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Thursday, 03 September 2020 11:31

Unsung Heroes Prevent Chimney Fires

SARATOGA SPRINGS – After a fire on Aug. 21 blazed through celebrity chef Rachael Ray’s home on Chuckwagon Drive in Lake Luzerne, local chimney expert Jamie Wallace, president of Chimney Heroes, wants the community to know how to prevent these fires.

“Following a thorough evaluation of the physical evidence, witness interviews, and various photographs and video clips, investigators from New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control have determined the fire which damaged a residence on Chuckwagon Drive in Lake Luzerne was accidental in nature and began in the chimney of a wood-burning fireplace,” Colin Brennan, a spokesman for the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, said to the Times Union.

Wallace said fires like the one at the Ray’s household is preventable.

“The best way to prevent it is really follow the guidelines from the national fire protection agency (NFPA211),” Wallace said. “What they do is recommend what the standard is for chimneys and vents and other things within the home, and their standard is to have them inspected annually.”

Annual inspections ensure homeowners don’t have flammable substances in their chimney and checks that the flue, which is the liner in the chimney that lets the dangerous gases escapes, is in shape. Wallace said there are three levels to an inspection. 

“Basic inspection level one has 60 points of inspection, depending on if it’s a fireplace, stove or furnace. Level two [inspection] involves a chimney camera and checking the roof, attic, all the parts that the chimney passes through the home. Level three [inspection] is only needed if there has been an incident like a chimney fire or some kind of tree damage, we open up the chimney and figure out what’s wrong with it,” Wallace said. 

Wallace warns the homeowners with chimneys should have a professional survey each year. 

“I think chimneys are like septic systems, you don’t really think about them or notice them until there is a problem, although no one intends to neglect their chimney,” Wallace said.

According to their website, the company receives many phone calls for blocked or plugged chimneys from downtown Saratoga. Blocked and plugged chimneys create a great risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. This happens because of the chimney’s age, how they were built, or what fuel they now serve. Many of these chimneys do not have clay liners, which causes the actual bricks to deteriorate and fall into the chimney. Others that do have a clay tile liner are often so deteriorated that giant flakes and pieces of the flue collapse in on itself.

Wallace created Chimney Heroes in 2009 Saratoga Springs, when the company was known as Saratoga Chimney Sweep. The company has grown to accommodate six trucks dedicated to helping the local community. 

“We live by our core values and just really try to create a company that is ethical. We are a customer service company that specializes in chimneys because I think customer service is one of those things we try to excel at,” Wallace said.

Chimney Heroes has locations in Malta, Clifton Park, Albany, Queensbury and Niskayuna.

“The greatest thing that everybody loves working at Chimney Heroes is we really do kind of get to play a hero in someone’s life. We really do protect people from dangerous flue gases or keeping their chimney clean. It’s fun to keep people safe,” Wallace said. “We enjoy what we do and we do our best to keep everybody safe.”

Chimney Heroes website can be visited at chimneyheroes.com and reached at 518-424-8620

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The official First Edition City of Saratoga Springs Monopoly game was released this week, featuring beloved businesses, destinations and attractions that make the area unique. 

The Hasbro-produced classic Monopoly game is completely customized to celebrate the City of Saratoga Springs. Created by the Adirondack Trust Company Community Fund (ATCCF), 100% of the proceeds from game sales will go directly to ATCCF’s Lend-A-Hand Grant program. The program puts dollars in the hands of nonprofits that impact the communities in Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties.

Leah Ferrone, Marketing Operations and Outreach manager at ATC, says everyone who has grown up, lived, moved or studied in Saratoga can relate to this customized board. 

“The whole board is completely customized, from the tokens to different real estate properties and the photographs that are on the board. But I think one of the things that make it so special and unique are the ‘Community Chest’ and ‘Chance’ cards. For our board, we reference something unique in Saratoga on every card,” Ferrone said. “Whether you come to Saratoga for what you love—the track,  SPAC, the healing aspects of the waters—there is something in those cards that everyone can relate to that will bring up a really fun memory of Saratoga.”

Each board costs $50 and references Congress Park, the Saratoga County Fair, being a Blue Streak, and even attending Skidmore. This isn’t the first time Saratoga was featured on a Monopoly game board. In the early 1980’s, a custom game board called Saratogaopoly was created. Photos reveal the collectors box saying “a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Saratoga Hospital Foundation.”

