MILTON — After a house fire on Jan. 27 left the Thomas family with hardly anything left, a good Samaritan set up a gofundme with a goal to raise $10,000, it as already reached over $6,000.
On Sunday, Adam Thomas was fixing his snowmobile with his eldest son, unfortunately a gas leak from the vehicle reached the space heaters and set the house ablaze.
“He (son) came in screaming that there was a fire and that everyone needed to get out,” Kristel Thomas said.
Kristel and Adam Thomas live in Rock City Falls with their four sons that are 11, 7, 6 and 3. Right now they are at their grandparents house down the road. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
“We ran out with whatever we had on our backs and my husband was frantically trying to put the fire out with fire extinguishers. Nothing was working,” Kristel Thomas said.
“We lost everything, it burned to the ground, we weren’t able to salvage anything,” she added.
Along with donations to the gofundme page, the community, friends and family and school have sent shoes, boots and winter jackets. The Red Cross and After the Fire have donated gift cards as well.
“It’s amazing how everybody comes out of the wood works when something like this happens,” Kristel Thomas said.
As it turns out, the children's bus driver, Kelly Otis Hayes, is the good Samaritan that started the fundraiser. Hayes says that she hasn’t been doing the bus runs very long so that’s why parents do not know her yet.
“Well her boys are just absolutely amazing kids, I have fallen in love with those kids, they’re the greatest,” said Hayes. According to Hayes the Saratoga bus drivers emphasize being the first smile in the morning and the last smile in the afternoon.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize the bond that you get with these kids after a while so what I found in the end really is that not only am I making their day, they’re my first smile andmy last smile of the day so it broke my heart when I heard what happened to them,” she said. Hayes says she can’t wait to present the family with the check with all the money that was raised.
To donate visit gofundme.com and search “The Thomas Family.”
MALTA — Longtime bike dealer Les Plaine has decided to close two satellite shops, one in Malta and one in Albany. Plaine is now focusing on the headquarters, Les Plaine and Son, located at 1816 State St. in Schenectady and converting a second Schenectady location into a warehouse. His stores also sell skis and snowboards.
“I found that the customers that were located up North were very content to come to Schenectady because of the bigger store, the wider selection that was available in Schenectady... most of my customers were willing to come there. I turned out to be my own biggest competitor,” Plaine said.
Collamer House Bike and Ski, Plaines’ Malta location, located at 450 East High St. opened in 2014. The shop is more of a boutique and iswithinahistoricbuildingbuiltin 1835. The Albany store, Broadway Bicycle Co. opened in 2011.
The Schenectady headquarters is roughly 68,000 square-feet, six or seven times the size of the satellite locations, according to Plaine.
“Although that Malta store was doing very well, I didn’t feel like I needed to have a store there to service that market,” he added. Plaine says Collamer house was the best of the satellites.
Plaine and his family have been in the bike business since 1945 when Lou Plaine, Les’ father, first opened up the store. Les now runs the store with his son.
Both Malta and Albany locations are for sale or lease by Vanguard-Fine, LLC, a real estate agency based in Albany. Collamer House Bike and Ski is being sold for $395,000 and is 26,000 square-feet.
All inventory and equipment from both Malta and Albany are now in the Schenectady headquarters and are on sale for liquidation.
BALLSTON SPA — Concerned citizen of Ballston Spa, Liz Kormos, has announced she is running for one of the two open village trustee seats. The election will be held on March 19.
Kormos has been attending village meetings on a regular basis for about three years. She’s been living in Ballston Spa since 2013.
“I was actually quite taken aback by the way they handle the meetings. Before Noah (Shaw) and Shawn (Raymond), I’d walk in and the mayor would read his expenditures that he wanted authorized, they’d say yes — no discussion. So obviously all the discussion happened already,” Kormos said.
Current Mayor John Romano and two village trustees, Stuart Hodsoll and Robert Cavanaugh are not seeking re-election this year. The three have held their seat for nearly 24 years.
Since the resignations of treasurer Christopher Hickey and deputy treasurer Darryl Purinton in September, Kormos has been an even louder voice wanting better financial management of the village. Kormos says she has been asking questions about the village’s financial state for a few years now.
“I found it really kind of incredible that there was no discussion. They were very short meetings and it was very sparsely attended. Sometimes I was the only person to speak and then there were one or two other people but generally those folks didn’t ask questions,” Kormos said.
Kormos was one of five members of the budget advisory committee appointed by the village board in early October of 2018, following the release of a financial audit by the New York State’s Comptroller stating that the Village is in poor financial condition and that records were kept inadequately. Her job on the committee was to develop strategies and identify opportunities for advancing the state of the village’s fiscal affairs.
