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Friday, 16 September 2016 12:58

Success Means Expansion, and a Moving Sale

SARATOGA SPRINGS — 23rd [and Fourth] Fine Furnishings and Interior Design is expanding out of its 1 Franklin Square location to its new location at 130 Excelsior Avenue this fall. The mother-daughter team has been in business together four years and is delighted with their growth. Janet Longe of Saratoga Springs and her daughter, Jamie Davies of Saratoga Springs, approach design in a distinctive way, with one-of-a-kind pieces that assure the unique individuality of their clients. “Some clientele are looking for a piece or two of furniture,” said Longe, “and others are moving into a new house and need all of it. We don’t feel there a lot of furniture stores that offer unique pieces like we have. Saratoga is unique in that we don’t feel the downturns in this business. A large portion of our people are moving into town, so as Saratoga is growing, we grow.” Davies said they had grown right out of their current space, so when the lease was up, they began looking. “We feel 130 Excelsior is perfect for us,” said Davies. “The building is great and is sort of where Saratoga is going toward, with Fresh Market and the Hamlet there already. The new space will display multiple room settings, a whole design studio, and it’ll be fully dedicated to furniture and design.” The moving sale began September 13, with furniture, lighting, and other home accessories and gifts highly discounted, some up to 70 percent off through mid-October. Construction is currently in process, and the move will occur this fall. The store will be open through mid-October but they will always be open for design clients through 518-584-3700 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Friday, 16 September 2016 12:52

Real Men Wear Pink

SARATOGA COUNTY — David DeMarco, president and CEO of Saratoga National Bank and Trust Company, has made a commitment to represent Saratoga County throughout the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, by wearing pink every day, all 31 days, of the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign.

DeMarco, one of a dozen prominent men throughout the Capital Region, will take a stand against breast cancer by encouraging the community to take action, raising funds and awareness about this life-threatening disease. Each Real Men Wear Pink candidate is charged with a fundraising challenge and will compete to be the top fundraiser among the other candidates by the end of the campaign.

"It’s a first time event in the Capital Region, but it’s been done in other parts of the country with some success,” said DeMarco. “I’ve been involved with the American Cancer Society for most of my career, on the board of directors in Glens Falls and shared the first Relay for Life up in Queensbury when I lived there, so when they asked me to participate, it was kind of a no-brainer, an easy decision to get involved. I thought it would be fun for a great cause.”

Starting October 1, the 12 participants must wear pink every day, a task that will not be too difficult for DeMarco. “Luckily, I have a number of pink ties and some pink shirts,” he said. “Every couple of weeks or so I’d wear pink anyway. I hope to take a picture every day, make it fun. Since we’re doing it to raise awareness, there’s a little bit of a competition, though. We’ve been asked to raise $2,500 primarily through social media and personal asks.”

DeMarco hopes to engage Saratoga’s business community, as well, to support this initiative. “Our company is certainly supporting me. Once a month, we have a dress-down Friday where people pay $5 and it typically goes to United Way, but in October our parent company is encouraging people to do it for my campaign against breast cancer,” said DeMarco. “Hopefully all of our employees will be in pink on Friday, October 21.”

The 2016 Real Men Wear Pink participants are:

Carm Basile – CEO, CDTA

Bob Blackman - Vice President Business Development, Realty USA

Dr. Rufus Collea – Oncologist, New York Oncology Hematology

David S. DeMarco - President & CEO, Saratoga National Bank & Trust Co

Corey Ellis – President, Corey L. Ellis Consulting & Management, CECM

Jason Gough – Meteorologist, WNYT-TV

Andrew Guelcher – Director of Variable Operations, Mohawk Honda

Dr. Richard MacDowell, Breast Surgeon, Albany Medical Center

Dr. Lee A. McElroy, Jr - Director of Athletics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Chad O’Hara – Program Director, B95.5

Dr. Duncan Savage - Radiation Oncologist, St. Peter’s Cancer Care Center

Bill Sherman - Vice President Government Relations, American Cancer Society.

According to the American Cancer Society “Cancer Facts & Figures 2016,” an estimated 246,660 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 40,450 will die from the disease this year. In New York, over 16,000 women will be diagnosed this year and 2,410 will die from the disease. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, and it is the most common cancer diagnosed in women other than skin cancer.

“I’m not sure there’s anyone around these days whose lives haven’t been touched by breast cancer,” said DeMarco, “My wife’s grandmother died from it, and we have a couple extremely close friends, one who is a 13-year survivor and one just diagnosed recently. We aren’t asking for large contributions – just whatever you can give. I’m the only Real Man Wearing Pink from Saratoga County. I’m hopeful people here will support me, that we’ll have a good showing that Saratoga cares about supporting breast cancer research, that people who don’t even know me but care about this will support me.”

For more information about breast cancer or the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, visit MakingStridesWalk.org/Albany or call 800-227-2345. To support the Real Men and read their stories, visit MakingStridesWalk.org/RealMenAlbanyNY. To support David DeMarco’s Real Men Wear Pink Campaign, click here.