The creation of the new game board started in February and was created with help from the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Cooley Group in Rochester, NY. 

“When we heard about all of the success the game could have, we knew it would be a lot of work, but it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Ferrone said.

ATCCF Chair Brian Straughter said in a release: “at a time when local nonprofits need our support more than ever, we are thrilled to introduce the City of Saratoga Springs Monopoly game as a way to not only create memories with your loved ones, but to also give back to the community. This game has been made possible through the support of local community members, many of which are featured on the game board. We are proud to share this project with all Saratoga Springs enthusiasts.” 

There is only a limited quantity of games, and sales will last until they are sold out. However, Ferrone said they have the ability to order a second edition depending on demand. 

“We wanted to announce the game though a big launch party, but the world had different plans. While it’s not how we envisioned it, this is a really special time to be putting this out there. The game celebrates the community and brings us together…this is something that will bring joy to people,” Ferrone said.

The local retailers who will be selling the game includes: Allerdice Building Supplies, Cudney’s Cleaners, Dark Horse Mercantile, Hampton Inn & Suites Saratoga Springs, Homewood Suites by Hilton Saratoga Springs, Impressions of Saratoga, Northshire Bookstore Saratoga Springs, PJ’s BBQSA, Putnam Market, Saratoga Hospital, Spoken Boutique, and all Adirondack Trust Company convenient branch locations. Games also may be purchased online at SaratogaSpringsMonopoly.org. 

ATCCF’s website is ATCCF.org and is located at 31 Church Street. They can be reached at 518-584-5844.

Published in News
Thursday, 09 July 2020 13:04

Drivers & Diners Merge

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Henry Street welcomed outdoor tables filled with customers this past weekend as local eateries in Saratoga have expanded their outdoor dining to the streets.

Participating restaurants such as Scallions, Henry Street Taproom, Flatbread Social, Paint and Sip and other businesses can now offer outdoor seating on the street with concrete safety barriers between customers and traffic. The concrete blocks extend down Henry Street and Short Alley between Lake Avenue and Caroline Street. Eateries saw full capacity after beginning the street dining this past Friday.

“It was really exciting to see so many people enjoying it,” said Erin Maciel, Complete Streets Advisory Board committee member. “This is the step we need to take as a city. I think by working with the business association, we have really seen how streets can be flexible. That’s really what we are promoting with Complete Streets. Streets are public space and this is a great example of how streets can keep us safe as a community, allow for social distancing and allow for people to be outdoors and support businesses.”

The Complete Streets Advisory Board was established via the Complete Streets Policy as adopted by City Council on May 1, 2012. 

“Having that outdoor space is pivotal. People do feel safer outdoors and that’s something that we have to acknowledge and support. We want them to come out and feel safe downtown. The outdoor step is essential and necessary to save our local economy,” said Catherine Hover, owner of Paint and Sip.

Street dining helps to increase revenue for participating businesses and allows for COVID-19 safe dining. To help this initiative, Maciel said she’s happy the city passed a temporary outdoor seating that allows businesses to expand to city property, which streets are included in.

“With the ordinance that is out there right now, each business needs to provide insurance that allows them to go out onto sidewalks and into the street. That’s our next step throughout our community…to expand outdoor dining.”

The Saratoga City Council approved the permit system late June, which allows city restaurants to expand their outdoor seating to sidewalks and other public locations. The permits have no cost.

Henry Street isn’t the only roadway to see outdoor dining. Maciel said she has seen businesses on other streets joining together to take over parking lanes or shift around the cross section of the roadway to accommodate seating in the street. Hover, also owner of Palette Café, expanded her outdoor seating to the sidewalks on Broadway.

“Right now, I think we are seeing a silver lining and I think that’s something we need to talk about…that we can accommodate and support local businesses with new ideas and thinking creatively,” Maciel said. “We on the Complete Streets Board and design professionals here in the city just want to support businesses to keep our city what it is and make sure everyone can weather this storm.”

Maciel is also a Senior Landscape Architect at CLA SITE Landscape Architecture, Engineering & Planning, P.C, which is located at 58 Church St in Saratoga Springs.

