitar wizard. I helped him turn a few knobs, then Lena kind of stuck me on it and there was no getting out.
What are your lasting impressions of Lena, who died in 1989?
Lena was pretty complicated and fascinating in a lot of ways. I remember I’d go out on Thursdays and buy all the groceries for the weekend and come in and do sound and wait tables at the same time. On the days I wasn’t here I’d asked her, “Why don’t you call me, so I know you’re OK, or if you need anything.” So, she’d call me every morning. She was like my alarm clock. The first thing I did every morning was get a phone call from Lena, and we’d chat. It was sad when that stopped.
You have probably had many a-brush with fame?
This town’s crazy because with SPAC here. You can be sitting in Desperate Annie’s and the guy sitting next to you is Donovan. A friend of mine was sitting in the Parting Glass once, and Tom Waits walked in - still wearing his bum clothes from (filming the movie) “Ironweed,” and they were about to boot him out of there. Robert Plant came in one night. This town’s full of funny things. The first time the Talking Heads played at SPAC, the band showed up at the Bijou where we were watching Fear of Strangers, who were a great Albany band. I was wearing my Harley jacket and my Ramones T-shirt and Jerry Harrison walked up to me, laughed and said: Nice shirt. That cracked me up. We ended up chatting for a little while.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in Saratoga Springs during your lifetime?
The bottom line for me is that I can’t afford to live here anymore. One thing I always looked for in apartments was how far the walk was from the café, because I was here all the time. Now it’s a 10-mile drive for me. It was such a threadbare, defunct town in the ‘70s. The stores on Caroline and Phila were pretty much shut down. There were some old stores on Broadway that had been there forever, then the mall came and that made it worse downtown. There were some great places I miss to this day, like Mabbett’s and Farmers Hardware. Even though the town now is gleaming and successful it’s gotten a little too precious. I think the ‘80s, when things started to come around, was a wonderful time here.
The harsh facts are these: someone is diagnosed in this country with a blood cancer every 3 minutes, and an estimated 1.2 million people are either living with, or are in remission from leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma - which will take the lives of more than 58,000 Americans in one calendar year. But, there are signs of positive progress.
The five-year relative survival rate has more than doubled for people with Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, and more than quadrupled for those with myeloma and leukemia since the early 1960s, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. LLS is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding research, finding cures and ensuring access to treatments for blood cancer patients.
Saratoga Springs resident Joe Kakaty believes it is possible eradicate blood cancer in our lifetime.
“Cancer affects everybody, from the spectrum of a survivor to being a friend or having a family member who has cancer. Leukemia is in my family,” Kakaty said. “We felt: let’s do something.”
Enlisting the help of his wife, Josey, and the couple’s three children - Bella, Joey and Kenny – the family embarked on a 10-week fundraising campaign which secured more than $58,000 via more than 500 different donors for LLS and resulted in Kakaty being named the Upstate New York/Vermont Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s 2017 Man of the Year.
The family’s 10-week campaign included a dozen fundraising events at a variety of Saratoga Springs restaurants, a house event – catered pro bono by Augie’s Family Style Italian Restaurant – and an online social media strategy. A website remains active for those interested in making donations at: http://www.mwoy.org/pages/uny/alb17/jkakaty.
Staging 12 events in 10 weeks can be grueling work for anyone, but Kakaty said the family grew closer to one another in pulling together to make the campaign a success.
“We were invigorated. Whenever we felt a little tired it was easy to overcome, because we thought of what the families have to go through,” he said.
Kakaty was one of nine candidates who signed on to participate in the 10-week campaign. In all, the nine candidates raised more than $311,000 and Kakaty said he was touched by the generosity and humanity of donors, whose online contributions poured in from across the country, often with an attached note that shared their own personal story.
The three Kakaty kids recorded a song for the campaign and will continue to dobate a percentage of proceeds earned through the music to the leukemia society. The video may be viewed on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grvkObff1l4.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Brad Paisley stood atop the stage surrounded by hundreds of local high school seniors and asked for the details of their school mascot.
“Blue Streaks!” came the shouted reply.
“Blue Streak? What is a Blue Streak?” he pondered. “You guys are a streak of lightning,” he said, finally. “That’s very cool!”
And so it went Wednesday night at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, where Paisley put the finishing touches on the stage show for his Weekend Warrior World Tour which officially debuted Thursday night at SPAC and will travel across North America and touch down in Norway and Sweden before concluding in late September.
Wednesday night’s “dress rehearsal” came with the issuance of an invitation to hundreds of high school seniors at Saratoga Springs and Averill Park. Many were thrilled to attend the free preview.
“Oh. My. God. I’m so excited. Me and my dad listen to him all the time, but this is my first time seeing him,” gushed Saratoga Springs High School senior Cheyanne Mattison, who alongside fellow classmates Marisa Pantoja, Larissa Benton and Alyssa Concho secured elbow space at the front of the stage on a May night that boasted temperatures near 90 degrees.
