Daily News 12/28 – 12/30/13

The Saratogian

There’s a new Sheriff in Town

Ballston receives donation for park

Saratoga County campaign finance reports offer insights to winners/losers

Ballston Supervisor Southworth ends six years of service

The Times Union

New Town Board Member in Halfmoon

Officer earns second Meritorious Service Medal

Halfmoon to fill vacant board seat

Hurdles passed, Sausville to lead

The Daily Gazette

New Sheriff sworn in

Michael Zurlo received a standing ovation from a crowd of several hundred Sunday as he was sworn in as Saratoga County sheriff. Zurlo succeeds fellow Republican James Bowen, the longest-tenured sheriff in New York state, who is retiring after 41 years in office. Zurlo’s term will begin Wednesday.

“I have very big shoes to fill, but I learned from one of the best,” Zurlo said of his predecessor, who was not present at the ceremony. “Thank you, sheriff. You depart the department leaving the office in good hands.” A lifelong resident of Saratoga County and a graduate of Mechanicville High School, Zurlo joined the Mechanicville Police Department in 1974 and went on to work in the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, where he served for more than 30 years as a deputy, sergeant, senior criminal investigator and lieutenant. After retiring from the department in December 2010, he became Stillwater town judge, but stepped down earlier this year to pursue the post of Saratoga County sheriff. Zurlo was sworn in Sunday at Mechanicville High School by state Supreme Court Justice Thomas Nolan. “I practiced law in Mechanicville from time to time and when one of my clients had been arrested by Mr. Zurlo, my observations then, and they do continue today, were that when Mike needed to be tough, he was tough, but he didn’t need to be tough all the time. He’s got backbone and he’s got heart and above all, he has integrity, and these qualities will serve us well during his tenure,” Nolan said. Zurlo said he intends to build on Bowen’s successes in the sheriff’s office, which had a staff of just 20 when Zurlo started working there and now employs more than 200. “The campaign has stopped and we have now set our sights on working around the clock to keep Saratoga County a safe place to live, work and raise a family,” Zurlo told the crowd. He thanked those gathered for their support and assured them his door is always open and his phone is always on. Zurlo said his overall goal as sheriff is community safety. “It’s got one of the lowest crime rates in New York state, Saratoga County, so I want to make sure we keep it that way as we move forward,” he told reporters after the ceremony. One priority will be to expand the department’s online presence with an up-to-date website, a Facebook page and Twitter account, to help keep the community informed, he said.

Zurlo has named Kevin Mullahey as undersheriff. He started his career with the Waterford Police Department in 1978 and has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office. In his new position, Mullahey will oversee the county correctional facility, the civil department and the investigative unit.

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2019-02-17T23:01:12-05:00December 30th, 2013|Categories: What's Happening|

Daily News 12/27/13

The Saratogian

Tedisco aide fills Clifton Park Communications position

Ballston investigating sewering lake district, business coordinator

The Times Union

Deputy County Clerk hire criticized

The Daily Gazette

Deal to preserve farm finally finished – Funding comes to buy development rights of property

A farm in the countryside east of Saratoga Lake will remain open land forever under a deal struck six years ago that has finally become a reality. The town of Saratoga on Thursday signed paperwork to pay $1.3 million for the development rights to 390 acres on Cedar Bluff and Wayville roads owned by John and Barbara Hoogeveen, using money from New York state and Saratoga County. The transaction means the land can never been developed for uses other than agriculture. The Hoogeveens, who are in their 80s, are retired from farming and plan to sell the farmland at a lower price because of the new restrictions on it to local dairy farmers Marty and Pat Hanehan. The Hanehan brothers have rented the Hoogeveen farm since 2000 and currently keep heifers and dry cows — ones that don’t require milking — in the former dairy barn. They also grow corn, alfalfa and other crops on the land. “They’re very familiar with what they are getting,” John Hoogeveen said.

