Jonathon Norcross

Jonathon Norcross

SCHUYLERVILLE — At an April 15 Board of Education meeting, the Schuylerville Central School District formally recognized and celebrated the high school career of star basketball player Luke Sherman, who set the school’s all-time boys scoring record earlier this year.

At the meeting, Varsity Basketball Coach Matthew Steinfort discussed Sherman’s accomplishments as both a player and a person. Sherman, a multi-sport athlete, stood by wearing his baseball uniform. 

“Luke made his first appearance on varsity as an eighth grader,” Steinfort said. “We had a handful of injuries that season and so we decided to bring him up. From that point on, he never looked back.”

In his final season with the Black Horses, Sherman averaged 24.5 points per game. In 20 games, he scored more than 20 points, and in four games he scored more than 30. In a home victory against Queensbury, he netted 38 points.

“Teams are scheming for him,” Steinfort said. “They’re planning for him. He’s the number one variable that they’re trying to take away. Despite that, he’s still able to put up numbers like that.”

Among his many accolades, Sherman was named to both the Foothills Council First Team, and the Section 2 All-Tournament Team for Class B. In his career at Schuylerville, he scored 1,536 total points, making him the school’s all-time boys scoring leader. In a game against Hudson Falls in January, he surpassed Eric Stover’s 1,317-point record set in 1978.

“As impressive as those statistics are, at least for me, it doesn’t define him,” Steinfort said. “He’s a talented young man, a talented student-athlete. But he put the work in. He worked on his body. He worked on his mind. He worked on his game. That came to fruition with the success that he’s had.”

“There’s such a unique balance with Luke,” Steinfort continued. “There’s a real confidence there, and he exudes it, but at the same time, there’s a real humility, which is rare.”

Sherman is still deciding which college he will attend, with SUNY New Paltz and Utica being two options. He plans to continue playing basketball in college and hopes to one day become a special education teacher.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Central Catholic varsity baseball team annihilated Tamarac High School on April 9 by a score of 13 to 1. Nine Saints players had hits in the game, and their two pitchers commanded the mound.

At the plate, Ronan Rowe went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI and 2 doubles. Hunter Fales and Ryan Gillis each went 2 for 4 with a double. Tyler Weygand, Pierce Byrne, and Carson Moser also chipped in with 2 hits apiece.

Pitcher Aidan Crowther, a senior, allowed no runs and four hits in five innings of work. He also struck out five Tamarac Bengals.

The Saints followed up the lopsided win with a shutout victory against Stillwater on April 10, 2 to 0.

Heading into an April 16 rematch against Stillwater, the Saints were undefeated thus far on the season with a 4-0 record. They previously defeated Tamarac 7 to 1 on April 8, and also beat Broadalbin-Perth 5 to 1 on April 7. 

Thursday, 18 April 2024 16:32

Saratoga Cigar Shop Hosting Sopranos Actor

SARATOGA SPRINGS — James & Sons Tobacconists in downtown Saratoga Springs is hosting an event that will feature Joseph R. Gannascoli, an actor best known for playing Vito Spatafore in the classic HBO series “The Sopranos.” 

According to a social media post shared by the company, Gannascoli will be signing copies of his book, “A Meal to Die For: A Culinary Novel of Crime.” The meet-and-greet event will take place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 6, the first day of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.

Also attending the event will be Moe ElAraby, the New York/New Jersey sales representative for Tatuaje Cigars, and Dave Peters of LNJ Brands, who will be doing a Rocavaka vodka tasting.

MALTA — At an “Inside Malta” event last week at the Malta Community Center, a panel of local business leaders discussed the town’s rapid recent growth, its housing and infrastructure issues, and its “very bright” future.

Cindy Quade, a real estate broker and the owner of Signature ONE Realty Group, said she’s seen Malta transform from a “sleeper town” to one filled with amenities such as restaurants, nightlife, grocery stores, and shopping. “We have absolutely everything anybody needs right here,” she said.

Daniel Arnoff, Chief Relationship Officer of Arnoff Moving and Storage, agreed. In the last seven or eight years, Arnoff said that by observing Malta’s growth, “it’s clear to us that we’re not slowing down any time soon.”

