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Friday, 04 November 2016 12:02

Comics Touched by Cancer Give Back

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The first time comedian Jodi Weiner considered holding a cancer fundraiser made up of comedic acts was not long after she was diagnosed with esophageal cancer at the Saratoga Hospital’s Mollie Wilmot Radiation Oncology Center in 2013. In the midst of her shock and distress, she realized she had just suddenly joined a community of patients and survivors that were some of the kindest and most courageous people she had ever met. She wanted to give back, and give back with laughter and funds.

“The women and men who walk in there [Molly Wilmot Center] are so sweet, even though they are going through the worst time in their life,” said Weiner. “You never meet nicer people than walking into a cancer center, and they shouldn’t be. I’m not.”

At the time, Weiner underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and was too sick to follow through on her wish, but not long after becoming a survivor, she was again diagnosed with cancer.

“It was devastating that first time. You don’t know, you don’t understand,” said Weiner. “The cancer takes control, you have no control and that’s the worst way to feel. This summer I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which wasn’t as bad because I had surgery and radiation. I will have chemo pills for five years, but those haven’t started yet. Five years. Brutal. But this time, I said, I’m going to do something.”

Weiner felt lucky because she and her husband, comedian Vinnie Mark, belong to a close-knit community that spreads across the country – comics. Between her health benefits and the generous support of some of the biggest names in the industry, her husband was able to leave the road and stay with Weiner throughout her treatment.

“People have been very, very good to me. Some major stars, who want to remain anonymous, were very generous,” said Weiner, “but even the guys who only make fifty bucks a show sent fifty bucks. I’ve been very, very lucky. If my life ended tomorrow I could say I had a full life.”

Weiner’s gratitude is overflowing, not only for her extended professional family, but close to home as well. “Remember, the family members are affected as much as the person who has cancer. I have a husband who is really supportive, by my side, takes me to treatment every day, the most supportive man I’ve ever met in my life,” said Weiner. This December, they will have been married 21 years. They renewed their vows in Vegas the same year she was initially diagnosed.

“But some people don’t have that,” said Weiner. “They are alone or their family doesn’t help them. I live in West Fort Ann, and had to be here every day for 33 days for treatment. Some people live right around the corner, but not everybody does.”

Saratoga Hospital has a Cancer Patient Fund to help cover expenses that insurance doesn’t, such as transportation, wigs, dietary supplements, even food. To help raise money so that fund can help as many people as possible, Weiner, Mark, and fellow comedians Chris Monty and special guest Mike Speirs will appear in “Comics Care: Comedians Touched by Cancer Give Back” on Thursday, November 10 at the Embassy Suites in Saratoga Springs. Doors open at 7 p.m. for 8 p.m. show time. Reservations are $25 per person. Proceeds from the event, including an on-site raffle, will benefit Saratoga Hospital’s Cancer Patient Fund.

“The cancer community – our patients, friends and family, and cancer survivors – is an incredibly close group of people, supporting and encouraging each other and programs like our Cancer Patient Fund,” said Jennifer Baldwin, LMSW, OSW-C and oncology social worker at Saratoga Hospital’s Mollie Wilmot Radiation Oncology Center. “To use comedy as a bridge to share and tell personal stories about their experiences with cancer is brave. We truly appreciate Jodi and Vinnie and Chris and Mike volunteering their talent to entertain, as well as raise awareness and funding for our program. They’re pretty special people.”

The three comedians have extensive experience performing on TV (Weiner on ABC’s “The View” and Comedy Central, Mark on Letterman and VH1, Monty on HBO’s “Vinyl”), in film (Monty in “Paul Blart Mall Cop 2”), and live (both Weiner and Mark on multiple USO tours and at The Borgata Casino).

“And we’re so funny! We’re actually funny!” joked Weiner. “This is a fundraiser for a good reason. I’m funny, Vinny’s funny, Chris is funny and my friend Mike Speirs jumped on board and he’s funny as well.”

Mark said he was always interested in magic as a kid, so he auditioned in 1981 for the Long Island Laughter Company. “I got lucky enough to get cast with Rosie O’Donnell, Bob Nelson and Eddie Murphy,” said Mark. “I was just 18 or 19, so young and too stupid to be nervous. We did a live show of improv and sketches every Monday night.”

Mark had owned the Saratoga Comedy Club, which was located not far from the Embassy Suites, which is donating the space and food and beverages for the event. Mark thought it would be nice to perform so close to the venue where he and Weiner had performed before along with stars like J.J. Walker from the television series “Good Times” and Colin Quinn from Saturday Night Live.

“The View I was on twice,” said Weiner. “They treated me so well, such nice people, I loved it. I saw Barbara Walters, Billy Zane and Susan Lucci. She is such a tiny little thing, like a ballerina doll. I’m 5 foot 3 inches, and she was up to my belly button.”

Chris Monty met Vinnie through the comedy circuit, and they’ve been close friends for 15 years. “In the early 90’s, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Monty. “She opted to have a single mastectomy and was cancer free, and within three years her sisters got breast cancer. They beat it and decided to raise money to beat it, so since then I do a comedy show every year for the Three STROHM Sisters Family Foundation.”