She was also a member of the zoning advisory committee with members of the planning and zoning boards, Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association, and local developers to make recommendations on improvements in the zoning code which were then adopted by the board of trustees.
Christine Fitzpatrick, another concerned citizen of Ballston Spa, is running for trustee with Kormos under a new party line, “A Better BSpa.” They seek to take to take the politics out of village elections. Along with addressing the village’s poor financial condition they would like to concentrate on repairing and improving the infrastructure, roads, parking and sidewalks; increasing the tax base by redeveloping existing properties,improvingpublicsafety on our streets; and supporting senior citizens.
“I think people should look at the four trustee candidates, look at their experience, look at their background and also look at how hard they’ve already worked in the village,” Kormos said.
MOREAU — On Jan. 10 the town of Moreau found out that it was approved for a $12 million interest-free loan to help finance the sewer project. According to Moreau Supervisor, Todd Kusnierz, a number of large companies have already shown interest in locating to the commercial corridor on County Route 9 in Moreau.
“This was the piece of paper that was the final piece in the financing puzzle that we have been waiting for... Anxiously for,” Kusnierz said.
“We’re absolutely thrilled. This is the largest municipal project in the history of the Town of Moreau. It’s going to create incredible economic development opportunities, job opportunities for our residents and those in surrounding communities and most importantly it’s going to increase our commercial tax base.” There have been two previous attempts to bring a sewer plan forward; however, both were unsuccessful.
The $12 million interest- free loan was approved by the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC), and will last up to 30 years. In addition, the sewer line will be financed by $4 million in grants, totaling in $16 million.
According to Kusnierz there will be a fee charged to landowners that will be predicated on assessed value; however, it will only be applied to the property owners that are contained within the legally- created boundaries of the district. It is roughly 94 parcels.
“When I took office it was clear to me that all the developments were to the north of (Northway) Exits 17, 18 and 19 or to the south of us (Exits) 16, 15 and 14 and it was because they had all the components for infrastructure that a commercial district needs,” Kusnierz said.
“We have been always lacking sewer and without sewer, no large company would come in and spend a lot of money that would bring great jobs. So it was clear to us that we had to put forward an affordable plan that the public supported.”
Moreau will soon be taking bids on engineering firms to work on the project. The project will be completed in November of 2021.
WILTON — On Jan. 7 the Adirondack Trust Company (ATC) celebrated the grand re-opening and ribbon cutting of its newly re-built Wilton branch. The office is located at 650 Maple Ave. in Wilton. The Branch also received a Citation from New York Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner. This adds to the 12 existing branches in Saratoga and Warren Counties.
The branch burned down in March 2017 and was redesigned by the architectural firm Phinney Design Group. The interior was designed by Ed Rovetto of Rovetto Design and features a dynamic, curved teller station; high ceilings; exposed wood; and a full-wall rendering of the Adirondacks at sunset by photographer Jonathan Zaharek. Michael Phinney of Phinney Design was the principal architect, and Munter Enterprises built the Branch.
“It’s great to be back! We’re very excited about our new Wilton Branch,andweinviteeveryone in the community to come and visit,” said Charles V. Wait Jr., Vice President of Adirondack Trust Company.
“The Branch has been designed specifically to help us serve our customers even better than before, with new technology as well as a beautiful interior and exterior that evokes the strength of the Adirondacks.”
The bank’s new enhancements include a private conference room for customers and staff; a 24/7 drive-up ATM with image capture; the branch also includes new teller cash recyclers, which will help employees process customer transactions faster.
In attendance at the re-opening was Town of Wilton Supervisor Arthur Johnson, Adirondack Trust Chairman Charles V. Wait, Adirondack Trust President and CEO Stephan R. von Schenk, Adirondack Trust Executive Vice President Charles V. Wait, Jr., Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus, Adirondack Trust Vice President—Facilities and Security Dean Kolligian, Adirondack Trust Assistant Treasurer and Wilton Branch Manager Lynette Matt, as well as other ATC staff and community members.
During the event, community members were invited into the ATC Wilton Branch for light refreshments and to view the inside of the newly rebuilt branch.
The Wilton Branch is managed by Assistant Treasurer Lynette Matt, who managed the Branch before the rebuild as well. Also returning to the Wilton staff is Assistant Branch Manager Tina Nadeau. They are joined by Head Teller Jeremy Cottrell, and full- time tellers Saraya Worthen and Shania Savastio.
The new branch is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with Saturday hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The bank is offering re-opening specials through Jan. 22.
BALLSTON SPA — Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County is a recipient of $36,226 in state funding to support a Farm-to-School initiative.
The money awarded to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County, located at 50 West High St. in Ballston Spa, will be used to build a wash, cure and storage facility and create an agricultural education program for students in Saratoga Central School District that will include farm experience field trips to increase awareness of locally- sourced food.