Hover added: “We have to keep moving forward and we have to have hope. We have to evolve and we have to adapt. We need people to be vocal and speak up. There is real change coming and it’s exciting.” 

Dining on the road will continue through Labor Day, at which point the Complete Streets Advisory Board and city officials will re-evaluate to determine if the ordinance and permits should be extended. 

 “It really depends on COVID and how safe we can be indoors,” Maciel said. “We have a climate here that does not allow us to be outdoors year-round. Talking with everyone, why can’t we have heaters out there? You look at a lot of cities around the globe and I think there are ways to make accommodations for folks to enjoy it longer. Once we go into winter and if we are not able to be indoors safely, that’s going to be a huge hit for our small businesses. We really need to expand it as far as it can.”

Published in News
Thursday, 02 July 2020 13:04

Ballston Spa Dining Goes Al fresco

BALLSTON SPA — The Village of Ballston Spa is offering the community a unique dining experience where customers can eat on the street. 

Any restaurant located on Front Street can expand their outdoor dining area three nights a week during dining hours. The Village Board voted the new dining rules into effect this past month. 

Street dining began June 18 and restaurants located between Low and Bath have expanded their tables to the street. The outdoor dining will be offered from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Larry Woolbright, village mayor, said business has been great for street dining.

“The restaurants have been participating in outdoor dining and they have been doing really good business. It’s been a popular thing. I’ve been down here a few evenings and they have all been doing brisk business. It’s great to see people walking around,” Woolbright said. 

The effort is to boost business at local eateries including the Front Street Social Club, Henry’s Irish Tavern, Next Door Restaurant and Sunset Grill. Craig Favreau, manager at Front Street Delicatessen and Pizzeria, said he’s noticed a massive decrease in people dining out since restaurants were allowed to open at half occupancy. He did notice, however, that the community utilized the expanded outdoor seating when it was available. 

“We don’t really sell much nowadays with people dining in. People are still eating in, but not like they used to. But they are utilizing the outdoor tables weather permitting,” Favreau said. 

Woolbright added: “The restaurants on Front Street are pretty small spaces. When they were allowed to open up with appropriate social distancing, it’s questionable whether some of them will have enough tables to cover their expenses. We felt that in order to help them, we had to give them the opportunity to expand the location of their tables.”

Being closed or exclusively offering takeout has taken a toll on eateries across the world, but Favreau is happy to have the opportunity to expand. Front Street Deli currently allows half of the occupancy of the store. When Front Street is shut down, Favreau takes the unused tables and places them on the street. 

“Right now, half of our tables inside are not in use. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday we get the ones that we are not using inside and put them outside,” Favreau said. “I think having this makes people more inclined to dine out.”

The community of Saratoga Springs is hoping for a similar dining opportunity on Broadway. However, expanding outdoor seating won't be an option, as Broadway is also State Route 50 which is controlled by the state. Two weeks ago, the City Council approved a permit system that will allow the city’s restaurants to expand their outdoor dining. The permit will allow eateries to place their chairs and tables on sidewalks and streets. 

Front Street Deli is located at 39 Front Street. They can be reached at thefsdeli.com or 518-884-0456.

“It’s been tough on these small outfits to be closed for so long,” Woolbright said. “Unless something changes with indoor dining, we reserved the right to change the system anytime that it appears that it needs to be changed. My guess is until the restaurants are allowed to open back up at their full capacity we’ll probably continue to do this.”

Published in Business

GREENWICH — The Washington County Fair will host the Fantastic Food Truck Corral allowing the community to enjoy fair food in the comfort of their own home. 

Rebecca Breese, co-manager at the fair, said at this point, the status of 2020 fairs is still in limbo, and she wanted a way to support vendors in the area. For a lot of the vendors their entire calendar of events has been cancelled until August. 

“The Food Truck Corral is a great option. We have the food vendors, we know how to work with food vendors and we have all this space,” Breese said. “For the last couple years, we have been talking about the food truck route. Food trucks are very popular now and people love it.”

However, COVID-19 struck the community and the idea was placed on hold until a few food vendors reached out to Breese.

“We are really excited. The response has been amazing from the community and we are really grateful. We really hope that people will come out and safely support these food vendors,” Breese said. 