Then, in the summer of 2012, Monty’s mother was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer. “My mother is tough as anything,” said Monty. “She did aggressive chemo and she fought tooth and nail to her last breath. But it was a very aggressive cancer. She passed on January 4 of 2013. Vinnie called me, it was about the same time that Jodi had cancer, and we were both crying on the phone together.”

Monty said that when Mark called to ask him to participate in this fundraiser, he was immediately on board. “If I’m available, I will always make time to give back to any kind of cancer organization,” said Monty. “Laughter is the best medicine, even when my mother was sick, I try to bring smiles to people’s faces.”

Dinner and pre-show cocktails will be available from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Diamond Club Grill at the Embassy Suites hotel. For more information or to register for “Comics Care,” visit www.saratogahospital.org or call 518-583-8340.

Friday, 28 October 2016 16:37

Region Mourns Fallen Trooper

WILTON — The tragic loss of New York State Trooper Timothy Pratt, 55, on Wednesday, October 26, as a result of a traffic accident on Ballard Road in Wilton, has left a gaping hole in the hearts of the Capital Region. The shock and grief extended statewide as well as close to home. Governor Andrew Cuomo remembered Trooper Pratt leading last month’s 9/11 motorcade memorial, and he ordered all flags to half staff.

Wilton Town Board Councilman John Lant, a former fire chief, said he couldn’t believe it when he received the phone call with the news.

“I worked with him on many accidents and fires,” said Lant, his voice filled with emotion. “He was a good guy, an outstanding state trooper. I thought the world of that guy. Unbelievable. He’s a great loss.”

Art Johnson, Wilton Town Supervisor, said, “All the troopers in the town provide such a wonderful service and we appreciate all of them. Our thoughts and prayers go with the family.”

New York State Police Troop G Commander Major William Keeler described the incident at a press conference Wednesday, saying, “By all accounts, at 6:30 this morning, it was dark, and Trooper Pratt, beginning his patrol, observed a tractor trailer stopped in the median on Ballard Road just in front of the state police barracks in Wilton, and Trooper Pratt, being Trooper Pratt, immediately went to see if he could be of any assistance. He interviewed the driver and the driver told him that he had missed a turn at the Ace Hardware store, and Trooper Pratt was going to assist in getting the vehicle turned around. Trooper Pratt stepped down from the vehicle, stepped away from the vehicle, into the east bound lane and was struck.”

State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II added, “He was a 30-year trooper who still had the fire in him. He enjoyed doing the job, and died the way he lived, helping people.”

Trooper Pratt was initially treated at Saratoga Hospital, and was airlifted to Albany Medical Center where he died at approximately 9:30 a.m. Trooper Mark Cepiel, public information officer for Troop G, confirmed charges were unlikely, but the investigation is not closed. He said a collision reconstruction unit with investigators trained beyond normal investigation techniques will continue looking at the evidence.

The fact that one simple act, done a thousand times over a career, could be the last one, is a danger faced every day by traffic duty and highway patrol law enforcement.

Beach said at the press conference that Trooper Pratt had more than 25 years of experience working the highway unit on the Northway. “It’s probably some of the most dangerous work that our troopers do,” said Beach. “It’s almost inconceivable to us that Tim could spend that much time working in such a dangerous situation and have a tragedy like this happen. It’s difficult to process.” Beach went on to confirm that most of the on-duty deaths in last 10 years have been traffic accidents.

“I’d like to thank the EMS responders and people who rendered aid to Tim, and the staffs at the hospitals in both Saratoga and Albany who did everything they could,” said Beach.

Beach also confirmed that Trooper Pratt’s family would become members of the greater New York State family. “Never alone,” said Beach before he left the podium Wednesday.

Trooper Pratt joined the New York State Police on March 30, 1987, after serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1979 to 1986. Trooper Pratt was assigned to the Traffic Incident Management unit at the State Police station in Wilton. He served his entire career with the State Police in Troop G.

The Honorable David Towne, Wilton Town Justice, had served in law enforcement over 30 years and knew Trooper Pratt well.

“He was a great guy, a credit to law enforcement,” said Towne. He said people who were ticketed by Pratt often went out of their way to write about the positive interaction they had with him in the space for comments on the back of traffic citations.

“It’s shocking when you know someone fairly well,” said Towne. “Law enforcement is a unique brotherhood. I know they are going through tough times right now and doing what they can for each other to make it through. He perished doing what he was made to do, lending a hand.”

The Honorable Gerald A. Worth, Wilton Town Justice, said it’s difficult for them in the court, too. “We dealt with him for so long, and he was always in a good mood, laughing, joking around. There’s going to be thousands of people wanting to pay their respects.”

Trooper Cepiel said Trooper Pratt was involved heavily in the community, especially at South Glens Falls High School.

“He worked the dance they have there every year, except for those years he was in the military,” said Cepiel. “It is great way to remember him for things like that he did. It’ll be tough for the community because he was integrated so much. People can take solace in the fact that this is what he loved to do.”

Lant remembered being at a banquet at the fire department, sitting with his wife and mother, when Trooper Pratt walked up to him and said, “Okay, you’re going with me.”

“Then he took his handcuffs out. You should have seen my mother’s eyes,” Lant laughed. “I had tears running down. First time I ever met him, he put out a fire and I told him that was our job, not his, and I’d start giving out speeding ticket. That’s how we became friends.”

