Opal Jessica Bogdan

Opal Jessica Bogdan

SARATOGA SPRINGS — In the Fall of 2018, mother of two, Anna Laloë was searching for ways to keep her two girls engaged in mountain biking.

“I started this selfishly for my then six- and eight-year-old daughters. When you hike and bike with your own children, they’ll often complain. But, as soon as other adults or kids join, the complaints stop,” Laloë wrote on her website.

The Saratoga Shredders began with 10 to 15 girls biking together at the Saratoga State Park. This past summer, the Shredders registered close to 90 girls, meaning 90 individual girls have showed up at least once to a practice.

“[We] couldn’t do it this past spring due to COVID-19, but once guidelines from Governor Andrew Cuomo were developed, we were able to start the Shredders up again,” Laloë said. “We had 25 girls show up the first night and it only grew from there.”

For this past season, the group has added two more trail systems to their weekly rides. Girls in the group can explore Luther Forest in Malta and Kalabus-Perry Preserve in the Wilton area. Because of COVID-19, the Shredders have been diligent about restrictions and social distance guidelines. When a girl shows up to participate, their family signs a release form and she splits off into her respective age level group.

“We have five groups organized by different bug names. The [Shredders] are always in pods of 10 to 15 girls and because we have a huge number of volunteer female mentors, we can break up into five or six girls per group,” Laloë said.

The group names are all inspired after insects and each represents a different age group and skill level, including young beginners to older intermediate and experienced groups. When a girl registers for a ride, Laloë needs to know their age along with their riding experience, which can range from neighborhood riding to trail experience.

“You don’t need a fancy bike or any experience trail riding…just come ride your bike,” Laloë says.

Laloë comes from a background in mountain bike racing. She spent five years racing at a high level.

“I pulled back on my racing career, went back to working full time, and was ready to give back to the community that had given me so much throughout my racing career.” Laloë said. “This was a big transition for me; going back to work and going from race to ride mode. It’s been a wonderful transition for me and my two daughters and this group of awesome girls.”

With only two more weeks of the summer schedule left, Laloë is already looking forward to the fall schedule. No date is set yet, but interested parties can visit online at www.saratogashredders.com for updates. While looking forward to the fall season, Laloë wanted to thank the volunteer mentors and sponsors of the Shredders. She continues to welcome other female mentors and volunteers.

“Thank you to the ones that have come. [They] hold this group together,” Laloë said.

As for her favorite part about Saratoga Shredders, Laloë answered it was seeing the Shredders’ reaction at the end of a ride.

“It’s towards the ends of rides…watching all the girls come back to the parking lot and seeing their faces lit-up and hearing each of their tales of adventure - it’s just mind-blowing to see and hear,” Laloë said. “To see that sense of accomplishment, sense of empowerment, sense of adventure that we are instilling in them just by going for a bike ride.”

The Shredders can be found online or on facebook. They can be reached at 781-879-3647.

Thursday, 20 August 2020 12:38

Local Bowling Alleys Open

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Strike Zone bowling alley officially opened their doors this past week, placing precautions in place to bring safety and fun back to the community. 

Nick Stanislowsky, general manger at Strike Zone, said they are excited to be able to open their doors and ensures any guests will feel safe.

“When I heard the news [of reopening] I was ecstatic, it was like Christmas morning,” Stanislowsky said. 

He explained some safety and cleaning precautions the alley has put in place. Guests will notice some laminates on the floor that encourages people to keep their distance as soon as they enter the front door. 

“We are using every other lane so you won’t be right next to somebody, there will always be a lane in between,” Stanislowsky said. “Then after everybody is done using the lane we go through a clean off the bowling balls, including the holes, and disinfect the tables and keypads. Everything that gets touched will get disinfected.”

The alley is still welcoming larger size parties for events. Conveniently located just off Broadway, Strike Zone is the perfect entertainment fun spot for all kinds of indoor activities. Their bowling alley features 34 lanes, all with automatic bumpers if needed along with a state-of-the-art light and sound show. The alley also offers bowling leagues and tournaments for people who want to test their skills.

“We are just extremely excited to get back open and hopefully bring some fun and normalcy back,” Stanislowsky said.

The bowling alley is located on 32 Ballston Ave and can be reached at 518-584-6460.

Thursday, 20 August 2020 12:21

Challenger Division Hits Fifth Season

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Little League Challenger Division started with a home run for their fifth season this summer. 

Leading up to a game under the lights this week, the Challenger Division welcomes special need kids in the community. Robert Kelly and Derrick LeGall, president of the league, designed the program to give children with special needs the chance to be kids and the opportunity to play America’s favorite pastime. 

“Every kid wants to be outside, making friends, enjoy the fresh air and to just have a good time. We give that opportunity to the kids and to the parents as well,” LeGall said. 

