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The long line of humanity stretches far as the eye can see. It flows past the rows of fiction titles and shelves filled with historical tales. It weaves beyond bookcases that cradle publications with lessons about eating well and losing weight. It crisscrosses through the bookstore’s neighboring café, curls around a table that boasts new releases and spills out the front door, eventually coming to rest in an adjacent alley on the north side of the building.
The line is composed of 500 people who have come to “meet-and-greet” Theresa Caputo – author and TV star of the reality show “The Long Island Medium.” She said she had been given “The Gift” at a young age.
“I’ve been seeing, feeling, and sensing Spirit since I was 4 years old, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I learned to communicate with souls in heaven,” Caputo says.
She came to Northshire Bookstore Saratoga in between tour dates in New Jersey and Connecticut and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to promote the release of her fourth book, “Good Grief: Heal Your Soul, Honor Your Loved Ones, and Learn to Live Again.” Five hundred tickets were offered for the Saratoga Springs event. They were quickly gone.
“We watch her on TV and love her,” said Lela Barber-Pitts, who made the journey from Schenectady to Saratoga Springs to meet Caputo, and who holds the last place on the long line. “I’m thrilled she’s come to our area.”
The cost of admission requires a simple process: purchase a copy of the new book and in exchange receive an autographed copy of the publication and a picture standing alongside the author.
Sunday morning, Caputo held court in the center of the bookstore, her Long Island accent fully engaged and her small black-draped frame accented by a gold neck chain that reads: Blessed.
The event guidelines for ticketholders are clear: all books are pre-signed by Caputo - which she does Sunday morning in the bookstore’s offices upstairs - with no additional personalization possible. Every fan gets a professional photograph taken of themselves with Caputo and instructions on how to retrieve it. Asking for a personal “reading” is not permissible; the line must be kept moving quickly. Do the math: 500 people in two hours’ time equates to four people per minute. It does allow for brief exchanges: “Hi. How are you? Nice to meet you. I hope you enjoy the book.”
Despite an understanding of event instructions, the mind inevitably wanders. Whether people are here for the TV star factor and in appreciation of Caputo as an entertainer, or believe she has a way to connect with those who have left this mortal coil, everyone has got someone who they have lost – an Aunt Mary, a cousin Bill, a mother, a father, a family pet – and some can’t help to thinking: wouldn’t it be nice to hear from them again.
“I hope my mother comes through. She was a feisty one, and she loved Theresa,” said Michelle Milks, who arrived at the bookstore two-and-a-half hours prior to the signing and scored one of the first positions on line.
“I’m hoping to get help in healing,” said Liz Witbeck, while waiting in line to meet Caputo. A few moments later, the two women engaged in a brief discussion and posed for a photograph together. Then Witbeck was on her way, book in hand and the trace of a smile on her face.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - The Rochmon Record Club has hosted monthly learning and listening parties featuring classic rock ‘n’ roll albums since last fall at Universal Preservation Hall.
With the Washington Street space set to undergo a lengthy renovation, Rochmon brainchild Chuck Vosganian announced this week – during a listening party that featured Queen’s “Sheer Heart Attack” – that the sound and vision show will be relocating to Caffè Lena for the foreseeable future.
Vosganian credited the local creative arts community for making the relocation to Lena’s café possible. The Rochmon Record Club series continues Tuesday, April 18 at Caffè Lena where the album focus will be on Jethro Tull’s 1971 album, “Aqualung.”
WILTON – The Saratoga Regional YMCA’s “Springettes” jumped, spun, and balanced their way past the competition at a recent home meet, landing several first place wins over the visiting teams.
The competition was held in the Wilton Branch’s gymnastics center from March 18-19, and saw the Saratoga Regional YMCA’s competitive girls gymnastics team – or, the Springettes – face off against both the Glens Falls and Oneonta YMCA gymnastics teams. Gymnasts age 6-17 competed in four events: vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. Overall, 116 young athletes competed at the event, ranging from levels 2-9, according to gymnastics director Kim Hewitt.
“The Saratoga Y did very well,” Hewitt said. “We had 13 athletes come in first place in the all-around competitions in their levels and age divisions. We also had 46 1st place medals on individual events during the meet. We have really been consistently improving throughout the year.”