Lant was quiet a moment, and then said, his voice choking, “An outstanding trooper. An outstanding friend. It’s everybody’s loss. The people of the State – everyone.”

On Wednesday evening, October 26, the trooper’s body was transported by hearse from Albany Medical Center to M.B. Kilmer Funeral Home in South Glens Falls. About a hundred police cars followed in the procession, which passed beneath an American flag hanging between two fire truck ladders. A crowd had gathered as the procession turned into the funeral home, and police and fire personnel stood in the street, honoring their fallen comrade.

Details of the line-of-duty funeral arrangements were not available by print time, but the office of the Village of South Glens Falls confirmed a candle light vigil will be held on Sunday, October 30, at the gazebo in Cooper’s Cave Park in the village. Speakers and bagpipes are planned to honor Trooper Pratt, and although there will be some candles; it is recommended people bring their own.

South Glens Falls Mayor Joe Orlow said the fire department did a great job Wednesday night, honoring the fallen trooper during transport, and added, “We are a caring community, and I hope to see everyone come out Sunday night to pay their respects for this gentleman who gave so much to the community.”

Friday, 21 October 2016 10:18

Rethinking Homework in the 21st Century

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Not long ago, social media blew up when a teacher in Houston wrote a letter to her student’s parents to let them know she would not be sending homework home. She suggested instead that the 2nd grade child spend quality time with the family. The quantity of homework a student should take home has long been a controversy that is often rooted in the experience of the parents. Some were inundated with hours of homework from a young age, others with almost none, and many of them grew up with a sense that their experience was the norm. Today, there are numerous child development studies that show that the younger the child, the less homework they should have. Learning below the age of fourth graders is often experiential, done with sight, touch and other senses. Additionally, the early years are formative for socialization and family bonding, something that can be disrupted if the child is spending more time bending over a worksheet than out discovering life with family and friends. According to Matthew Kopans, director of community relations and development at the Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs, Waldorf does not begin providing homework until the fourth grade. “Kids that age aren’t developed enough to work like that, and need time to rest,” he said. “We think it helps them develop willpower to remember their lessons. Lessons are like a full meal and they need time to digest it in order to remember what you taught them in class.” Kopans said that children develop to the point where they want to express themselves individually, and at that point, homework becomes more meaningful to them. “By waiting,” he said, “they are excited to do homework. They look forward to it. By taking some things slowly, it helps make students really hungry for more, rather than turning homework into drudgery.” Doug Silvernell, assistant superintendent for 21st century teaching and learning at the Saratoga Springs School district, said that the district also incorporates such studies into their homework policies, and that public schools have quite a bit of freedom in determining homework policy. “The State Education Department doesn’t give us a regulation, they don’t handcuff us one way or the other,” he said. “They may give recommendations based on research, and as a general rule, it [homework] increases slightly depending on age.” Silvernell said that the district also gives teachers freedom around homework decision-making. “It’s important to know the students,” he said. “When I was a teacher, I used to tell my students, if you go beyond “x” number of minutes doing homework, just stop and we’ll talk about it tomorrow, because every student is different, and every class is different. We give them general guidelines to follow about the general minutes they want to give. The policy is discussed at each building level. We revisit it every couple of years, but discuss it annually with staff. We all bring our own experiences and expectations to it. We’ve learned that what may be way too much for someone might not be nearly enough for someone else.” A concern Kopans has heard from parents is that kids come home, eat quickly, go to bed, and are really stressed and overwhelmed. “Important parts of childhood are getting lost,” he said. “We get so driven by results, and there is pressure on teachers to be exactly where they are supposed to be for their students’ development, and they are cramming more and more into a day.” Kopans said that to some extent there is a concern, seen in the U.S. as well as in other countries following the heavy homework line of thinking, that although kids can do well on drills and tests, they are losing competitively because kids aren’t creative, they can’t think outside the box. Time after school for play and family bonding is a necessary component to child development. For anyone that tells Kopans that kids need more homework to better prepare for college, he says, “Fortunately, they go to college after 12th grade, not fourth grade. At 17 they can handle the workload and schedule themselves. A third grader can’t do that.” For more information about Waldorf Schools, visit www.waldorfsaratoga.org. For more information about Saratoga Springs schools, visit www.saratogaschools.org.
Friday, 21 October 2016 10:18

A Little Culture With Your Thai?