SARATOGA SPRINGS —Saratoga Springs just became home to 32 Mile Media, a video production company now located at 46 Congress Street. 32 Mile Media develops compelling video content for commercial and non-profit organizations locally and nationally, offering an array of video products, including online videos, promotional videos, TV commercials, animation, and video graphic packages.

“This is a thriving town with so much going on,” said Dale Mattison, co-owner, chief video producer, and founder of 32 Mile Media. “You can’t pick a better spot. The main reason we moved here from Glens Falls is because this is where PEP is located, but I’m so happy to be in Saratoga – the perfect place to have a new business.”

Under a new co-ownership partnership agreement with the Patient Experience Project (PEP) at 19 Railroad Place, 32 Mile Media has become a sister company to the full-service, patient-centric communications firm serving the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries.

“We’ve grown to about 35 people here and do a lot of content marketing, with a lot of written content and video,” said PEP owner Dan Bobear. “We’ve been outsourcing a tremendous amount of video.”

But rather than create an internal video production studio from scratch, PEP connected with 32 Mile Media, which was already serving local clients.

“It was a natural fit for us to expand laterally,” said Bobear. “We invested significant amounts of cash into equipment and a studio in town, and we have a nationally known guy, so the local market is getting a high-end video production quality pretty affordably. The [community] side benefit is now there’s great production capability right in their back yard with national talent.”

“We are really confident it [PEP’s investment] will yield a quick return with the unique storytelling approach we have,” added Mattison. “We begin every project that we do with a conversation. We take the time to listen to the stories of the company or individual, and bring to the surface the most meaningful story that they have.”

This approach matches PEP’s emphasis on storytelling as marketing. “I think you see scripted and formulaic pharmaceutical marketing out there,” said Bobear, “and we have introduced a way to keep them regulatory-compliant, but at the same time let people talk and tell their stories naturally, authentically.”

“It’s a perfect marriage,” said Mattison. “It makes sense for a company that tells stories through video to join a company that tells stories of people who are struggling and need their stories told out into the world. We are super focused on storytelling that gets to the root of what makes our clients unique. So is the Patient Experience Project.”

32 Mile Media has created many television commercials and video for web-based platforms. “We not only provide the video, but we can coach clients as to what to do with the video after we make it for them. We really work with any and all types of companies. We want to highlight Saratoga and the Capital District, and show the beauty of the area as much as we can.”

In fact, the company’s name is in homage to Mattison’s hometown, Lake George. “There’s a lot of beauty in upstate NY, and there’s no better way to capture it than through video. I want to inspire everyone to never overlook the beauty right in front of us,” said Mattison.

Mattison is especially proud of his team. “Our people that we have working for us are so talented,” he said, “the production manager and editor are the best around, and really continue to make 32 Mile an incredible company. With PEP and all of us together, the sky’s the limit and we’re excited to see what the future holds.”

Mattison is an award-winning videographer who founded 32 Mile Media with a mission to help companies tell their brand stories and convey their messages through video. His videography experience is extensive. He has worked on everything from backyard home videos to Oscar-nominated films. With each assignment, Mattison ensures quality and authenticity is apparent in the final video. Mattison earned a bachelor’s degree in TV and Video Production from SUNY Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh, New York. See next week’s Saratoga TODAY to learn about the new, national talent hired at 32 Mile Media. Learn more about the Patient Experience Project at www.the-pep.com. For more information about 32 Mile Media, visit www.32mile.com.