The Food Truck Corral will begin this Friday, June 12 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Breese said they would start out small with only a few vendors selling food. They wanted to ensure that everyone is comfortable being at the corrall with masks on along with social distancing guidelines and protocols in place. Breese said they hope to hold the corral into July. 

“It’s a different kind of atmosphere for us but it still is a way to support our community and give people something to look forward to. I think right now there may not be a lot of that around unfortunately,” Breese said. 

The corral will offer multiple ways to purchase and pick-up food.  Community members can pre-order online as every Monday, Breese and her team will post the pre-order links. Orders can then be picked up curbside through contactless curbside pickup or customers can walk up to the vendor and pick up their order from the truck. The same options are available for day-of orders. To ensure safety and comfort, orders must be taken home and cannot be consumed on the fairgrounds. 

“However, that’s the beauty of it. You can go home and enjoy fair food in the comfort of your own home,” Breese said. 

The vendors featured this week include Coffee And, Miller’s Backyard BBQ, Giovanni Fresco, Slavonian European Café and Reggis Veggies. Coffee And will offer ice cream cookie sandwiches, baked by the owner who has then teamed up with Adirondack Creamery for the ice cream filling. They will also be making coffee floats featuring Adirondack Creamery and coffee from Iron Coffee located in Hoosick Falls.

“It’s a great way that local businesses can partner together to help each other,” Breese said. 

Giovanni Fresco will be making fresh pasta that they roll out in front of customers along with additional Italian food classics.

The biggest way the community can give help is by ordering food and sharing with their friends and family. That supports these businesses,” Breese said. “A common misconception when you talk about fairs is people don’t realize what kind of an economic impact that fairs have on their whole community. Not just the gas stations or the local food markets…for these vendors this is their life. It’s a full time job.”

Breese added: “I just want to thank our community for supporting us in this venture so far. We hope to continue this for years to come. This is a bright spot in the pandemic and hopefully something fun comes out of it.”

Published in Business

BALLSTON SPA — The 2020 Ballston Spa Farmers’ Market will open starting June 13 and run through September 26. 

By following interim guidelines set by New York State Agriculture and Market for Farmers’ Markets, guidelines and precautions have been set in place. According to the market’s website, vendors will be properly spaced, social distance precautions will be implemented and masks will be required for vendors and customers. They will also offer hand sanitizer to customers and vendors. 

The Saratoga Farmers’ Market has currently been open on Wednesday and Saturday each week following the same guidelines. Emily Meagher, Market Administrator of Saratoga Farmers’ Market Association (SFMA) said the market only cancelled in mid-March, but moved outdoors to the Wilton Mall, occupying the parking lots near the Bow Tie Cinemas and the old Bon-Ton department store. Bracing cold weeks throughout March and April, Meagher said the move outdoors wasn’t the only change SFMA has made.

“Things have been going well for our farmers’ market. We’ve been heartened by the immense support from our local community. Now more than ever, it seems people are really appreciating local products and producers,” Meagher said.

Other changes SMFA has made to their set up includes: spacing out vendors’ stalls 10 to 15 feet, widening walkways to encourage and accommodate social distancing between customers, increasing hand washing stations and hand sanitizer available to customers and vendors, requiring masks to be worn within the market perimeters, and encouraging customers not to bring more than two members of their household and not to bring pets, to preorder when possible, and not to linger after they shop.

Meagher also mentioned vendors cannot give out samples and are the only ones to touch products. They are also encouraged to prepackage items to limit exposure. Every hour during the market, customer attendance is counted to ensure not too many customers are at SMFA at one.

“Farmers’ markets are usually a very social and communal place. Although we can’t create that atmosphere right now as a market, thankfully our vendors and customers still create a joyful and positive environment,” Meagher said. 

Even as a social setting, Meagher added the community shouldn’t worry while visiting the market so long as proper guidelines are followed. Each market entrance, in addition to their social media page, posts the safety guidelines. 

“For those customers who are vulnerable or immunocompromised, we do encourage preordering or having a friend or family member come to the market instead. But due to the precautions we’ve taken and the fact that we are operating outdoors, our markets are very safe. For those who might still be worried, I suggest trying out our Wednesday market, which is a smaller market with about 15 vendors. Especially after the first opening rush, which lasts until about 4 p.m., the market becomes a very intimate and socially distanced place to do your shopping safely and without any stress,” Meagher said. 