MALTA — There are about 100 people from Thailand living in Saratoga County, according to Lek Cameron, owner of Bua Thai Sushi at 1103 Ellsworth Boulevard in Malta. Although far from their homeland, many will light a candle at a Buddhist temple in the region in honor of the recent passing of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej on October 13 at the age of 88. Walking into Bua Thai Sushi at first feels a bit like walking into any Thai restaurant, but the detail in the décor and the friendly staff highlight a sense of the beauty and humor of a warm and welcoming culture. Images of traditional Thai celebrations adorn the walls, including one of the popular Songkran Festival held on April 13 each year, the Thai New Year. “It is very beautiful in Thailand,” said Zelly Kas-Runkel, one of the staff. “We splash water and celebrate – it is very wet. Here, we even throw a little water on our customers. They enjoy it and throw us back the water. It is supposed to be good luck.” Cameron studied customer service in college in Thailand, and met her husband at a hotel where they worked. They came here in 1997. Her son just turned 18 and is a senior at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School. She had started her restaurant with a partner in Lewiston, but when she wanted to move here, her partner kept the old restaurant and she began fresh with Bua Thai Sushi. Customer Adrienne Hamilton of Ballston Spa said she loves to get take-out at Bua Thai. “It’s hard to pick a favorite dish,” she said. “I love all of their curries, their pad Thai, the Thai iced tea, I could go on and on. Any good Thai restaurant better have their pad Thai on, and does it deliver!” Cameron says it is all about customer service and fresh ingredients, as well as the talents of a remarkable chef. “We don’t use dry noodles,” she said. “It makes a big difference. We have long lines at lunch for Thai food.” She said the line would go quicker if more people would order sushi, which would divvy up the workload in the kitchen at the busy lunch hour. They offer a popular Sakura roll with avocado, spicy crab, salmon and tuna. She is equally proud of her sushi chef, and together, the Bua team has had a successful first year. “I give customers good quality food that is not overpriced,” said Cameron. “If we have a special that is not on the menu, and you come back and want it, we will make it for you. We have lots of regulars and free delivery no more than 4 miles away. For local people, I give 10 percent off to people living here in Ellsworth Commons. I have lots of coupons out there, too.”
BALLSTON SPA — VETHELP, (Veterans Housing, Employment and Lifeskills Programs) is hosting its first gala-style fundraiser on Saturday, October 29 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the New York State Military Museum. There will be live music, cash bar, food tasting, and silent auction items. The theme is the 50’s, but attire is cocktail or military. All donations raised for the Veterans Ball go directly to VETHELP. Cheryl Hage-Perez, executive director of the Saratoga County Rural Preservation Company which runs the VETHELP programs, is very grateful for the tremendous support of the community over the years, but said that with rising costs and seriously needed building repairs, they decided it was time to start a large annual event to provide funds for costs the existing generosity and grants cannot meet. The vital services offered by the programs help veterans such as Eddie, 61, (last name withheld for privacy), who is a Vietnam era veteran who served in the 82nd airborne division of the U.S. Army from 1973-76. He was trained and ready to jump out of planes and into a hot zone behind enemy lines to secure the area for incoming forces. He went into training straight out of high school and remembered, “There was a sergeant with a big boot who helped you scoot out the door. It was good for me, I was a young man and it was an opportunity for me to transition from being a young man into being a man, with all the responsibilities and things that come with it.” But once it was over, he had numerous struggles and finally succumbed to alcoholism. “I wasn’t living up to my part to be honest with you,” said Eddie, “and my sister helped me find help. You might not like the person so much, but you gotta love the vet, and being here kinda reinitiated in me the proudness I had when I served. The condition when I came in was I had to be sober, just treat each day as a new day. They gave me the blueprint and it’s up to the individual to make it work for them. They teach you life skills and everything here. There’s a lot that the counselors do; they are there for you all the time. There’s a lot of camaraderie in the house; we support each other. I’ve been sober for 10 months, since December 21 when I arrived here.” VETHELP is a program whose mission is to serve the needs of homeless military veterans by empowering them to embrace and maintain independent living and self-sufficiency. VETHELP operates two facilities that provide transitional housing for 11 females and 12 males. The housing provides residents with a comfortable living environment to address the complex factors affecting their homelessness. Job loss, alcoholism, substance abuse, lack of access to health care, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma, and other hardships are struggles that these veterans have encountered following their release from the military. As a part of the Veterans Ball fundraiser, VETHELP is also offering an oportunty to Honor a Veteran by purchasing an Honor Guard Sponsorship in the program, listing the name of the Veteran you wish to honor or remember. They are $100 each, and to order or find out more, call Mianna at 518-885-0091 x 101. For more information about VETHELP or the Veterans Ball, visit www.vethelpny.org.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs City School District has recently learned that three of its elementary schools have lead levels in drinking water that exceed 15 parts per billion (ppb), the level deemed “actionable” by the Environmental Protection Agency and New York State Law. One school was found to have a drinking fountain with lead levels at 930 ppb. As required by law, the district has begun immediate action for remediation under the guidance of the Department of Health. The district states on its website, “While we know that this information may cause some concern, we are taking the necessary steps to address the situation and confirm the safety of water throughout the district. There is nothing that we take more seriously than the well-being of our students and staff.” According to the lead levels testing results posted on the district website, the highest levels were found at Dorothy Nolan Elementary, in the Room 201 Drinking Fountain which had lead levels of 930 ppb. The second highest of lead levels at the school were found in the Room 204 Drinking Fountain at 79 ppb. At Division Street Elementary, the highest levels were found at the Room 139 Drinking Fountain 1, which were 120 ppb. The second highest was at Kitchen Sink A, which had lead levels of 61 ppb. At Lake Avenue Elementary, the highest lead levels were found in the Custodial Office Slop Sink Hose Spigot of 83 ppb, and the second highest was at the Hallway Fountain on the 3rd Floor of 64 ppb. The state Department of Health (NYSDOH) released the following statement: “New York State is leading the nation in proactively protecting children against the dangers of lead poisoning with new legislation that requires schools to test for lead in drinking water. Any exceedance of the action level (15 mcg/L (micrograms per liter)) for lead in drinking water requires the school to take immediate action to discontinue use of the water outlet in order to protect children from further exposure.” The drinking fountains and other spigots for drinking or cooking have been shut down, and those spigots used for washing purposes have been restricted and labeled not to be used for ingestion. According to school district spokesperson Maura Manny, bottled water will be provided if another water source below the permissible level is not easily accessible. The testing was done under a new, mandatory New York State law requiring school districts to test for lead in the school water systems. The law went into effect September of this year. The district conducted the tests with the help of a state-approved laboratory in all six elementary schools by the end of September. The middle and high schools will have testing completed by the end of October. The Capital Region BOCES communications department put together a flyer to help parents and schools understand the new state law mandating schools test all sources of drinking water. That flyer can be found on the Saratoga Springs City School District website. Jessica Scheckton, assistant director of communications for the Capital Region BOCES, stressed the importance of schools working with their local department of health to understand the nuances of the new regulations. The Centers for Disease Control website states that human skin does not absorb lead, and that bathing and hand washing are safe even in water above the 15 ppb action level. However, water with any lead level should not be drunk, especially by pregnant women and small children. In a March 17, 2016 USA Today article, the media outlet learned that the EPA had once stated on its website that “lead at concentrations of 40 ppb or higher poses an imminent and substantial endangerment to the health of children and pregnant women. This calculation uses a risk assessment model that is based on exposure to young, school-aged children.” That statement found by USA Today is still listed on archived EPA web pages dating 2002 to 2004, but the EPA has since removed that statement and no longer provides a specific “do not drink” level. Instead, the EPA and CDC both stress that there are no safe levels of lead. The CDC site also states that most children do not show symptoms of high lead in their bloodstream, and that the only way to know for sure is to have the child receive a blood test for lead levels. NYSDOH agrees, and submitted the following statement for this article, “There are many factors that influence a child’s risk for lead poisoning from the presence of lead in water including: the amount of water consumed, child’s age and weight, and whether the child has also been exposed to lead from paint, soil, dust or other sources. The only way to know for sure is to have the child tested for lead.” The health department also stated that, “Where levels are only slightly above 15 ppb, it is unlikely that children are consuming water from school sources in amounts that pose a health risk. Children are much more likely to have high levels of exposure from sources such as lead paint chips in older homes.” Lead poisoning, especially in children 6 years old and younger, can lead to slower growth and development; problems with hearing, speech, and behavior; and can make it difficult to learn and pay attention. The CDC, the BOCES flyer, and other professionals all recommend families speak with their healthcare providers if they have any health questions or concerns. The NYSDOH added, “Parents whose children are in the locations where lead was found in the drinking water should ask their children’s health care providers whether blood lead testing would be appropriate for their child. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and spend significant time in those locations should also discuss lead exposure and testing with their health care provider. New York State law requires that children receive a blood lead test at age 1 and again at age 2 so most health care providers will have information on your child’s previous blood lead level already.” The Saratoga Springs City School District lead testing results and additional information from the EPA and NYSDOH can be found on the school district’s website at http://www.saratogaschools.org/news.cfm?story=106422&.
Friday, 14 October 2016 10:57

