Displaying items by tag: saratoga ny

BALLSTON SPA – They descended on the village of Ballston Spa Tuesday – politicians and lawyers and election officials, members of the media and curious onlookers – on an unpredictable morning which gave no hint of the cold winter that will surely come, and no clue about how the prized chips of the day might fall.

All present crowded into a sub-level room at the county complex, Building Number Five. The “solar building,” as employees call it, was constructed atop land deeded to Saratoga County nearly 200 years ago by a New York City merchant named Nicholas Low for the development of a County Clerk’s office, assuring Ballston Spa would stand at the center of county government.

On this day, the 30-or-so people inside the building’s sub-level basement came to witness the opening and counting of approximately 550 absentee ballots. Some carried with them a cautious optimism to re-affirm the seat they’d won on Election Night remained secure, others with an angst-riddled hope that what they had lost might be regained. Most came to witness the counting of votes of the public referendum that could change the only form of governing the city of Saratoga Springs has known in its 102-year history.    

The Election Night tally depicted a city divided and a race too close to call. Of the nearly 8,500 ballots cast, the difference was a measly 48 votes. There were 4,202 YES votes cast that urged Charter Change. There were 4,154 NO votes registered in favor of maintaining the status quo. The counting of the absentee ballots, most assumed, would settle the final score.

The current Commission form of governing relies on five elected part-time council members, each of whom are responsible for administering their own department, as well as serving as legislators. The proposed Council-Manager form of governing would see that the council hires a non-partisan, professional city manager to carry out city policies.

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10:16 a.m.: The first handful of ballots are taken from their envelopes and displayed to watchers. Saratoga Springs District Two, Embury Apartments: Yes. No. Yes. No. No. Yes. No. No. Attorneys scrawl stick figures atop their legal pads. The No’s have gained two votes. The overall Yes lead of 48 drops to 46.  

11 a.m.: More districts come in. The count: 18 Yes, 32 No. Overall Yes lead drops to 34.

12:30 a.m.: Break for lunch. The count on the day: Yes 128, No 161. Yes lead drops another 19 votes. Math update, overall: Yes 4,330, No 4,315. Overall Yes lead drops to 15. Fortified by sandwiches and fueled by caffeine, everyone returns from lunch and is moved upstairs to a bigger room. First up, one of the Senior Citizens Center’s voting districts. Result: 7 Yes, 14 No. Overall: 4,337 to 4,329. Yes lead up by eight.

2:02 p.m.: Saratoga Springs High School Gym voting district - 10 Yes, 17 No. Overall: 4,347 to 4,346. Yes clings to the lead by one vote.  Stress begins to show on the some of the faces in the room.

2:15 p.m.: City Center voting district: Yes 24, No 18. Yes back up by seven. Deep breaths on all sides.   Over the next half hour, voting districts at United Methodist Church, a second Senior Citizens Center, and the Interlaken Community Center are presented, collectively giving the No count 18 additional votes, and the lead. The room loses its mind. There are some audible noises. Whether these are cries of joy, or cries of pain are difficult to determine. At this point, it’s hard to tell the difference. 

3 p.m.: The mailman arrives. An election commissioner is dispatched to meet the mail carrier to learn if any last-minute absentee ballots have arrived on this, the deadline day. Inside the room, the counting continues of ballots from the city’s two final districts. And then it is over. The No votes have it, by seven.

But, wait, suddenly five more ballots are presented. These were set aside during the course of the day’s counting, one of the election officials explains.

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“It ain’t over til it’s over, and it ain’t over yet,” says Richard Sellers, a spokesman for SUCCESS, a citizen organization that supports maintaining the current form of governing.  “It feels a lot better to be up by seven than down by 48, or whatever it was a week ago (but) “I’ll celebrate when they tell me it’s over.”