Xavier Camlet, a member of the Challenger team, said he loves the opportunity to play on a team, help his teammates out and most importantly have the chance to hit the ball. 

“I like helping my friends, letting my family come here and hitting the ball too,” Camlet said. “I like working for my team, helping them and hitting the ball out there…letting my teammates know where the ball is going to be.”

His mom, Jessica Camlet, ejoys the opportunities the team gives to Xavier. 

“He’s excited every day to play with his friends and it builds up his self esteem and confidence, I think that’s the biggest thing for him. When we got Xavier—we adopted him—he wasn’t very experienced and socialized and this gives him the chance to really be a kid and that’s my favorite part…just seeing his face light up. He’s just so happy to contribute and to be with his friends,” Camlet said. 

Xavier Camlet and his teammates are practicing for their under the lights game at the West Side Recreational Little League Field on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020 at 7 p.m.

One of his teammates, Regan Perella is playing on the team for his first year and will sing the Star Spangled Banner at the start of their under-the-lights game. 

“I do like singing and I don’t get nervous,” Perella said. “I’m loving it.”

Perella has enjoyed the fans’ reaction he gets when he plays baseball and likes all the fans his has, including his father Jim Perella. 

“We love all of the kids getting together and just having a great time,” Jim Perella said. “We love to see the kids play and everyone leaves here with a smile. These kids are playing ball just like America’s favorite pastime and we love that.”

The team is open to families outside of the Saratoga community as well and will accommodate kids up to the age of 21-years-old.

The Little League Challenger Division was established nationally in 1989, and is Little League’s adaptive baseball program for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges. Any individual with a physical or intellectual challenge may participate. The Little League Challenger Division accommodates players’ ages 4 to 18 or up to age 22 if still enrolled in school.

Saratoga Springs Little League’s adaptive baseball program is in its fifth year and is only one of a few in the region. It gives players with specialized needs a place to join in and enjoy playing the game of baseball in our community. 

Little League Baseball, Inc. is a non-profit organization with the mission “through proper guidance and exemplary leadership, the Little League program assists youth in developing the qualities of citizenship, discipline, teamwork and physical well-being. By espousing the virtues of character, courage and loyalty, the Little League Baseball program is designed to develop superior citizens rather than stellar athletes.”

“I’m really proud of this program because I see moms, dads and kids working together out on the field,” Kelly said. “I enjoy seeing the kids having fun and experiencing what everyone else can experience.”

“My favorite part about all this is just watching the kids enjoy themselves,” LeGall said. “Whether it’s a hit they get and they look to make sure mom or dad saw it….it’s something that brings joy to their faces and it brings joy to me because that is what it’s all about.”

Kelly can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Legall can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The team practices every Thursday evening and plays Saturday morning games. 

Q: Why did you become a H.O.P.E. volunteer? 
A: I wanted to be more involved with the community, and since I like animals, I thought volunteering with an animal rescue would be fun. I honestly don’t remember how I found H.O.P.E. 

Q: What do you do for H.O.P.E.? 
A: I help at H.O.P.E.’s Pet Adoption Center – anything from cleaning to playing with the cats to greeting visitors. I also help with H.O.P.E.’s Instagram Accounts. And I help gather photos of H.O.P.E. pets, volunteers and supporters to use in the slide shows they use for their Annual Gala and other events. 

Q: What is your favorite part about volunteering? 
A: I think it is super fun to see animals find a new home and to see the look on the adopters faces when they get that new pet. 

Q: Do you have a favorite adoption story? 
A: A Pit Bull Mix named Simba. He was so charming, at first I didn’t understand why he hadn’t been adopted. I found out his one fault was that he couldn’t live with cats, so he was with H.O.P.E. for a long time. Just when I least expected it, the perfect home was found for him. 

Q: What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering with H.O.P.E.? 
A: Definitely reach out and contact us. There are so many ways you can help us. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Central Catholic School (SCC) is starting out the new school year with a new principal. Joe Kilmade has replaced former interim Principal Michael Kondratowicz as the head administrator for the 2020-2021 school year.

Kilmade is a former native of the Capital District, born and raised in Albany. He returns after most recently serving as Administrator and Principal in the Archdiocese of St. Louis for the past eleven years.

“It is great to be back home in the Capital District, close to family and friends and serving the community at SCC,” said Principal Kilmade. “I hope to partner with families and teachers to build a program that meets the academic, emotional, and spiritual needs of the students entrusted to our care. Through listening, planning, and creativity, the great tradition of success at SCC will continue while new programs and facility upgrades bring the school to a new and exciting place.”

