Jaynie Ellis

Jaynie Ellis

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Saratoga Signature Studios opened their doors on Broadway in 1992. This April marks their 30th year in business accomplishing exactly what Owner and President Nancy Moultrie Smith set out to do fi provide Saratoga Springs with a place to find quality furnishings and interior design services. 

Smith and Dan Czech, Interior Designer and talented artist known for his lawn jockey paintings, reminisced with Saratoga TODAY on some of the big projects they have completed over the years including The Batcheller Mansion Inn; the lobby dining area, and 132 guest suites at The Gideon Putnam; an Amtrak high speed train; the Golub’s family yacht in Florida; model units at 38 High Rock Ave; the VIP Lounge at Saratoga Casino Hotel; Couch White Law Offices; and numerous private homes. 

But as trends come and go through the decades, Saratoga Signature Interior’s designs remain timeless. 

“We try to keep with classic designs," said Smith. “There are trendy things that we incorporate, but the classic styles don’t go out of fashion."

As with most industries, construction and interior design has taken a hit from COVID. When custom-made furniture used to take only 4-6 weeks to ship in previous years, it now takes anywhere from 16-32 weeks fi not to mention the increase in prices. Saratoga Signature Interiors has been able to stay on top of most of these supply chain issues. Meanwhile, there is no disruption on window treatments, custom area rugs, wallpaper, or däcor and other accessories. 

“There are orders coming in every week for the floor [of our showroom] to keep new and fresh items in stock for delivery," said Smith. 

Keeping up with the seasons and the new importance on outdoor spaces, Saratoga Signature Interiors has announced that they will be opening Saratoga Outdoor in April, their home furnishing shop for outdoor spaces, to tie in with their 30th anniversary. They will also continue to sell their iconic horses and hand painted jockeys. 

And in honor of their 30th anniversary, Saratoga Signature Interiors rewound the clock on interior design trends over the last three decades in a blog post on their website, which you can check out here: www.saratogasignature.com/general/30-years-of-interior-design/. 

Visit their website (www.saratogasignature.com), give them a call (518-581-0023), or stop by in-person to learn about all the interior design services they have to offer and how they can help make your house a home right here in the Capital Region. 

Thursday, 24 March 2022 14:19

Local Basketball Teams Make it to States

GLENS FALLS/TROY — The Boys and Girls 2022 NYSPHAA (New York State Public High School Athletic Association) Basketball Championships concluded this past weekend, with the state semi-finals on March 18 and the state championship games on March 19 at Cool Insuring Arena (boys) and Hudson Valley Community College (girls). 

BOYS BASKETBALL

Class B: Kinderhook’s Ichabod Crane Boys Basketball Team defeated Friends Academy 63-62 for the Class B state title. Ichabod Crane also faced Canton, Plattsburgh, and Allegany-Limestone in the tournament, defeating each team by at least 10 points or more. 

Class C: Saratoga County’s own Stillwater Warriors made it to the state championship game but were upset by Newfield 87-62. Stillwater had a bye-in and then defeated Moriah 55-52 in the regionals and Salamanca 64-56 in the state semifinals before facing Newfield. 

GIRLS BASKETBALL 

Class A: The Averill Park Warriors claimed the state title over Tappan Zee, 54-48. Averill park’s journey to the title included defeating Massena 66-27 in the subregionals, Bishop Ludden 67-43 in the regionals, and West Babylon 56-36 in the state semifinals. 

Class AA: The Albany Girls Basketball Team had a bye-in but was defeated 62-60 in regionals by Cicero-North Syracuse. Bishop Kearney went on to win the title 63-57 against Baldwin. 

Class B: Schalmont, claimed a state title after defeating Gouverneur 65-43, Saranac 54-30, General Brown 52-42, and Waterloo 56-54. 

Class C: The Duanesburg Girls Basketball Team, who brought home the school’s first Class C Section II girls basketball title this season, made it the state semifinals where they were defeated by Newark Valley, 68-40. 

Class D: Washington County’s Hartford Central had a bye-in and went on to defeat Boquet Valley 57-51 in regionals before being eliminated by Copenhagen 51-40 in the state semifinals. Copenhagen went on to win the title 47-39
over Sherman. 

Thursday, 24 March 2022 13:26

Health, History, & Horses: The Podcast

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Dr. Christine Alexander-Decker and Charlie Kuenzel’s podcast is an insightful look at the “important fabric of our community” – health, history, and horses.   