The purchase of development rights deal signed Thursday at Saratoga Town Hall in Schuylerville was the final pending transaction for the county’s land preservation program. The county ended its $500,000-per-year land preservation program in 2012 because of budget pressures. The state, meanwhile, has not been accepting new applications for farmland funding while it catches up with a backlog of projects that were approved but unfunded like the Hoogeveens’. Thursday’s closing became possible after Gov. Andrew Cuomo in November released $987,268 in funding the state approved in 2008 that wasn’t appropriated during the years of the state’s financial crisis. The county put in $328,000 as the local share of the deal. The state’s agreement in 2008 was to pay about $2 million for the development rights, but the state then significantly reduced the grant, as it has with other farm protection grants, after the recession reduced land values. When Cuomo released the funding, he said farmland protection efforts to date have secured the development rights to 51,000 acres across the state. “These grants are helping to ensure that thousands of acres of farmland remain in production, which helps local economies grow and supports a way of life for future generations of farmers and their families,” Cuomo said. With the latest deal, Saratoga County has preserved or helped to preserve 2,300 acres of farmland, said County Planner Jaime O’Neill. “We’ve been able to use federal, state and county resources to really leverage a lot,” she said. The Hoogeveen farm is in a rural section of Saratoga with many farms, but O’Neill said the farm was nevertheless feeling development pressure. The deal to buy the development rights first began to come together after the Hoogeveens were approached by a developer, whom they turned down. “It’s kind of a good farming corridor, but it’s close to the lake and it’s close to Stillwater, and as you get down into Stillwater you see more houses and subdivisions popping up,” O’Neill said. Saratoga Town Supervisor Thomas N. Wood said he’s pleased that open space is being preserved. “It’s very prime agricultural land, and I’m very glad to see that it will remain in agricultural production,” he said. The Hoogeveens are natives of the Netherlands. They both grew up on farms and saw the trauma of World War II during their youths. They came to the United States in 1952 and bought their farm from a retiring farmer in 1961. The Hoogeveens milked as many as 130 cows while John Hoogeveen actively ran the farm, from 1961 to 1989. Their son then operated the farm until 1999, when he decided to leave the business. The Hanehan brothers have rented the property since 2000. The couple, who have a house on a building lot subdivided from the farm, said they’re glad their farm will continue. “He’s a farmer deep down in his heart,” Barbara Hoogeveen said of her husband. There are no other farm preservation projects on the immediate horizon in Saratoga County, which for decades has seen farms slowly give way to housing subdivisions. Wood, a former chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said he hopes the county will eventually resume providing money for preservation projects, as it did from 2003 to 2011. Over that time, the county spent $4.9 million to buy parkland or preserve farms, securing additional state funding for five farmland projects. “Maybe in a couple of years, if the county’s finances turn around,” Wood said. O’Neill continues to discuss the idea of buying development rights from farmers, even though there’s no immediate promise of further funding. “I’m in the process of speaking to people,” she said. “It’s a large decision and a big learning curve for the landowners.”

Yepsen taps Ogden to be deputy mayor

Mayor-elect Joanne Yepsen has chosen an examiner for the state Division of Budget to serve as her deputy.  Joseph Ogden will become the full-time deputy mayor following Yepsen’s inauguration on New Year’s Day. The 33-year old city resident is a graduate of Siena College, has a master’s degree from the University at Albany and comes to the position with a decade of work experience, most recently as an associate budget examiner for the state. Yepsen said Ogden, who worked on her campaign, was the most qualified among a pool of candidates who applied for the position. She said he has valuable policy experience in a number of areas, including public safety, homeland security, disaster relief, veterans’ affairs and Medicaid. “Joe brings a great deal of professionalism to this position, and he has extensive experience with fiscal policy, budgeting, management and government operations,” Yepsen said. Ogden will replace Shauna Sutton, who served for six years under Republican Scott Johnson. Sutton, who challenged Yepsen for the mayor’s position, has since taken a job as a deputy to Craig Hayner, the Republican who was elected Saratoga County clerk in November. “I am excited and humbled to accept this position, and I look forward to working together with Mayor-elect Yepsen to make Saratoga Springs an even better place to raise a family,” Ogden said in a statement. Ogden will take a pay cut to leave his state job and join Yepsen’s administration. Records show he earned an annual salary of $77,000 at the state — about $8,000 more than the deputy mayor is slated to be paid in 2014.  “He really believes in where we’re going with the city,” Yepsen said. “This means so much to him.”  Yepsen also appointed a new city attorney. City native Sarah Burger comes from the Albany law firm Gleason, Dunn, Walsh & O’Shea, where she specialized in employment litigation, labor law, public- and private-sector labor relations and contract negotiation. Burger will be paid an annual salary of $58,000.  Yepsen said Burger’s experience will be an asset to her office. She said a number of labor contracts will need to be negotiated in the near future, and Burger’s expertise will be welcomed. “She’s going to be perfect,” she said. “Although there’s a budget line for outside counsel, there are perhaps some areas in those contracts that Sarah will help me resolve.” In November, Yepsen appointed a transition team of Charles Kuenzel, Cassie Fox, Lynn Bachner, Jennifer Leidig, former Mayor Ken Klotz, former Public Works Director William McTygue, Georgana Hanson and Alisa Dalton. The group helped select her appointees from a pool of candidates she solicited after winning the mayor’s job.