SARATOGA COUNTY – On Tuesday, September 13, voters will be heading to the polls for a series of primaries. In this issue, we present the two primary candidates for New York State Senate District 49, a seat formerly held by Senator Hugh Farley. For more information about primary races, please visit the Saratoga County Board of Elections at www.saratogacountyny.gov or visit the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County at www.lwvsaratoga.org. Christian Klueg This is Christian Klueg’s first foray into campaigning for elected office. Owner of CMK and Associates, he grew the business out of his Northville home into a thriving six-office, 50-agent real estate and marketing firm in just 8 years. He has also served on the Fulton County Planning Board and the Sacandaga Protection Committee. “I look at the direction the State is going, and I’m concerned,” said Klueg. “I have four kids. What is the State going to look like when they are making the decision to settle down? What is it going to look like when my wife and I get ready to retire? Cost of living is up; New York is going in the wrong direction economically; and it continues to be unfriendly to business.” Klueg has several issues he intends to work on if elected, but top of mind for him are issues surrounding gun rights, corruption in Albany, and getting business regulations under control. “I have concerns for our freedom,” said Klueg, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. “The second amendment is something our state government has been infringing on. The SAFE Act was rammed through illegally in the middle of night, and passed by Republicans, too. We not only have to stand up to Democrats, but also members of our own party who do not share upstate Republican values.” Klueg is also concerned that corruption in Albany has gotten to the point where it is not surprising anymore, and is just accepted. “We can’t even begin to look at these other problems such as the economy and education until we solve corruption.” He also noted that the political establishment makes it difficult for someone who is not an insider to run for office. “The party wants career politicians and Albany insiders,” said Klueg. “Say what you want about Trump, but he’s not a 20 or 30-year politician. I believe we need term limits. I don’t believe our founding fathers designed the system to have the same people in office for decades, and that’s not what voters want.” Klueg stated he intends to limit himself to eight years, if elected. “I’m not a politician, I’m a businessman,” said Klueg. “We will do over 500 real estate transactions this year, with a volume over $80 million. As a small business owner, I deal every day with the insane regulations that NYS has. They push up the cost of living and cost of doing business in the state. We have the highest utility rates in the country, highest insurance rates, and outdated laws like the Scaffold Law. If we want to talk about how to make NYS friendly to business, that’s where we start.” Klueg said that state government practices “stick and carrot” policies, like Start-Up NY. “Philosophically, I am in disagreement with the policy. It’s fundamentally impossible for government to create jobs. It’s just wealth redistribution, which is not effective in real economic development.” Klueg believes a better policy is helping small businesses become bigger businesses, successful and expanding and hiring more. “If we help them, maybe they won’t move out of state,” said Klueg. “The policies from Albany only continue to expedite them leaving.” For more information and a bio about Klueg, visit www.christiankluegforsenate.com. James Tedisco New York State Assembly Member James Tedisco of Glenville has more than three decades of service in the State Legislature, following a decade career in education. He said the top issues he intends to continue working on if elected to the Senate include infrastructure, mandate relief, and public trust, among others. His Safe Water infrastructure Action Program (S.W.A.P.) is for drinking water, storm water, sanitary sewer and gas line infrastructure and is modeled on the popular and successful CHIPS program for local roads and bridges. “We must identify the most depleted sewer, water, and gas lines and make a plan to address them,” said Tedisco. “Unfortunately, some of the sewer lines are 100 years old, some are even made of wood, causing that sink hole that devoured an SUV in Albany, for example. It makes no sense to give this money out every year to rebuild roads and bridges without knowing what’s happening underneath.” Tedisco said that prioritizing infrastructure is not only about safety, but also economic development, so businesses will come to New York or expand here. This is why he is also focusing on regulations, mandate relief, and taxes. “Small businesses create 40 to 50 percent of the new jobs,” said Tedisco, “but they have to jump through too many hoops. Truthfully, they just want to be left alone so they can be successful, but we have overregulation and overtaxing.” When it comes to public trust, Tedisco recalled the words of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, who said the problem with corruption in Albany is unbridled power and lack of oversight. “I have two bills that would take care of that,” said Tedisco. One is the NYS Government Transparency Act, which requires a message of necessity to be an emergency, such as a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, or an impending financial crisis. “The SAFE Act was rushed through as a message of necessity, but it was not an emergency,” said Tedisco. He said too many bills that may be troubling to New Yorkers, like the SAFE Act, are circumventing the scrutiny process that would give legislators time to read and study the bills before voting on them. Additionally, Tedisco said his “Spirit of ‘76” bill would require that bills with a majority of sponsors (76 sponsors in the Assembly and 32 in the Senate) would automatically go to the floor for a vote, helping shift power from leadership to the rank and file members. Tedisco is also calling for his “Truth in Spending” bill, which would provide transparency as to where budget “discretionary” money goes and who’s controlling it. “We also need recall in New York State,” Tedisco added. “The citizens give us the honor to serve them; they should have the ability to take us out of office if they feel we have been derelict in our duty.” For more information about Tedisco’s positions and bio, visit www.jimtedisco.com.
MALTA — With its economic development infrastructure firmly in place, the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, located at 2911 Route 9 in Malta, has been steadily strengthening its business outreach, knocking on innumerable local doors as part of its commitment to business retention and expansion in the county. The Partnership has also been hosting a series of informational sessions, convening and educating broader groups of people on substantive topics, with enlightening results. One such informational session was the August 11 luncheon on the topic of site selection. The Partnership invited Chris Steele of Investment Consulting Associates, a well-established site location and economic development consulting firm, to share his 25 years of company location experience and answer questions about project readiness, relationships and marketing. Much of Steele’s presentation was an overview of how companies go through the location process, and the kinds of companies that are looking to expand or relocate. He spoke about the ways communities can be prepared to attract companies. “Saratoga is appealing for a couple of reasons,” said Steele. “It has a good basic, diverse labor force. Skilled and trainable for a variety of functions. We had looked at it recently for small office space functions and logistics and skilled manufacturing. It’s also right in the middle of a couple logistics chains, making it easy to get into and out of. The highway and rail access to both of those are in good standing.” Steele did admit that New York State, when it comes to attracting business, is a mixed bag. “The state has done very well in terms of marketing and outreach,” said Steele, “but doesn’t have too good a ranking with the Tax Foundation. Communities across the state are handicapped by that.” Despite that, Steele encouraged the county to continue its outreach to decision makers. “I’m just one class of decision- maker,” he said. “Keep talking and raise more awareness about what the county is trying to do, then more conversations like these can happen.” Steele added that the Partnership is on the right track. “I would say, certainly, what the Partnership is doing is a good way to bring stakeholders and decision-makers together so the community can make the best possible showing.” The Partnership, along with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Southern Saratoga County, announced its Business First Saratoga initiative in March, to serve local business owners by developing relationships to better understand the opportunities and challenges of doing business in the region. This includes assistance with workforce development, financing, international markets access, government regulations, resources for small businesses, and utilities. Earlier this summer, the Partnership hired heavy-hitter Shelby Schneider, formerly with the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation and a respected figure in the business community, to lead the outreach to local businesses and identify concerns, strengths, and potential growth. Schneider also spent a few years in a manufacturing environment, and she said that experience has helped her see both sides of the economic development equation. “For example, when I was at Shmaltz Brewing Company, we’d have job openings for brewers for months and months and months,” she said. “Talking with other brewers, we found that industry growth had outpaced the talent pipeline. So we reached out to the regional workforce development boards and worked with Schenectady Community College and put together a workforce training program, and the boards contributed to help underwrite the tuition.” Schneider explained that is how economic development works, that the more businesses she meets, the more she can see connections between similar industry needs and work to find solutions. “You can help businesses grow and thrive that way,” she said. Steele agrees. “I think it’s vitally important [knocking on doors]. It’s something you have to do, otherwise you miss warning signs. The more you understand about your own business base and why they chose to be there, the more it helps to understand what kind of entrepreneurial business you can support.” The Partnership is hosting a “Back to School, Back to Business” networking event for Saratoga County business professionals on Wednesday, September 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Saratoga National Golf Club to talk about what’s on the docket for fall. Additionally, the nonprofit will be hosting an Economic Development Summit for elected and public officials to talk about economic development in the post-election political environment, as well as discussing community preparedness, best practices, and more on November 10. For more information about these events and the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, visit SaratogaPartnership.org.
Friday, 26 August 2016 11:34