According to Hewitt, a number of Springettes gave standout performances at the event. The two level 9 competitors, Sophie Hrebenach and Marissa Verro, competing in their last home meet before graduation, both put in strong work. Hrebenach placed 2nd all-around for level 9, and placed 1st on the vault with a well-executed Tsukahara flip. She also placed 2nd in floor exercise with 9.425 points, a season high for her. Verro, meanwhile, placed 3rd overall for level 9, and was 2nd on the vault with two front-front vaults. This was all the more impressive for Verro because, as Hewitt noted, the front-front vault was a new maneuver for her.
Beyond Hrebenach and Verro, a handful of other Springettes placed first at different levels and in different events. These individuals are as follows: Abby Moller, level 8, all ages; Jordan Toma, level 7, ages 16 and up; Kaitlyn Kidder, level 7, ages 14-15; Alina Williams, level 6, masters division; Brynne Wright, level 6, ages 13-15; Morgan Thompson, level 5, ages 12 and up; Leah Torres, level 5, ages 9-11; Lauren Closson, level 4, ages 12 and up; Erika Sudigala, level 4, age 11; Erin Ward, level 3, age 11; Addison Furze, level 2, age 9A; Lola Ferrillo, level 2, age 8; and, Amelia McBain, level 2, ages 11 and up.
From here, the Springettes will be focused on the upcoming championship meets, beginning with the League Championships in Watertown, which will take place from April 1-2. Following that, there will also be the State YMCA Gymnastics Championships at SUNY Oneonta and the Regional YMCA Championships in Redfield, ME. The team also has 19 girls attending the National Championships in Savannah, GA, which will run from June 29-July 2.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The weather may continue to disagree, but spring is in the air. On March 6, practice for the varsity and JV boys lacrosse teams’ spring season commenced at the Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury, with the girls’ team following suit on March 13. Check back next week for our full preview story of the upcoming boys lacrosse season. For more information on practices and game times, go to www.saratogaschools.org/athletics.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The New York State Scholastic Chess Championship celebrated its major half-century anniversary in Saratoga Springs this past weekend. The 50th annual youth chess tournament ran from March 11-12, and took place across both the Saratoga City Center and the Saratoga Hilton hotel. Drawing players from across the state and country, from grades K-12, the total number of children at the tournament was around 1200, making it the largest ever chess tournament held in upstate New York recognized by the United States Chess Federation.
SARATOGA COUNTY – The Girl Scouts of the Saratoga-Schuylerville Service Unit came together this past weekend for a day of fun and learning at the annual Jamboree. Taking place at Geyser Road Elementary School on March 12, the event is held every year to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the first Girl Scouts troop by Juliette Gordon Lowe in Savannah, GA. The theme of this year’s Saratoga Jamboree was “Countries from Around the World,” tasking each troop with picking a country and learning about its culture. The troops then set up tables at the Jamboree with informational displays and activities related to their countries.
According to Jamboree organizer Whitney Jobmann, the event is also an opportunity for scouts, young and old, to come together and have fun. The Girl Scouts has six different levels, broken down by grade: Daisy (K-1), Brownie (2-3), Junior (4-5), Cadette (6-8), Senior (9-10) and Ambassador (11-12). Jobmann said that 225 girls from 26 different local troops attended the Jamboree this past week.
“In addition to the Girl Scouts,” Jobmann said. “Are… the troop leaders and adult members of the troop [who] do a great job of supporting and encouraging the girls.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – There is no rest for the dominant track and field stars of Saratoga Springs High School.
Just one week after blowing away competition at the NYSPHSAA 2017 Indoor Track & Field Championships in Staten Island, sophomore Kelsey Chmiel and senior Nick Cavotta took another trip down to New York City to compete in the 2017 New Balance Nationals Indoor (NBNI). The event, a premier national-level event for high school track and field athletes, was held in the Armory Track & Field Center and ran from March 10-12.
Competing this time in the 2-mile, Chmiel put in another stellar performance, despite taking part in a more endurance-testing event. Finishing in third place behind Brie Oakley of Aurora, CO, and Jessica Lawson of Elmira, NY, her time was 10 minutes and 12.94 seconds, narrowly but definitively besting the national record for sophomore girls in the 2-mile event, as well as the state record. Previously, the national record was held by Hannah De Balsi of Westport, CT, with a time of 10 minutes and 12.95 seconds, giving Chmiel the edge by 0.01 seconds. This marks back-to-back broken records for Chmiel, who set the national sophomore record in the girls 3,000 meter event at the state championships the previous weekend.