“It’s a squeaker,” says Charter Review Commissioner Treasurer Gordon Boyd. The commission, which officially disbanded when the polls closed Election Night, conducted 16 months of study, staged dozens of public meetings and voted to pursue the possibility of Charter Change and adopt a council-manager form of governing. A decade ago, Boyd was a member of the SUCCESS group. This time he is part of the pro-change group. In the exploration of Charter alternatives, some residents have changed their minds over time and party lines crossed, making it all the more difficult to gauge which way the majority will go.

Adding to the unpredictability, the members of the City Council have also taken sides - this despite the words of state Board of Elections attorney Brian Quail, who said advocacy by a municipality on a referendum question is unlawful, and that a municipality hiring counsel to participate in a canvas conducted by the Board of Elections is, in his 16 years of experience, unprecedented.

Twenty-four hours earlier, City Council members John Franck, Michele Madigan and Anthony “Skip” Scirocco – each of whom have spoken in favor of maintaining the current form of governing, approved by a 3-0 vote the hiring of a Glens Falls attorney and an associate attorney at the combined rate of $525 per hour to observe Tuesday's event and “defend the city’s right to have all proper absentee ballots counted.” The two council members who have spoken in favor of changing the form of governing, Mayor Joanne Yepsen and Commissioner Chris Mathiesen, did not attend Monday’s “Special” City Council meeting.  John Aspland, the main attorney hired to observe the absentee ballot count does just that, occasionally inking notes on a legal pad throughout the day.

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Those last five ballots, the “set-asides,”are presented. Two are ruled invalid. The other three are held up, one at a time: No, no, and…no.      

The unofficially tally stands at 4,458 No, 4,448 Yes. It is a calculation that would require the re-beading of an abacus: 50.06141926 percent No, 49.943858073 percent Yes. Approximately half the city’s eligible 18,000 voters took part in the vote.    

“The absentee ballots came in strong just as they did in 2012 when the Commission form of government beat down a challenge,” Sellers says.

The 2012 vote which proposed amending the Charter and replacing the Commission form of government with a Manager-Council form resulted in 6,738 - 4,872 No victory, a 58-42 percent difference. A referendum in 2006 proposing a change to a strong-mayor form of government was voted down 5865-3615, roughly a 62-38 difference. Counting this year’s referendum, the margin of differences have grown smaller with each successive vote. 

 “I don’t think the issue of the form of government in Saratoga Springs is going to go away any time soon,” a disappointed Boyd says.  “But I think we have a lot to be proud of, a lot to build on. This was a people’s campaign. We had the forces of both political party leaderships and the government of Saratoga (springs) mobilized against this proposal and we fought them pretty much to a draw.” 

Eighteen Military Ballots were requested, as of this week, none have been returned. They must be received by the Board of Elections by Monday, Nov. 20 to be counted, and indications are any which do arrive will be counted Tuesday, Nov. 21. 

Boyd was asked whether the referendum vote could be headed for the courtroom. “I don’t know. I just don’t know,” he responds. “We want to be sure that every valid vote has been counted.”

Bob Turner, who served as chairman of the Saratoga Springs City Charter Review Commission, said there are currently conversations being had regarding “overvotes,” which occurs when one votes for more than the maximum number of selections allowed in a contest. Turner said he doesn’t know the specific number of overvotes that appeared on voter’s ballots, but the incident could occur when voters hand write-in candidates on the front of the ballot and inked traces appear as multiple markings appear on the ballot’s reverse side, which is where Charter Change proposition question was printed.

“We’re exploring the processes. That could lead to a hand count of all 8,000-something ballots,” Turner said. That decision whether to pursue the matter could come early next week. The ballot numbers remain unofficial until they are certified by the Board of Elections. That process is anticipated to take at least a few weeks.

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – After 16 months of study, dozens of public meetings, threats of litigation, and a volley of contentious words, 8,356 city residents headed to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to change, or maintain the Commission form of governing that has ruled the city for the past 102 years. The Election Day verdict: Too Close To Call. 

At the end of the day, residents in favor of adopting a new Charter held a 4,202 to 4,154 advantage, but the narrow margin of victory requires that absentee ballots be counted. The county Board of Elections mailed 711 such absentee ballots and more than 500 were received back, by Election Day. Those ballots have yet to be counted.