The West Virginia born singer-songwriter strolled the catwalk, took selfies, and showcased his guitar skills, mixing strains of Prince’s “Purple Rain” and the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” into a slew of tunes for more than one hour, as the band tweaked its sound and technicians tested the pulsating lights and flashy screen graphics, all to the joy of the kids who gathered to witness the event.
“I’ve never been to anything like this,” Paisley explained, casually dressed in black jeans, a T-shirt, street sneakers. A baseball cap rested atop his head.
The musical presentation was combined with casual back-and-forth banter with students which effectively gave the large amphitheater the feel of an intimate living room. When informed that the Blue Streaks had just secured a Section II title in tennis, Paisley offered his congratulations alongside some advice.
“It’s great you won. Tennis is good, but make sure you guys get a back-up career,” he instructed, before sharing his thoughts with the assembly of 17 and 18-year-olds of something to look forward to.
“You know, people will tell you high school is the best part of your life. That’s bull-crap. It’s not,” Paisley said. “But, now college…” he said with a smile.
Paisley made his musical debut in 1999. He has released nearly one dozen studio albums and topped the country music singles charts numerous times. His new release, “Love And War,” features appearances by Mick Jagger and John Fogerty, among others.
SCHUYLERVILLE – Continuing the trend of raising money to fight cancer last weekend, the Schuylerville Youth Lacrosse team hosted a benefit shootout to raise money for the family of community member Mike Podkladek, who is currently in treatment for a brain tumor. The event was held at Schuyler Park on May 13, and the team estimates that anywhere from 700 to 1,000 people were in attendance. In all, over $8,000 was raised for the Podkladek family.
Mike Podkladek, along with wife Beth, is a member of the Schuylerville community and the parent of three – Jordan, Callie, and Braden. In the past, he has frequently volunteered in his children’s sports, including softball, football, hockey, and lacrosse. In November of 2016, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required surgery. After having his initial tumor removed, pathology reports came back which said that he had Grade 4 Glioblastoma, an untreatable cancerous brain tumor. He has since been fortunate enough to be entered into a clinical trial at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City, where he and his wife travel to for treatments every other Tuesday.
The event saw 14 5-6 grade youth lacrosse teams from across the area in attendance. During the scheduling meeting back in March, Schuylerville coach Wayne Durr asked the others teams if they would be willing to attend the event. Upon hearing that it would be a benefit, many local programs cancelled their round robins in order to attend. Teams from Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills, Columbia, Glens Falls, Queensbury, Saratoga Springs, Scotia, and Stillwater made it to the event. Each team competed in three games and took part in a “Fastest Shot” competition.
The Podkladek family is still accepting donations from the public through a GoFundMe page. Any readers interested in donating to the family should go to www.gofundme.com/mike-podkladek-family-support-fund.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – This year’s senior game carried extra importance for the Saratoga Varsity baseball team.
In addition to honoring the team’s senior players, the May 13 non-league game against Schuylerville was also used to raise money for cancer research. To this end, the team raised money in a number of ways, including selling t-shirts. Saratoga Coach Andy Cuthbertson decided that the money should be raised in the name of Tracy Hogben, a long-time Saratoga Springs City School District substitute teacher, recent full-time employee at Lake Avenue Elementary, and parent of five children currently enrolled in the district alongside her husband, Gordon. Three of their children – Gordon Jr., Harrison, and Griffin – play baseball for Saratoga.
On Oct. 18 of last year, Hogben suffered a seizure at home, which led to her diagnosis on Oct. 25 of a Right Frontal Lobe Primary Brain Tumor. After 13 days at Albany Medical Center and a craniotomy, Hogben was found to have an Oligodendreglioma, a Grade 2 primary brain tumor.
Hogben attended the benefit game and threw out the first pitch in front of around 500 people in attendance. Both the Saratoga Springs and Schuylerville communities have taken part in raising money, and have, as of May 16, raised $4,989. Donations are still being collected, and once collection is finished, the money will be donated to the Albany Medical Center Brain Tumor Research Fund.
“The community did a fantastic job of stepping up to support one of our own families in need,” Robin Chudy said. “The money raised will be a donation to Albany Medical Center as it will provide resources to continue to look for possible cures for cancer.”
According to Chudy, many parents got involved by setting up food tables for the game, as well as by creating a program for the game that included pages dedicated to the Hogben family, as well as pages for all seven senior players. Far from just working towards a noble cause, it was a great day all around for the Blue Streaks as they beat Schuylerville 6-0.
Al photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Officially known as MB 360, the Saratoga-Skidmore Consulting Partnership (SSCP) offers invaluable benefits to both Skidmore College students and local businesses. Headed by Colleen Burke, SSCP gives students from a variety of degree paths hands-on experience working as consultants for local businesses.
