Jonathon Norcross

Jonathon Norcross

Thursday, 13 June 2024 15:04

Skidmore Fall Sports Schedules Announced

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Skidmore College unveiled its Fall 2024 sports schedules last week.

Opening days for each program are as follows:

Field hockey -
August 30 (at home)

Women’s volleyball - August 30 

Men’s soccer -
August 30

Women’s soccer - August 30 

Women’s tennis - September 13
(at home)

Men’s golf -
September 14 

Men’s tennis - September 21 

Rowing - October 19 

Some local highlights include the Head of the Fish Regatta rowing race on October 26; the men’s golf Skidmore Invitational on October 12 and 13; men’s tennis Skidmore Invitational October 12-14; and the women’s tennis Battle of the Northway September 13-15.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Eighteen years ago, the Firecracker4 was a modest race on July 4th with about 150 runners that raised money for high school running programs in Saratoga Springs. Now, it’s an ever-evolving event with thousands of participants and grand plans for the future.

“We can put 10,000 people on that course, and we’re going to before this is all over,” said Charles Woodruff, one of the race organizers and a co-owner of the Fleet Feet running stores in Albany and Malta. “It’s a very compelling race to be involved in.”

This year, Woodruff and fellow race organizer Peter Goutos, president of CASmith LLC, are aiming for around 3,000 participants, which would be 900 more than last year.

The race advertises itself with its appealing four-mile course that winds through downtown Saratoga Springs and the east side of the city, past historic homes and dozens of musical acts that range from singers to saxophone players to percussionists. But growing the race necessitates new initiatives every year, as well as continued community engagement. 

This year, Woodruff is inviting local schools to put alumni teams together. An area in the parking lot has been set aside for alumni team tents, which could house both younger and older graduates. Saratoga Springs, Colonie, Bethlehem, and East Greenwich school districts are already lined up to participate, though Woodruff is still recruiting more. 

More runners of course means more funds raised for the community, and the Firecracker4 has supported a number of running and health-related projects, including the Saratoga Regional YMCA, local running clubs, the Railroad Run trail in Saratoga Springs, and the Pitney Meadows Community Farm trail system, which Goutos and Woodruff designed and built. All told, $400,000 has been raised for the community over the race’s 18-year history.

Part of Goutos and Woodruff’s mission is not just to expand the number of local trails, but to connect them. Goutos helped put together the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail, a planned 24-mile path that will connect residential neighborhoods to the downtown area, allowing pedestrians and bicyclists to easily get around the city.

“This has gotten much more involved than I ever dreamed it would,” Woodruff said.

As the race continues to grow and expand its influence on the region, there’s one simple message that the organizers like to emphasize: running is for everyone. 

“I don’t even call running ‘running’ anymore. I call it just simply moving with purpose,” Woodruff said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, attract all of those people that we can of every demographic that you can possibly think of that just want to come out for an hour on July 4th in the morning and move with purpose.”

The four-mile Firecracker4 road race begins at 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 4th outside the Saratoga Springs City Center at 522 Broadway. This year’s sponsors include Death Wish Coffee, Fleet Feet, and Greenwich Ford. For more information or to register, visit

Thursday, 13 June 2024 14:55

Belmont by the Numbers

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The long-awaited Belmont Stakes Racing Festival arrived at the Saratoga Race Course last week, drawing tens of thousands of fans who wagered millions of dollars. Here’s a snapshot of what Belmont brought to the Spa City.