Starting in June, SFMA’s satellite location in Clifton Park will also be opened on Mondays, outside the Shenendehowa Methodist Church.

Published in Business

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The iconic Larry’s Barbershop has welcomed a new owner, Hayden Sias, who has plans to renovate the inside.

“The place is an icon. Larry’s Barbershop has been in town for 50 years…I learned from him. Basically I’m trying to bring in today’s look but still keep the old flair,” Sias said.

Despite having some big shoes to fill, Sias hasn’t been in the barbershop business for his whole life. He previously owned a trucking company and has a background as a professional musician. Both jobs called for a lot of travelling and he found himself growing tired from it. In response, he sold his company. Sias added his sister has been a hairdresser her whole life, and it inspired him.

“I love my job. I don’t think I really intended being a barber originally, it never really crossed my mind, but it feels amazing. This is an amazing opportunity,” Sias said. 

The historic barbershop is seeing a re-model as Sias hopes to completely redesign the look of the shop. However, he doesn’t want to lose the history of the place.

Sias added: “this is a center hub, it’s a piece of history. Where I am [Larry’s barbershop] this is an institution. This shop has been here for 50 years. I have been lucky to learn from Larry and then carry on some of the traditions of the art itself. I’m finally able to have an opportunity to grow the business myself. It’s a once in a lifetime scenario.”

Sias is currently renovating the interior of the shop to grow the business. He aims to attract a younger audience in addition to the regulars who have been visiting the barbershop for years. He hopes that by adding some personal touches to the place will help bridge the gap between the two generations. 

“I took the interior and made it a combination of my personal tastes, some of the things that surround me,” Sias said. “But I didn’t want to lose the old school flair. It’s a combinations of the things that are going to make me happy and bring it into a modern world.”

Larry’s Barber Shop is located at 74 Washington St. in Saratoga. The classic old time barbershop has welcomed generation of barbers. Sias hopes to finish construction this week. 

Although renovations finish this week, Sias is keeping safety at the front of his mind for the new design. Even though it’s just a haircut for most people, Sias noticed that others enjoy that personal contact and he can really connect to customers. He knows the new normal will be different for a while, but Sias will ensure safety and understanding as soon as his doors open.

“I’m going to do everything I can do to keep the safety of the customer in mind. I want people to be comfortable in addition to knowing and understanding,” Sias said. 

Published in Business
Thursday, 07 May 2020 12:50

Downtown Struggles to Survive

SARATOGA SPRINGS — “Doors are closing. People are closing. It’s already too late for many businesses,” said Heidi West, Lifestyles of Saratoga owner. 

West is just one voice of many small business owners all coming to the same consensus, it may already be too late for the once bustling downtown Saratoga. While some stores embraced reinventing to keep business going for them amid COVID-19 restrictions, others were not so lucky. 

“A lot of doors are closing. We don’t have much time left to be honest. We do need to figure out how to be safe and be open all at the same time,” West said. “All of this makes it an uphill battle but…give us a fighting chance. Open our doors so we can get through it.”

The community of Saratoga Springs has felt the impact of economic restrictions before. In 1945, the community was filled with rundown structures following both the Great Depression and World War II. It was not until 10 years later, in 1958 the Planning Board moved forward with the city’s master plan for renewal. 

For years to come, the city saw plenty of urban renewal. However, individuals and small businesses owners lost low-cost rents and had “no choice” in what was happening, seeing the destruction of neighborhoods and facing costly relocation expenses. 

Small businesses worry that the town can revert back to those moments in history and time is not on their side as restriction stay in place. However, just as locals saw the creation of the new normal then, businesses are facing the new normal of today.

“It’s not like we are going to open our doors the way they were six months ago, not by any stretch. Our new normal will be gloves, masks, and disinfecting, but with our doors open. But we have to at least be able to open our doors,” said Pam Worth, owner of Spoken Boutique.

As restriction continue to wear on businesses, coming back from what was lost may not be possible. Safety is at the forefronts of any plans business owners create with the hopes
of reopening.

“It is my opinion…I can be safer than a big box store. I have a 12 step program already typed up about how I’m changing protocol,” West said. “Even being allowed to have an one-on-one appointment with that protocol in place would be helpful. We just need to keep moving forward.”