“The state level is usually pretty competitive,” Chmiel said. “But nationals has some really competitive and fast people in it.”
Characteristically modest about her performances, Chmiel said that she was pleased at the gradual improvement she had made over the course of the indoor season. Coach Linda Kranick, always more keen to tout the runner’s achievements, led the rest of the girls track and field team in a round of applause for Chmiel’s record-breaking run right before her first practice back on Monday afternoon.
“I like the longer distances, so the 3K is usually my focus,” Chmiel said about what she will focusing on going forward into the outdoor season.
Cavotta once again competed in the long jump event that has been his signature in the past few weeks. Coming in 14th place out of 33 finalists, Cavotta’s farthest jump measured 21 feet 11.5 inches, lower than the 23-foot jump that helped him claim his first ever state title and break his school’s long jump record. While admitting that Cavotta might have made the top 8 if he had given his best jump, coach Chris Conley remains nonetheless impressed with the progress he has made during his high school career.
“Halfway through his sophomore year, he came out for outdoor track day,” Conley said. “And in the last couple seasons, he’s really started to put a lot of technical stuff together. He’s come a good amount of ways in a short amount of time.”
For now, Cavotta is resting up for a week before moving into the outdoor track season, as Conley traditionally likes to do for his athletes between seasons. Moving forward, Cavotta will focus on competing in a few different events, including 200 and 400 meters, in addition to the long jump, as he begins to be recruited by more and more universities.
Your fingers will have to start walking a little bit longer.
Beginning on Saturday, March 18, residential, business and wireless customers within the existing 518 area code can begin the practice of using a new 10-digit dialing system. The new system, which becomes fully effective Aug. 19, requires callers add a 518 prefix to existing 7-digit local telephone numbers.
The state Public Service Commission announced Saturday’s implementation of the start of “permissive 10-digit dialing” (518 or 838 plus the 7-digit local telephone number) as a way of preparing for the introduction of the new 838 area code.
Last September, the Commission approved a new area code to be added to the current 518 area code region to ensure a continuing supply of telephone numbers. The 518 region serves all or part of the 17 counties in eastern upstate New York, including Saratoga, Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Warren and Washington counties.
The new 838 area code will be “overlaid” or superimposed over the same geographic area as the 518 area code. Current telephone numbers, including current area code, will not change. However, all calls within the 518/838 area must be programmed to dial using 10-digit phone numbers.
As an intermediate step in the implementation of the new area code, the permissive dialing phase allows customers to dial either 7-digits or 10-digits (area code plus 7-digit local telephone number) on calls within the 518 area code; calls to other area codes must still be dialed as 1+ ten digits. The permissive dialing period will end on Aug. 19, at which time callers will be required to dial 10-digits (area code plus 7-digit local telephone number).
Beginning Sept. 19, customers in the 518 area code region requesting new service, an additional line, or a move in the location of their service, may be assigned a number in the new 838 area code.
The price of a call, and the price of other telephone services, will not change due to the new overlay area code. Calls to reach 911 Emergency Service will remain three digits, and existing 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 services will remain three-digit dial numbers.
The Commission recommends that customers identify their telephone number as a 10-digit number (area code + 7-digit local telephone number) when giving the number to friends, family members, business associates and others.
Customers should also ensure that all services, automatic dialing equipment, applications, software, or other types of equipment recognize the new 838 area code as a valid area code. These include life safety systems, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, gates, speed dialers, mobile phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions. Business stationery, advertising materials, personal checks, and personal or pet ID tags should also include the area code.
WILTON - Scraps of charred wood and twisted metal slumped across the ravaged roofline of the Adirondack Trust Company bank branch on Route 9 after a Tuesday afternoon fire destroyed the 25-year-old structure. No one was inside the bank at the time.
“When we arrived the bulk of the fire load was heavily in the attic area and came down into the building the first 20 to 25 minutes we were there,” said Greenfield Fire District Chief Justin Burwell. The roof caved in, leaving in its wake a series of long glassless windows that exposed the collapsed ruins within. Bank officials posted a round-the-clock security detail on-site to protect valuables.