50,000 - The number of fans who attended the sold-out Belmont Stakes Day on Saturday, June 8

$197,426,085 - The total handle for all four days of the festival

120,028 - The total attendance (counted by ticket sales) of the four-day festival

5 1/2 furlongs in 59:80 - A new course record set by Cogburn in the Jaipur Stakes

1 - Number of World Series championships won by Dornoch’s co-owner Jayson Werth, a former professional baseball player

15,000 - Estimated number of people who attended the Belmont on Broadway free concert event on Wednesday, June 5

$125,748,941 - The total handle for Belmont Stakes Day, a New York Racing Association (NYRA) record for a non-Triple Crown year

300% - Increase in the usual amount of alcohol provided to the Saratoga Race Course by beverage distributors

SCHUYLERVILLE — The Schuylerville Central School District’s athletic department announced its 2023-2024 Scholar-Athletes of the Year and Athletes of the Year last week. 

The Scholar-Athletes of the year, who demonstrated high achievement in both athletics and academics, were Sophia Wahl and Martin Flanders Jr. Wahl was the only member of the Schuylerville softball team to be invited to the inaugural 518 Futures High School Softball Classic. Flanders Jr. was a standout football player who played defensive end and running back. 

The Athletes of the Year, who achieved athletic success at the highest level, were Keira Rogan and Lukas Sherman. Rogan was part of the girls track and field team that won its third-straight sectional title last month. Sherman broke his school’s all-time boys basketball scoring record in January. 

BURNT HILLS — The Charlton School, a treatment center and high school for young women experiencing mental health challenges, broke ground on a $13.8 million construction project Wednesday morning. Four new dormitories will be built as part of the campus’ largest redesign since 1955.

The dorms will help the school expand its capacity, which is being overwhelmed due to a significant increase in referrals, according to Charlton’s Executive Director Alex Capo. Mental health-related hospitalization rates for girls across the country have increased sharply since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You get scared when you’re looking at the possibility of sending your child, a 14-year-old girl in the middle of a healthcare crisis, two-and-a-half hours away from home to live with a bunch of strangers,” said Bob Clapp, an alumni parent and member of the school’s board of trustees. “The school was beautiful, the grounds were incredible, the staff was top-notch,” Clapp said. “The one area that was a little iffy were the dorms. Dorms are important. That’s your child’s home away from home. During her time here, it needs to be home. That’s why I’m so excited about this project.”

Renderings of the future dorms showed porches, picnic tables, and a courtyard-like garden where students could study, socialize, and heal.

The Charlton School attracts students from all over the country, many of whom have experienced multiple hospitalizations and struggle with issues such as self-injurious behavior, anxiety, and depression. They typically stay on campus for about 18 months, participating in family therapy, equine therapy, art therapy, and New York State-accredited special education curriculum and individual treatment plans.

In addition to the new dorms, a Career Development and Occupational Studies Building will also be built to house woodworking, screen printing, podcasting, and maintenance equipment. The entire project, managed by LeChase Construction Services, is expected to be completed by March of 2025.

WILTON — The Wilton Water and Sewer Authority (WWSA) voted unanimously at a board meeting last month not to fluoridate the town’s water supply. The decision impacts Saratoga Springs School District’s Dorothy Nolan Elementary, which has around 700 students, and receives its water from the Town of Wilton.

The vote reaffirmed a previous March 19 vote that was deemed informal by the WWSA due to what it called a minor procedural error

The WWSA board meeting on May 21 was well attended, with a majority of speakers opposing fluoridation. Anti-fluoridation advocates primarily cited freedom of choice, arguing that if a majority of town residents wanted fluoridated water, the town would’ve had it by now. 

Anti-fluoridation attendees also cited a recent University of Southern California study, which suggested that pregnant women exposed to fluoride could face an increased risk of their child demonstrating behavioral problems. Some experts have called the study limited in scope, and said that further investigation is needed before any conclusions can be drawn.

Pro-fluoridation activists cited the United States’ long history of fluoridating its water supply, as well as abundant research that demonstrates fluoride’s ability to reduce tooth decay in children. An online petition calling for Wilton to fluoridate its water had 336 signatures as of June 10.

Despite a claim to the contrary from one pro-fluoridation advocates, Dorothy Nolan is not the only school in the Saratoga Springs City School District that doesn’t have fluoridated water. According to Maura Manny, Director of Community Outreach and Communications for the district, Maple Avenue Middle School and Greenfield Elementary also lack fluoridated water. 