Todd L. Shimkus, president of Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, has drafted a “Plan for Saratoga County’s Economic Recovery” through a collaboration with the Downtown Business Association, the City Center, Discover Saratoga, SEDC, and the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership.

“We’ve been sharing [the plan] with Federal, State, County and local officials. The development of this plan is in part a way for Saratoga County to demonstrate that we have a plan to safely reopen. The Governor has said this is a pre-requisite for businesses and we’re hoping that by doing this collectively with common operating procedures that we will position Saratoga County in a positive light,” Shimkus said. 

Shimkus shared two key aspects of the multi-part plan. Recovery kits for small business have been created to include a startup supply of PPE for all business. They also have met with local restaurants and will be doing the same with hotels and retailers to develop common cleaning protocols that those businesses will pledge to follow once reopened.

“Our focus is on making it crystal clear that health comes first in Saratoga County and that our local business community is united in working together to keep everyone safe so that we can reopen sooner,” Shimkus said. 

Pam Worth feels that downtown has a strong impulse of businesses wanting to prove they can open safely.

“Saratoga is a much different town than most, being one of the top five downtowns in all of the United States. I feel who better to set the precedence in what should happen in a beautiful resort town but Saratoga Springs,” Worth said. “We all want to open our doors safely and set the right precedent to what is the new normal. But in order for all of that to happen, we have got to get the doors open.”

Maddy Zanetti, Impressions of Saratoga owner with Marianne Barker, said they plan to take extra precautions, clean things more, and stay distant from customers as soon as their doors are open. Zanetti feels that foot traffic will take a while to pick up, as people adjust to going out and feeling comfortable around others.

“We are definitely worried about how this year is going to pan out for us, but we are making the most of it and doing the best we can,” Zanetti said. 

West believes it’s not too late to bounce back, but the key is getting safety plans in place as soon as possible. If she can’t open by June 1, she will have to focus on different plans in terms of closing doors. 

“My success is the success of my 20 employees, who are suffering, and the success of the whole community. I really just want a voice for the small business. It’s becoming crucial at this point in my opinion,” West said. 

Worth believes with the downtown leaders being business owners, everyone can bring an opinion and structure as to how they can get the town up and running again. 

“Saratoga is an amazing downtown community that wants nothing more than to survive and to stay successful,” Worth said. “The strong local community that we have, and the local people that support our downtown, are the ones that are going to keep us alive.”

Published in Business
Thursday, 30 April 2020 13:29

Small Business Reinvent During COVID-19

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Just as local eateries convert to online orders and to-go options, other small businesses reinvent themselves to adapt to the ever-changing times.

Something Bleu Bridal reinvented the bridal dress shopping experience, introducing two types of appointments for brides to be. Owners Kathyrn Metzler and Marissa Mackay developed concierge bridal appointments and Zoom party bridal appointments for brides to find their wedding gown, while still following social distancing guidelines. 

“These new appointments are unconventional but can still be enjoyed. You should still feel like you’re getting some of the bridal experience that you pictured in your mind,” Mackay said. “We wanted to discover a way to be in business when we are not allowed to be in business as we were.”

The concierge appointments includes a personal Zoom consultation where the bride can choose up to five gowns. Those five gowns are then transported to the bride to try on in the privacy and safety of their own home. Deliveries of the dress will be made within one-hour of their store location and dresses can be held for 24-hours. 

“The idea of having a concierge appointment seemed like the most natural way that we can service our brides in a really custom fashion with all of the conditions the world is in,” Mackay said. 

Zoom Party Appointments have become a permanent fixture for the boutique. Currently, Mackay and Metzler use the appointment to provide the bride a customized service at a distance. They use the appointments to gain a feeling towards the aesthetic the bride would like on their wedding day. However, they plan to use Zoom to include family and friends who live farther away in the bridal experience once social distance restrictions are lifted.

“Personal connection is really important to us, so we make sure that the consultation portion of the appointment is as close as possible to the experience of shopping in our store, including a tour of our collection, time spent getting to know the bride and her style, and the opportunity to choose from among our large collection of dresses and accessories for an at-home try on,” said Mackay in a release.

So far three brides have participated in the concierge and Zoom bridal appointment. Mackay said they all went well, as the brides were shopping for their upcoming wedding and all found a dress they love.

