Jonathon Norcross

Jonathon Norcross

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Forest Spirit was a race horse with some impressive showings at Saratoga, Belmont Park, and Finger Lakes before his career met an abrupt end. A vet noticed bowing in one of his ankles, and his owners decided to take him out of competition rather than risk a catastrophic injury. Now in the care of Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga, Forest Spirit needs surgery.

“Unfortunately, the day he got here he coliced,” said Megan Koloskie, Development Manager of Therapeutic Horses, “so we caught it before it got bad enough to where he needed surgery.” Forest Spirit was then okay for a while, but “the poor guy has undergone a lot of trials since then,” Koloskie said. Those trials included a wry nose, a condition that resulted in a tooth fragment that is affecting his sinuses. “He will remain here as a therapy horse, he won’t be able to be ridden,” Koloskie said. “Hopefully this surgery will give him the relief that he needs to be happy.”

To raise funds for that surgery, Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga is hosting an event as part of “Leap of Kindness Day” on February 29 at the Horseshoe Inn Bar and Grill. All proceeds from the ticket sales, raffles, and donations will go toward Spirit’s operation.

For more information visit

MOREAU — A proposed moratorium that would temporarily prohibit building commercial, industrial, and manufacturing properties in the Town of Moreau has met fierce opposition from local business leaders, one of whom said the idea has already been dropped by the town supervisor.

Sam Wahnon, a Moreau commercial property owner, said that Moreau Town Supervisor Jesse A. Fish, Jr. came to his office after a town board meeting. “He said that he met with the rest of the town board members and they decided to not do a commercial ban on building,” Wahnon said. “‘No moratorium on commercial property’ is what he told me.”

In the town board meeting, Wahnon expressed his opposition to the proposed moratorium. “I addressed the board and told them that what they were doing was a terrible thing and un-American and that if they do it, I’m going to get very angry and if I get very angry, then they’re going to get very angry and it’s going to end up in a situation,” Wahnon said.

Wahnon said Supervisor Fish “decided it wouldn’t be right to put a commercial moratorium on commercial property in the town of Moreau just because of another problem. He didn’t specify what that problem was but I think we all know.” 

The temporary moratorium is widely seen as an attempt to prevent Saratoga Biochar from building a facility in the Moreau Industrial Park.

As of press time, Supervisor Fish had not responded to multiple requests for comment.

On Wednesday, the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) released a letter to Supervisor Fish encouraging him to drop the moratorium, stating that “the enforcement action you propose would be contrary to reasonable and responsible efforts to expand Moreau’s tax base, create investment opportunities, and add and retain full-time jobs.” The letter was signed by SEDC President and CEO J. Gregory Connors.

The proposed moratorium, known as Local Law No. 2, would temporarily prohibit “the review, approval of applications, and granting of building and other municipal permits for land use approvals in the commercial, industrial, and manufacturing zoning districts within the Town of Moreau.”

SARATOGA SPRINGS — In 2016, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce launched Leap of Kindness Day, an initiative that encourages community members to spend their leap day engaging in acts of kindness and charity. Since then, the idea has taken off and been adopted by organizations around the world.

A map provided by Chamber President Todd Shimkus showed that Leap of Kindness day has spread to Canada, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Senegal. “We currently have 180 different communities around the globe signed up to participate, and the list is growing every day,” Shimkus told Saratoga TODAY. “It’s really amazing to see how Leap of Kindness Day keeps growing, and it’s exciting to learn about all the unique ways folks are spreading kindness in their communities.”

Shimkus said that the Saratoga Chamber has been providing guidance to other chambers that are participating in the event. “We have given tips on how to organize a successful Leap of Kindness Day, along with graphics to use and a press release template.”

Those interested in participating in Leap of Kindness Day 2024 can view the Chamber’s list of nonprofit requests at

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Tickets for the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival sold quickly this week. Presale began shortly before noon on Wednesday, while tickets for the general public went on sale at 10 a.m. on Thursday. As of 11:20 a.m. on Thursday, single day seating was sold out. About 30 minutes later, single day general admission tickets had also sold out. All tickets for Saturday, June 8 (Belmont Stakes day) were gone by the end of the week.

Some presale buyers were fooled by an advertisement on the Belmont Stakes tickets page, which featured a green “Continue” button that linked to another site asking for credit card information. A message above the advertisement that read “paid banners below are not related to Belmont Stakes Ticket Sales” appeared to have been added later. Other prospective presale buyers said that when they tried to buy specific tickets, the Ticketmaster website suddenly said the tickets were no longer available. Some reported they were unable to buy tickets at all, despite having access to presale.

