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Town Board Accepts Bid for Major Transportation Project to Improve Pedestrian Access, Increase Safety in Key Downtown Corridor
MALTA — The Malta Town Board accepted the bid of James H. Maloy, Inc. for a major "Complete Street" project. This project, focused on the reconfiguration of US Route 9 between the Stonebreak Road and Dunning Street roundabouts, is based on a multi-year study conducted by the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC), and the input of residents, first responders, and local small business.
The project will improve pedestrian access between housing clusters and downtown businesses with significantly improved sidewalks. In addition, to provide greater pedestrian safety, a mid-span cross walk with a refuge island and rectangular rapid flashing beacons will facilitate pedestrian access to shops, residences and other establishments. Most important, this project will also mitigate traffic challenges at two increasingly busy intersections.
Importantly, this improvement will be undertaken without a new general fund spending or commitments. The cost of the project is estimated at $1,665,000, to be funded by a New York State Multi-Modal Grant as well as Town of Malta mitigation fees collected in connection with past town developments to fund improvements needed to meet the needs created by
Supervisor Darren O'Connor said: "The plans will improve our downtown area dramatically. This project will enhance the walkability of the downtown area for the many residents of the area as well as visitors. It will also provide traffic calming and visually enrich a gateway to the town."
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Officially known as MB 360, the Saratoga-Skidmore Consulting Partnership (SSCP) offers invaluable benefits to both Skidmore College students and local businesses. Headed by Colleen Burke, SSCP gives students from a variety of degree paths hands-on experience working as consultants for local businesses.
For the businesses themselves, they gain insights from a diverse and often international pool of young minds. Students in the program come from degree paths as varied as business management, English, psychology, and more, as well from countries all over the world, like Japan, Swaziland, Haiti, Germany, and Brazil.
As a manager in the program, Maya Reyes has been with SSCP for two semesters. During her time, she worked with Saratoga TODAY to help the publication stream-line its visual identity, as before, the design would vary significantly from page to page. Reyes and her team helped the paper develop its “blue box” strategy, making it cohesive across the whole publication.
“We undertake a lot of market research, including extensive focus groups and group surveys, so we learn how to do those things at a professional level,” Reyes said about the academic benefits of the program.
Robert Pierce is another student who has been with the program for the last two semesters. Among the projects he has been a part of, perhaps the biggest was with Death Wish Coffee. After the local extra-strength coffee company landed a commercial during Super Bowl L in 2016, the company’s national profile grew exponentially. Pierce and his group helped the company scale its practices to help meet higher demand while staying as efficient as before.
Pierce also worked with Battenkill Valley Creamery – run by Skidmore alum Seth McEachron – to help the company develop new growth strategies that focused on telling the company’s history.
“This course has been everything for me,” Pierce said. “It’s all I talk about in job interviews, it’s all employers ask about, and... I can talk about this course for hours on end. Professor Colleen Burke has been the most supportive figure in my life, in regards to job hunting, motivating me, and helping me find my true skills.”
SCHUYLERVILLE – On an uncommonly warm Saturday, December 12, upwards of 600 people gathered in the beautiful weather to lay 2,700 holiday wreaths at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery.
The ceremony began at noon at the main flagpole, consisting of the National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, opening prayer, ceremonial wreath placing, recognizing all the military units and some fraternal organizations, and then closing remarks. All of the branches of the military were represented and participated in the services. The Cemetery provided a Civil Air Patrol color guard with 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.
There was a special wreath presentation at several of the graves, including for the nine who were killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, the grave of the unknown Civil War soldier, and the graves of three Medal of Honor recipients. The presentation was given by the Patriot Guard Riders and representatives of the Marine Corps League, as well as Gold Star families when possible.
Students from Schuylerville Middle School participated, placing homemade wreaths on the unclaimed remains of some Veterans.
“One of our ride captains, Joe Spodnick, has developed a nice relationship with those kids over the years,” said Bill Schaaf, Assistant State Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders. “Part of what this program is, it’s teaching about the history, about honor and respect. Joe took a teaching moment with the kids, and I think they enjoyed it.”
The Patriot Guard Riders of New York organize the annual event to remember fallen soldiers in concert with Wreaths Across America, the organization that trucks thousands of wreaths from Maine all across the country to ceremonies happening at noon local time on the same day in cemeteries nationwide. The event began locally 7 years ago; when 7 donated wreaths were placed on soldiers’ graves.
The Patriot Guard Riders hope to one-day place a wreath on all 13,000 graves at Saratoga National Cemetery. To that end, they have arranged with Wreaths Across America to receive one free wreath for every two wreaths purchased. To obtain the “buy two, get one free” deal, donors must purchase a wreath through the Wreaths Across America website and enter the code “NY0057”. To learn more about the program, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.