“They have a vault and the funds were secured,” said Chief Burwell. “And no, there wasn’t any money floating around or anything like that.” The chief said he’s been asked that question a lot.
Bank President Stephan von Schenk said he is confident the vault protected the belongings of the bank’s customers. “I was allowed in to the branch and made it to the vault, which appears to be structurally sound; it didn’t appear the sheetrock or the vault door had been touched by anything, so everything looks good. We’re very optimistic.”
All transactions prior to the fire, including those performed at the ATM, were processed successfully. Money and safety deposit boxes were inside the vault, which is being extricated and relocated by a Connecticut based company which specializes in such things, von Schenk said. It is anticipated customers will able to access their boxes after that relocation takes place, which is expected to be within a couple of days. Customers with inquiries regarding their safe deposit boxes at the Wilton branch are advised to call 518-584-5844 ext. 473.
The bank branch is located at the Route 9 intersection with Northern Pines Road, just north of the city. The branch closed at 1 p.m. Tuesday due to extreme weather conditions.
The combination of cold temperatures, high winds and heavy snow made battling the blaze difficult, said Burwell, who had to call the state Department of Transportation in to plow the road as Winter Storm Stella pounded the region. Burwell estimated there were about 60 firefighters from eight area fire companies on scene battling the fire, with two more fire companies standing by to offer assistance. No injuries were reported.
No one was in the building at the time of the incident, which occurred about one hour after the bank branch closed. Von Schenk said it appears “an electrical incident” related to wiring in an outlet had caused the fire.
Bank officials said they plan to rebuild as quickly as possible at the same location. The company has temporarily extended the hours of its nearby Exit 15 branch; those hours are: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays in the lobby, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the drive-thru.
The Saratoga Springs based Adirondack Trust Company employs about 250 people and was founded in 1910. It has 12 branch offices. The Route 9 branch building was constructed in 1991.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – As the Saratoga YMCA’s Regional Basketball League winds down to the final game of the season this weekend, the organization and its basketball league assistant Mike Laudicina are already at work on something new to follow it.
Starting this summer, the Saratoga YMCA will be offering its first ever summer youth basketball league program. The program will begin on June 22 with a clinic, running from 6-9 p.m., and featuring locally renowned basketball coaches Fred Shear and Matt Usher. The league itself will begin on June 29 and run for the rest of the summer, ending on August 31. The program is open to kids from grade 5-8, and registration will begin May 22.
According to Laudicina, this new program was created due to popular demand from parents.
“I’ve been doing [youth basketball] for 25 years, I started in 1992,” Laudicina said. “And I’ve always had parents say to me, ‘We wish there was something in the summer.’”
Laudicina said that these parents were eager to have YMCA summer youth league as an alternative to the Amateur Athletics Union, which they found to be too costly and which would often leave their children on the bench most of the time. The new summer league will be open to both boys and girls, and to young athletes of all skill levels. The league is designed to be instructional, with an hour of practice each week on Wednesdays, followed a game on Thursdays.
In contrast to the standard youth basketball league, which held its final game on Thursday, the youth league will skew younger, being open to kids in grades 5-8. The standard youth league is made up of two divisions, the junior division for grades 6-8, and the senior league for grades 9-12. The reason for this difference, Laudicina said, was again in response to parental demand, as there was more desire for a summer program from the parents of kids going into those grades.
Being a program that runs in the summer, this new league will be drawing kids from other leagues, both YMCA and others, that will not be running during the season. According to Laudicina, they are expecting to bring in players from the Saratoga Springs City Recreation Department’s basketball league, among others.
“Nobody really does something like this,” Laudicina said. “This is something brand new. I don’t know any other Y’s that do it.”
As an instructional program, Laudicina and the rest of the Saratoga YMCA is hoping that the summer will not just teach kids the fundamentals of basketball, sportsmanship, and teamwork, but also the Y’s core values: caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. There is also the hope that some of the players who participate this summer will move over to playing in the standard youth league when it starts up again in the fall.
“It’s like a feeder program,” Laudicina said. “Because a lot of the kids in the junior division will be moving up to the senior division soon. So, getting more young people into the league will help feed it and keep it going.”