WILTON — A Wilton resident and maritime archaeologist who studied Lake George shipwrecks was admitted as a Fellow into the Royal Geographical Society earlier this month. 

In the 1980s, Joseph W. Zarzynski was a Saratoga Springs school teacher whose life took an unexpected turn when a friend of his found a World War II bomber in Loch Ness. Zarzynski took a leave of absence from teaching, went to Scotland, and thought “wow, I want to be an underwater archaeologist.”  Zarzynski went back to school and earned a second master’s degree in Archaeology and Heritage from the University of Leicester in England.

While in upstate New York, Zarzynski took up recreational diving in Lake George, and became fascinated by the shipwrecks there. “A group of British shipwrecks were put into the lake in what is called a ‘wet storage’ in the winter of 1758,” Zarzynski said. The British decided to sink the fleet in shallow water and raise them in the spring of 1759 for a campaign against the French in the Champlain Valley. “It was pretty difficult raising vessels, so there were probably four dozen plus that were not recovered,” Zarzynski said. “So they became the focal point of some research we did in earnest from 1987 right up until I stopped diving in the lake in 2016.”

From 1987 until 2011, Zarzynski directed Bateaux Below, a nonprofit that mapped dozens of Lake George shipwrecks.  In 1990, he led the team that used a Klein side scan sonar to discover the 1758 Land Tortoise radeau, a floating gun battery from the French and Indian War. In 1998, the Land Tortoise was listed as a National Historic Landmark. A few years ago,  Zarzynski’s book, “Ghost Fleet Awakened: Lake George’s Sunken Bateaux of 1758” was published by SUNY Press. It was Zarzynski’s use of geography in studying the famed “Sunken Fleet of 1758” that helped land him in the Royal Geographical Society after a lengthy application process.

Zarzynski will be teaching several workshops at the Fort William Henry Museum in Lake George later this year. Museum visitors can also visit the underwater archaeology exhibit room to see a painting of a 31-foot long shipwreck created by a nonprofit that Zarzynski spearheads. His eight book, “Fort William Henry’s Moments in Time” was published in August of last year. 

The Royal Geographical Society was founded in London in 1830. According to the organization’s website, “the Society’s purpose remains the same today as when first founded, namely the advancement of geographical science.” In addition to Zarzynski, other Fellows include Sir Ernest Shackleton, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Clive Cussler.

SARATOGA SPRINGS —At the February 15 Saratoga Springs City School District Board of Education meeting, Director of Budget and Program Integration Joe Greco stressed the need for the district to cut substitute teacher costs.

Greco said that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the district was spending around $1 million on substitute teachers. In 2022 and 2023, substitute spending was subsidized by COVID funds. “Now that the Covid money is going away,” Greco said, “we have to change our behavior, otherwise we’re going to keep directing a lot of our funds into substitute costs.”

Greco said that reducing reliance on substitute teachers is one of the district’s biggest budget priorities. 

Thursday, 22 February 2024 12:52

Adirondack United Capture Regional Championship

UTICA — With a 14-0 record, and a dogged determination to capture a state title, the Adirondack United have concluded one of the most impressive seasons among all local sports teams. At the Nexus Center in Utica last Friday, the United was crowned New York State regional champions after a 7-3 win over Kenmore-Grand Island.

The United started the title game on the wrong foot, falling behind 2-0 in the first period. But it wasn’t long before the team rebounded and finished with a dominant victory.

The bout capped off a busy post-season week for the United. On February 14, they advanced to the state final four after an 8-1 win against the North Avalanche at the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls. Then on February 16, they defeated Skaneateles 6-1 in Utica in the state semifinals.

This season was only the second year that the United have existed. In their inaugural season, they finished with a 19-2 record but lost to Clinton in the state title game, 2-1. Earlier this season, the United got a taste of revenge when they beat Clinton 4-1.

“I don’t think we’re really getting caught up in any individual game because their goal is really pointing toward the end of the season,” Coach Jeff Willis told Saratoga TODAY after the United’s win against Clinton. It appears the team’s focus on winning a state championship paid off.

BALLSTON SPA — “Baseball is undoubtedly a pure American game, and its birthplace Cooperstown, New York, and Abner Doubleday entitled to first honor of its invention.” Abner Graves wrote these words in a letter to the editor of the Beacon Journal newspaper in 1905. Graves’ letter changed baseball history, but it was all a lie.

“This is a great example of fake news,” said Ballston Town Historian Rick Reynolds. “Fake news can take on its own life and become reality.”