Stewart’s seeking shop on Sitterly

Stewart’s Shops will propose a new convenience store near the Clifton Park Center mall, at the heart of the Exit 9 commercial zone. The regional chain has an option to buy 1.5 acres at the corner of Clifton Park Center and Sitterly roads and hopes to be able to break ground in the spring, said Stewart’s real estate representative Tom Lewis. A store at that spot would give Stewart’s its first location in close proximity to Exit 9 and the mall, though there are other Stewart’s shops within a few miles in any direction. “It’s [a location] I think we’ll do well at,” Lewis said. The land is being purchased from Ellis Hospital, which has an urgent care center just to the east on Sitterly Road. The location sees large volumes of traffic passing by because of its proximity to the mall, but the apartments and subdivisions that lie off of Sitterly Road in Halfmoon are a more important consideration, Lewis said. The proposed store would have about 3,000 square feet of interior space and would employ the larger display area found in the newest Stewart’s Shops. The proposed store would also have gas pumps, Lewis said. The town of Clifton Park hasn’t received an application for site plan approval, but Lewis said he expects it to be filed within 30 days. “We hope to break ground in the spring,” he said. Lewis said the land just a stone’s throw from the Northway has been eyed by the Stewart’s corporation since 1996. At the time, it was owned by land developer Peter Belmonte Sr. Lewis said the company and Belmonte negotiated periodically over many years without coming to terms. Ellis Hospital bought the six acre property a few months ago and subsequently agreed to subdivide land at the corner to sell to Stewart’s. “That’s how long we’ve been negotiating for that piece of property. I’m a patient man,” Lewis said. The seemingly ubiquitous convenience store chain, which is known in equal measure for its quick lunches, milk, ice cream and coffee, has 331 stores throughout northeastern New York. It is headquartered in Malta and has its manufacturing facility just outside of Saratoga Springs in the town of Greenfield.