According to Diane Whittman, Food and Nutrition Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension Saratoga County, the grant was applied to in partnership with Pitney Meadows Community Farms, Saratoga Springs City School District and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County. She says nearly half of the money will go to capital improvements at Pitney Meadows so the wash, cure and storage facility can be built onsite. The partnership has plans to introduce the program by spring of this year. This includes having produce ready to be harvested by spring, and some students, from the entire district, harvesting them. Whittman says there will be some in-class education about agriculture in Saratoga County and food sourcing.
The Farm-to-School program increases the volume and variety of locally grown and produced food in schools. It aims to improve student health and to educate young people about agriculture. In addition it provides new markets for New York’s farmers. The program also supports the expansion of the NY Thursdays Program, a school meal initiative that uses local, farm-fresh foods on Thursdays throughout the school year.
$1.5 million in awards was granted to support Farm-to- School programs across New York. The funding has been awarded to 18 projects and educational organizations that serve students in Kindergarten through Grade 12, and will benefit over 420,000 students.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County received $93,582 in awards and Capital Roots Inc., a non-profit organization based in Troy, received $97,220.
The Farm-to-School Program is part of the State’s efforts to increase the amount of fresh, local foods served in schools and to connect New York’s farmers to new markets. It is a component of the Governor’s “No Student Goes Hungry” initiative. The initiative is a program developed to provide students of all ages, backgrounds, and financial situations access to healthy, locally-sourced meals from kindergarten through college.
“The long-term goal is to make Pitney Meadows Farm a farm-to-school hub. Any local farms that might be willing to sell to the school could deliver their produce to Pitney Meadows Farm for storage, and then from there the school district could order,” Whittman said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Dec. 28 Saratoga Hospital announced that visitation guidelines are in effect as of Dec. 31, at several regional hospitals to further protect patients from influenza and other infectious diseases. New York State Department of Health establishes the guidelines after determining that the flu is now prevalent in certain communities.
A maximum of two visitors will be allowed in a patient’s room under these guidelines. In addition, visitors with rash, respiratory symptoms or fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath are not allowed to visit patients and children 12 and under are also now not allowed to visit patients. These visitor restrictions are implemented every year.
“So far to date we’ve seen over 30 hospitalized patients here; it was certainly less than we saw last year for the same time frame. Most patients are over 65,” said Erin Beck, Senior Infection Prevention Specialist at Saratoga Hospital. She adds that the increase in flu patients typically occurs at the end of December.
Other hospitals implementing the restrictions include Albany Med, Columbia Memorial Hospital and Saratoga Hospital. Hospitals that had already implemented the restrictions include St. Peter’s Health Partners acute care hospitals including Albany Memorial Hospital, Samaritan Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, St. Peter’s Hospital, and Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital.
The restrictions are temporary and are intended to help limit the transmission of the virus and protect the health and safety of patients and the professionals who provide their care during the outbreak. The restrictions tend to last two to three months according to Dr. J. Robert Hayes, Medical Director of the Hospitalist Program at Saratoga Hospital.
“The flu either shifts or drifts and if it shifts it can cause severe pandemics but that’s very rare; this year it appears to have just shifted,” Hayes said.
“It’s probably a little bit early to say what the impact of the flu will be on the community. It’s been wide-spread for probably about a month now and I think the early indications so far are that it’s not as severe as it was last year. My gut reaction is that this particular type of Influenza A has not made a traumatic shift,” Hayes added.
The hospitals also are urging all visitors to use hand-washing stations before entering and upon leaving a patient’s room. Hand sanitizers are available at many hospital entrances and at many other locations throughout these hospitals, including the doorways of many patient rooms. Some hospitals have special care units or physical layouts which may have additional visitation restrictions or modifications.
Hospital officials advised that it is still important to get the flu vaccine, as it offers protection against other circulating strains and will reduce the likelihood of severe illness.
WILTON — At a Nov. 20, 2018 Wilton planning board meeting Aldi Inc. sought permission to build a grocery store located at 14 Lowes Drive with a driveway connection to the existing Lowe’s store in Wilton. Following the meeting a public hearing was held on Dec. 19, 2018.
The Aldi grocery store will lie on roughly 2.1 acres of land and will be approximately 19,896 square- feet of retail space and 434 square- feet of loading and storage area. The Aldi’s plot is part of a 34-acre subdivision owned by KMDA Development according to Ryan K. Riper, P.E. Director of Planning and Engineering for the town of Wilton. For now, they are naming the remainder of the land the “Wilton
Marketplace” which there are not yet plans for. There are 3 other lots on the Wilton Marketplace parcel. Aldi is lot one.