Graves’ letter was written in response to Albert Spalding, founder of the Spalding sporting goods company, who was attempting to discover baseball’s origins. “Spalding felt that there needed to be a beginning for baseball, so he established a commission,” Reynolds said. Graves heard about this commission and “made up this story that Abner Doubleday was the beginning of baseball.”

Not only was Doubleday not the inventor of baseball, there’s scant evidence he had anything to do with baseball period. “He kept incredible diaries and journals of his life,” Reynolds said. “Never in any of his journals or any of his writings is baseball or anything like baseball ever mentioned.”

Doubleday is a significant figure not just in American history, but also in Ballston Spa. At 28 Washington Street stands a yellow house, now The Real McCoy brewery, that a historical marker declares is the birthplace of Major-General Abner Doubleday. The sign calls him “the founder of baseball.” 

The sign might be inaccurate on two counts. Not only is Doubleday not the inventor of baseball, but recently there’s been some doubt as to whether the house was actually his birthplace. “There’s pretty much definitive evidence that he lived there at some point, but whether he was born there is another issue,” Reynolds said.

Regardless of where Doubleday was born, he is probably the most consequential figure in American history to have lived in Ballston Spa. Doubleday was second-in-command at Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began. He was wounded at the Battle of Antietam. He commanded the second infantry division at the Battle of Gettysburg. After the war, Doubleday was a steadfast supporter of Abraham Lincoln, and accompanied the 16th president on a train ride prior to the Gettysburg Address. 

Despite this remarkable life, Doubleday is most remembered for Graves’ fictionalized account of baseball’s invention. “The Ridiculous 6,” a Netflix comedy starring Adam Sandler, lampoons Doubleday as making up baseball’s rules on the spot. In 1939, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was established in Cooperstown, thanks in large part to Graves’ letter. As recently as 1957, Ballston Spa featured a float in its sesquicentennial parade proudly declaring the Civil War hero to be the “founder of baseball.”

The true story of baseball’s creation is complex. Some historians point to 1840s New York City as the origin. Others believe the game evolved from 18th-century England, where a similar game called rounders was played. Hundreds of years ago, in both Massachusetts and the Carolinas, athletes were hitting balls with something resembling a baseball bat. The truth is that baseball probably evolved over time, in multiple places, as games played with bats and balls grew in popularity. 

Nonetheless, the sign declaring Abner Doubleday to be the sport’s founder still stands in Ballston Spa. Also still standing is Doubleday Field, a stadium at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, where baseball was not invented.

“Americans like finality,” Reynolds said. “We like to know answers to things, and sometimes there are no answers for sure.” 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — It feels like Skidmore baseball is everywhere these days. 

Last year, Thoroughbreds catcher Jackson Hornung became the first athlete in school history to be drafted by a professional team when he was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the MLB Draft. Last week, former Skidmore pitching coach Mike McFerran was hired by the Oakland Athletics. As the college’s baseball program steps into the spotlight, recruiting talented players is getting easier. “We’ve seen just in terms of the overall quality of recruits, I think it’s gone up a tick certainly,” said Head Coach Ron Plourde.

With a bright horizon, Skidmore is preparing for its first game of the season on March 2 at Baruch College. “I think we have very high expectations,” Plourde said. “Despite graduating a really talented group of seniors, the bulk of our pitching is back, and we have a really good core of returners.” Although the Thoroughbreds have won recent division championships, their goal this season is to “make a good run at a Liberty League championship,” Plourde said.

With only a couple weeks until opening day, the team is looking to solidify a few positions. “Our middle infield had a complete turnover so that’s an area that we’re looking to replace,” Plourde said. “Aside from first base, we’re wide open at short, second, and third.”

The third spot in the starting rotation is also up for grabs. “We should know by the end of our Florida trip who that third guy is,” Plourde said. Skidmore is scheduled to play nine games in the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic in Fort Myers, Florida beginning March 10.

This year’s roster also features a whopping 11 freshmen, at least one or two of whom may earn some significant playing time this season.

Coach Plourde shared his team’s full roster with Saratoga TODAY:

OAKLAND, CA — Another Skidmore baseball alum has made it to the major leagues. Mike McFerran, an assistant coach and pitching coach for Skidmore College from 2017 to 2020, has been hired by the Oakland Athletics, the team announced last week.

“Mike is a phenomenal coach and an even better human being,” said Skidmore’s head baseball coach Ron Plourde. “He’s one of the brightest coaches that I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”

McFerran has joined the A’s player development staff as the pitching performance coach. Prior to his new role in Oakland, McFerran was the pitching lab coordinator and director of player development at Wake Forest University.

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