Local Farm’s Wellness Initiative

SCHUYLERVILLE ­— The news can’t be good. You are sitting in your doctor’s office, not in an exam room. He is looking at you earnestly from behind his desk. You can feel yourself sinking into the soft chair. There’s a clock ticking somewhere – it’s loud in your ears, making it hard for you to hear the word cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be more than 1.6 million new cancer cases in 2016, and while scientists are working steadily on finding a cure, doctors and wellness practitioners are working steadily on helping patients change years of fast-paced habits into healthy lifestyles. For Gordon Sacks, founder of 9 Miles East Farm in Schuylerville, the question of why people should eat a healthy, plant-based diet has already been answered. He knows study after study shows that fresh produce, proteins and spices that contain key nutrients can boost immune systems, promote healing, reduce cancer risk and provide significant health benefits – nutrition especially important for cancer patients, diabetics, people who are recovering from surgery, and anyone suffering from auto-immune diseases. People, ill or well, know they have to eat better. For Sacks, the real question is how. “People are busy,” said Sacks. “They want to eat healthy; they want farm fresh produce. Nobody knew what quinoa was five years ago, nobody ate kale. People know what they need, now, but it takes time, and who has the time? Let’s make it easy for people to eat healthy.” Washing, chopping, peeling, storing, cooking from scratch – in this fast-paced society where Americans are working longer hours and taking fewer vacations, it’s no wonder they are struggling to eat healthy. That’s why Sacks and his team decided to do the work for them. He began his farm-fresh food delivery service not long after he bought the land in 2004, and it has grown dramatically. He has a team of farm hands, chefs, and nutritionists who do everything from planting and harvesting crops, to washing and cooking up tasty meals and delivering them throughout the Capital Region and as far away as Boston, Massachusetts. He even offers local pizza delivery from the farm. The farm delivers to 105 workplaces weekly, and provides home deliveries as well. The weekly coolers offer something different every week, offering hormone and antibiotic free chicken, gluten free, and vegan options as well. Deliveries can include such dishes as a savory pork-shoulder stew with basmati rice, a fresh Athens salad with quinoa, a rustic marinara sauce ready to add your own pasta, local homemade applesauce and nutrient-rich smoothies. Recently, Sacks hired breast-cancer survivor Nancy Holzman, former owner of healthy eatery Good Morning Café, to help him promote and grow a new concept for home delivery – wellness coolers, specifically for cancer patients, diabetics, and others focusing on recovery. With the help of Holzman and nutritional counselor Barb Biagioli, a consultant employed at 9 Miles East Farm; top local restaurants; as well as the rest of his team, Sacks is launching the “Way to Wellness Coolers” at the end of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “Leading researchers all have a common belief that diet plays a big role in boosting your immunity and reducing the risk of cancer and diabetes,” said Holzman. “The wellness coolers support you in your commitment to change the way you eat because it’s done for you. It’s convenient, fresh and affordable. I’ve been researching recipes of food as medicine for the past year. Gordon’s mission is my mission, providing non-processed healthy food for people who seek it but are too busy to cook it.” The Way to Wellness Coolers will contain recipes and ingredients that contain nutrient-dense, easily digestible product rich I protein; vitamins A, K, and C; antioxidants; lycopene; fiber; carotenoids; magnesium and folate. The soups, meals, sauces and sides offer variety and flavor, and easily added to a regular routine as it is delivered once a week to your doorstep. Sacks said that this is especially important for cancer patients because not only do they have less time to cook, given doctors’ appointments and everything else, but they also often don’t have the energy to cook. “Healthy food has to meet people where they are,” he said. “It has to be convenient, accessible. It’s been very gratifying to see all of our efforts being so well received by the public. We’ve doubled consistently year after year.” Recognizing that there is a great need for nutrition-rich prepared meals for people who need it most, 9 Miles East Farm is dedicating resources to help address specific health concerns, such as cancer, with the new wellness coolers. For more information, visit www.9MilesEast.com.
Friday, 30 September 2016 11:15