For the businesses themselves, they gain insights from a diverse and often international pool of young minds. Students in the program come from degree paths as varied as business management, English, psychology, and more, as well from countries all over the world, like Japan, Swaziland, Haiti, Germany, and Brazil.
As a manager in the program, Maya Reyes has been with SSCP for two semesters. During her time, she worked with Saratoga TODAY to help the publication stream-line its visual identity, as before, the design would vary significantly from page to page. Reyes and her team helped the paper develop its “blue box” strategy, making it cohesive across the whole publication.
“We undertake a lot of market research, including extensive focus groups and group surveys, so we learn how to do those things at a professional level,” Reyes said about the academic benefits of the program.
Robert Pierce is another student who has been with the program for the last two semesters. Among the projects he has been a part of, perhaps the biggest was with Death Wish Coffee. After the local extra-strength coffee company landed a commercial during Super Bowl L in 2016, the company’s national profile grew exponentially. Pierce and his group helped the company scale its practices to help meet higher demand while staying as efficient as before.
Pierce also worked with Battenkill Valley Creamery – run by Skidmore alum Seth McEachron – to help the company develop new growth strategies that focused on telling the company’s history.
“This course has been everything for me,” Pierce said. “It’s all I talk about in job interviews, it’s all employers ask about, and... I can talk about this course for hours on end. Professor Colleen Burke has been the most supportive figure in my life, in regards to job hunting, motivating me, and helping me find my true skills.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A handful of senior athletes from Saratoga Springs will be embarking on an exciting new journey next fall.
Saratoga Springs High School (SSHS) seniors Matthew Chmiel, Hunter Choy, Dane Feldhaus, Will Navin, and Gregory Polmatier will each be attending military academies this coming fall after graduation. Chmiel, a member of the Varsity Tennis team, will be attending the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Choy, a member of both the Soccer and Track & Field teams, will be attending The United States Military Academy in West Point, New York; Feldhaus, a member of the Varsity Football team, will be attending the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York; Navin, a runner with both the Cross Country and Track & Field teams, will also be attending West Point; and Polmatier, a member of both the Varsity Lacrosse and Boys Volleyball teams, will be attending the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Chmiel is a three-year veteran of the Varsity Tennis team at SSHS. Last year, he and the rest of the team made it all the way to claim sectional titles. He currently plays doubles. He first started considering pursuing a military career after high school only a few years ago while witnessing a friend go through the application process. Not having any military history in his family, it was not something he ever thought about in his youth. He attributes his decision to apply to the Air Force Academy to his interest in studying aeronautical engineering, as well as to a general interest in military aircraft.
“I’m very excited,” Chmiel said. “I’m humbled to have the opportunity. It was such a competitive process. I know that there’s gonna be a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m ready to put in whatever it takes.
As a member of the Varsity Soccer team, Choy made it to the position of Captain after serving as the starting goalkeeper. He has also competed in Track & Field events. Attending the Military Academy at West Point has been an almost life-long dream for Choy, ever since he read a biography of General George S. Patton in second grade that inspired him to serve his country.
“I’m super excited. It’s been a long time coming,” Choy said. “It’s been a very long process and I’m extremely humbled to be able to pursue this career in the army.”
Feldhaus’s athletic history at SSHS began on the freshman baseball and football teams in ninth grade, and since then he as played on both the JV and Varsity football teams. For a long time, he knew that he wanted to get involved with either the Navy or the Marine Corps, but was never sure in what way. Having been urged to study engineering by his mother, he found the Merchant Marine Academy at a college fair, and found that it satisfied both goals, to serve his country and to study engineering.
“It’s been a long process, maybe like a 13-month application. It just never really seems to end,” Feldhaus said. “So, I’m really excited to get there and get it going.”
Navin has been involved with the track team since his freshman year at SSHS. Over the course of his varsity career, he has been the Captain of the Track & Field team, competed in the Suburban Council All-Stars team two years in a row, and set a school record in the 4x800 meter relay. West Point has been his goal since elementary school, having always wanted to serve his country from a young age.
“It’s hard to believe it’s still true,” Navin said. “I really can’t believe it, and I’m really excited.”
Polmatier has been involved in athletics since seventh grade. His varsity career began in his sophomore year when he joined the Varsity Lacrosse team. He has since served as the Captain of that team in both his junior and senior years. He also played on the Varsity Volleyball team in his junior and senior years, serving as Captain for the team as a senior. He believes that his love of sports and his desire to attend the Naval Academy in Annapolis are tied up in the same principles.
“When I’m having the most fun ever is when I’m competing with a group and working hard,” Polmatier said. “And that’s kinda the core of what the military is, just teamwork and relying on that person next to you, which is why I have a fondness for sports, and what’s led me to my interest in the military academies.”
Each of the student athletes said that they intend to continue on with athletics while attending their respective schools.
All photos by Thomas Kika.