About the Hosts

Dr. Christine Alexander-Decker, MD, an Endocrinologist and Saratoga Hospital provider, was attending a women’s health leadership conference when she learned that other physicians were stepping out their traditional medical roles and helping a larger community through things such as podcasts. 

With the health aspect covered, Dr. Alexander-Decker got Charlie Kuenzel, President of the Saratoga Springs History Museum and retired educator from the Saratoga Springs City School District, to come on board. Kuenzel, alongside Dave Patterson, is also an Owner and Historian/Tour Guide of Saratoga Tours LLC. 

After filming only two episodes, COVID hit, and the podcast was still lacking a horse/racing expert. Brien Bouyea, Director of Communications for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, was featured as guest in the most recent episode, and Dr. Alexander-Decker and Kuenzel are hoping he will be a regular on the podcast – the third host to balance out the triangle. 

Preview the Pod

What can you expect to learn from Health, History, & Horses? In previous episodes Dr. Alexander-Decker has talked about a range of health topics like, diabetes, thyroid disorders, and sports medicine. 

“Health is easy to expound on, and I’m hoping to reach out to a bunch of other experts for interviews,” said Dr. Alexander-Decker. 

Kuenzel takes listeners back in time to summers of a particular year, how residents got ready to open the spa to tourists, how Christmas traditions have evolved in Saratoga over the years, and the history of the mineral springs. 

Listeners can plan on Brien talking about topics such as a horse’s journey to Saratoga for the Summer Meet, the anticipation of the Triple Crown, and more. 

Dr. Alexander-Decker and Kuenzel always find a way to interconnect their expertise. 

“It was just very natural for us to start this podcast,” said Kuenzel. 

Where to Listen

Health, History, & Horses started out as an audio only podcast on the Saratoga Springs History Museum website. Now Saratoga TODAY is the new home to not only listen but watch Health, History, & Horses. There are six audio and two video versions of the podcast. Each episode is typically 30 to 45 minutes – just enough time to listen while running some errands around the City or doing chores at home. Dr. Alexander-Decker and Kuenzel are hoping to release new episodes on a monthly basis and alternate between audio and video formats. 

Go online to www. saratogatodaynewspaper.com and click on Podcasts under the Sections tab to start listening today. 

Thursday, 17 March 2022 15:25

Celtic Treasures Celebrates 30 Years

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Celtic Treasures, a premiere Irish gift shop located in the heart of downtown Saratoga Springs, is commemorating 30 years in business throughout the month of March. 

Celtic Treasures, at 456 Broadway, is one of the largest importers of Irish gifts in upstate New York. Working directly with Irish manufacturers, Celtic Treasures offers some of the most hard-to-find Irish gifts both in-store and on their website, and prides themselves on filling special orders for their customers. 

“Stepping into Celtic Treasures saves you a 6,000-mile round trip airfare to Ireland,” said Owner Paul O’Donnell, describing his store’s 30-year appeal in downtown Saratoga. “We cater to everyone from Irish immigrants who miss home to 4th generation Irish who are interested in looking up their family history, as well as everyone in-between.” 

Celtic Treasures opened at their current location in 1995. The prior three years they were located right next door, where Saratoga Marketplace is now. Paul credits the success of the store to his employees, his wife Antoinette, and their loyal customers. 

“We used to be the new kids on the block,” said Paul. “But it’s been a wonderful 30 years.” 

Although their official birthday weekend has passed (March 11 – March 13), they are celebrating this milestone all month long. Upcoming on March 17 – 20, is the “Anything Green T-Shirt Sale” that will also include 20% off featured merchandise and 20% off all compact discs. 

You can also find authentic, made in Ireland pottery, china and more at Celtic Treasures. A big seller is their Claddagh rings – a traditional Irish ring that features two hands around a heart with a crown representing friendship, love, and loyalty. 

More so, Celtic Treasures also has a dedicated section to Irish foods. Paul remarked that during the first wave of COVID their Irish teas and biscuits were flying off the shelves. 

Paul’s mother Annie was the inspiration behind Celtic Treasures, as she hails from County Cavan, Ireland, and Paul spent many summers on his grandparents’ farm in Ireland since he was four years old. Paul’s father Eddie also takes part in the business, providing hands-on assistance with bookkeeping and is known as their CFO, or “Celtic Financial Officer.” 

“That really instituted my love of Ireland from an early age,” said Paul. “That was the seed of this business.” 