Glass, Grass, and Pillows

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Meeting Deanna Hensley for the first time is like meeting an old friend, a great quality in a homeless outreach coordinator. Her giant heart shows in her welcoming smile and gentle, fierce protection of Saratoga Springs’ homeless neighbors. On Friday, August 12, Hensley invited me, Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20), and congressional staffer Marilyn Smith to ride along with her during her outreach work for Shelters of Saratoga (SOS).

We began in Congress Park, meeting at the park’s north entrance in front of her white van. “I usually have the RV, but it’s in the shop,” said Hensley. “I park in the same spot so they know to look for me here. It’s not rare for me to make 25 contacts in a day.”

It was a beautiful morning, a summer breeze lifting spirits while cooling the temperature across the green, tree-dotted grassy expanse. Mothers were pushing strollers, a visiting family was tasting the spring waters at the pump, and joggers were getting their morning exercise. And here and there, among the typical Saratoga Season crowd, a few men slowly walked in, found a shade tree, and lay down to sleep. One here, one there, seemingly random but some had their favorite spots. We watched as Hensley walked over to each of them, checking to see if they needed medical assistance or water or even a pair of socks. “Sometimes they’ve been drinking and are sleeping it off,” said Hensley. “Sometimes they are angry, or sick, or just have headaches. They don’t pay attention to hydration. They appreciate someone out here noticing and saying ‘hey, drink water.’” Hensley is careful, and listens well to the homeless neighbors in her care so she can keep them and herself safe. “We do have people who take advantage and try to prey on the weaker ones,” she said. “You never know what you might find walking up to someone, just have to be ready for anything. I do my research, so I know whether or not I’m walking up on a sex offender or someone with a violent history. So far I have not had anyone threaten me, and I think it’s because you have to show you care. They know me out here, know I can stand this close, and they have nothing to fear from me. If they ask for a hug, I’ll give it. One guy told me he hadn’t had a hug in 8 years. Can you imagine?” She opened the back of the van (filled with water bottles, t-shirts, baby wipes, foot powder, ramen noodles, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and sometimes tarps and sleeping bags) as Shawn walked over, a former roofer suffering from alcoholism and other issues. “Hi, Shawn, how are you feeling today?” asked Hensley, as if she’d known him forever. “Want some raviolis?” Shawn stood a little hesitantly at first, unsure of us strangers around the van, but Tonko reached out to shake his hand and learn a little more about him. Shawn had once had a family, a home in Ballston Lake, and a job roofing and siding, but one mistake led to another, and like many in trouble who lack support, he tried to find solace in alcohol, and has been homeless 9 years and 7 months as a result. His daughter, Michaela Rose, is 10 now. “It makes me not think,” he said about the drinking. “I don’t want to think anymore.” He sat down on the pavement between the van and a parked car to empty his sneaker. Hensley put a bottle of water by him and some food in his backpack. His blue eyes would make Sinatra proud, and his ready smile belied the serious resignation in his eyes. “I’m going to die soon,” the 34-year-old told us with an unnervingly quiet calm that made me want to check his pockets for anything he might hurt himself with. “I gave up on myself. I’m in such rough shape. It is what it is.” And he smiled, as if he were trying to make us feel better. Hensley and Tonko stepped aside and spoke urgently with him, and later Hensley told me that she wished she could throw a burlap sack over his head and just take him to a doctor, but she can’t take him unless he wants to go. According to Hensley, 85 to 90 percent of the people she meets tell her they have a pain inside that they can’t kill, so they try to kill it with alcohol. “There are so many like Shawn,” she said. “Good people, locals. That guy over there was an engineer at GE, worked 31 years. His wife got sick, and he lost everything to debts. Now he’s on the street.” Tonko told me he felt it was important to see the situation with his own eyes. “There are too many faceless discussions about homeless solutions,” he said. “Anecdotal evidence is a powerful tool to get things done. If our neighbors are homeless and struggling, we need to find a way to address their needs with care and dignity.” Hensley has so many stories to tell the Congressman. She talked about Alex, a Saratoga native who turned 21 on Thursday, Aug 25. His mom moved him from home to home, until he finally ended up in foster care, “…where bad things happened,” said Hensley. “He was severely abused in foster care.” “Locally?” I asked. “Locally,” she answered seriously. After that, she said, Alex didn’t feel safe in any system, not even SOS. Another man walked up as well as a teenager and a woman. Shawn and the three additions all knew each other and they all knew Hensley. The scene could almost have been a family out for a picnic, but one was joking one minute and crying the next, and the youngest played it cool, showing me his prison tattoo. He had good news – he had just landed a job putting