“There’s other towns where there’s an instant door slamming in your face, and the door here couldn’t be any more wide open for business,” Arnoff said. “I think the trajectory that we’re on is a very bright one.”

Much of the town’s development has revolved around GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor manufacturer headquartered in Malta. After receiving more than $2 billion in federal and state investments earlier this year, the company announced plans to build a new microchip fabrication plant, which it expects will create more than 10,000 new jobs.


Recently, GlobalFoundries donated $1 million to Hudson Valley Community College. The gift will go towards building a new Applied Technology Education Center (ATEC) on the college’s campus in Troy. ATEC will be an $85 million workforce training center that aims to prepare graduates for in-demand careers in semiconductor manufacturing and other industries.

Admar Semedo, Director and HR Site Lead at GlobalFoundries Fab 8, said the donation was not just about creating a headline. “It’s because we see the value in what Hudson Valley is doing and what that building is going to do,” Semedo said, “not just for GlobalFoundries but for the other companies in this room.”

Dr. Jonathan Ashdown, executive dean of Hudson Valley Community College North, said part of his institution’s objective is to keep youth in the area after they receive their training. He said he wants graduates to “stick around and help the economy; not only just survive, but thrive.”

But there are some hurdles when it comes to young adults living in Malta, or Saratoga County at large. “We can train them but if they don’t stick around, if they don’t have the housing, if we don’t figure stuff like that out, they’re going to go elsewhere,” Dr. Ashdown said.

Malta, like much of Saratoga County, has an unfriendly housing market for first-time buyers. High interest rates, low inventory, and competitive all-cash bidding wars have made owning a home an increasingly difficult prospect.

Quade said there were only four homes currently for sale in Malta. “There’s not a lot to choose from,” she said. Quade called for legislation that could benefit first-time buyers.

In addition to housing issues, Quade also cited infrastructure as a concern. “Surprisingly, we’re still well and septic on a lot of properties,” she said, “so having infrastructure, utilities, things like that, would help.”

“The beauty of this area is the community and its people,” Quade said. “The challenge is preserving it while growing.”

The “Inside Malta” event was hosted by the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County and supported by the Malta Business Community Alliance committee.

Attendees included Town Supervisor Cynthia Young, a representative from Congressman Paul Tonko’s office, and additional town-wide elected officials.

Thursday, 11 April 2024 16:29

70 Local Kids Compete in Double Dutch Event

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Around 70 kids participated in a three-day Double Dutch event last week that culminated in a competition on Thursday afternoon at the Chris Daley Gym in Gavin Park. Participants were judged on their speed and technique. Certificates and medals were awarded to the “hoppy” youngsters

The competition was run by nationally recognized trainers Ms. K and her Swagga Jumpers. Due to the success of this year’s event, the Saratoga County Department of Aging and Youth Services plans to hold another Double Dutch competition next year as part of its Youth Month activities.

POUGHKEEPSIE — The Skidmore College baseball team won twice in a three-game series against Liberty League rivals Vassar College in Poughkeepsie last weekend. The final game went into extra innings.


Skidmore - 4

Vassar - 3

In game one on April 5, sophomore infielder Nate Vandersea clinched a Thoroughbred victory with a sacrifice fly ball in the ninth inning. It was his second game-winning sac fly of the season. 

Vandersea has been a major asset to Skidmore this year, improving his batting average from .087 last year to .286 this year. His slugging and on-base percentages have also made steep climbs. Designated hitter Zachary Leiderman had an impressive day at the plate as well, going 2 for 3 with one walk. 

On the mound, Ameer Hasan allowed two runs in seven innings. His ERA stood at a career-best 1.77 on the season. Christian Giresi closed out the game, giving up one run in two innings, but earning the win.


Skidmore - 14
Vassar - 5

In the first game of a doubleheader on April 7, Skidmore exploded offensively, racking up 14 runs. Outfielder Owen Roy led the effort, going 3 for 4 with 3 RBI. Leiderman had another impressive game, going 3 for 5 with 2 RBI. Seven Thoroughbreds had at least one hit in the contest. 

Freshman starter Chase Siegel struggled, giving up 5 runs in a little over 5 innings, but still earned his third win of the season. Reliever Ethan Caiazza was credited with his first save, allowing no runs and striking out four batters in nearly four innings of work.


