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Market 32: A Lesson in Listening
WILTON – The new Market 32 held a soft opening the weekend of July 12 with little fanfare, preferring to watch and listen as customers tried out the new shopping experience. Much like the brand itself, the Golub Corporation is choosing “show” over “tell” with its new banner.
There is a quiet, light and airy feel to the uncluttered store floor, with a variety of color and displays that are both pleasing to the eye and conveniently placed. The packed layout of the old Price Chopper has given way to a brand that clearly aims to turn grocery trips from a chore to a refreshing daily or weekly exercise.
Chief Executive Officer and former President Jerry Golub noted that customer expectations have changed over the years and the Price Chopper brand did not reflect the preferences of today’s consumers. “We must meet the needs of Baby Boomers, Gen-X-ers, and Millennials,” he said. “They know what they want in a store, and are the best resource. We’ve pulled in a greater amount of data and research, beginning with a shift to online feedback, compared to focus groups or phone surveys.”
“We listened,” said Chief Operating Officer and newly appointed President Scott Grimmett. “They asked for convenience and ease for a quicker shopping experience for both dinner tonight trips and longer shopping trips. Customers are demanding more convenience, experience, education, and healthier options such as gluten-free, organic, and locally-sourced. We tested ideas in the Market Bistro, combined it with customer feedback and research into the new Market 32 brand.”
The new brand is a culmination of customer requests and feedback, almost as if it were created by the customers themselves. The Market Bistro store opened in Latham in April of 2014.
“That was a learning laboratory for us,” said Golub. “Our giant leap into the future. We took the best of what’s come through the Market Bistro and incorporated it into the new Market 32 brand.”
For example, the Bistro’s popular smoked meats, lobster rolls, and make your own salad bar are among the findings at Market 32. There are signature products in each department, as well, offering conventional items reflecting a little bit of everything and products like salmon in the fish department, with knowledge and expertise in the offerings. “We can be an authority on our signature products,” said Golub, “better than anyone else.”
For example, there are now craft beers from all across the Capital Region, and local brewers come in to hold tastings. Market 32 also offers a growling station, where customers can purchase local brews hand-poured by knowledgeable staff using a counter pressure bottle filler. Market32 employee Marcus Harnichar, who has professional wine experience and has been brewing beer with his father since he was 8 years old, is happy to help customers choose among the many local varieties to their taste.
“We also configure the taps to fill bottles under pressure so the integrity of the product is maintained,” Harnichar said.
Additionally, customers will notice in the new brand a softer floor and lighter carts with better wheels to make for a quieter and easier shopping experience. The product placement is more intuitive as well, with greeting cards placed by the floral department, and ready-to-eat products and other items for the daily shopper positioned near entrances for quick shopping trips. Long aisles are gone, replaced with items grouped on both sides now.
More local produce and products are a big part of the brand, as well as recipe and product knowledge among the Market 32 teammates. Training has additional focus on helping staff understand how to relate, serve and problem-solve. They are developing more expertise in their areas, and iPads are being put into the hands of teammates so they can more readily answer questions.
In the next couple weeks, customers will have increased technological self-service, too. There are interactive kiosks placed throughout the store where customers can find out everything from electronic coupons and recipes to the location of a specific item in the store.
Health and wellness is such an important part of the new Market 32 that the store does not sell cigarettes. Hardware and oil and similar items have also been pulled from the floor to make room for increased options in healthy and locally-sourced foods. Customers asked for more privacy in the pharmacy area, so it has been pulled off from the sales floor and encased for quiet and privacy, and there is a drive-through access. The company took it a step further and will be providing nurse practitioners in a Quick Care Clinic for flu shots and various urgent care needs.
Asked about his promotion to president, Grimmett said, “Most of it came as a result of bringing to life the Market 32 brand, which was a big challenge,” said Grimmett. “I am the first nonfamily member to hold the title, and I couldn’t be more honored in the trust they’ve given me.”
Market 32 will continue to evolve in response to customer feedback on initial stores as it rolls out replacing all Price Chopper stores over the next eight to ten years, with the intention of each iteration being better than last, as if the customers designed the shopping experience themselves.
“When we first announced the change, everyone wanted to know what was different,” said Golub. “There’s no one big thing. It’s about a lot of little things being different, with many subtleties that make the overall customer experience so much better.”
NYRA Offers Free Admission Aug. 5 for Centennial Day
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Christopher Kay, president and CEO of The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) was joined by Joanne Yepsen, mayor of Saratoga Springs and Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce on Monday July 13 to declare Wednesday, August 5, Saratoga Centennial Day at the Saratoga Race Course. All grandstand and clubhouse admission will be free of charge on that day in honor of the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Saratoga Springs.