The discount grocer chain has stores in Clifton Park and Ballston Spa, in Saratoga County. Aldi also has more than 1,600 stores across 35 states. Already in the surrounding area, Wilton residents can shop at Walmart and Healthy Living Market at the Wilton Mall.
The development of the grocery store will include the creation of a new town road as well. After further development of the site, the new road will connect to Old Gick Road. Current plans include a parking lot that has 93 parking spaces as well.
In 2007, Aldi purchased a different plot within the 34 acres for $1.2 million from KMDA.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The former building for The Saratogian newspaper will now house a new beer hall and coffee house named Walt and Whitman. The new brewery will be located at 20 Lake Ave. at the corner of Maple Ave. in Saratoga Springs.
The two-story brick building is undergoing renovations by Bonacio Construction Inc, a general contractor based in Saratoga Springs. According to a Facebook post by the Director of Operations of Whitman Brewing, Shawna Jenks, the brewery is expected to open in June of 2019.
The Saratogian left the Lake Ave. location in August of 2017 and moved operations to 7 Wells St. in Saratoga Springs. However, the newspaper was at the 20 Lake location for over 100 years.
Developer Frank Parillo bought the one-acre property in 2012 and paid $2.6 million. He still owns it. Parillo also owns the Wilton Travel Plaza truck stop and two marinas on Lake George. He is a partner in the Hampton Inn hotel and High Rock condominium complex in Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga Strike Zone Saratoga.
SARATOGA — In mid-July of 2018 Steve Mackey and his daughter Heather Mackey set out to complete the Great Divide mountain bike route. The trek took two whole months to make it from Jasper, Alberta to the Mexican border in Antelope Wells, N.M. The total route: 3,335 miles according to their bicycle odometers.
The two used a mobile application called Adventure Cycling. It is also a non-profit that put together the Great Divide bike route about 20 years ago, according to Steve Mackey. Mackey says he has had his eye on this route for some time and knew it was something he wanted to do if he had the time. The application showed both Steve and Heather where they were at all times and helped them keep track of their mileage.
The Great Divide mountain bike route follows the Continental Divide hiking trail; it crosses it about 32 times. At some points the crossing spanned 22 miles. Mackey says nearly 80 percent of the route is gravel roads, 10 percent is pavement and 10 percent is single-tracked. Single- track is a type of mountain biking where the trail is as wide as the bike.
Mackey says throughout the whole duration of the trip, he and his daughter saw about 50 people also on the trail. However, many just bike parts of the trail. A lot of days they saw no one. Because they were in such remote areas most of the time, Steve and Heather had to be prepared in case a grizzly bear was present. Steve would have bear spray on hand in his fanny pack and Heather would be ready to record.
“We never did see a grizzly, we saw a black bear and we saw the tracks a few times,” Mackey said, although they had friends that did see one.
Most nights they pitched tents and slept at campsites, some had running water and an outhouse other nights they slept just off the bike route. Out of the whole two months only 10 nights were spent in a hotel or motel.
“If we were in a little town that had a hotel, we would stay, charge our electrics,buy more food, take showers and stuff, and do laundry,” Mackey said.
Throughout the two-months, both Steve and Heather had the adventure of a lifetime that included getting bogged down in impassible mud in New Mexico, where the mud is so bad some bikers abandon their bike.
“It’s so sticky that just putting them in the water doesn’t make a difference, you actually had to scrub them to get it off,” Mackey said about the mud stuck to his bike tires.
Everyday the bikers are carrying between 25 and 40 pounds of travel equipment, necessities and non-perishable food. “The more calories the better,” Mackey said. Their diet consisted of soda, granola bars, candy, fruit, fruit pies, nuts, macaroni and cheese or spaghetti for dinner and the occasional café stop.
“Soda tastes so good when you’re out there and you’re hot and dry,” Mackey said.
Near the Colorado River, Steve was unfortunately hit by a kayak attached to a truck. At this part of the route, he was on a gravel road with many vehicles commuting to a rafting festival.
“All of a sudden a bus went by and they kind of yelled, you know you only got a split second, and they had kayaks sideways that were wider than the bus and one of them cut me in the head. I had helmet on but it knocked me in the brush. They saw that they hit me and they stopped and got out to see if I was okay,” Mackey said.
“So it was kind of a minor thing, but at the time quite a surprise,” he added.
At the very end of their trip, Steve and Heather had their bikes stolen while at a restaurant in New Mexico. Fortunately the bikes were found.
“Heather said she was just happy to get the bikes back and didn’t press charges,” Mackey said.
“They were only missing for 15 minutes,” he added.
Mackey recommends the trip to anybody who is interested. But he probably will not do this route again; he says it was something on his bucket list.
“It’s such a unique opportunity. She’s (Heather) engaged and when you get a full-time job and are married you can’t do this stuff with your good old dad anymore,” he said.