Ballots returned by Nov. 14 - the last day absentee ballots may be received at the county Board of Elections - will be counted on Tuesday, Nov. 14, after which a clear winner may be determined. Military ballots have until Nov. 20 to be received at the county board. Military ballots are anticipated to number less than 20 in total, although that count could not be officially verified by Thursday.  

Less than half of the approximately 18,000 registered city voters took part in Tuesday’s election; More than 95 percent of city residents who did cast ballots voted one way or another on The Saratoga Springs Charter Proposition. 

The study of ramifications in changing from a Commission form of government to a Council-Manager form has been lengthy, and the dialogue among some, contentious.

After a proposal was put forth to stage the referendum last May rather than in November, there was significant push-back from City Council members John Franck, Michele Madigan, and DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco - three commissioners who coincidentally ran unopposed in their respective re-election campaigns.  “This will come down to a lawsuit, I suspect, and the courts will decide what they’re going to do with this,” Franck said in February. “There may even be a lawsuit at the City Council level.”

Election Day was anticipated as the date to finally settle the matter. But given the slim 48-vote difference - with those in favor of change leading the count - it has not turned out that way. 

“I woke up this morning and thought: win or lose the charter debate was going to end today,” Saratoga Springs City Charter Review Commission Chairman Bob Turner said in the early morning hours following the election tally. “I realize now, we’re just beginning. It’s like Florida 2000 all over again and I have a feeling it’s going to be drawn out to a re-count, and a hand-count of ballots.” Turner is in favor of Charter change.  

“I have a feeling we are heading toward very brand-new legal territory in the next week,” Turner said.  “New York Municipal Home Rule Law 36, which governs the charter review process, (says) the charter review commission ends on the day of election, so it’s not even clear whether we are going to have legal standing after today. Who is turn is representing the voters who at present are up 48 votes?”

Accounts Commissioner John Franck on Thursday called for a Special City Council meeting to take place at noon on Monday to hire an election law attorney "to defend the city’s right to have all proper absentee ballots counted and defending the city’s voters in any potential court proceedings."  

“It is new territory,” said Richard Sellers, a spokesman for SUCCESS, a citizen organization that supports maintaining the current form of governing. “We’re reminded of the cliché that every vote counts, and we are waiting for all the votes to be counted. We’re confident in the Saratoga County Board of Elections and we look forward to a clear outcome.”

The county Board of Elections is anticipated to begin counting absentee ballots on Tuesday, Nov. 14.  

Published in News
Thursday, 02 November 2017 13:09

Ice Cream Dreams

Paul Nasrani walked through Grand Central Terminal on a cold wintry day when a moment of opportunity suddenly intervened, offering him the possibility to fulfill a childhood dream.

“Every summer, I’d spend a couple of weeks in August up in Lake George, in Silver Bay,” Nasrani recalled.  “There was this well-over 100-year-old ice cream store that was everybody’s gathering place and I was allowed to have a hot fudge sundae, five nights a week, which was pretty awesome. That was etched in my mind as a child.” 

Nasrani worked in Manhattan and became the CFO of a mid-size corporation, his days occupied with his professional work in finance and accounting, his nights at play feeding a love of creating ice cream.  

“I started experimenting in a small studio apartment in Manhattan. Imagine this tiny place with one room and a kitchen you stand in, making ice cream at night and bringing it in to work for my co-workers every day,” he says.  “They loved it. They even got me a bigger maker, which I had to put in the tub because I couldn’t fit it in the kitchen,” he laughs. “It was insanity, but it was fun. Any time I had a free moment I’d visit dairies and ice cream plants. I’d knock on doors and hope somebody would let me in.  I learned a lot from people.”

It was this yearning he carried with him inside the cathedral-like building of the Grand Central Terminal, where among the bustling crowds on a landscape of marble he noticed some equipment from a former ice cream store up for auction.   