Saratoga Centennial Day at Saratoga Race Course will include a special performance by select members of the Philadelphia Orchestra; formal cutting of a birthday cake; and track décor and atmosphere of days gone by, including entertainers dressed in Victorian-era costumes strolling the grounds. An array of special activities and events will also take place within the Saratoga Pavilion, including toys from the era and other family-friendly charms. Full press release, including information about refunds for already purchased admission, below:
The New York Racing Association to offer free admission to Saratoga Race Course in celebration of Saratoga Centennial Day on August 5
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced that all guests at Saratoga Race Course will receive free grandstand and clubhouse admission in honor of the historic milestone for the venue’s home municipality on Saratoga Centennial Day, Wednesday, August 5.
Representatives from NYRA were joined by officials from the City of Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County at City Hall to make the announcement and discuss details for the upcoming Saratoga Centennial Day at Saratoga Race Course, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Saratoga Springs in 1915.
In addition to free grandstand and clubhouse admission for all guests, Saratoga Centennial Day at Saratoga Race Course will feature a variety of activities and entertainment designed to celebrate the history and tradition of the Spa City.
“I would like to thank Chris Kay and the New York Racing Association for commemorating our centennial with a special day at Saratoga Race Course,” said City of Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen. “Saratoga Springs Centennial Day, highlighted by free admission for everyone, is a wonderful tribute in appreciation of our local residents, businesses and the entire City of Saratoga Springs. Not only does our race course generate $240 million of economic activity in our region, but it is of immeasurable importance to our history, traditions, and culture. I'm very happy that we are going to thank our fans on Centennial Day with free admission and a wonderful celebration for all Saratogians and visitors to enjoy. NYRA’s stewardship of our local community, the creation of thousands of local jobs and record tourism numbers, are all critically important to helping ensure our community’s success for another 100 years.”
“Several weeks ago, Mayor Yepsen proposed that the New York Racing Association celebrate Saratoga’s Centennial Day at Saratoga Race Course with free admission for local residents. We commend Mayor Yepsen for her vision and I am pleased to announce that we will commemorate Saratoga Centennial Day by offering free grandstand and clubhouse admission to all our guests on Wednesday, August 5,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “The annual summer meet at Saratoga Race Course serves as the anchor for the city and surrounding region in generating nearly $240 million in economic activity and nearly 2,600 jobs. We hope Saratoga Springs residents will take this special opportunity to celebrate their City’s Centennial, and that all those who love to visit Saratoga Springs will join in the community celebration on August 5.”
Saratoga Centennial Day at Saratoga Race Course will include a special performance by select members of the Philadelphia Orchestra to commemorate the city’s 100th anniversary. The celebration will continue with the formal cutting of a cake in honor of the centennial and NYRA track announcer Larry Collmus will lead the crowd in a rendition of “Happy Birthday to You”.
The track décor and atmosphere will reflect the celebration with the Saratoga Centennial flag on display in the infield and entertainers dressed in Victorian-era costumes strolling the grounds. An array of special activities and events will also take place within the Saratoga Pavilion to commemorate the city’s first 100 years.
“We believe it is important to pull out all of the stops to bring tourists to Saratoga Springs and the free admission day at Saratoga Race Course, as part of the City’s Centennial Celebration on August 5, will help us to do so,” said Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus. “It’s not often you turn 100 years old, and it only happens once, so it’s only fitting that we celebrate by opening the gates to let everyone in to see the best racing, the best horses and the best jockeys anywhere in the world on this special day.”
Guests who purchased in advance a daily reserved seat for August 5, or a weekly seat package that includes August 5, will receive a $5 refund for admission with each grandstand reserved seat or an $8 refund for admission with each clubhouse reserved seat. All grandstand and clubhouse reserved seats purchased in advance for the 2015 season include the cost of admission.
Saratoga grandstand season pass holders who attend the races on August 5 will receive a $1 refund for admission; clubhouse season pass holders in attendance will be credited with a $2 refund.
Season seat plan holders will receive the same refund as season pass holders. All season seat plans for the 2015 meet include admission based on the equivalent price of a season pass.
Refunds will automatically be issued to the individual’s NYRA account within 30 days of August 5. Guests who purchased their season pass by cash or check may stop by the Saratoga Box Office within 30 days of use on August 5 to receive an admission refund.
Saratoga Centennial Day at Saratoga Race Course is one element of the year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the official incorporation of the City of Saratoga Springs, which was signed into law on April 7, 1915. The year-long celebration includes a series of events and activities which highlight the history and culture of the Spa City, including the publication of a book curated by local historian Field Horne; the re-dedication of the restored Spirit of Life statue; a city icon sculpted by Daniel Chester French; and the restoration and re-piping of High Rock Spring.
For more information about the Saratoga Centennial, visit www.saratogacentennial.com.
The 2015 summer meet at Saratoga Race Course begins on Friday, July 24 and concludes on Labor Day, Monday, September 7. For more information about Saratoga Race Course, call (518) 584-6200 or log onto www.nyra.com.