True Sportsmanship: Compassion Trumps Rivalry

SCHUYLERVILLE – No one on Schuylerville High School’s girls varsity soccer team will forget October 29, 2015, when 8th grader Davia Rossi made the winning kick for the Schalmont Sabres that cost the Lady Horses the Class B state championship. “Obviously, losing the season was heartbreaking,” said Schuylerville senior and soccer co-captain Maddy Nevins, “but what happened on the field is completely different than off the field. All of us respect Davia and wanted to do everything we could to help.” Rossi, now a 14-year-old freshman at Schalmont High, was diagnosed in August with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. “I was at my house and my assistant coach texted me,” said Nevins. “I was going to a school event where most of my team was, and told them. The whole time, we were brainstorming ideas of how to help her. It did make us realize it can happen to anyone, and we wanted to support her as the whole team.” This week, not just the team but also the whole community came out to support Rossi. Every year, the Schuylerville boys and girls soccer teams have held a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, and Monday, September 26, the fourth annual Kickin' Out Cancer event held special meaning for the teams in light of Rossi’s diagnosis. Lady Horses’s Coach Michael Kopp said the girls’ fundraising efforts were done “with zero coaching from me.” Before he could suggest a word, they were all in. “I just watched in astonished silence,” he said. “Their sense of responsibility and call to action far outweighs their age.” The Saratoga Athletic Association, Schuylerville’s K-6 youth program, hosted a Pay for Pink Day in their field over the weekend. “They collected $1,083 that day, an incredible number from the community,” said Kopp. “In addition to that, through Monday night’s concession sales, balloon sales and raffles, another almost $2,000 was raised from people at the game for the American Cancer Society. We [the girls soccer team] also had our own fundraiser especially for Davia Rossi that we did on our own, and also gave her a gift and a signed shirt from all of our players.” At halftime of the Lady Horses’ home game against Johnstown that night, which ended with a 4-0 win for Schuylerville, there was an inspirational walk around the track including a release of pink balloons. They were joined by Rossi, the Schalmont team, and their families, invited as special guests of the event. All told, Kickin’ Out Cancer broke their previous fundraising record for the American Cancer Society, raising just over $3,000. “Last year, we raised about $1800, certainly significant,” said Kopp. “I want to make sure the boys and their coach get recognized for the hard work they did – they set up everything, the tables, the balloons, a lot of work. They never complained, never wavered, it was a collaborative effort of the boys and girls teams, all in the name of raising awareness and helping Davia.” Kopp said he has two 9th graders on the team. “I look at their faces and I see Davia,” he said. “They are so young compared to my juniors and seniors. Rossi is exceptional; playing varsity as an eighth grader. You can’t help waking up to tears. The emotion comes out.” According to Kopp, Monday night’s event put a spotlight on the fact that cancer can affect anyone, including young people that we know. “This was not about us teaching them about life,” said Kopp. “It was the other way around. I’m proud of them on the field, too, but this makes it even better. It’s gone beyond team now; it feels like family. Coaches, community, family and now opposing team family.” Game Results The Kickin’ Out Cancer girls soccer game was played against Johnstown Monday night. Emily Vallee recorded a natural "Hat Trick" (3 in a row) in the first half. This was Vallee's second Hat Trick of the year, and boosts her total goals to 17 on the season. Maddy Nevins, delivered a goal and two assists. Caitlin Kelleher and her "D" notched their 6th shutout of the year. Corner kicks: Schuylerville 9, Johnstown 0. Goalies-saves: Caitlin Kelleher (Schuylerville) 2, Allison Morey (Johnstown) 18. Final score, Schuylerville 4, Johnstown 0.
Friday, 30 September 2016 11:15