“I ended up buying a machine. I quit my job. I put the machine on a trailer and moved up to Silver Bay,” he says. Nasrani set up shop in the hamlet of Silver Bay, which sits alongside Lake George, an hour’s drive north of downtown Saratoga Springs. 

“I can remember being about 12 years old and sitting there thinking: someday I’m going to have an ice cream company and we’re going to sell the ice cream in the Silver Bay store. And I did do that. We did make ice cream there and we did sell it at the store.”

Nasrani founded Adirondack Creamery at Silver Bay and with a yearning for growth found a dairy in Kingston where he was able to design his own ice cream based on an old-fashioned recipe of cream, milk, sugar and egg yolks. More expansion followed. One of the company’s primary distributors is located in Saratoga on Edie Road, and a dairy production facility in Queens enabled Adirondack Creamery to release all-natural flavors in pint packaging that could be sold at retail stores.

Today, the company boasts more than a dozen different flavors and includes seasonal favorites like Pumpkin Pie, Peppermint Stick and Egg Nog, and limited-edition offerings such as Caramel Apple, made only with ingredients from upstate New York.

The latest flavor is a Syrian date and walnut creation inspired by the middle-eastern treat, ma’amoul.

“I’m not Syrian, but immigration really reflects on my own personal life, my own family history. I grew up in a part in northeastern Pennsylvania where most of the people were ancestors of coal miners who came in the late 1800s and the 1900s for the same thing. They were suffering and there was famine.  They were persecuted and came here to live a different life and to have a future,” Nasrani says.  

“My father was emigrated from post-partition India in the ‘60s in Pakistan, trying to get away from discrimination and find opportunity and growth, to have a family and be able to be who he wanted to be. My mother’s family dates back to the Mayflower and the pilgrims – and those people also came here looking for a better future - and so all of that has had an impact on me personally.”

Nasrani found out about a Syrian refugee family who started making ma’amoul treats and selling them online.

“I ordered a whole bunch of them and I loved it. That’s when it all clicked,” Nasrani says. “I thought: you know let me make an ice cream flavor and see if I can put this together. The idea is that what’s unique about this is that in America we adopt flavors from other countries, put them in our kitchen and make them our own. The ma’amoul ice cream follows that same line. You know when people share food it breaks down a lot of cultural barriers. It reminds us that we’re more similar than we are different.”

The label’s packaging proclaims “Peace” in Arabic, English and Hebrew and is designed to bring focus to the plight of Syrian families seeking refuge who do not have a voice. Nasrani is donating half the profits of the ma’amoul ice cream to the International Rescue Committee. The organization responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.

You might wonder what a love of ice cream does to a person’s personal life.

“When I met (the woman who would be) my wife, she assumed I was some boring finance guy. On our third date I told her, ‘You’re not going to want to date me anymore. I’m quitting my job and moving up to Lake George.’ I thought she was going to be like, ‘Goodbye. You’re not going to make any money and you’re moving.’ Well now we’ve been married for 12 years and have two kids,” Nasrani says. “I won her over. It’s been an exciting journey.”

Adirondack Creamery’s Syrian Date and Walnut flavor ice cream is currently available at the following regional stores, with more stores to be added in the coming weeks: Four Seasons Natural Foods, 120 Henry St., Saratoga Springs; Just Meats, 1023 Route 29, Schuylerville; select ShopRite supermarkets in Albany, Colonie, Niskayuna and Slingerlands; the Honest Weight Co-Op in Albany, and Niskayuna Co-Op in Schenectady.  

 

 

Published in News
Thursday, 02 November 2017 12:59

Following the Money in City Elections

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Republican city mayoral candidate Mark Baker entered the final 11 days of his campaign with about $23,380 on hand, while Democrat city mayoral candidate Meg Kelly reported a balance of approximately $14,600 during the same period, according to campaign financial disclosure reports, provided by the New York State Board of Elections.

Citizens for Yepsen, who also filed a report 11 days prior to the Nov. 7 election, has about $3,850 in the bank. Current city Mayor Joanne Yepsen has elected to not seek re-nomination to the two-year post.