labels on bottles at a local brewery. They needed care, though, including showers and a safe place to sleep. One homeless man reached up to his head, politely excused himself, and bent down to swipe the dust from his scalp, which showered down as if he’d spent a week at the beach. Even he was surprised and said he had been careful to sleep on the sleeping bag and not in the dirt. Not one of us stepped back from him, though, and it was clear that even those of us just visiting couldn’t help but have our hearts reach out to this fellow needing a little human compassion. Hensley began her work with SOS in March of this year, and has already built trust and helped many members of the local homeless community. Her vast experience stems from her work with the homeless in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she worked in a few different capacities, including in an adolescent acute unit for several years. When asked what she hopes to gain from hosting ride-alongs with reporters and elected officials, Hensley said, “We need easier access to detox and rehabilitation facilities, places that won’t keep them for only a few hours.” Currently, Hensley drives her “guys” to either St. Peter’s in Albany or St. Mary’s in Troy for those services. Anecdotally, she hears from homeless individuals that local places will take them in for three or four hours and then discharge them. Hensley hopes that legislators at the state and federal levels will understand that health coverage for the homeless population needs to cover longer-term detoxification, so it is out of their systems and they are given education and support to keep it out, as well as counseling services to address the underlying problems that made them become addicted to substances or alcohol in the first place. “Once you treat the addiction, you have to treat the person, and we need that. I will put them in the RV and take them, then and there, if they say they are ready for rehab,” said Hensley. “I don’t want to risk losing that window.” Hensley was glad Tonko came along and spent so much time on the ride along. At one point, she told him, “Normally they clam up around strangers, but they really opened up with you. You could be an outreach person.” After a couple hours, we left Congress Park in her van to visit an abandoned encampment, a home for the homeless. She surprised us when she pulled to the side of a road in a well-known section of the city, and took us to a hidden path through the woods we would never have seen without someone showing it to us. We climbed over a fallen tree; slipped a little down a hill; crunched through dead leaves, mud and underbrush; and found ourselves in a small clearing. The trees muffled the sounds from the road, and the beauty of healthy green plants and trees seemed incongruous next to the broken bottles of vodka and overturned shopping carts. As I stood there surveying the empty food wrappers, a torn tarp, tufts of grass peeping up around shards of glass and a moldy pillow, I imagined people sleeping here. It was peaceful, a hiding place from everything about the world that could scare you, a place where you could hide even from yourself. Someone like me, educated and with years of work experience, or even someone like Tonko, who has dedicated his career to public service, could one day find ourselves in a hidden home like this. One mistake, one economic downturn, one house fire, one illness – and everything I – or Tonko – or Hensley – or anyone – had built could disappear. That could be me, numbed to sleep by alcohol and rustling leaves, on that pillow, grass, and glass. In that quiet place, Hensley asked us what it would be like to have to live with nothing but our own thoughts, regrets, frightening memories. What it would be like to have to choose to live, not just day by day, but hour by hour. “Some people say they should just get up and get a job,” said Hensley. “They say it as if a homeless person just decided one day they’d be more comfortable sleeping and drinking on the ground, that it would be more comfortable than having a home or a job. It’s sad to see that stigma. People only see the aggression, but not what’s behind the aggression. They [the homeless] are not the bad guys. These are mothers, fathers, brothers, daughters.” Bottom line, human resiliency depends on a support system, meaning people who care, who have giant hearts like Hensley. If such a person, friend, relative, neighbor doesn’t exist in your life, it’s that much harder to get up from a fall, especially a tragic fall. There but for the grace of God and the caring people in my life, go I. Hensley said the one thing she wishes everyone would take to heart is, “Just because someone is unshowered and sitting against a tree with a backpack doesn’t mean they should be judged; it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your kindness. Be kind to everyone, because, as the saying goes, you don’t know what battle they are fighting.” And no one could be kinder than Deanna Hensley. To support her work and the countless other volunteers and professionals working with the homeless in Saratoga, a series of colorfully-painted drop boxes have been placed along Broadway to accept check and cash donations. [See our story “New Donation Boxes Hit the Streets of Saratoga Springs” by Allison Capasso in Saratoga TODAY’s August 19 edition.] For more information about Shelters of Saratoga or how you can help, visit sheltersofsaratoga.org or call 518-581-1097.