Paul and Celtic Treasures also support others in Saratoga’s Irish community, as Paul is a co-sponsor of the weekly open Irish jam sessions at The Parting Glass every Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

Celtic Treasures is open seven days a week. Their online store is open 24/7 at shop.celtictreasures.com. Celtic Treasures offer curbsides pick-up and shipping anywhere in the US and Canada. For more information visit CelticTreasures.com or call 518-583-9452. 

“From Cadbury chocolate to Galway crystal, we have it all here for you at Celtic Treasures and we’ve been here for you for the past 30 years! Come celebrate our Anniversary with us!” 

Thursday, 17 March 2022 14:20

Price Chopper Closes Downtown Location

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Price Chopper Limited at 55 Railroad Place in downtown Saratoga Springs will be permanently closing its doors on Saturday, April 16. 

On March 16, the Golub Corporation announced that after 10 years in operation they will be vacating the space at 55 Railroad Place. Price Chopper released the following statement on why they will not be renewing the lease: 

“With a 70,000 sq. ft. Price Chopper SuperCenter around the corner on Route 50, [the] downtown location, with its limited parking, has served as more of a convenience store for fill-in grocery shopping trips. When we upgraded the Price Chopper SuperCenter to a Market 32 in November of 2019, the much larger store’s expanded offer attracted even more of the little store’s traffic,” said Mona Golub, Vice President of Public Relations and Consumer Services, regarding the store’s “current and future viability.” 

West Side Management of Saratoga, LLC reported that the owners of Saratoga Market Center LLC have received many inquiries for the 19,000 sq. ft. space and they will soon be announcing a new tenant. 

Thursday, 10 March 2022 13:52

CP Dynamo Heads to States

CAPITAL REGION — CP Dynamo’s 15U team, local boys travel ice hockey, is headed to Buffalo to compete in the state tournament this weekend against nationally ranked teams. 

CP Dynamo hasn’t been to the NY State Tournament for the past two years due to COVID, but this weekend they are tournament bound, where they will play Friday against the Buffalo Regals and Saturday against the Bishop Kearney (or BK) Selects and the Syracuse Nationals. The BK Selects are ranked at #3 in the nation, while CP Dynamo’s rank recently increased to #43; playing teams like the BK Selects brings more experience to the players and more exposure to the program. 

CP Dynamo draws players from a 2-hour radius around Clifton Park and billets players from across the US and abroad: defenseman Caeden Herington is from Vermont, goaltender John Nanos is from Nebraska, and defenseman Canaan Li is from Beijing, China. 

“A majority of kids on the team are from the Capital Area, playing whole teams that are billeted or coming from all over the country or different countries,” said Head Coach of the CP Dynamo 15U team, Brad Shaver. “They do exceptionally well against some of the best players in the country at their age level.” 

Just last weekend CP Dynamo played the #1 nationally ranked team, Rhode Island’s Mount St. Charles Hockey Academy, and lost the second game by a close 2-1 final score.

The team also traveled to the University of Notre Dame recently for the 2022 Notre Dame CCC ShootOut Tournament where they played teams from Anaheim, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Colorado to place 5th out of 20. They frequently travel far to play, also visiting Penn State in past years, and already have a game lined up for next season in Chicago. 

“I coached one of the players that is a senior at Notre Dame who took the team through locker room,” said Coach Shaver. “It was a great experience for them.” 

CP Dynamo’s 8-month season starts with their training camp the last week of August. As they near the end of the 2021-22 season with the state tournament and nationals, Coach Shaver plans to push them hard on the ice to get ready to face the competition. 

“The strategy is that we have to play together. We don’t have a team that is deep, but the players we have are very good. So, the strategy is to understand the system,” said Coach Shaver. “We know what we have to do, how to read and react to the game, and to make quick changes. When these guys can do that, they are really successful.”

The team’s season ends after nationals, and the CP Dynamo organization is already planning tryouts for the 2022-23 season in April. Including 15U, the organization also has 14U, 16U, and 18U teams. The teams are hoping to recruit more kids from outside the area for next season.

“Next year, the players [on the 15U team] will move up to 16U. After 16U they all go different places, and some will go to junior hockey,” said Coach Shaver. “But that’s the goal for next year. We want to get these kids to the highest level.” 

More information about CP Dynamo and their April tryouts can be found on their website, www.cpdynamo.com. 