SCHUYLERVILLE – On Friday, June 5 at 1:00 p.m., the Patriot Guard Riders will lay to rest the remains of eight unclaimed veterans in the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville with full military honors and an escort of more than 100 motorcycles. All are welcome to attend.
These seven WWII veterans and one Vietnam veteran, for a variety of reasons, had no one to claim their cremated remains for all these years until local members of the Patriot Guard Riders of New York, Inc. took it upon themselves to research who they were and contact the state and federal organizations that could confirm their veteran status.
“Six served in the U.S. Army, one in the U.S. Navy, and one in the U.S. Air Force,” said Patriot Guard Assistant State Ride Captain and Veteran Recovery Program State Coordinator Bill Schaaf. “Some veterans have been unclaimed for 20 years or more. In the past few years, we’ve even laid to rest WWI veterans who had been unclaimed for almost 50 years.”
The mission of the Patriot Guard Riders’ Veteran Recovery Program is to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of veterans through the joint efforts of private, state, and federal organizations.
“By securing a final resting place for these forgotten heroes,” said Schaaf, “we honor and respect them for their service to our country.”
About seven years ago, the Patriot Guard Riders of New York, Inc. was formed. It is a non-profit New York corporation affiliated with the national Patriot Guard Riders and organized exclusively for charitable and community service purposes. Members are a diverse group of patriots who come together to show support to U.S. service members, veterans, and their families, as well as first responders. Many also share a love of motorcycles, and many are also veterans, but neither is a requirement for membership.
Schaaf has been involved with them since the beginning. “Nationally, most states work with the Missing in America Project,” he said, “but here in New York it’s us. There are many unclaimed remains to still search through and find out if they are veterans. Once confirmed of veteran status, they will receive burial benefits, and the urns are donated by the Northeastern Woodworkers Association, so there’s very little cost.”
The burial benefits include the draping of the flag, the service, uniformed honor guard, and all the traditional ceremonial honors given in posthumous gratitude for a veteran’s service. Friday’s event coincides with the Americade in Lake George, so it is expected to draw a large number of riding participants as well as any who wish to pay their respects. For more information about the Patriot Guard Riders or to read about the veterans being laid to rest, please visit www.pgrny.org.
SSHS Students Learn From Firsthand Oral Histories
By Arthur Gonick
SARATOGA SPRINGS – As part of a nationwide effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ceasing of hostilities in Vietnam, the city of Saratoga Springs became one of the first to enroll as a commemorative partner in this effort. The roster of partners is now 100 in New York State and over 6,000 in the United States.
There will be many activities scheduled by the appointed committee in this city, which is taking its role quite seriously. But none will probably be more important and instructive than those that occurred for two days this week.
On Tuesday, Oct. 28 and Wednesday, Oct. 29 a panel of about a dozen veterans of the Vietnam war – drawn from all walks of life, all service company’s, some local, some regional and some who traveled a good distance – met with several classes of students at Saratoga Springs High School to share their experiences and pass on the history of that conflict.
“This was a great experience for the students,” said Teacher Ron Schorpp, whose War and Diplomacy class, a mix of 11th and 12th graders, were in attendance. Over the two-day program, nearly 200 students attended. “After the city became an official partner, I was very glad that Jim Hartman (a member of the local committee who was part of the panel. Jim served in USAF Intelligence and was in Vietnam in 1970) reached out to us.” He said.
“The students were attentive and asked some really interesting questions.” Schorpp said. Those questions ran the gamut: ranging from asking each what was the first thing they did when they finally came home, to the Veteran’s thoughts on how we should battle ISIS and the broader question of when and if to commit troops overseas.
With a diverse panel assembled, a variety of thoughts and experiences were to be expected. But what was striking about this presentation is how the student exhibited rapt attention – particularly noticeable because the presentation itself was fairly sparse – no multi-media and scarcely any props save some yellowing newspaper clippings. Just men sharing and students listening. And it was stunning in it’s simplicity.
Marine Dave Kissick came home to be a Principal at Lansingburgh High School. He focused on the “What if?” aspect of history, noting that service in Vietnam was “nothing like HBO” – referring to Band of Brothers which got many knowing nods from all in the assembly.
Lew Benton recalled being drafted into the Army at age 25, after having been married, and feeling grateful that he was able to serve as a medic – that thought tempered by the sobering reality that he treated about 1,000 combat wounds during his service.
25th Infantryman Don Little, now the head of the County’s VETHELP program: “I didn’t know how much military service would affect my life… once, I didn’t want anyone to even know I served. Now I’m proud.”