Friday, 05 August 2016 10:01

Taxpayers to Foot Mayor’s $12k Bill

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, August 2, at City Hall ran very late and covered quite a bit of ground, ranging from a Code Blue update to billing the taxpayers over $12,000 for Mayor Joanne Yepsen’s legal fees in her response to the City’s Board of Ethics findings against her. At the beginning of the meeting, the mayor handed out copies of the rules of conduct governing the council meetings, and arguments ensued throughout the meeting as to who was breaking which rules. Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan brought up a concern of meetings not staying on point, and of not feeling safe, to which City Attorney Tony Izzo suggested a higher security presence, but Madigan clarified that she is requesting council members have the authority the mayor does to remove people from the room. A discussion also ensued regarding spillover of acrimonious behavior from the council chamber into City Hall, which human resources is looking into. The mayor put forth for a vote to the council a request asking the City to cover the $12,340 in legal fees she incurred with Harris Beach Attorneys at Law. She had incurred the fees to contest the ethics board’s findings that she violated section 13-3 (I) of the City’s Code of Ethics with her discussions with the Saratoga Hospital Foundation on a potential job contract with her personal business. Commissioner of Public Works Anthony “Skip” Scirocco asked outright, “Why should the City pay for it?” Commissioner of Public Safety Christian Mathiesen questioned whether a lawyer was even necessary given that there was no lawsuit and no criminal charges and why it took approximately 55 hours of legal work for such a simple task. “It occurred while I’m serving as a public official,” said Yepsen. “It was very confusing. This is my first time dealing with lawyers like this. I was given bad advice, my deputy left, and I went four weeks without a deputy.” Commissioner of Accounts John Franck added, “There is a 2007 precedent for this, plus action taken at the last council meeting of sending the resolution to JCOPE could set up legal needs, so the only mistake here is not first getting a purchase order.” The council members’ discussion included concerns that the legal fees were a gross overcharge; that the mayor neglected to follow City Charter rules requiring her to submit the cost for approval before the cost was incurred; whether or not the services were for the office of mayor or for Yepsen’s personal business; whether lawyers were even necessary; and several other concerns. In the end, the vote was 3-2 for the City to pay the bill, with Madigan and Scirocco voting in the negative. Another ethics board ruling was accepted by the council, finding the mayor was not in violation of gifts regulations by asking NYRA to donate a Mayor’s Box to the City, because the request was for City use, not personal use. NYRA discontinued donating the $9,000 box in 2013. The meeting began with a second public hearing on changes to the Peddling and Vending Code. It will allow special event organizers to allow vendors to participate in a special event without incurring any extra fees for the event. Insurance language in the ordinance has been updated. As in the prior hearing, no one from the public spoke, and later in the agenda the measure passed. The public comment period included a request for the Charter Commission to post documents and links online so the public can better follow the meetings that occur the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month. Concerns about the Nelson Avenue Bridge Extension, water fees, meeting rules, the Mayor’s censure, and a potentially dangerous intersection (Gilbert/Weibel/Lake) were all raised. Compliments were expressed during the public comment period to the Parking Task Force members and to the Saratoga Springs Mounted Patrol. The parking task force recommendations included a suggestion to target revenues from parking fees to garage maintenance, roads and beautification. According to Madigan, that would be against State rules for municipal budgets, that funds cannot be targeted in a separate line and must go to the “pot” first and then follow regular budget procedures. “Trust the budget process,” she said. She also raised a concern that appointees to a future parking board should be made by the department head governing the board, whether public works or public safety, than from the office of the mayor. With friendly amendments, the council voted to accept the recommendations of the task force, which is nonbinding and will help inform future parking discussions. Yepsen announced that news would be forthcoming regarding Code Blue, that there is potential for the shelter as well as a drop-in center, but a commitment and details are under discussion and not ready for public announcement. In further business, the city is contracting Gar Associates to conduct a study of workforce, senior, special needs and mixed use housing to help inform housing future policymaking. The council voted to authorize the mayor to sign an inter-municipal agreement with the Saratoga Housing Authority for the Affordable Housing Study, and voted to accept the agreement between the City and Greenman Pedersen for the Ballston Avenue Traffic Improvement project.
Friday, 29 July 2016 12:00

REVIEW: Star Trek Beyond

WORLDWIDE — Paramount Pictures’ latest installment of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek universe is an exciting ride for everyone except Trek purists. It is well worth the extra bucks for surround sound, but if you go 3D you might miss the extraordinary detail in the cinematography and computer-generated imagery (CGI).