Skidmore - 9
Vassar - 10

The second game of the doubleheader had a thrilling, albeit disappointing (for Skidmore) conclusion. The game went into extra innings; 11 to be exact. After five straight innings with neither team getting across a run, Vassar earned a walk-off victory with an RBI single by first baseman Ty Murray. 

Skidmore was forced to use five pitchers, although three of them (Peter Martin, Grayden Harris, and Cal Champeau) gave up no runs. Offensively, Leiderman and Vandersea again impressed; both went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI apiece.

At the end of the series against Vassar, Skidmore had a 12-9 overall record for the season, and a 5-1 record in the Liberty League. Their .833 winning percentage placed them second among all league teams. 

Skidmore’s next scheduled home game is a doubleheader against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on April 20.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Empire State University kicked off its solar eclipse festivities in Saratoga Springs on Monday afternoon with a virtual presentation delivered by Audeliz Matías, Ph.D., the university’s interim dean of the School for Graduate Studies. The lecture detailed not only how eclipses work, but also their significance and influence on cultures across the globe.

In Ireland, the first recorded eclipse was etched into a stone around 3340 BCE. In ancient China, some scribes believed that an eclipse was caused by a hungry, heavenly dog feasting on the sun. The Cherokee in Oklahoma also suspected that a hungry animal might be to blame; a giant frog in the sky who needed to be scared away before it devoured the entire sun.

“Many cultures have seen eclipses in different ways,” Matías said. “Some cultures see it as a moment of change, for bad or good.” 

Matías played video interviews of Native Americans sharing their tribes’ perspectives on eclipses. “The Navajo think this is a time where when [an eclipse] occurs, there needs to be some reverence; there needs to be some time for reflection, some time to think of the future.”

There will be plenty of time to reflect before the next solar eclipse is viewable from the United States, which Matías said won’t happen until 2044. 

The eclipse festivities at Empire State University’s Veteran and Military Resource Center featured solar-themed snacks (such as Capri Sun) and an eclipse viewing party attended by teachers, staff, and students.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Forget what you’ve seen on “CSI” or in Humphrey Bogart movies; in today’s world, private investigators bear little resemblance to their Hollywood caricatures.

When a potential client walks into Brooks Investigations Group’s office in Saratoga Springs, there are some fanciful notions that might need to be dispelled.

“There’s no magical prescription drug where we can literally find everything about someone,” said Jeremiah Brooks, Chief of Investigations. “The FBI has a background check system that provides 5% of the information mine does, and that’s the FBI.”

Brooks’ background investigations can range from someone looking to learn more about their future significant other to business owners who suspect they’re being swindled. These cases are only one of many tasks that private investigators can do. Brooks Investigations Group’s top cases usually fall under the categories of criminal defense or family court. But there is one case category that seems to be popular in the Saratoga area: evictions. 

“Sometimes that just involves us serving paperwork, and other times we do 24-hour inspections,” Brooks said. “24-hour inspections are designed, number one, to make sure that the current resident or squatter is not damaging the property, but also to let them know that my clients are taking this very seriously, they’re acting within the law and they’re not going to make it comfortable for you to sit here and squeeze them dry.”

Brooks Investigations Group’s central office is in Plattsburgh, and the company added its second brick-and-mortar location in Saratoga Springs last year. But Brooks also has investigators working out of “satellite offices” in Albany, Elmira, and Massena. These investigators don’t have physical offices per se, but they each command a small team of people, many of whom are ex-law enforcement. Brooks said that “at least” 90% of his staff have some law enforcement background. 

“When I sit down with somebody that I’m about to hire, I want them to share my vision,” Brooks said. “I want them to have that same vision that we don’t go into a case with blinders on, which occurs in many police investigations. They’ll actually formulate conclusions well before the facts have been collected, and that’s one thing that we try to do the opposite. We stay objective. We stay open-minded. We’re never biased. We use our training to help us, but we also have an open mind. My team is very much like that, and that’s why we’re successful with what we do.”

Brooks’ philosophy of staying open-minded has led to his company taking on a number of criminal defense cases. Public defenders often contact private investigators to assist with their cases, and this, Brooks said, is where his company truly shines. 