Roy McDonald served in the Army and later came home to a career in the state senate. “The best part of service in Vietnam: The people. All kinds were accepted – we were all family.”
The worst part: “Everything else. Romance about war is a movie – not reality… you could tell what people cared about by what they carried in their pockets – family photos, mementoes of home. I never forget every day that I have 60,000 reasons to be thankful,” referring to the number of people lost in the conflict.
Other veterans expressed concepts like “survivor’s guilt” and their experiences under friendly fire.
Jim Coyne was the military “lifer” of the group. 36 years service; rising from the rank of Private to Colonel. He used his time as a teaching moment, giving students baseline facts and figures that don’t appear in movies. For instance, Vietnam, a country of 19 million people, is only 10 percent Buddhist.
The teaching was interspersed with good humor, as Coyne noted that some of his biggest wish list items in the field were “toilet paper and ice,” but never unmindful of how lucky he was to come through Vietnam alive.
This event at Saratoga Springs High School was but one of several scheduled in our city, showing it’s commitment to do the important work of being a true commemorative partner – that this will be more than sewing a patch on a jacket or a hat.
Events like today are not as showy as a parade, but serve incredibly important purposes. Chief among them is to educate and, hopefully, learn from the inhumanity of war. Specifically in the case of all our Vietnam veterans, events such as these serve to bestow honor to them for their service to our country that, in most cases, they never received.
Their long overdue welcome home is finally just beginning now. Today was one example of a promise kept that everyone should be proud to see play out.
For more information, visit vietnamwar50th.com
By Jackie Kingsland
The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce is a tremendous resource in our area for obtaining a business referral, finding an entertainment venue, reading the blog on community happenings and selecting a chamber event to attend or support.
Additionally, it’s an excellent way for exposing your business to the area with mixers, meetings and events, and as a member of the chamber, there are many benefits and opportunities for leadership and growth in our community. Their website offers an online jobs list with members posting available positions for businesses in the county (www.saratoga.org).
With a friendly staff from the Director of First Impressions to the membership representatives and onto the CEO, they are an experienced and knowledgeable group who strive to provide the best methods and practices for developing businesses, answering questions and inquiries and acquiring gainful employment.
One of the newest endeavors at the Saratoga County Chamber was the development of the Veterans Business Council in the fall of 2012. The idea for more veteran support began when the Saratoga County Veteran’s Service Agency presented an idea to collaborate with the Chamber and establish a full task force assisting veterans with their search for work.
Ms. Romeo is a fervent advocate and supporter of our service members. Her father served in the military and currently her daughter is an intelligence analyst in the National Guard. Her daughter faced deployment overseas from January 2012 to December 2012, arriving back home in the states a few days before Christmas (the best gift that doesn’t fit under the tree).
“Having been home now for about a year, my daughter began having nightmares. Sometimes it takes a while…it doesn’t just end a few months or even a few years after they return,” Denise said. “Helping the community understand what they go through—that’s our job.”
Denise works diligently with the Council to create community awareness and provide resources to help veterans looking for work connect with businesses in the area; provide training and matching the veteran’s skill set with employment opportunities; business development as well as giving additional support for those in the armed forces (i.e. referring those to an agency who can assist with temporary financial relief of mortgage payments, etc.).
“Some veterans don’t realize how their capabilities in the military are transferable,” said Denise. “We can translate those skills onto their resumes.”
For instance, transferring the skills necessary to maintain a weapon, work together successfully on a mission, often times under extreme circumstances and conditions, and utilizing those leadership roles toward civilian job placement.
The Veterans Business Council consists of 25 Chamber members (all but one are veterans themselves and the one civilian is a veteran spouse) and connects veterans with the business community. They meet monthly, exploring ideas to assist veterans with their quest for employment, facilitating plans and events, bringing together the veteran employee with the ideal employer match within the community.
Also on the agenda is discussing initiatives for employers and prospective members to hire veterans.
“All of our members in the Council have such passion for helping and embrace every opportunity to support and find a fit in the big picture,” Denise said with a smile and immense pride. “It has also successfully completed its 2nd Annual 5K run this past fall at Hudson Park in Schuylerville. Runners in this year’s event doubled the amount of participants from last year, raising $10,000 in proceeds, all of which are placed in the Veterans Trust Fund for the County.”
Increasing visibility throughout the county is another goal for the Council as it gears up for a Hiring Conference in March. For this conference, the Council has reached out to its membership, devising a data base resource that pairs the veteran to an available position.
Our service members have sacrificed for us. Let’s help them to become and remain active, prosperous individuals in our community. Thank you, as always, to our veterans, their families and loved ones for all that you do.
See you next month here at Saratoga TODAY.