The spaceport is especially impressive and a far cry from Star Trek DS9, showcasing an estimated budget of $185 million well spent. Sure, we’ve seen similar twists of gravity in other movies, but none with this attention to living, breathing detail of people and vehicles and day-to-day activities. The visual artistry and design in this film will surely gain awards at the Oscars and Golden Globes.

The entertaining plot derives from the creative talent of Simon Pegg, who also stars in the film as engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. Co-written with Doug Jung, fans are being treated to a new Star Trek adventure, a refreshing break to the story rehashes of the first two films. The humor is spontaneous, natural, and continues to poke a little fun at the original Trek television series, including a scene redolent of the “I see you managed to get your shirt off,” line from “Galaxy Quest.”

Pegg does a good job of character development, with a reflective Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) facing a “now what?” realization of the consequences of accepting a dare to get through Starfleet Academy. Pine is entirely believable as a young man questioning his motives as he is maturing into leadership, but Zachery Quinto could not quite pull off a Vulcan caught between duty to his Starfleet promise and duty to the remnants of his endangered species. The actor’s portrayal of the inimitable Spock lacked the logical confidence of his earlier portrayals, making Spock seem more vulnerable and, well, human in a disappointing way.

Without giving anything away, the villain continues the theme of personal consequences, and the tale’s solution is a little reminiscent of “Shaun of the Dead,” also written by Pegg, but that can be forgiven in the glorious treatment of it by director Justin Lin, of “Fast and Furious” fame, with spectacular space explosions to the screeches of the Beastie Boys.

And speaking of music, there is nothing like sitting in a darkened, surround-sound theater listening to the magic of Oscar-winner Michael Giacchino’s genius. His original score from the 2009 Star Trek continues to thrill audiences, beginning with its distinct oboe’s long, trailing note that awakens a hint of heartbreaking solitude before it moves into a building percussion of edge-of-seat anticipation. The score’s emotional transition is so natural that the audience doesn’t even realize it has been set up to love the movie before it’s even begun.

Kudos also goes to actress Sofia Boutella, who expertly brought to life new character Jaylah in the film. With the brains of an engineer, a tragic backstory, and the dangerous beauty of a ninja warrior, there’s no doubt that Comic Cons and Halloween will be making a killing off of Jaylah costumes this year.

And for the “shippers” out there, as far as budding romance, well, Mel Brooks said it best in “History of the World Part I.” Let’s just say, “It’s good to be the king (er, writer).” Cinematographer Stephen F. Windon has worked with Lin on Fast and Furious movies, and their teamwork shows in the thrilling action sequences that will satisfy the modern Trek audience, but true Trekkers will note the flash replacing substance in the plot.

For a series that was leading the way in social debate, such as airing the first interracial kiss on television in 1968, the new Star Trek seems to be just trying to keep up. The leaked pre-release spoiler that helmsman Hikaru Sulu, played by John Cho, is gay was a nod to the original Sulu’s George Takei. It is tastefully done, but it underscores the plot’s lack of challenging themes such as world economics, man versus technology, and human (species) rights that made the original Trek so compelling despite its low budget and overacting.

Paramount seems content to stick with tried and true formulas that make good money feeding a sugar-high audience – and this film is great fun and among the best in that category. But is the studio risking audiences will leave the film feeling the emptiness of enjoying a high-calorie dessert with nothing thought provoking to sustain them and bring them back for more?

It would have been easy to make the artifact in the story a rare item that survived the destruction of Vulcan in Star Trek 2009, which would have provided a little depth to the plot. And where are the Ferengis who are likely making enriching deals left and right off that disaster, but neither J.J. Abrams (director of Star Trek 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness) and his writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman nor the Lin/Pegg/Jung team thought to capitalize on the wealth of potential original stories such a tragedy could create. Humor, action, pioneering science, and depth is the real money-making Trek formula, and this film comes painfully close. The next movie will make or break this reboot.

“Star Trek Beyond” was dedicated in memoriam to two lost stars – Leonard Nimoy, actor, director, and original Spock, who died February 27, 2015 at age 83, and Anton Yelchin, (ship navigator Pavel Andreievich Chekov) who died June 19 this year at age 27.