SSHS Graduate Sails the High Seas
An Unforgettable Journey in Marine Ecology
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Elizabeth “Liz” Olson, 19, returned home to Saratoga Springs earlier this month after a transformative experience sailing the high seas as part of a Marine Biodiversity and Conservation SEA semester through the Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
The 2013 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School has always been comfortable around boats, growing up around them with her father’s businesses, Saratoga Boatworks locally and Champlain Boatworks in Plattsburgh.
“My dad sells powerboats, but we’ve been sailing,” said Olson. “I chose the SEA semester because it wasn’t a full year and the sailing component really interested me.”
Olson is an environmental science major and rising third year student at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. She had always been interested in science, and considered neuroscience for a bit, but remained drawn to environmental studies.
“Now that I’m deep in my major, I’ll look back at things I did as a little kid,” she said, “like play with bugs, or hold my birthday party at the nature center in Bolton Landing. It’s always been the natural world for me, and I’ve decided I want to protect and conserve it.”
Olson applied to SEA for its semester abroad program and was accepted. The program ran from March 23 to June 13, beginning and ending with a shore component that took place both in Woods Hole and in Bermuda. The sea component ran from April 20 to May 22, five weeks aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, a 134-foot twin mast tall ship. The ship’s complement included 20 students and 12 crewmembers. There were fourteen female and six male students, and only one male crewmember other than the ship’s captain.
“There were lots of great female role models,” said SEA Semester Program Director and Chief Scientist Amy Siuda, Ph.D. “On these journeys, female science students get a real opportunity to be in leadership roles, taking charge of the science and taking charge of the ship, building confidence as well as knowledge and skill.”
Having sailed before, Olson thought she knew what she was getting into. “If you’re on the boat, you’re working,” she said. “They’d tell us, the SEA semester doesn’t take any passengers.”
The work began long before they boarded as Olson and her classmates crunched through a very intensive introductory shore component providing the students with background knowledge on research, including courses on oceanography, biodiversity, and public policy.
The marine biodiversity and conservation focus of the semester was on the protection of the Sargasso Sea within the Atlantic Ocean. Located off the coast of the United States in the western north Atlantic in the middle of a gyre (large system of rotating ocean currents), there is no official jurisdiction for the Sargasso Sea, making it particularly difficult to create and enforce environmental protection – or any – public policies. The closest landmass is Bermuda.
According to Siuda, who is also an associate professor of oceanography and a SEA Semester alumna, SEA is a collaborating partner with the Sargasso Sea Commission, an organization started by the government of Bermuda and maintained with a nonbinding Hamilton Declaration signed by Bermuda, the United States, Great Britain, Monaco and the Azores.
“In the broader sense, this program is contributing to the professional effort to protect the Sargasso Sea,” said Siuda. “The students sail through it so they can collect data, but also so they can experience the sea personally. It’s hard to understand and want to protect something if you don’t know what it’s like.”
Olson’s research focused on Sargassum, a species of seaweed native to the Sargasso Sea and for which the Sea gets its name. It grows in thick, gigantic masses the size of football fields that has been known to make it nearly impossible for ships to sail through. Known for its beautifully blue waters, the Sea has been referred to as a golden, floating rainforest due to the seaweed.
“Students are getting first-hand data,” said Siuda. “Sargassum is the iconic species of the Sea. Liz was always incredibly enthusiastic about delving into the samples. They were working with microscopes, DNA, and doing real research that will help inform real conservation efforts.”
Olson found the work fascinating. “The gyre keeps the area nutrient-poor, so the Sargassum is an ocean of life there. The whole ecosystem would not exist without the seaweed, and it’s not anchored to the sea floor.” She studied its genetic makeup and unusual geographic sightings, all while sailing from Puerto Rico to Bermuda to New York City.
“Yes, we sailed through the Bermuda Triangle,” she laughed. “We survived.”
They were underway for five weeks, helping to run the ship as well as conduct their studies.
“It was all very new,” Olson said. “I have never had to be on a watch schedule before. You don’t ever stop sailing, so the watches don’t stop. Every three days was one full rotation through the schedule. We never slept for more than three or four hours at a time. And a standing watch is just that, you can’t sit down.”
Siuda agreed that running a ship 24 hours a day far from land is hard work. “My favorite part of these programs is the off-shore crews,” she said. “Just blue water all around with no land in sight, and there is only the community on the boat and the environment around you. In that situation, you need to be contributing time both on and off watch, which Liz was very capable of doing.”
Watches included looking out for ship traffic, being at the helm steering the ship, helping out in engineering or cooking in the galley, among other tasks. “We ate very well,” Olson said. “We had a very skilled steward. She prepared three good meals and three snacks a day, which we needed considering all the heavy lifting and work we were doing. I’d call it American food, with chicken and beef and such, but I’m a vegetarian so I didn’t have that. The food was really good.”
Siuda noted that the program particularly helps students work on collaborative teamwork. “The traditional college environment is independent research,” she said, “but that's not how research is done in the real world. This program helps students realize the extreme value of teamwork to produce a stronger product. For example, I noticed Liz was very creative, which helps when dealing with challenges out at sea because things tend not to go according to plan, and Liz could always think outside the box.”