Saratoga Springs to be Commemorative Partner in National Vietnam 50th Anniversary Program
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Springs City Council unanimously voted to join a national and state program to co1mmemorate the 50th anniversary of the War in Vietnam. As such, a committee will be formed shortly that will set up a schedule of events and activities, from 2015 through 2017, which will be designed to effectuate the objectives of this nationwide program.
The primary objective, as noted on the national commemorative website, www.vietnamwar50th.com is: “To thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war (POW), or listed as missing in action (MIA), for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States and to thank and honor the families of these veterans.”
The presentation to join the Vietnam War commemoration at the council’s October 15 meeting was delivered by County Supervisor Joanne Yepsen and was sponsored on the agenda of Commissioner of Public Safety Chris Mathiesen. The entire council voted 5-0 to complete the paperwork to become an official local commemorative partner. Once the application is reviewed and approved, each council member and county supervisor will appoint one representative to the committee, which will then set up a schedule of events. According to the official website, these events should be designed to be educational and informative, utilizing multi-media where appropriate.
“I was glad to bring it to the council,” Yepsen said. “This is part of a continuing effort as supervisor to bring together civilian with military life in the county, with mutual recognition and education as a by-product. We often can learn as much from things that went wrong as those that went right for us as a people.”
The official national period of commemoration, declared by presidential proclamation, is May 28, 2012 through November 11, 2025. Beyond the significance of beginning on a Memorial Day and ending on a Veterans Day, the length of time closely parallels the length of America’s Vietnam involvement.
For Mathiesen, the length also serves another important purpose.
“It gives us a proper amount of time to reflect properly,” he said. “Vietnam in many ways was a combination of eras. The beginning period, a major turning point in 1968 with the Tet offensive, Kent State in 1970 and the intensifying of protests coinciding with the decline in America’s fortunes. We went from a mentality of it’s a foregone conclusion that we would have dominating victory to grappling with the concept of peace with honor.”
Eventually, withdrawal at any cost became the order of the day. “It’s a lot to absorb, particular for someone who was born after the Vietnam era,” he said.
Mathiesen came of draft age in 1968. At that time, there wasn’t a volunteer army as is today. A draft was conducted by a random drawing of birth dates. His number, 76, would almost certainly have assured he would be drafted but was fortunate to be classified 2F— which was a student deferment.
“I was lucky. But, of course, I had numerous contacts with those who went over there,” he said.
Wilton resident James Hartman was there. The Buffalo native was one of six boys in his family. He was eligible for a college deferment, but instead enlisted in 1969. Next stop— Da Nang Province. Another world.
Hartman was accepted into the Air Force’s intelligence unit, a specialist in cryptology training eavesdropping on the enemy. While not stationed on the front lines per se`:
“We were close enough,” Hartman said. “It was nothing unusual for our communications shack to get blasted by rockets. We rarely had enough warning to make it to our concrete bunker. A young man, Paul Wayne Anthony, was there only18 days…gone in an instant when the rockets came.”
On the 30th anniversary of Anthony’s death, Hartman made a point to visit the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall to find the young man’s name among the upwards of 50,000 inscriptions.
Returning home after a year overseas, Hartman attended Buffalo State University on the G.I. Bill, where he described the mood on campus as ranging from outright hostility “it was our (soldier’s) fault” to apathy and war weariness “this has nothing to do with us,” he described. He did establish a Veteran’s Club on campus, but noted that it never got any funding from the student activity committee.
Even in town, the primarily working class city offered no support.
“Honestly, nobody cared,” Hartman said. “There was no talk, nothing. I was amazed after all I had seen.”
I asked Hartman what activities he would like to see developed coming out of the local Vietnam 50 committee’s work.
“Certainly a parade of some sort would be appropriate,” he said. “I would like to see a gathering at the Gerald Solomon National Cemetery.
“Maybe a reception for those who are still with us.” Hartman said. “But more importantly, activities that honor those who are not.”
In addition to the Saratoga Springs committee’s schedule of activities, there will also be local sites that will have additional programs generated from the New York State commemorative committee. In a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta dated February 5, Governor Andrew Cuomo cited the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs and the Vietnam Memorial and Gallery in the State Capitol as potential exhibit locations.
The main objective, of thanking and honoring those who served in Vietnam, will hopefully go a long way to close an important circle; a circle which has been open and overdue for too long.
Memorial Day. It has been said that it is ‘the unofficial start to summer,’ or known as the last holiday before school-aged students begin final exams and end another school year or even a long weekend filled with sales, shopping, barbeques, seasonal employment or maybe the beginning of a great suntan.
BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Rural Preservation Company–Veterans Housing Employment and Lifeskills Programs needs votes to capitalize on their April Home Depot Aprons in Action win and have chance at the grand prize of $250,000.