Friday, 29 July 2016 11:38

Meet the New Deputy Mayor

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The new deputy mayor of Saratoga Springs may be new to politics, but she is a familiar face among the community. Meg Kelly, formerly the executive director of the Saratoga Children’s Theatre, began her new position Monday, July 25, replacing Joe Ogden, who left the deputy mayor position last month for a position as budget director with SUNY. After thoughtful consideration of about a dozen candidates for the nearly $71,000 a year position, Mayor Joanne Yepsen spent time with three finalists who underwent second interviews, including some “in the field” at local events with the mayor. “It was a thorough process,” said Yepsen. “I knew what I was looking for, and Meg Kelly was clearly up for the job. With her skills, community connections, and resourcefulness, I know she will be successful.” Kelly added, “I was looking for a new adventure, a new career path, and this happened at the right time. It’s an honor to be here; I’m very excited.” In her role at the Saratoga Children’s Theatre, Kelly oversaw the business, grant writing and fundraising for the organization. Kelly has also served on the City’s Arts Commission. She has run a successful golf business for over 20 years and was a Class A Member of the LPGA. An author of a golf instructional guide, “Easy Golf,” she also created Saratoga Lifestyles magazine. Kelly is president of Tait Publishing Company. She is foregoing her other interests to focus fully on her new position. “I have worked with her,” said Yepsen. “She’s extremely confident and gets things done, very direct but has a collegial manner – perfect for this fast-paced office.” Yepsen said she’s developed a matrix of goals that she’ll be looking to Kelly to help execute. Some of those priorities include setting up a public arts policy; expanding recreational parks and other aspects of sports tourism; continuing next steps on the Greenbelt Trail; working with nonprofits on a location for Code Blue as well as affordable and workforce housing; working on the charter commission; and soon to be setting up a horse racing summit, among other things. “The whole team here works on constituent services,” added Yepsen, “and the deputy will play a role in that, ensuring constituent questions are answered. She’ll also be coordinator of all the departments that report to the office of the mayor, and filling in on weekly cabinet meetings of department heads if I can’t be there.” Kelly moved here in 1973, graduating from Saratoga Springs High School and later graduating from SUNY Brockport. She and her husband, former city court judge Douglas Mills who served 20 years on the bench, have a 16-year-old daughter. “I’ve known Doug even longer than Meg,” said Yepsen. “He handled my inauguration, swearing me in as supervisor in 2006.” Kelly has been involved in Saratoga Springs most of her life. “It’s a community I truly love,” she said, “and I’m happy to be in service to the City and the mayor.”
Friday, 29 July 2016 11:32

First Female State Command Chief

BALLSTON SPA – The New York Air National Guard selected Chief Master Sergeant Amy Giaquinto as its new Command Chief, making her the first woman to hold the position as top enlisted Airman in the 5,800-member New York Air National Guard. The Ballston Spa resident replaces Command Chief Master Sgt. Richard King, who has held the position since 2010. King has been named to the position of Command Chief at 1st Air Force, a three-star general officer command responsible for the air defense of the United States. “I’m honored and humbled to be in this position,” said Giaquinto. “When you get the opportunity to lead Airmen and take care of Airmen and their families, that’s what it’s all about and why I do what I do.” The Change of Authority ceremony was held at the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs headquartered in Latham on Monday, July 25. As Chief Master Sergeant, Giaquinto said her role was to be the liaison between the Air Commander and unit members for the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia. “Now I’m the liaison between the Commander of the New York Air National Guard and all the men and women of the New York Air National Guard,” said Giaquinto. “That’s five wings, and the Eastern air defense sector. They are the unit that are responsible for air defense east of the Mississippi and over the Washington, D.C. area. My job is to make sure they have what they need to succeed. Morale, training, education, professional development – I make sure that I take care of the Airmen and the families across New York State.” It is the largest Air National Guard in the United States. As the Command Chief of the New York Air National Guard, Giaquinto will be the senior enlisted advisor on training and morale of the enlisted force to Major General Anthony German, the Commander of the New York Air National Guard and the Adjutant General of New York. She was selected from a pool of candidates after applying for the position by a board and interview process for the three-to-six-year commitment. “I was pretty honored to be selected as State Command Chief from the beginning,” said Giaquinto, “but finding out I was the first woman does make it really special. Women are not denied these positions, but they shy away from applying, and hope my being hired will inspire other women to apply to any position here.” There are currently 1029 women in the New York Air National Guard – 147officers and 882 enlisted, such as Command Chief Giaquinto. The ceremony was especially meaningful for Giaquinto. “It was awesome,” she said. “My daughter was home [from active duty Air Force], my other daughter sang the National Anthem, my son and husband and family and friends and coworkers were all there.” Giaquinto is grateful for the support of her family, her husband New York Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. Mark Giaquinto, and her children: Alyssa Giaquinto, a Senior Airman in the Air National Guard; Ashlyn Giaquinto, a college student; and her son Aidan Giaquinto, a middle school student. Giaquinto joined the New York Air National Guard in 1997 as an Information Manager for the 109th Airlift Wing, and served seven years in the Logistics Readiness Squadron. In the ensuing years, she served information resources, office management, and human resources. She has been actively involved with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, serving as a Victim Advocate and as a Bystander Intervention trainer, and in 2011, Giaquinto was selected as the Personnel Superintendent and became the New York Joint Forces Headquarters Sexual Assault Response Coordinator-Air providing training, guidance and administrative support to the JFHQs and all of the New York Air National Guard. In 2009 Giaquinto deployed to Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom. “All members of the Air National Guard deploy to support our nation as well,” said Giaquinto. “I’m always proud of what I do for the Air National Guard, but I felt I needed to deploy over to the desert to serve, because there are so many that are there protecting us and I felt I needed to volunteer and support those men and women in service.” She was selected as the 109th Airlift Wing Command Chief in 2013. Giaquinto holds an Associate of Applied Science Degree from the Community College of the Air Force. Her awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
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Property Transactions

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