“The police have investigators, the district attorney has the police; somebody that’s accused has their defense attorney and that’s it,” Brooks said. “It’s not really set up to be fair.”

Brooks Investigations Group conducts its own investigations independently of the police, and sometimes its findings contradict the official record, or even reveal alleged corruption. “We’re changing the landscape on criminal defense,” Brooks said.

Though radically different from how the media often portrays them, private investigators are undoubtedly having an influence across the country, and right here in Saratoga Springs.

Brooks Investigations’ Saratoga office is located at 120 West Avenue, in suite 212.

Thursday, 04 April 2024 12:55

Saratoga Businesses Seeing Eclipse Impact

SARATOGA SPRINGS — It’s been nearly a century since the last total solar eclipse was visible from New York State. Although Saratoga Springs is outside the path of totality, the city will still feel the impact of visitors flocking to the Adirondacks, where they’ll hope to catch a glimpse of the celestial phenomenon on April 8.

“Our lodging partners are seeing strong transient demand on Sunday, April 7 and Monday April 8, with Sunday being the busiest,” Discover Saratoga President Darryl Leggieri told Saratoga TODAY. “That means we can expect an influx of tourists and eclipse enthusiasts who will be engaging with our destination, spending time and money in our cities and towns, as they travel from all over to experience this rare event.”

Electronic signs stationed on I-87 warn travelers that the Northway could be congested on or around eclipse day. Last week, Governor Kathy Hochul told state officials and law enforcement to prepare for a high volume of traffic the weekend leading up to the eclipse and through April 9.

Those who don’t wish to fight their way through traffic may still be able to enjoy a partial solar eclipse. At least one local business, Speckled Pig Brewing in Ballston Spa, is throwing a rooftop viewing party on Monday afternoon. The Saratoga National Historical Park is also hosting a viewing event.

Discover Saratoga recommends a few public areas from which to view the partial eclipse, including Congress Park, Saratoga Spa State Park, and Moreau Lake State Park.

Thursday, 04 April 2024 12:52

Heat Pumps on the Rise in Saratoga County

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A handful of local businesses, in collaboration with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), are encouraging the use of cold-climate heat pumps for both cooling and heating. 

In Ballston Spa, Tree Huggers, Sustainable Sundry, and the Sweetish Chef all have heat pumps installed, as does Artisanal Brew Works in Saratoga Springs.

NYSERDA is promoting heat pumps as a “more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way to stay comfortable.” The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 offers federal tax credits for homeowners who use heat pumps, and the New York State Clean Heat program provides rebates through utility companies to incentivise people to install pumps.

At Artisanal Brew Works, NYSERDA’s Courtney Moriarta explained how heat pumps work. “Through the magic of physics, we can take the energy out of the air that’s outside and put it through a set of refrigerant pipes, and it’ll heat that air up and turn it into usable heat inside the building,” Moriarta said.

NYSERDA aims to dispel a couple popular misconceptions about heat pumps. First, heat pumps can provide both cooling and heating, not just heat. Second, modern pumps, unlike older models, are able to work in cold climates such as upstate New York.

“These are really sophisticated systems that are designed to work at colder temperatures,” Moriarta said. “The single-stage heat pumps of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, they could perform down to about 40, 30 degrees outside temperature, and once the air outside gets lower than that, they would have trouble keeping up or just not really be able to deliver heat at all.” 

Today, heat pumps can operate at 100 percent capacity in 5 degrees, and can still function at lower capacity down to as low as -22 degrees. This means that heat pumps can operate in any climate in the world. “With this newer, cold-climate heat pump technology, you can really deliver comfort,” Moriarta said.

NYSERDA is encouraging both business owners and homeowners to experience heat pumps in person at one of the many local establishments that already use heat pumps. In addition to the aforementioned businesses, John Sawicki of the environmental consulting firm TRC Companies said that a number of restaurants in downtown Saratoga use heat pumps, as do several local libraries. 

“If you look across the street to the left, there’s a mixed-use apartment building that was built with Mitsubishi heat pumps; that whole entire complex,” Sawicki said. 

“Once you know what to look for, you start seeing them everywhere,” said Moriarta.

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