Thursday, 03 March 2022 13:57

Glens Falls Native Now a 2x Olympic Coach

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Lyndsay Strange recently returned to the States following an almost 2-week trip to Beijing for her second Olympics as Mexico’s Alpine Ski Coach. 

Strange is a Glens Falls graduate and Skidmore college alum, where she competed as a downhill racer for both schools. She now lives in Utah and coaches alpine skiing full-time. 

“I took a pretty traditional path, but I love that about how I got through the years from skiing to coaching full-time,” said Strange. “It has allowed me creative license and paved the way for me to help Sarah continue to compete.” 

Strange is referring to US Ski standout Sarah Schleper, who now competes for Team Mexico after coming out of retirement. Strange first met Schleper, who is also a coach, after bringing some athletes to train at Schleper’s ski camp. 

After becoming fast friends, Schleper first asked Strange to coach her in the 2017 World Championships in Switzerland in place of her coach who was injured. Through these opportunities with Schleper, Strange secured a job with Team Mexico and coached her first Olympics in 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. 

“This experience felt more familiar, and there were less nerves. After four years of not seeing each other, the team got right back together,” said Strange about reuniting with Team Mexico in Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

“It was definitely different than the first time in PyeongChang [due to COVID],” she added, “but everyone was friendly and just happy to be there and be competing again.” 

Although Mexico didn’t win any medals in Alpine Skiing in Beijing, Schleper still had an impressive showing, placing 37th amongst her competition. 

“These Olympics were filled with unexpected results that kept us all on our toes, but it was exciting,” said Strange. “The Olympic miracle is real. We didn’t know who was going to perform because of the pressure, but some of our underdogs stepped up. Team Mexico did well, and we enjoyed and soaked up the experience.” 

In addition to coaching for Mexico, Strange coaches full-time at Rowmark Ski Academy in Utah. She also owns and operates Party Beach Ski Camps, a free-ride ski camp for kids and adults, out of Mt. Hood Oregon. As stated best on the Party Beach website: 

“Our Mission: To provide a mountain experience where having fun is paramount to athletes’ evolution in skiing and in life. We challenge you to discover who you are as a skier in a safe and inclusive environment.” 

The next Winter Games will be held in two different cities – Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy – with the opening and closing ceremonies in different places for the first time in Olympics history. We are looking forward to seeing Strange and Schleper competing for Team Mexico in 2026, and cheering on all the future Olympians that Strange trains.   

Thursday, 03 March 2022 13:54

Saratoga Grad. is Making Every Shot Count

POTSDAM — Caroline LaFountain is overcoming the competition at SUNY Potsdam this season, while simultaneously overcoming an injury. 

LaFountain, a 2019 Saratoga Springs High School graduate, is a sophomore at SUNY Potsdam and a guard on the Women’s Basketball Team. She has played a huge part in Potsdam’s 12-12 season, all while she recovers from an injury. 

After the 2020-21 season was lost to due to COVID, LaFountain started to develop ulnar nerve damage that caused her pain when shooting and dribbling – the essential roles of her position on the court. It’s been a long recovery process for her to gain full movement back in her elbow following the surgery she had in September, but LaFountain was determined to come back. 

“I struggled a little in the beginning with the mentality, but I managed to do it. I managed to get my shot back,” said LaFountain. 

And her shot has been game changing, as LaFountain contributed to two huge wins this season against Brockport and Oswego. 

LaFountain scored a game and career-high 22 points during their second match-up against Brockport, contributing to Potsdam’s 75-69 win and accomplishing a personal goal she set for herself this season. 

“We were down almost 20 points, but we knew what we had to do to beat them,” said LaFountain. “I just kept drawing fouls and getting to the line.” 

Earlier in the season, she made a buzzer beater, a long jumper from the corner, to secure a 65-64 win over Oswego. 

“The play was to get it to the big, but there were other options, and I was the most open. I was a little hesitant, but I went for it,” said LaFountain. “It was a surreal moment.” 

The Potsdam Bears just missed playoffs but have had one of their best seasons in recent years as far as wins. LaFountain hopes to make it to playoffs next year, and she continues to set goals for her herself as she works towards fully recovering.

NEW YORK — In a press conference on Feb. 27, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the statewide mask mandate would be lifted in schools, childcare centers, and school buses effective Wednesday, March 2. 

Governor Hochul’s announcement follows changes made Feb. 25 to the metrics used by the CDC to determine risk and transmission levels in communities and was based on the analysis of recent COVID-19 data trends. Masks will be optional for students, educators, and visitors, while other mitigation strategies should remain in place. 