The policy component of the SEA semester required significant problem-solving skills from Olson and her shipmates. Olson learned how to think about marine biodiversity and conservation with an end goal of creating a network of marine protected areas within the sea. “It’s called marine spatial planning,” said Olson, “taking human uses and environmental factors in consideration. It’s especially problematic because there’s no one to enforce it in the high seas.”
The final project of the semester was a collaboratively written management plan for the students to present to the Sargasso Sea Commission.
“It is not an academic exercise,” said Siuda. “They are doing real science that has no right answer, making policy recommendations where none exist, and contributing to solving real world challenges.”
On the last day, Olson and her classmates participated in a symposium where they presented their research to the Sargasso Sea Commission and scientists from different institutions around New England. The culmination of three months of work on land and at sea by 20 students was given to people who had the resources and authority to utilize it.
“We recently heard from our professors who let us know that the Commission has since asked permission to link the 150-page document of our research recommendations on their website,” said Olson. “We’re very proud of our marine management proposal. The last two weeks were what our professors called a precursor to grad school, with self-directed work; teams coming together; 9 to 5 discussions of what to go in the proposal; and how to present it to such an important audience. I couldn’t have done this anywhere else.”
Olson came away from the experience feeling enriched and changed. “It’s the most significant academic experience I‘ve ever had,” she said thoughtfully. “I came out of the program learning all about how important policy making is, and am now shifting my work toward that.”
Although the potential of real world application of Olson’s work has been a powerful motivator for her, the hard work and fresh air of long days at sea were equally unforgettable.
She said they were about three days out of New York City doing homework around 10 p.m., when one of the students on watch ran downstairs and yelled “dolphins!”
Olson said everyone went on deck to see a pod of about a dozen dolphins following the bow of the ship, swimming in swells filled with bioluminescent plankton, remarkably stunning set against the dark sky and sea.
“They looked like they were painting in the water,” said Olson. “They would swim around each other and the wake of the ship, leaving a luminescent trail behind them, making beautiful patterns of light with each other and the boat. We watched for about 45 minutes in the freezing cold. People were crying. Then they swam off.”
Olson paused for a moment, as if still moved from the memory. “That was it for me,” she said. “After it happened, I thought I’ve seen it all and will never again see anything as cool as this.”
In spite of the long hours, staggered sleep schedule, and academic pace of living on a sailboat for five weeks, Olson is already looking forward to returning.
“I definitely want to do it again. Sailing from Puerto Rico to New York City is so incredible an experience, that I hope to volunteer as a deckhand for SEA, or one day be a chief scientist.”
The Sea Education Association (SEA) is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate ocean education. Since 1971, SEA has equipped students with the tools to become environmentally literate leaders prepared to address the defining issue of the twenty-first century: the human impact on the environment. The fully accredited study abroad program, SEA Semester®, offers an interconnected suite of courses designed to explore a specific ocean-related theme using a cross-disciplinary approach. For more information about the Sea Education Association and the programs it offers, visit www.sea.edu.
Cinch Men’s Wear Clothier Comes to Broadway
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Online retailer, Cinch Men’s Wear, LLC, a custom clothier, opened its first brick-and-mortar location July 3 on the first floor of 517 Broadway. The store will be celebrating its opening during downtown Saratoga’s Hats Off Weekend with tied-to-purchase cigar giveaways and black-carpet photos of store visitors on Saturday July 25.
Owners Sam and Christina Gonzalez began the business in March 2014, originally intending the e-commerce menswear site at www.cinchmenswear.com to ease wardrobe building for men who have little time or simply dislike shopping.
“A lot of guys typically don’t like to shop,” said CEO Sam Gonzalez, “so we do the work for them. We ship to APOs and FPOs, too. We’re very popular with military. Then we began offering a styling service online to help make clothing choices quick and easy, and noticed more and more people signing up for that.”
That led to the development of a niche in menswear locally and nationally – a monthly Cinch Club box, filled with an outfit hand-selected by a stylist based on client preferences listed in a questionnaire that includes everything from measurements to hobbies. Clients indicate how much they wish to spend per month, and a stylist will pick the clothes, email pictures, ship clothes to the client’s doorstep, and gives them ten days to try, keep or return them.
COO Christina Gonzalez, who brings experience in retail and human resources services, said, “Our website brings the fitting room to the home. Now we have a store, and with an appointment, we can shut the store down and they can shop the racks privately. Often they are looking for advice from a mom, wife, or girlfriend, and they either bring them along or I help provide that. The client has significant control of the process, and we provide them so much flexibility. We take the hassle out of shopping.”
Sam Gonzalez is a patrolman in the Schenectady police force. He and his wife, Christina, are raising their two-and-a-half year old son, Isaiah, in their Ballston Spa home. Just a few months ago, Christina Gonzalez was laid off from her position in public education human resources, about the same time that their retail website was showing success.