Saratoga Springs – Stores busy in wake of holiday

The Christmas shopping season may have come to an end, but many local retailers were still flooded with shoppers on Thursday. Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs just completed its first holiday season in the Capital Region after the highly anticipated opening of their new location last summer. Nancy Scheemaker, the Northshire general manager, said it was a wonderful holiday season for the store and the day after Christmas was the same. She said some customers came into the store Thursday looking to purchase books for an upcoming vacation or looking to spend the gift card they received for Christmas. She said she even had customers come in to buy Christmas presents for family gatherings over the next few days. “It has been a great day after Christmas here,” she said. Northshire also had a few customers looking to make returns and exchanges. Scheemaker said customers who received two of the same book or customers looking to return a book for another stopped in as well. But she also said returns and exchanges do not necessarily happen the day after Christmas. “I don’t think there is any one way that it goes,” she said. “I think it is when people find their way to the bookstore, pretty soon after the Christmas holiday.” Overall, Scheemaker said she was very pleased with the first Christmas season at Northshire. “It was a great season. It was a wonderful first Christmas for us here in Saratoga Springs,” she said. “They are, as promised, visiting the bookstore and buying books.” Local retail giants like Sears found their stores very busy on the day after Christmas, too. According to Rick Lebel, the store manager at Sears in the Rotterdam Square mall, the most traffic in the store seemed to come from people looking to take advantage of after-Christmas sales and deals. “It is a busy time for us,” he said, “because you are transitioning from Christmas to the spring season.” Sears in Rotterdam also saw some returns and exchanges the day after Christmas, but like Northshire, there weren’t many, Lebel said. “People usually tend to give it a couple days before they really start coming back,” he said. The exchanges Sears did see were mostly people looking to return electronics to get something better, Lebel said. Roger Goldsmith, the owner of Crafters Gallery in Saratoga Springs, said they do not have many returns after Christmas. “We get very few returns and exchanges,” he said. “But it’s usually within 10 days after the holiday.” Most people returning items at the speciality gift store want a different style or color picture frame, he said. Like at Northsire and Sears, Goldsmith said Thursday was busy and his store experienced a steady flow of customers. “Not overwhelming busy,” he said. “But actually a little busier than last year.”

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2013-12-30T16:27:48-05:00December 27th, 2013|Categories: What's Happening|

Daily News 12/26/13

The Saratogian

Saratoga Springs adding full time city judge

The Daily Gazette

Sausville to Chair County Board

This time of year, some people know Paul J. Sausville best for the Christmas trees he sells annually from his woodlot on Raymond Road in Malta. But that’s only a hobby — along with a recent interest in blacksmithing — for the Malta town supervisor. He’ll have less time for hobbies starting next week, when Sausville is scheduled to become the 2014 chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. During his one-year term, Sausville said, he wants to put an emphasis on character education and also to work creating a new economic development plan for the county. The retired Department of Environmental Conservation civil engineer will succeed Alan R. Grattidge of Charlton under the Republican majority’s rotating leadership system, which gives everyone who achieves enough seniority a turn. His selection wasn’t certain until last week, when an appeals court ruling affirmed his one-vote re-election victory in November over Democrat Cynthia Young. With that controversy behind him, Sausville said he’s excited to pursue his ideas for the county. To promote character, motivational speaker Jay Rifenbary of Saratoga Springs will speak at Sausville’s swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 2. Through the year, the plan is to have high school student essayists make presentations to the Board of Supervisors. “I think it’s important in our everyday lives that we tell the truth. We have a responsibility as the top elected leaders of our towns and the county to set a good example,” Sausville said. He also thinks a new strategic economic development plan, now being drafted by a consultant, could have benefits. He’s hoping the county can apply to be an “innovation hot spot” under one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new programs. “It just seems like a natural,” Sausville said, pointing to the growing GlobalFoundries computer chip plant and the roster of high-tech and innovation businesses at the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park in Malta. Saratoga town Supervisor Thomas N. Wood, a former chairman of the county board, said Sausville developed strong administrative skills during his career with the DEC — and he’ll need them, “One thing I can tell you is the job requires a lot of administrative work,” Wood said. Because of the extra workload, the board chairman earns $25,187, whereas other supervisors earn $18,508. Wood said he has confidence in Sausville. “He is an extremely hard worker and diligent in studying an issue as long as needed before taking a position,” Wood said. Sausville, 74, became town supervisor in 2006, but has been involved in Malta town government’s decision-making for nearly 40 years. Though the town has grown enormously over that time, he often talks about the benefits of keeping a “small-town” atmosphere.