True Sportsmanship: Compassion Trumps Rivalry

SCHUYLERVILLE – No one on Schuylerville High School’s girls varsity soccer team will forget October 29, 2015, when 8th grader Davia Rossi made the winning kick for the Schalmont Sabres that cost the Lady Horses the Class B state championship. “Obviously, losing the season was heartbreaking,” said Schuylerville senior and soccer co-captain Maddy Nevins, “but what happened on the field is completely different than off the field. All of us respect Davia and wanted to do everything we could to help.” Rossi, now a 14-year-old freshman at Schalmont High, was diagnosed in August with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. “I was at my house and my assistant coach texted me,” said Nevins. “I was going to a school event where most of my team was, and told them. The whole time, we were brainstorming ideas of how to help her. It did make us realize it can happen to anyone, and we wanted to support her as the whole team.” This week, not just the team but also the whole community came out to support Rossi. Every year, the Schuylerville boys and girls soccer teams have held a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, and Monday, September 26, the fourth annual Kickin' Out Cancer event held special meaning for the teams in light of Rossi’s diagnosis. Lady Horses’s Coach Michael Kopp said the girls’ fundraising efforts were done “with zero coaching from me.” Before he could suggest a word, they were all in. “I just watched in astonished silence,” he said. “Their sense of responsibility and call to action far outweighs their age.” The Saratoga Athletic Association, Schuylerville’s K-6 youth program, hosted a Pay for Pink Day in their field over the weekend. “They collected $1,083 that day, an incredible number from the community,” said Kopp. “In addition to that, through Monday night’s concession sales, balloon sales and raffles, another almost $2,000 was raised from people at the game for the American Cancer Society. We [the girls soccer team] also had our own fundraiser especially for Davia Rossi that we did on our own, and also gave her a gift and a signed shirt from all of our players.” At halftime of the Lady Horses’ home game against Johnstown that night, which ended with a 4-0 win for Schuylerville, there was an inspirational walk around the track including a release of pink balloons. They were joined by Rossi, the Schalmont team, and their families, invited as special guests of the event. All told, Kickin’ Out Cancer broke their previous fundraising record for the American Cancer Society, raising just over $3,000. “Last year, we raised about $1800, certainly significant,” said Kopp. “I want to make sure the boys and their coach get recognized for the hard work they did – they set up everything, the tables, the balloons, a lot of work. They never complained, never wavered, it was a collaborative effort of the boys and girls teams, all in the name of raising awareness and helping Davia.” Kopp said he has two 9th graders on the team. “I look at their faces and I see Davia,” he said. “They are so young compared to my juniors and seniors. Rossi is exceptional; playing varsity as an eighth grader. You can’t help waking up to tears. The emotion comes out.” According to Kopp, Monday night’s event put a spotlight on the fact that cancer can affect anyone, including young people that we know. “This was not about us teaching them about life,” said Kopp. “It was the other way around. I’m proud of them on the field, too, but this makes it even better. It’s gone beyond team now; it feels like family. Coaches, community, family and now opposing team family.” Game Results The Kickin’ Out Cancer girls soccer game was played against Johnstown Monday night. Emily Vallee recorded a natural "Hat Trick" (3 in a row) in the first half. This was Vallee's second Hat Trick of the year, and boosts her total goals to 17 on the season. Maddy Nevins, delivered a goal and two assists. Caitlin Kelleher and her "D" notched their 6th shutout of the year. Corner kicks: Schuylerville 9, Johnstown 0. Goalies-saves: Caitlin Kelleher (Schuylerville) 2, Allison Morey (Johnstown) 18. Final score, Schuylerville 4, Johnstown 0.
Friday, 23 September 2016 10:01

Keeping Up With Growth - Malta’s Water Woes

MALTA — The idyllic view of Saratoga Lake in winter doesn’t mean much if the house is on fire. Residents of Riley Cove in the Town of Malta would have to wait precious minutes while firefighters chop through ice if the tanker engine runs out of the water it brought. This neighborhood doesn’t have fire hydrants or even potable water. The wells are filled with sulfur and only drinkable if put through expensive filtration systems. And, it’s not the only neighborhood in Malta with water woes.

Generations ago, when these homes were not much more than summer camps, the lack of water was a livable nuisance, but with a growing town, strengthening economy, and year-round living, the town is asking whether it’s time to plan for town-wide water infrastructure.

“We’re asking the residents of the Town of Malta to take a moment to fill out a brief water survey,” said town supervisor Vince DeLucia. “So far, we are getting a good response. We did our best to keep it as brief as possible. And we had robo calls to encourage people to take the survey. The reason I did the voice over introducing myself quickly at the beginning is so people don’t think it’s an advertising cold call, otherwise they just hang up, so by immediately identifying who I am, hopefully they get involved with it rather than thinking it’s a scam or advertisement. They need to fill it out as soon as possible.”

Larry Tomaszewski is president of Riley Cove Corporation, a community along the edge of Saratoga Lake south of Malta Avenue Extension. There are 72 homes without town water because the community is too far from the piping. Tomaszewski is delighted the town is conducting a water survey.

“I just learned about this survey over the weekend,” said Tomaszewski. “I went to Town Hall and picked up about 20 hard copies of the survey. Some of our residents are older and not computer savvy, so I brought copies to them.”