“We looked at each other and decided to take a leap of faith,” said Christina Gonzalez. They decided to open a store, were sure Saratoga Springs was the place to be, and felt fortunate to find a Broadway location. The entrepreneurial couple is excited about the venture’s future.
“We will soon have a shop-with-me system,” said Sam Gonzalez. “If a client likes a blazer here in the store, but it doesn’t quite fit or isn’t the right color, he can scan the tag into the system and pick from all the colors and sizes the brand offers. Then he can swipe his card and it’ll either be here in the shop in two days or on his doorstep in three.”
Typically for any order online or in the store, traditionally sizing is turned around in three days and customized sizes are in ten days. The store strives to provide customers an easy method to build an effortless wardrobe with both known brands and up-and-coming labels. The clothier hopes to help limit the gap between new brands and potential customers, keeping selections fresh every season.
“This is definitely not a typical retail store,” said Sam Gonzalez. “This is shopping of the future – personal service, limitless options, yet still a small business that can hold trunk shows and provide a private shopping experience.”
Addressing Homelessness in Saratoga Springs
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Former construction worker Don Petersimes, 54, relaxed his lanky form into the Shelters of Saratoga couch with a contradictory air of confidence and nervousness. This was a man who had proven he could survive anything life threw at him, but could not be sure that life had stopped throwing.
Petersimes told his story without rancour or self-pity, accepting the results of the economic downtown with a shrug, and acknowledging his own mistakes in a straightforward manner. His only sign of frustration was with the inconsistency of support systems for people trying to rebuild after losing their homes and livelihoods.
“They make it so hard that you give up,” Petersimes said. “If you’re getting $186 a month in food stamps, then go get a part-time job for 20 hours a week, they cut you back to $46. You get penalized for doing better instead of helping you to keep going up.”
A construction worker who was battling alcoholism, he began working part-time so he could take care of his ailing mother.
“She had cancer, and I wanted her to see a sober son,” Petersimes said. And he did it. When she died, he had nowhere to go. The owner of the small company he worked for decided to get out of the construction business, so with no home and no job, he fell off the wagon.
“I stayed out on the streets for seven years,” he said. During that time, he witnessed both the best and worst of humanity play out in real time as government, businesses, service providers and citizenry tried to figure out what to do with him and others experiencing homelessness.
“We'd get blankets from the shelters and have to hide them during the day,” Petersimes said. He described how homeless people have to hide their belongings such as identification, marriage and birth certificates, toothbrushes and old photographs, while they are out looking for work or housing or help. He has seen those things get stolen or found and thrown away.
“I’ve seen police officers laughing while taking a knife and cutting up tents behind the bank near Price Chopper in the woods,” Petersimes said. “They told us to leave, and we did, but they didn’t give the folks who had tents the chance to take them down.” He cleared his throat and sat back, silent for a moment in the memory of seeing one person laugh while another's few worldly goods were being taken before their eyes.
Michael A. Finocchi is the executive director of Shelters of Saratoga, Inc. (SOS). When he met Petersimes, it had been three years since the homeless man had been sober.
“He had been given so much misinformation that he didn't have any incentive left to get sober,” said Finocchi. So they talked, not about alcoholism or where to go for help, but about music.
“I am not my disease,” said Petersimes. “Mike was the first person who seemed to realize that.”
Petersimes plays the guitar, and has earned money as a street performer. Finocchi was able to draw him out and get him talking about his love for music, and before long Petersimes was confiding in him.
“Don wants to be sober,” said Finocchi. “He doesn't want to be homeless. He just needed someone to believe in him and help him navigate the system.”
Finocchi has a clear view of the successes and failings of governmental and charitable institutions in the effort to help the homeless. SOS is the only shelter serving three counties, so he knows it is imperative that the shelter help its guests utilize all available resources so they can get back into jobs and housing as soon as possible, even if the system sometimes feels like one step forward and two steps back.
“You know you can only get cold food with food stamps,” Petersimes said. No home means no stove, so he could not buy meat or pasta or rice or most of the foods allowed with food stamps. “There's hot food at the soup kitchen, but then you have to deal with all the others. Some are crazy.”
Petersimes is representative of any intelligent adult whose paycheck-to-paycheck life could turn into homelessness with a single misstep or sudden life change, like illness or job loss.
Finocchi said, “You'd be surprised how many people have come through here who have said they had a house, a job for fifteen years, and lost everything when they were laid off. Family trouble came right after losing the house, and it spirals.”
We live in a society that punishes the inability to pay bills with more bills, so if just one more thing goes wrong financially, even the most hard-working intelligent person can end up in a hole he cannot climb out of alone – and that hole is sometimes homelessness.
“We assisted more than 400 people here last year,” said Finocchi. The facility is a home, with a comfortable living room and fireplace, books, a large kitchen where Petersimes cooks for his new extended family, bedrooms reminiscent of college dorms, dedicated case workers and a household filled with guests seeking to build a new life.