Baker’s campaign began with about $21,500 on hand in July. Financial contributors to Baker’s campaign include a handful of local builders, construction companies and developers, John Hendrickson and Marylou Whitney, and local GOP political figures Shauna Sutton and Michael Lenz. Baker was previously the long-time president of the City Center Authority.  

Kelly, currently the city’s Deputy Mayor, entered the race with $6,000 on hand in July. Kelly’s financial supporters include prominent City Democrats Raymond Watkins, Bill McTygue and Bahram Kermmati, as well as current city Supervisor Peter Martin. Political committees supporting current officeholders Mayor Joanne Yepsen, Judge Francine Vero and Accounts Commissioner John Franck have also contributed to Kelly’s campaign.

In the other contested race for a seat on the five-person City Council – Commissioners Franck, Madigan, and Scirocco are unopposed - Public Safety Commissioner hopefuls Don Braim (R, C, I, RFM), and Peter Martin (D, WF, WEP), reported balances of approximately $9,350, and $3,500, respectively, as of their filings of Oct. 27.

A local vote will also be held Nov. 7 regarding the city’s form of governing to decide whether to switch from a commission form of government to one run by a city manager.

The group Saratogians United to Continue the Charter Essential to Sustain our Success, or SUCCESS, is in favor of maintaining the current form of governing, and reported about $25,000 on hand in its 11 Day Pre-General Report filing. Notable contributors to the group include Charles V. Wait and W.P. Dake - each contributing $3,000; J.T. Roohan and John Hendrickson - each contributing $2,000; and Joseph W. Dalton, James Lavigne, Michael Hoffman, Frank Parillo, Thomas J. Newkirk, the Allerdice Building Supply Company and Mazzone Administrative Group each contributed $1,000 or more.

It’s Time Saratoga! – the group in favor of changing the current form of governing in the city to one run by a city manager reported just under $19,500 on hand in its 11 Day Pre-General Report filing. Among the group’s largest financial contributors are the nonprofit International City/County Management Association – who contributed $15,000, and the New York State City/County Management Association, who donated $2,500. Gary Dake ($500), and Gordon Boyd ($750), are among notable individual donors to It’s Time Saratoga! Boyd, who has acknowledged a change of mind regarding charter change in Saratoga Springs, initially donated $300 to the SUCCESS organization when it first started in 2006.

Published in News

by Thomas Dimopoulos

Saratoga TODAY

WILTON - A 16-year-old Saratoga Springs High School student, believed to having gone missing with a handgun shortly before noon on Monday, was found and taken into custody without incident near his Wilton home on Route 9 early Monday evening. He did not have the handgun with him at the time.

“He got into an argument with his mom inside the house. He had the gun and she locked herself in a room. Prior to his leaving the house, he hid the gun in the garage,” said Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo. “She last saw him with it, so we assumed he had it.”

Police conducted a search for the teen that covered a three-mile area around Route 9/ Maple Avenue and Northern Pines Road, that involved NY State Police, Saratoga Springs Police, state Park Police, as well the county Sheriff’s Department and a New York State Police Aviation unit helicopter.

Maple Ave Middle School, Dorothy Nolan Elementary School, SUNY Adirondack Wilton Center, and Skidmore College, as well as childcare centers in the area were all placed on precautionary lockout. Afternoon and evening events at the schools were cancelled, including a mayoral debate that was slated to take place at the high school.

“He was taken to Saratoga Hospital for a mental evaluation. Because he made suicidal comments prior to leaving the house, our main concern was safety – his safety and with (potentially) a gun the safety of others,” said Zurlo, who would not comment at this time as to whether the handgun is legally registered. “We’re going to determine (Tuesday) whether any charges will be brought.”

Published in News

WILTON - A 16-year-old Saratoga Springs High School student believed to had gone missing with a handgun shortly before noon on Monday was found and taken into custody near his Wilton home early Monday evening. 

"We were able to locate the young man today right near his residence and take him into custody, without an issue. He’s been cooperative and the firearm he had has been recovered,” Saratoga County Sheriff's Department Investigations LT. Jeff Brown said, early Monday night.