Sausville’s opposition to Malta’s established growth-control policies — he’s been opposed to dense downtown development — has earned him criticism from Town Board members and the business community. His re-election this year required winning a primary in September and ended with his contested one-vote win over Young. “I have run in 10 elections and won every one, though the last one by one vote,” he commented. Sausville said he expects to retire at the end of his new twoyear term. Sausville comes by his interest in small-town values naturally. He grew up in Bennington, Vt., in the 1940s and 1950s. “My parents worked six days a week as clerks,” Sausville recalled. “My father worked in a hardware store, my mother worked in a dry cleaner’s. They put their kids through college.” The seeds of future community involvement may have been planted by his mother, who he said was always active in the community, and his high school girlfriend, Nancy — more than 50 years later, his wife — whose grandfather was the highway superintendent in the nearby town of Shaftsbury. Sausville wanted an outdoor career. A high school counselor suggested civil engineering, with its emphasis on building roads, bridges and dams. Sausville took the advice, though not everything went as planned. “The reality is after the first few years, I spent most of my career in the office,” he said this week. He graduated from the University of Vermont, worked on road survey crews, including one laying out an interstate cloverleaf near Burlington, and landed a job at what in 1963 was the New York State Conservation Department — later to become the DEC. At first, Sausville was part of a team looking for new sites for hydroelectric dams — but that was just before the rise of the environmental movement, with its opposition to dams that destroyed scenic natural areas, which killed most new dam projects. “It was a fun time,” Sausville recalled. “Robert Moses was our hero for building the St. Lawrence Seaway.” Sausville retired from DEC in 1999, having supervised a number of programs, including petroleum and chemical storage, setting water quality standards and planning for municipal sewage systems. He became a partner in a small engineering consulting fi rm until 2006, when he became town supervisor, which is a full-time job. Earlier in his career, Sausville served on the Town Board, spent more than a decade as chairman of the town Planning Board and served on other town planning and zoning committees — all during a three-decade period during which Malta’s population nearly quadrupled, due to residential and later commercial growth. “It’s really been a lot of fun,” Sausville said. He and Nancy have two daughters, a son and nine grandchildren. His son, Paul John — the supervisor is Paul James — will swear him in on Jan. 2. His son is a U.S. Army attorney, an Iraq war veteran, assigned to the state’s Division of Military and Naval Affairs. The swearing-in will take place at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 2 at the county boardrooms in Ballston Spa.

Average tax rate ticks up a penny

Most Saratoga County property owners will be paying a little more — if just a tiny bit more — in county property taxes next year. Local tax collectors are sending out more than 82,000 tax bills that reflect the penny-per-$1,000 average tax increase that is part of the 2014 county budget. It is the third year in a row property taxes have increased, though Saratoga County’s taxes remain among the lowest in the state. The size of the increase has gotten smaller each year — 3.5 percent in 2012, 1.5 percent in 2013 and one penny — less than a half-percent — for the coming year.  Given that trend, Board of Supervisors Chairman Alan R. Grattidge, R-Charlton, said he’s optimistic no increase will be needed in 2015.  He said the pending sale of the county’s Maplewood Manor nursing home — which has been a multimillion dollar financial drain on the county for a decade — will allow the county to stabilize its financial condition. For decades, he noted, sales tax growth and rising property values meant Saratoga County’s costs could be covered without rates having to rise. That changed, however, when sales tax revenue dropped during the 2008-2009 recession. Since then, sales tax revenue is rising again. “As the economy improves and we see gains in the sales tax, I see our property tax being stabilized. We have addressed our major structural problems,” Grattidge said.

As occurred last year, the county tax bill will be broken onto two separate lines to show that the majority of the bill — 98 percent, by the county’s calculation — is needed to pay state-mandated costs such as Medicaid benefits and reimbursements to community colleges. A tax bill in the town of Ballston, for instance, will say that only 3.5 cents of the $2.44 per $1,000 tax rate is to fund the county’s voluntary spending, while state mandates account for $2.41.  Under a “Truth in Taxation” law adopted by county supervisors in 2012, a notice also will be included with the bills explaining that many of the county’s costs are beyond its control. The total amount collected from county property owners — the tax levy — will be $52.4 million, up from $51.6 million this year. The average tax rate per $1,000 assessed value is rising from $2.27 to $2.28, but actual tax rates vary significantly from one community to another because of different practices that each uses to assess property.  Providence, for example, has higher rates than other towns because it never adopted full-value assessments.  Communities also gain or lose total property value compared to one another every year. Because of that, rates in a community can sometimes fall even if there’s a countywide increase.