“A homeless person will be the person who wants help and doesn’t know how to navigate the system. A vagrant doesn’t want to make a change,” said Finocchi. He said he walks alone or sometimes with members of the police department downtown, talking to the homeless and letting them know what help is available to them.
“There’s nothing for them to do during the day,” he said. Some will panhandle downtown and try to find places to sleep or sit, partly because there is no where for them to go. Once in awhile someone will get into trouble with the law, but it is rare that it is ever anything serious.
According to Lieutenant Robert H. Jillson , Investigations' Division Commander and Public Information Officer of the Saratoga Springs Police Department, arrests of homeless individuals typically revolve around quality of life offences, not assaults or robberies.
“We’ll see open container violations, disorderly contact such as public urination, or trespassing,” said Jillson. “We’ll get calls for lingering, but that’s not illegal. When we get those calls, we’ll go assess the situation, but usually they are not doing anything wrong.”
Finocchi said a drop-in center would make a big difference. “It could provide case management, clothes, toothbrushes, and basic daily needs,” he said. He has seen very successful ones and, as a member of the Mayor's Housing Task Force, hopes to work with the City to have one created downtown.
“With the combined forces of the Code Blue Steering Committee and the Mayor’s Housing Task Force, we’re working on a continuum of care from emergency shelter to permanent housing,” said Mayor Joanne Yepsen. “I really appreciate the partnership I have with the local service agencies. We’ve had some great successes already, and have accomplished an end to Veterans’ homelessness. A drop-in center is one of the ideas being considered for future, but staffing is a real issue.”
The Mayor’s Housing Task Force meets once a month and is made up of ten government, private, and nonprofit representatives assessing current and considering future housing needs in Saratoga. The Task Force is considering the needs of artists, young professionals, and other populations as well as homeless individuals.
The Saratoga Springs community as a whole has been working very hard to help eradicate homelessness, and the local service providers express their gratitude in every conversation. That said, there is an overwhelming amount of work yet to be done, and government, citizens, and providers are all being asked to step up to the challenge.
“We get about 300 people who don’t even live here who need socks, shoes a meal or something, and we don’t turn them away. If we don’t have it, we tell them to come back the next day and we go get it,” said Finocchi.
The organization has developed a capital improvement plan to address these pressing needs. More information about the project and how to support it is located at www.sheltersofsaratoga.org/help-us/expansion/.
Franklin Center just completed a capital campaign and is holding a celebration of its new food pantry on July 14 from 6 to 7 p.m. For more information about Franklin Community Center visit the website www.franklincommunitycenter.org.
The efforts of these organizations and others in the area are a bright spot in the complicated road out of homelessness, and Petersimes is more than grateful.
“My sobriety is my first success,” Petersimes said. He is 62 days sober. “Then, in the wonderful friends I've made through my sobriety. I have hope again that I can have a life, that I can support myself on my own. I may need a little help getting there, but I have that here. I have help getting to doctor's appointments and meetings and job searches. The most support I've ever had is right here, at Shelters of Saratoga.”
He paused thoughtfully for a moment, then said, “There's this quote that I read once, but it's always stuck with me. That faith is in the presence of things unseen, but hope is faith in the presence of things seen. What they have done here is hope because I can see it. They showed it to me here – between Code Blue and the counselors and Mike [Finocchi]– they showed me that there is hope.”
A Little Clarity Around Traffic Stops, Please
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The traffic stop case of Saratoga Springs Police Officer Nathan Baker and Adam Rupeka of Troy in May has been added to a growing list of national controversy around police behavior, but with one important difference – the behavior of the arrested individual was certainly questionable.
Whether Rupeka’s decision to use obscene hand gestures at police officers followed by a refusal to obey police instructions warranted pepper spray to his eyes is a matter being determined through appropriate disciplinary and legal channels. The incident does beg the question, however, what exactly is and is not legal interaction between an officer and a citizen at a traffic stop?
Kurt Mausert, local attorney and criminal defense lawyer of the Law Office of Kurt Mausert on Broadway, says the law is clear in some areas, but not quite crystal in others.
“If a law enforcement officer pulls you over and asks for your drivers license, registration and proof of insurance, you have to produce it,” he said.
When it comes to obscenity in speech or gesture, however, Mausert said it is only somewhat defined in case law. “Basically, what the court is saying is that the communication – whether obscene or provocative – is protected by free speech unless it is going to harm or invoke immediate violence,” said Mausert. “It may not be morally or socially justified, but it’s protected.”
So it’s a case-by-case basis. Raising a middle finger to a belligerent, inebriated person in a bar could arguably be an instance where the free speech could provoke immediate violence and therefore not be protected.
“In this case, however,” said Mausert, “there were two different individuals in two different cars going in two different directions, and one of them was an officer trained in handling provocative situations. This was not a situation likely to provoke immediate violence. So, my argument in this case is that it would be protected speech,” said Mausert, “but it doesn’t mean if you can do it you should do it.”