“With more New Yorkers getting vaccinated, and the steady decline over the past several weeks in cases and hospitalizations from Omicron, we are now entering a new phase of the pandemic. Because New Yorkers have stepped up, we can confidently remove the statewide mask requirement in our schools,” said Governor Hochul. 

Superintendents of Saratoga County school districts have released statements on their respective district websites addressing the new guidance, as it came the day prior to students returning from winter recess. 

Dr. Michael Patton, Superintendent of Schools of the Saratoga Springs City School District further explained the new metrics: 

“It is no longer the CDC’s recommendation that masks be required in areas with a low or medium community rate, and Saratoga County’s community level is currently categorized as ‘low.’ 

Adding, “Governor Hochul clarified that recommendations regarding mask wearing in schools and on school buses in counties with high community rates will be at the discretion of local Departments of Health. Saratoga County is not requiring face masks after the state mandate is lifted on March 2. 

Along with Dr. Patton, Ballston Spa Central School District Superintendent of Schools, Ken Slentz, and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Patrick McGrath, expressed that they will not tolerate any bullying or harassment towards those who still choose to wear a mask. 

“As everyone eases back into school routines with the state’s mask mandate, it’s important to remember that masks are optional. And according to data from the parent, staff, and student surveys, there will likely be students and staff who wish to continue to wear a mask/face covering beyond Wednesday, March 2,” stated BH-BL Superintendent McGrath. “This decision is perfectly acceptable and welcome at BH-BL, bullying or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.” 

For community members in the BSCSD, Superintendent Slentz shared a link on the district’s website (www.bscsd.org) to a FAQ on Changes to NYS Mask Mandate and reminded families that they should be discussing the new guidance/options with their students as we navigate through this next phase. 

Thursday, 03 March 2022 13:16

Why You Knead to Try West Ave. Pizza

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Family-owned and operated West Ave. Pizza started from scratch last summer and is already a staple in the Saratoga restaurant scene. 

Owner Mario Cardenas and family have over 20+ years of experience working in the pizza biz. Moving from the Niskayuna/Schenectady area to Saratoga, they were looking for a spot to open their own restaurant when they came across the space at 99 West Ave, in the West Hill Plaza. West Ave Pizza opened in June 2021. 

“We spent time looking for the perfect place that already had what we needed to be successful,” said Mario. “You can’t get any better than Saratoga.” 

Mario is very fond of this small city, describing it as melting pot for New Yorkers who converge here, especially during the summers. He says that the wide range of customers, including those from New York City who are familiar with good pizza, makes it easy and fun to share his quality meals, including classic favorites like their pepperoni pies, homemade dough, and fresh bread baked daily. 

They have also acquired the space next door, formally Wings Over Saratoga, to open West Ave. Chicken, where the goal is to incorporate more Latin cuisine to what they offer. 

The crew at West Ave. Pizza have spent a little less than a year now building up their reputation, a lot of help came from none other than Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy, who did a pizza review of the business shortly after they opened last summer.

After learning that Mario was a fan of Portnoy, the community sent messages to him on social media to do one of his famous pizza reviews for his One Bite App when he visited Saratoga during the racing season. 

It was storming, the shop had been without A/C for four days, had been without power for most of the afternoon, and was just getting ready to call it quits for the evening when an order came through. Mario was shocked when Portnoy walked in to pick it up. 

Scoring the pizza off only one bite like he does for all his other reviews, hence the name of the app, Portnoy gave it a 7.3; a high score that Mario said he doesn’t usually give outside of NYC. 

Portnoy is also well-known in the Saratoga area for saving The Parting Glass on Lake Ave. through The Barstool Fund, a charity he started to help small restaurants and bars to stay open. Throughout the years, the Barstool Fund has raised over $23 million dollars towards its efforts. 

“I can tell its super fresh, good quality pizza,” said Portnoy in his review. “More importantly – awesome dude, 20 years in the pizza biz., finally gets his own spot. So, if you’re in Saratoga give it a shot.” 

West Ave Pizza is dine-in, take-out, or delivery. Their menu includes a wide variety of pizzas, pastas, subs, and more. Call 518-581-9999 or place an order through Grubhub or Slice. West Ave. Pizza uses their own drivers to ensure that your pizza will be hot and fresh when it arrives. Find West Ave. Pizza on Facebook to view their full menu. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

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