Thursday, 13 June 2024 13:15

Augie’s Celebrates 20 Years

BALLSTON SPA — Augie’s Family Style Italian Restaurant in Ballston Spa celebrated its 20th anniversary on Monday, offering patrons complimentary glasses of Prosecco and cannolis to celebrate the occasion. 

“Twenty years ago, we moved from the New York City suburb of Larchmont to Ballston Spa,” Augie Vitiello wrote in an Instagram post. “We were embraced by the incredible community in upstate New York, which we are now so proud to call home!”

Born and raised in the Bronx, Vitiello learned home-style Italian cooking from his parents. He ran a restaurant in Larchmont for 13 years before relocating to the area. 

Augie’s currently has two locations: a full-service restaurant in downtown Ballston Spa, and a take-out restaurant in Saratoga Springs across from the East Side Recreation Park on Lake Ave.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation held two sold-out tours of the Saratoga Race Course during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival on Friday, June 7 and Sunday, June 9. 

The tours, led by the foundation’s Executive Director Samantha Bosshart, explored the history of the track, as well as its many renovations and expansions over the years. Bosshart also explained her foundation’s role in shaping the track’s appearance. Tour guests were allowed to enter the track before gates officially opened to the public.

For information on upcoming foundation tours and events, visit

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Over the last century, the number of farms in Saratoga County has decreased by 84%. As local farmers work hard to survive and thrive, the first-ever Farm Showcase on June 22 aims to give the community a taste (literally) of what the county’s farms have to offer.

More than twenty local farms, providing everything from ice cream to beer to fresh produce, will participate in the event, which is organized by Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature), a nonprofit land trust.

Michelle Culbert, Saratoga PLAN’s associate director, said that local farmers are finding creative ways to market themselves directly to consumers. The Saratoga Farm Showcase is one way to do that.

“Attending these types of events, going right to the farm store and purchasing directly from the farm, is the best way to support local farmers,” Culbert said.

Farms are rapidly evaporating, primarily due to development and urban sprawl. Developers like farmland because it’s usually flat and cleared of trees. Although this loss of farmland is happening nationwide, it’s even more pronounced in Saratoga County, the second-fastest growing county in the state. “We’re feeling it here more than elsewhere in the state,” Culbert said.

Part of Saratoga PLAN’s mission includes farmland conservation, which the organization says is “important to the long-term health of the economy, the environment, and the social fabric of our community.” 

Participants in the upcoming showcase include Hop City Maple, King Brothers Dairy, McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, Arnold’s Farm Fresh Produce, City Goat Farm, Dancing Grain Farm Brewery, and Smith’s Orchard & Bake Shop, among others.

Culbert said the inaugural showcase’s success will be measured both by ticket sales and, more importantly, how much everyone involved enjoys the experience.

Tickets for adults cost $10. Kids are free. All tickets must be purchased by Thursday, June 20. There are no day-of ticket sales. 

Included with a ticket comes a tour map with a list of participating farms and their special offerings and discounts, as well as an insulated cooler bag filled with farm goodies. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Thursday, 06 June 2024 13:13

UPH Hosts Belmont Draw Show

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Belmont Stakes Draw Show was held at the Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs on Monday evening. The event, hosted by Fox Sports horse racing analyst Acacia Clement, was live streamed by the New York Racing Association (NYRA).

“This event serves as a kick off to a truly historic week in Saratoga Springs,” Clement said.

Post positions for the Belmont Stakes, in order of their announcement, were as follows:

2 - Resilience 
1 - Seize the Grey
6 - Dornoch
9 - Sierra Leone
4 - The Wine Steward
5 - Antiquarian
7 - Protective
8 - Honor Marie
10 - Mindframe
3 - Mystik Dan

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