Some might understandably think Rupeka’s actions would fall under disorderly conduct, but Mausert says the courts have ruled New York State’s statute on this is too broad, and in the end, Rupeka’s use of hand gestures will likely be considered protected speech.
But the incident didn’t end there. The officer pulled Rupeka over and made the familiar request for license and registration, but he refused to comply. So, do you have to turn those things over if the officer hasn’t made clear why you were stopped?
“Yes,” said Mausert. “It’s part of the officer’s duties to demand these things, and New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law is clear that you have to hand them over whether or not there’s a valid reason.”
He went on to say that individuals can certainly bring their argument about the validity of the traffic stop to court, but “I’ve never seen a case where a person says ‘hey, you don’t have a basis to stop me,’ and the officer says ‘okay, you got me.’ That doesn’t happen. Cops can’t get into a debate about the law at a traffic stop, hoping if they win they can get the driver’s license and registration. You have to obey the officer and reserve the right to take it to the courts afterward.”
Refusing to obey will likely land you in a holding cell, but not with pepper spray in your eyes.
“Pepper spray is a defensive tool to stop violence, not win an argument,” said Mausert. The recording of the Baker and Rupeka case on video displayed how the incident escalated and mistakes made by both parties. “This is why I have been an advocate of cameras for the last 20 years. They protect police officers from false allegations, and keep those that misbehave from conducting that behavior.”
Mausert believes police need to view cameras as their friends. Like in any industry, some officers are good, some are not, and sometimes they just make mistakes. “Cops don’t lose their humanity once they put on a shield,” said Mausert.
Incident videos make great training tools, not to mention clearing an innocent person’s name. “I’ve witnessed many cases where police have been falsely accused and cleared by a camera,” said Mausert.
For Baker and Rupeka, the video does make one thing clear. Two wrongs definitely don’t make a right.
For more information about the law and your rights, visit the blog at www.LawyerSaratoga.com.
Local Middle School Student Honored Among Brightest in World
Saskia Kamerling’s Test Scores Place Her in Top 30% of 33,000 Youth Across Globe
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saskia Kamerling, a high-achieving student from Saratoga Springs, was honored as one of the brightest young students in the world at a regional awards ceremony this spring for academically advanced children sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY).
Kamerling is a student at Maple Avenue Middle School, heading into seventh grade in the fall. She was among more than 8,470 CTY Talent Search honorees recognized in the 41 CTY Award Ceremonies across the U.S. and in China and Hong Kong, selected through testing from more than 33,000 students from 60-plus countries who participated in the search over the last year. She was the only student in Saratoga County to receive this international recognition for academic performance and potential.
The CTY Talent Search asks teachers, guidance counselors and parents to nominate second through eighth grade students who score at or above the 95th percentile on any nationally normed test. When students decide to participate, they complete the Talent Search application, register to take an above-grade-level test, and take the two-part timed test at a local test center.
“I just took the test and didn’t expect anything,” said Kamerling.
The tests identify academic talent and reveal gaps between a child's academic program and her actual capacity for learning. Seventh and eighth graders take the SAT or ACT—the same tests used for college admissions. These students, along with second through sixth graders, can also take the School and College Ability Test (SCAT), an above-level test, or the Spatial Test Battery (STB), which measures spatial ability.
“She tore right through it,” said her father, Erik Kamerling. “As a sixth-grader, she scored as a ninth-grader.”
Maria Blackburn, communications specialist for the John Hopkins University CTY, thinks it is important for bright students to take the SAT and other above grade level tests and find out how well they can do.
“How do you know what the ceiling is for these students if you don’t give them the opportunity to show how much they know that’s above their grade level?” said Blackburn.
Kamerling said she was surprised by the test results. “I thought, oh, wow, really? I did well on that?”
Her parents recognized that the more Kamerling achieved, the more she wanted to learn. Every time they moved the bar a little – from reading in Kindergarten to the Saratoga Scholars program to accelerated classes in science and math – she would meet and exceed it.
“We were notified about the CTY program through the school’s guidance department when they told us she scored in the top of the standardized tests,” said Erik Kamerling. Kamerling’s parents knew it would be a good opportunity for her.
Blackburn agreed. “Academic recognition may not be as prevalent as recognition for sports or other pursuits at some schools, and these award ceremonies are an opportunity to recognize the intellectual achievement of kids who are academically advanced. CTY challenges them, fosters their love of learning, and connects them with other bright students who share their interests.”
Kamerling’s love of school is just one side of this bright young student, who is much like any other girl her age. She’s been playing violin for four years and is a member of the drama club. “I like the story,” she said. “You get to imagine yourself as one of the characters.” She also likes to skateboard, juggle, and play darts. She says she does get stuck on her homework, sometimes, too.
“When I don’t understand something,” she said, “I ask my dad.”