Taxpayers will have until the end of January to pay their town tax collector before interest is imposed as a penalty. The penalty is 1 percentage point per month, starting in February.

These are the 2013 Saratoga County property tax rates:
BALLSTON: $2.44 per $1,000 assessed value, up from $2.40 in 2012. There are no townwide taxes, though most residents pay special district taxes for fire, ambulance, library, water and other services. CHARLTON: $3.58, down from $3.65. No townwide taxes, though all residents pay a local fire protection tax . CLIFTON PARK: $4.09, up from $4.08 per $1,000. No town general tax; highway, 20 cents; there are many special district taxes, from fire protection to park districts. CORINTH: $2.42, down from $2.43. Town general, $1.92; highway, $1.37; special district taxes for fire protection, and in some areas for lighting and water. DAY: $3.47, up from $3.46. No town general; highway, $2.10; also a fire protection tax . EDINBURG: $4.22, up from $4.16. No town general; highway, $1.10; also a fire protection tax . GALWAY: $4.28, up from $4.26. Town general, $1.09; highway, 33 cents; also fi re protection districts. GREENFIELD: $2.33, up from $2.31. No town general; highway, $1.83; also a fi re protection district. HADLEY: $3.07, up from $3.06. Town general, $2.23; highway, $3.24; also fire, ambulance and other special districts. HALFMOON: $3.84, up from $3.80. No town general or highway tax; special districts for fire, library, water and sewer. MALTA: $2.37, up from $2.36. Town general, 0.5-cent; no highway; taxes for library, fi re protection, sewer, lighting and other special districts. MECHANICVILLE: County tax rate $3.76, down from $3.64. City rates to be determined. Bills to be sent later than bills for residents of towns. MILTON: $2.54, up from $2.53. Town general outside village, 49 cents; no highway; special districts for fi re, ambulance, lighting, water and sewer. MOREAU: $2.21 in South Glens Falls, down from $2.23; outside South Glens Falls, $1.45, down from $1.46. Town general, 55 cents; no highway tax; special districts for fire, library, water, sewer and lighting. NORTHUMBERLAND: $2.54, up from $2.51. No town general; highway, $1.39; also special districts for ambulance and fi re protection. PROVIDENCE: $12.09, up from $11.51. Town general, $4.16; highway, $15.54; also fi re protection tax. TOWN OF SARATOGA: $2.44, up from $2.43. Town general, $1.12; no highway; ambulance, fi re and other special districts. SARATOGA SPRINGS: County tax rate $2.97, up from $2.96. City rates to be determined. Bills to be sent later than bills for residents of towns. STILLWATER: $2.54, down from $2.55. Town general, $1.08; highway outside village, $1.40; also library, fi re, ambulance, water, sewer, lighting and other special districts. WATERFORD: $6.67, down from $7.05. Town general, $11.80; special districts for fire, ambulance and lighting. WILTON: $2.36, unchanged. No town general or highway; special districts for fire and ambulance.

Code Blue takes effect

Cloaked in a hooded winter coat, the man pushed a small shopping cart of his belongings across Hamilton Street and slowly made his way toward the St. Peter’s auxiliary building on Christmas Eve.