Police conducted a search for the teen, Bryce Byno, that covered a three-mile area around Route 9/ Maple Avenue and Northern Pines Road, that involved NY State Police, Saratoga Springs Police, state Park Police, as well the county Sheriff’s Department and a New York State Police Aviation unit helicopter. 

Maple Ave Middle School, Dorothy Nolan Elementary School, SUNY Adirondack Wilton Center, and Skidmore College, as well as childcare centers in the area were all placed on precautionary lockout. Afternoon and evening events at the schools were cancelled, including a mayoral debate that was slated to take place at the high school. The middle school and high school began dismissal at approximately 3 p.m. District elementary schools were dismissed on time, however, buses were delayed by approximately 60 minutes, according to The Saratoga Springs City School District 

Byno is believed to have left his house 11:15 Monday morning with a handgun, following a domestic dispute. Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said no specific threat was made to others, but added the teen has had "a tendency toward suicidal threats."  Zurlo would not comment whether the handgun was legally registered.    

The county Sheriff's Department said Monday night the investigation ongoing, and Brown thanked the community and the school district for their cooperation.

 

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Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo, Monday afternoon. Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos.  

 

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was a year of new things for the most part at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Elizabeth Sobol’s first at the helm of the organization, initiating partnerships with arts-based collaborators in the region, introducing a series of inaugural concert events, and reviving long-dormant pieces of the organization’s past. And more changes are on the way.  

At its Oct. 12 meeting, SPAC’s Board of Directors voted to condense the New York City Ballet season to seven performances, down from its 11-day residency in each of the past three seasons - which featured 12 to 14 performances during that period. The 2018 NYCB season will more closely align with 2013 and 2014 models.

Mathematically, 80 percent of New York City Ballet ticket buyers purchase tickets to only one performance, and 11 percent buy tickets to two performances, Sobol said. Only the remaining 9 percent purchase tickets to 3-plus NYCB shows.

“The Board felt that taking on another $1 million-plus shortfall on the New York City Ballet residency, was not prudent,” explained SPAC’s president and CEO. 

“A big thrust of our efforts will be towards converting one-time buyers to multiple-performance buyers.  Consolidating the audiences into one week will help with that,” Sobol said. “Historically, when we reduce the number of performances, nightly attendance numbers go up.  Having fuller houses and the increased energy and excitement which accompanies that helps create more demand for tickets.”

Much as was done in prior years – the National Ballet of China visited the venue in 2015 and the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Bolshoi Ballet staged shows the previous summer - the NYCB dance season will be augmented by additional performances by an international dance company, not yet revealed. Discussions are currently being held with the National Ballet of Cuba for multiple performances in the summer of 2018.

“SPAC certainly remains committed to the residency and our long-term partnership with NYCB,” Sobol said. “Looking ahead to 2018, we will be working to harness that new energy and focus marketing on driving these new audiences to our resident companies. I am hopeful that with this renewed emphasis, we will be able to return to the extended New York City Ballet season in the future.” 

SPAC is projected to finish the 2017 fiscal year operationally breaking even. Audience attendance at 2017 classical season performances reached projected levels. The Philadelphia Orchestra is scheduled to return for 12 performances, from Aug. 1 – 18, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will perform at the Spa Little Theatre Aug. 5- 21.

The 2017 Season featured a partnership with Caffè Lena that presented a monthly series of free concerts atop SPAC’s new Charles R. Wood Gazebo stage, as well as a trio of sold-out SPAC at Caffè Lena shows during the spring.

The inaugural “SPAC on Stage” series resulted in three sold-out performances, with nearly one-third of all attendees being first-time SPAC ticket buyers, Sobol said.

A “Live at the Jazz Bar” series was initiated in the Hall of Springs – and brought 300 to 400 people to each of the seven events to hear live jazz following performances by the ballet and orchestra.

SPAC on Stage, Live at the Jazz Bar and the Caffè Lena at SPAC series will all be back for the 2018 season. 