The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth is a nonprofit that identifies academic talent in the world’s brightest K-12 learners and supports their growth with accredited summer, online, and family programs, services, and resources designed to meet their needs. CTY draws students from 50 states and nearly 82 countries worldwide. For more information about enrolling in the CTY Talent Search, go to www.cty.jhu.edu
58 Seniors Graduate from Challenging TEC-SMART Campus
MALTA – Fifty-eight students from over 20 school districts were recognized at the annual graduation ceremony of the Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School (ECHS) program on June 10 at Hudson Valley Community College’s Training and Education Center for Semiconductor Manufacturing and Alternative and Renewable Technologies (TEC-SMART) campus in Malta.
Tyler Schmidt, a Ballston Spa High School graduating senior of the program, spoke at the ceremony. He has received both academic and music scholarships to attend St. Rose College in Albany. He hopes to study the technological side of music, recording and producing, as well as the media aspect, like reporting. He credits the Clean Tech ECHS program for his success.
“This program took me from being a C student to an A student,” said Schmidt. “The TEC-SMART classes cover our high school credits, so instead of economics, we took green economics, for example. They changed my outlook on education, especially my English teacher, Mrs. Lewis. I was a struggling student before I came into the program, and she saw something in me, and made me believe in myself and work harder. I can never thank her enough for all she’s done for me.”
Superintendents and representatives from GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Hudson Valley Community College, Siena College, the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA), Finch Paper LLC, Astria Solutions Group and other businesses and elected officials took part in the graduation program. After the scholarship presentation and graduation ceremony, juniors and seniors presented capstone projects to culminate their year in the program.
“Last year, I built a guitar with sustainable materials,” said Schmidt. “This year, I expanded on some existing research that would administer drugs painlessly without a shot by placing a square centimeter patch on your skin of a silicon wafer filled with nanoneedles. We had a 12-page business plan with tech specs, diagrams, and the whole nine yards. We made a model with 3D printing, and then I had to make two forms of advertisement, so I made a poster that could be hung in doctor’s offices with a QR code to a radio advertisement so you could hear it on your phone.”
The TEC-SMART facility features more than a dozen state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories to train students in semiconductor manufacturing and green technologies, including photovoltaic, geothermal and wind energy. Students also take courses in general education, business, liberal arts and humanities.
With support from regional economic leaders including the Center for Economic Growth (CEG), Saratoga Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and local Chambers of Commerce, the program connects with hundreds of businesses throughout the region that serve as assets for students.
Saratoga Sponsor a Scholar Celebrates 5th Class Graduating From High School
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Sponsor-A-Scholar (SSAS) inducted twelve sophomores to its program and celebrated its graduating high school seniors with approximately 160 people at its annual picnic on Sunday June 7.
“This is our fifth class to graduate from the three-year high school portion of the program and all 45 of our graduating seniors have been accepted into colleges,” said Jim LaVigne, volunteer Executive Director of SSAS. “These are great young adults who are academically successful, participate in extracurricular school activities and volunteer for community service. They have all the skills required to succeed but not the same opportunities as other students from more affluent families. We could not be prouder of them.”
New this year is the addition of a Perry Scholars program. Saratoga residents David and Kathy Perry generously offered to sponsor two additional students through a $20,000 pledge over five years. These two students have been designated the “Perry Scholars” within the program.
“Over the next few years, they will follow the progress of these bright young students,” said LaVigne. “Congratulations to our Perry Scholars and a great big thank-you to the Perrys for making their participation in the program possible.”
New PAC Will Boost Smart Growth-Minded Candidates
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga campaign season has a new player that hopes to wield money and volunteerism in support of candidates whose past reflects a proven commitment to balance between economic vitality and quality of life.
The Together and Forward Saratoga Political Action Committee (PAC), chaired by Robert Manz, a 45-year Saratoga Springs resident and chief operating officer of D.A. Collins Companies, recently filed paperwork with the New York State Board of Elections and has now been authorized to raise and expend funds.
“Our goal is to encourage and support a balance between expanding economic opportunity and protecting our environment while enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life in Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County,” said Manz. “Economic vitality and quality of life are tied together, and to balance them both is a very difficult task. But at the end of the day, you can’t have one without the other. We’re going to support candidates who have shown they understand that.”
According to Manz, the PAC’s board of directors is still in process of being formed, but one of the members is Stewart’s Shops President Gary Dake, and the treasurer is Cindy Hollowood, general manager of the Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs.
The PAC intends to set up a committee of the board to interview candidates in contested and uncontested races starting this year with the Mayor and City Council races in Saratoga Springs. The group will also review the voting record and actions taken by the incumbent Mayor and Commissioners and the public statements of the challengers for those seats as part of the processes of determining who to support.
The new PAC is seeking to build a politically, demographically, and income-diverse group of members who share a singular goal of building a balanced Saratoga Springs with economic vitality and quality of life now and into the future. Member activity will primarily be focused on supporting candidates through funds and volunteer work.
The Saratoga PAC will hold a burger and beer kick-off event at the Stadium Café on Broadway Wednesday, June 24 from 5:00 until 6:15 p.m. $10 admission, light fare provided, cash bar. To register for this event or for more information, please visit www.saratogapac.com.