At the door, amid temperatures dipping into the low 20s, he paused at a sign reading succinctly, “Code Blue shelter entrance.” Within moments, a volunteer was opening the door for him and helping to lift his cart up a short flight of steps toward the former school’s multipurpose room. The only intake point was manned by a volunteer with a small composition book. The only questions asked were ones to determine the man’s immediate needs. Only volunteers and the city’s homeless population were welcomed at the temporary shelter with about a dozen cots. All others were asked to leave the premises so as to not upset any trust being forged between them during the city’s fi rst Code Blue initiative. “We want to maintain their privacy and their trust,” said Sharah Yaddaw, a street outreach coordinator working with CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services, one of the many organizations helping the initiative. “Basically, this is not about us. This is about the people who need a safe place to stay.” With temperatures expected to dip down to 10 degrees, volunteers pledged to canvass the city in search of the homeless with the hope of coaxing them into a warm place for the evening. Though the overnight low wouldn’t be nearly as bone-chilling as a cold snap that struck the city last week, a modest breeze was enough to make it feel sub-zero, according to the National Weather Service in Albany. Volunteers posted signs around the city urging the homeless to seek shelter at St. Peter’s. They even used chalk to scroll a notice on the sidewalk in the middle of Broadway downtown.
Various community organizations throughout the city and Saratoga County banded together to launch the initiative, which is largely based on one that had been operating in Albany since 2010. The emergency shelter arrangement with St. Peter’s is triggered when temperatures are expected to drop down to 10 degrees or a foot of snow is in the forecast. “Together with the local multifaith community and nonprofit partners, we have successfully opened our first Code Blue night in Saratoga Springs,” said Joanne Yepsen, the city’s mayor-elect and one of the driving forces behind the initiative. “I want to thank the overwhelming support from former homeless individuals and generous donors in the community, who are all determined to make this a success.” The emergency initiative was spurred in part by the death of 54-year-old Nancy Pitts earlier this month. Pitts, who struggled with homelessness for years, was found dead on the exposed back loading dock of the Saratoga Springs Senior Center the morning after overnight temperatures dropped into the low teens. An investigation into Pitts’ death is continuing and toxicology is pending, but police don’t suspect foul play. Some among the city’s homeless population seek refuge near the senior center, where they are tolerated provided they leave when it opens in the morning. Others seek wooded areas on the outskirts of the city. The city has 33 beds available at the Shelters of Saratoga, but they’re dedicated for those among the homeless committed to changing their lifestyle. The shelter’s intake process is extensive and residents are expected to stay sober through the duration of their stay, which can range upward of two months. Some believe the city’s lack of a no-questions-asked shelter for temporary stays is a glaring problem that needs addressing. City leaders hope the swift creation of a Code Blue program is a measure that can at least provide a brief respite during the most brutal days of the winter months. The shelter at St. Peter’s is expected to close today, once temperatures rise back into the 20s. But that could change with the Arctic air mass now forming over Canada. “There will be some potential for some very cold weather next week,” said Kevin Lipton, a meteorologist with the weather service.

Local groups to share in Farm Aid proceeds

Two local agricultural organizations have received grants from Farm Aid after September’s fundraising concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. When some $573,514 was distributed nationally last week, recipients included the Regional Farm & Food Project of Saratoga Springs and the Agricultural Stewardship Association of Greenwich. Each organization received a $7,500 grant. Farm Aid grants range from $2,500 to $10,000, according to the organization. “Farm Aid grantees work every day to change our food system from the ground up,” said Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. “We are honored to call these innovative folks our partners in the movement for good food from family farms.” The Regional Farm & Food Project is being set up to establish a farmer and consumer cooperative for the greater Saratoga area. “We are a community resource for farmers, consumers, entrepreneurs and policy makers,” the project says on its website. “We nurture small farms because we know that small farms don’t just produce food, they provide jobs, economic growth, open space, ecological services, scenic views, community character and preserve biodiversity — and they are a critical component of sustainable human and planetary health.” The Agricultural Stewardship Association, which has been based in Washington County for a number of years, is a land trust dedicated to protecting farmland from development. The Farm Aid grant is for a program called the Greater Hudson Valley Farmlink Network, which serves the entire Hudson Valley and has a goal of bringing young people into farming and helping them secure land from aging farmers looking to dispose of theirs. “The goal of the program is to help locate and evaluate available farmland and match new and beginning farmers with landowners,” according to the grant application. Farm Aid uses the money raised through its annual concerts to support small farms, small farm organizations and local food networks. Farm Aid was founded in 1985 by musician Willie Nelson and has held annual concerts at various locations around the county to support the organization. The SPAC event, the first of the concerts to be held in upstate New York, was a sold-out show that featured Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and others, including an appearance by folk music legend Pete Seeger. The group also organized farm tours and educational programs.

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2019-02-17T23:01:12-05:00December 26th, 2013|Categories: What's Happening|