In 2017, SPAC’s free education programs reached more than 15,000 young individuals, offered more than 125 classes, presentations, performances, and events, and partnered with more than 70 schools and non-profit organizations across the greater Capital Region.

In the near future, the organization anticipates launching a new user-friendly website, and in December will initiate a pilot program with the Decoda Chamber Ensemble. The group, the first affiliate ensemble of Carnegie Hall, will include a weeklong artist-in-residency for students at the Saratoga Independent School (SIS).  A full chamber program will be staged Dec. 15 at the Bethesda Church in downtown Saratoga Springs.

Upcoming SPAC events include a lecture luncheon featuring a discussion titled the “Fascinating Life of Katrina Trask,” at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 26 at SPAC’s Spa Little Theatre; The Sachal Ensemble musicians - known for their extraordinary journey from Lahore to Lincoln Center featured in the “Song of Lahore” film -  live and on stage at the Little Theater 7 p.m. Oct. 30, (preceded by two screenings of the film at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. ay Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas a day earlier),  and a pair of Nutcracker Teas in the Hall of Springs on Nov. 19 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. For ticket information, go to: spac.org. 

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A 16-year-old student who allegedly “posted a story on snapchat about shooting up the school,” according to court documents, was charged Friday with making a terroristic threat.  

Julius Cucinella, age 16, was charged with the felony after city police were made aware Friday morning of a threat posted on the social media network, Snap Chat.

The social media post caused the school district to be alarmed and fear for the safety of its students and staff, according to court records.  

According to a statement issued by police, a school resource officer assigned to the high school initiated an investigation and was able to identify Cucinella as the source of the post. The investigation into the post did not indicate anyone else being involved in the threat.

The student was arraigned and released on $500 cash bail and is scheduled to return to court Oct. 3.

The terroristic threat charge went on the books shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, with a sentence range of 2 to 7 years in prison. The first known person to have been charged with making such a threat locally was a 42-year-old Skidmore College graduate who in May 2007 telephoned the college's Alumni Welcome Center and left a threatening message on the answering machine stating that he was coming to the campus with his M-16 rifle to cause harm.  

Published in News
Thursday, 28 September 2017 17:20

Neighbors: Snippets of Life From Your Community

Who: Wade Boggs, Major League Hall-of-Famer. Boggs appeared in 12 All Star games and won five American League batting titles during an 18-year baseball career, 11 of those with the Boston Red Sox. In 1996, he won a World Series as a member of the New York Yankees.

Where: Saratoga Casino Hotel. 

What did you think of your home run performance during the All-Star Celebrity Softball game?

I look at it like this: Jose Canseco was 1-for-3 in his first three swings, and we have similar body types, so I had to make a 50-and-older softball league run here.

You retired from baseball more than 15 years ago. How do you stay in baseball shape?

I coach high school baseball in Tampa, Florida, so I take BP (batting practice) with the kids and get to hit periodically. But it’s a whole different animal with the softball and the lobbing it in.

How do you feel about the day overall?

It was great to come out here. We had a huge crowd and it was a wonderful day. We even had the jockeys out here – and I’m considered a jockey since I rode a horse in ’96.

Interacting with the fans is the main thing. Everyone’s so gracious to come out and enjoy an afternoon playing a little softball, seeing some famous people and hopefully we don’t embarrass ourselves in front of people. You look around and everyone’s having a great day. We couldn’t ask for a better day in New York

Is there a camaraderie that bonds together athletes from different sports?  

Absolutely. It gives us a different opportunity to get into their world. You sit around and talk with the guys. We hang around with hall-of-famers and do our little locker room talks, but you also get into the football guys, and we got some jockeys out here. I mean, Ron Turcotte: the guy who rode Secretariat. Does it get any better than that?

What kind of conversations do you have with the other athletes?