Something Bleu Bridal isn’t the only local business that has reinvented to serve the community. Local eateries, bakeries and deli’s have became contact free establishments. Finding shopping staples such as eggs, milk and flour can be purchased at food eateries in the community. The Bread Basket Bakery is offering call-in orders for flour, sugar and yeast. They also offer bread delivery through Battenkill Valley Creamery. Another eatery, the Spring Street Deli & Pizzeria, created a grocery menu with popular grocery items that people can order and pick-up. Both stores allowing delivery or pick-up cuts down of social contact, creating a safer environment than a larger supermarket.

For projects to do at home, Saratoga Paint and Sip are offering take home projects, called Take ‘N Paint Kits. Starting at $25, the curbside pickup kit contains everything needed to create the paintings. They also offer a private Zoom room, where an artist will instruct the group through the project.

For dog owners, North Country Paws for Obedience is offering a train at home online session starting in May. Based in South Glens Falls, the online courses are described as interactive, informative and engaging. Interested parties can sign up online.

Published in Business
Thursday, 30 April 2020 13:27

A Personal Story: Surviving COVID-19

SARATOGA SPRINGS — As the community fights together against this viral disease, some individuals are lucky to not personally know anyone fighting the battle with COVID-19. Public knowledge of symptoms and social distancing are well known, but what happens to someone after they have tested positive?

Saratoga natives Barb and Steve Ferraro are on day 44 in their battle with COVID-19, and still counting. For this couple, symptoms of fever, cough and body ache showed up on March 16. Two days later they tested positive for COVID-19. 

“During the beginning of this when it hit this county, when we were tested there were under 20 people who tested positive, now it’s over 300,” Barb said. 

Saratoga County reported its first case on March 7, 2020 and reported to have 331 confirmed cases as of Tuesday this week. 

“Going through this has been very emotional and very scary. Luckily we are on the end side of this, but neither of us had underlying conditions. We don’t know how we got it, but it knocked us down,” Bard said. 

The Ferraro’s immediately self-isolated themselves in their condo, but while they were isolated from the community, they also had to isolated from each other.

“Steve and I have to be separated even though we are both positive. We trusted the professionals and they believe we could keep re-infecting each other,” Barb said. 

They divided the home into two parts, Barb taking the master bedroom and kitchen while Steve took the guest room, guest bath and den. Steve was still working from home, so Barb took it upon herself to be in charge of meals and medication. 

Ten days into fighting the virus, on March 25, Barb reported having a schedule through the day, knowing more of what to expect from the virus. They each became their own doctors, checking temperatures, oxygen levels and blood pressure to report to their health officials. 

“It’s an insidious beast of a virus,” Barb said. “You go one step forward and two back the next day…we are keeping an eye on our breathing which causes us the most concern. We are watching it very carefully and using our inhalers, monitoring our oxygen levels and drinking lots of fluids.”

Barb and Steve both “synced” up in terms of symptoms, learning about COVID as the rest of the community did. Barb recalled making pasta, one of her favorite meals, and having it taste like metal. That, along with the COVID-19 fog, are the symptoms the Ferraro’s experienced just as the rest of the world discovered it. 

“It’s important for people to know that everything keeps changing, which is why we still need to be safe and stay at home. Information keeps changing, COVID symptoms keep getting added to the list and the assurance of immunity remains unknown,” Barb said.

After a scare with Steve’s worsening symptoms, he was transported to the hospital for bilateral pneumonia and is still recovering. On day 19 into the virus, Barb said she was happy to report their first symptom free day. Although they both tested negative for the virus, they are both recovering and continue to experience shortness of breath and fatigue on day 44.

Despite continuous fighting with the unknown, Barb said the amount of community support they received was astounding. Neighbors would reach out to the couple and ask if they needed any groceries, and family members kept close through social media. She thanked Saratoga Hospital and Public Health workers for their daily efforts to ensure the couple was safe. 

Talk about re-opening the community has Barb worried, noticing that people are not taking to wearing a facemask when recommended. She went for a walk Tuesday this week and reported seeing very few masks on the families enjoying the Spring weather. 

“People wearing masks are just a simple thing that they can do. I think the lines are getting blurred. Think about whom you are staying home for. You are not just protecting yourself in this situation,” Barb said. 

According to their website, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

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