Tomaszewski said his father bought the property 50 years ago, a time when access to town water was unthinkable. “I moved here permanently about 8 or 9 years ago, so we put in a well. A lot of us have wells, and almost every well I know of in this community is sulfur, so you have to have some kind of a treatment going on in your basement or garage. Some seasonal people draw water out of the lake, but you have to have it treated, you can’t drink it.”

He knows of one person who spent $27,000 on a water system, and others that just have a pipe running to the lake. Some in other neighborhoods have salt, and have to replace all the faucets in their homes periodically due to corrosion.

“We pay the same tax rate as everyone else, but have fewer services,” said Tomaszewski. “All we have is volunteer fire. So when they said they are doing this water survey, we jumped on it.”

Peter Shaw, chief of the Malta Ridge Volunteer Fire Company, said the company’s first-line trucks carry a minimum of 1,000 gallons of water, and if that runs out, they will draw from the closest water source, chopping ice if necessary, or rely on mutual aid agreements set up with neighboring fire houses to bring tankers of water. He described a system similar to a fireman’s brigade, but instead of buckets, it is made up of connected tankers between a water source and the fire.

“Believe me, doing a tanker shuttle is not our first choice,” said Shaw. “It’s something we rely on because there’s no water system in that area. If it were up to us, we’d love a hydrant in front of everyone’s house, at least every couple hundred feet or so. We would be very much in favor of a water system for the underdeveloped areas of town.”

Where would the water come from?

DeLucia said there are great existing sources of water through both public and private enterprises. The town’s role would be to find a way to get the infrastructure planned and built, and the existing companies would take care of the supply and delivery and maintenance.

“Riley Cove is a considerable distance from exit 11,” said Ed Hernandez, executive director of the Saratoga County Water Authority, “so it’s not a realistic option to connect it to county water.” The costs would be prohibitive for just a few neighborhoods, although he said there was enough water at that pipeline to serve all of Route 9 and other areas of the town. It would take a town-wide infrastructure to make accessing that county water line cost-effective.  

According to Marissa Mackay, executive vice president of Saratoga Water Services, Inc., a private company and public water utility, they’ve done feasibility studies on supplying water to Malta.

“This is very exciting for the residents of Malta,” said Mackay, whose grandfather founded the company. “I don’t think I’ve had a day in the last three years where we didn’t have an application for the extension of water service. It’s a very growing town. If you see a development going up in the town of Malta, they are on our service – provided they are on the east side of I-87. If Saratoga Water Services and the town can create a partnership, we’d be more than happy to work with them on our common ground of getting water to people. We have no surface water sources, it’s all aquifers, so we supply a very consistent water quality.”

Why take the water survey?

The Town of Malta’s water infrastructure has been built piecemeal over the years, development by development, but now DeLucia is looking at the town as a whole and exploring whether there is a better way. Building a well-planned town-wide water infrastructure that takes into account both commercial and residential growth, among other things, could be the most cost-effective way to meet the needs of neighborhoods like Riley Cove and business growth into the future.

“Water and sewer was something that the town board and I recognized was a big issue, especially in a few pockets of the community,” said DeLucia. “It came about as we started looking at changes in zoning for commercial purposes, and especially in this little hamlet called Maltaville that was having serious water issues.”

The town is looking into the interest of residents, the various sources of water that can be obtained, what grants are available, how sewer lines would connect to the county sewer line, and various funding sources. But it all begins with the survey.

“There’s a large part of Saratoga Lake that is not covered by the county’s sewer lines,” said Delucia. “The population at the time was not enough to warrant it. You are talking a lot of money to develop the infrastructure. We’re working both with the county and with Saratoga Water Services to see what can be done, and what the survey will do is identify which areas of the town of Malta seem to have the greatest needs.”

The town will seek out grants and state and federal funds to help offset the cost, but many grants base the amount they give on need, so the more people who fill out the survey, the better the survey results may be able to raise grant funds. DeLucia also said a public referendum would be needed to have the voters decide whether a bond is warranted, as well.

“I’m very sympathetic to folks who don’t have access to clean, potable water, such as in Riley Cove and Maltaville and others,” said DeLucia, “and we’re trying to do all that we can to hopefully be able to provide it while maintaining the various sources of water, and that means public and private.”

The town is not, however, interested in getting into the water business. DeLucia says the government's role is to help with infrastructure and big-picture planning.

“Our intent is not to try to take over any private water companies or sources,” emphasized DeLucia. “We’re concerned about the residents, and make no mistake, wherever clean water is available we have no intention of taking over private water companies. Rather, we’re hoping to provide the infrastructure in conjunction with all water sources, public and private. Infrastructure is the biggest cost.”

Developers and commercial enterprises can easily access water in Malta, they can afford it, but for those who bought property generations before town water was even thinkable, they may still have to go without for a long time, depending on whether the town residents can all come together to decide, once and for all, now is the time to finally, conceivably have drinkable water and fire hydrants for all.

The water survey is specifically for residents of the Town of Malta. If you are not sure if you are located in the town, check the map on the survey, which outlines the town’s boundaries. The survey is available at the town clerk’s office and online at www.malta-town.org under the heading, “Regarding the Robo call you recived.”


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