I asked L.T. what is it when you look through that mask, and a guy’s coming at you, that you just want to knock his brains out? Does that stick with you forever?  He said: at the end of your career it sort of leaves you. That’s when you know it’s time to get out of the game, when you don’t want to get hit. And it’s sort of that way in baseball. At the end of your career, you know it’s time and the only one who can answer that is you when you look in the mirror. Because you never lie to yourself when you look in the mirror.

Did Anyone’s performance especially surprise you?

Angel Cordero. He said he couldn’t hit and then he walks out there and hits a rope to left field. I said, ‘Dude, we could have had you leading off the whole time!’

The purpose today is that you’re out here raising money for charity.Well, that’s what we do. We’re facilitators of raising money when we can come out and lend our name and draw these crowds. And when you go home at night and put your head on the pillow, there’s a big smile on my face knowing we raised money for the Ronald McDonald House.

Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 28 September 2017 17:15

All-Star Athletes Play Ball in Saratoga Springs

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Super Bowl champions and World Series victors, Triple Crown winners and local kids got together at Saratoga Casino Hotel on a sun-filled Saturday afternoon to play some ball and raise some money to help keep sick children together with their families and near the care and resources they need.

“Hey Ozzie. Move around a little bit out there,” first base coach Craig Nettles – a six-time Major League Baseball All-Star – advised Ozzie Smith, a 15-time All-Star himself. Smith’s knack for impressive defensive plays earned him the nickname “The Wizard” and a reputation as one of the best shortstops to ever play the game.

Following Nettles’ instruction, Smith and Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers stepped up their warm-up drills, which consisted of fielding practice grounders and subsequently launching them at first baseman Lawrence Taylor.

“I wouldn’t sit there if I were you,” Nettles compassionately warned journalists who had settled down into the shadow cast by the New York Football Giant legend known as “L.T.” Taylor’s method: waving his first-baseman’s mitt at the incoming missiles with his left hand while negotiating a stogie between his right hand and his mouth.

Sensing they’d perhaps taken his call to movement a bit too seriously, Nettles finally bellowed, “You guys are going to wear each other out.”  Maybe he was right.

Wade Boggs led off the lineup for the “blue” team and promptly sent a spiraling home run over the fences. It didn’t end there.

A five-run “mercy rule” was instituted in the first inning. Another was instituted in inning two. The last anyone time anyone was keeping an accurate count in the brief softball game, the score was somewhere in the 10-3 neighborhood with the victor declared Team Otis – named after the game’s play-by-play announcer and two-time Giant’s Super Bowl champion Otis Anderson. But by that point, who was counting anyway? The day’s full slate of attendees – which also included ballplayers “Goose” Gossage and Dwight Gooden, horse racing world legends Angel Cordero, Ron Turcotte, and others – all had a good time.  

The on-field event concluded with Major League slugger Jose Canseco participating in a home run derby, with every home run hit by Canseco earning a $100 donation by Saratoga Casino Hotel to The Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region.     

Following the well-attended celebrity softball game, athletes met with fans for autographs and photo opportunities, and local bands The Refrigerators and Skeeter Creek performed on an outdoor stage.

Overall, more than $10,000 was raised during the day and the irony was not lost on Skip Carlson, vice president of external affairs at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Carlson’s time at the venue pre-dates the installation of Video Lottery Terminals and goes back to the days when it was known as the Saratoga Equine Sports Center.

“I’ve been here for 40 years and it’s funny to think that when we had a celebrity harness race here, maybe in 1980, George Steinbrenner had won that race. So today, with all those Yankees playing, it’s kind of come full circle,” Carlson said.

“The Ronald McDonald House is a home away from home for families who have kids in the hospital,” explained Jeffrey Yule, executive director for Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region. We take care of those families’ needs - their housing, their food, whatever they need, free of charge.” Yule said costs are about $80 per night night to put up one family and that there are 25 families staying at a time. 

“McDonald’s is a good partner for us. They account for about 25 percent of our funds and the rest comes from the public. This is an incredible gift to be donated, this much money, and it’s through events like these that we’re able to keep our doors open and our hearts open for these families.”

 

Jose Canseco swinging for the fences -

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Published in Entertainment
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