Kilmade addressed the parents of SCC at his first Virtual Parent Meeting on Aug. 4. His address started with citing the single most strongest element that his administration described as characteristic of Saratoga Central Catholic. The unanimous response from staff and faculty was the “sense of community” that was noted as prevalent within the school. Kilmade pointed to that strongpoint as “the reason why the school will make it through these difficult times, helping one another.” He reinforced the message that SCC is committed to creating a learning environment that protects students’ and staffs’ health, safety and privacy.

According to the Reopening Plan that Mr. Kilmade introduced, “while schools have been instructed to prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction, SCC is also planning for remote/distance learning, as well as a hybrid model that combines in-person instruction and remote learning. Parents will always have the choice to remain in the remote learning model. Every five weeks, at progress reports and the end of each academic quarter, parents will be able to opt-in to the remote learning model. Once opted-in, students remain in that model until the five week period is up. If during the first week of a new five-week cycle, a student wants to opt-in who had planned to be in person, they may do so.” 

Families will be asked to formally state their intention for in-person or remote learning via a signed form by the parent.

Every day will begin with a health check for teachers, administrators and students before entering the building. An isolation room for anyone showing signs of COVID-like symptoms during the day has been designated on the middle floor of the building. Teachers will be taking on additional roles within the school striving for more “hands-on-deck” at all times. The school will invest in PPE equipment and masks that will be made available as needed throughout the day.

Regarding masks, the Reopening Plan states that, “face coverings are strongly recommended to be worn by all students at all times indoors and outdoors, but required to be worn any time or place individuals cannot maintain appropriate social distancing. Masks will be required in hallways and bathrooms. Students will be allowed to remove face coverings during meals, instruction, and during short breaks, so long as they maintain social distance.” Any person without a facemask will be provided one by the school.

Kilmade went on to discuss the “deep” cleaning of the school that will take place. He shared the wonderful news that Jamie Kennedy of KPM Restoration has generously donated a complete professional sanitizing of SCC before the school year opens in September. Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will occur on an on-going basis, including more cleaning and disinfection for high-risk and frequently touched surfaces.

Saratoga Central Catholic will be utilizing a “Cohort Approach” to building usage, which has to do with keeping students together in small groups and reducing exposure to additional students. Plans are in place to limit the number of students in each room over the course of a day/week. The Middle School will be grouped together on the ground floor of the school, Juniors and Seniors will take over the first floor classrooms and Freshman and Sophomores will utilize the top floor of the building. In addition, new spaces will be created and/or utilized including St. Peter’s Parish Center, which will serve as one of two separate student Cafeterias. Big round tables in the lunchroom will seat three students so that only 30-40 students will have lunch at once. Families will pre-order lunch the week before. Lunch bags will be labeled so the school can keep track of what was ordered for each student. St. Peter’s Parish Center will also host art and music classes once or twice a week.

Other changes will involve Physical Education classes. PE classes will be held outside or in the gym or throughout several classrooms. PE classes will be combined from 40 minutes twice a week to 80 minutes once every three or four days. School-issued PE uniforms will be required so there is no need to use the locker rooms.

All athletics are on hold until Sept. 21, at which time a decision will be made as to whether winter athletics will be played starting Jan. 4, 2021. There will be a distance of 12 feet maintained between students when engaging in physical activity.

Multiple entrances to the building will be used to limit high numbers of people entering and exiting at any one time. No outside visitors or volunteers will be allowed on the school campus, except for the safety and well-being of students.

Throughout the facility, there will be directional arrows showing the flow of movement as well as markers for waiting areas in spaces where a line may form. Signs will be posted around the building reminding students to socially distance. Within the classrooms, desks will be positioned six-feet apart from each other and the school will follow direct guidance protocol from the State of NY. Air circulation will be enhanced by opening doors and windows and the school will add window fans for increased air flow.

Academics-wise, the majority of school work will be submitted digitally. SCC will be moving to a single online learning platform, Google Education Suite, which will streamline file sharing and email communication. Classes will make use of either a Google Classroom or Schoology site associated with it to facilitate the sharing of materials and classroom interaction in a uniform way across the school. Every class will have a digital profile so if the school needs to pivot, the transition will be an easier one.

Regarding bus transportation, the public school districts will be providing SCC bussing. Buses will only be able to transport a quarter of the number they used to. School bus drivers, monitors, attendants and mechanics must wear a face covering along with an optional face shield. Transportation to and from the North Country and Amsterdam, which SCC has provided in the past, is currently being assessed as to whether it presents itself as a reasonable option or not going forward.

The full report for the Education Department was submitted by SCC on Friday, Aug. 7 and is posted on the SCC website at www.saratogacatholic.org.

Kilmade shared the influx of interest in enrollment at this time due to the small number of students within the school and the detailed preparation toward in-person learning.

Kilmade said, “many new families in the Saratoga and surrounding areas are thoughtfully considering Saratoga Central Catholic School as a safe educational choice. In light of COVID-19, many parents are looking for small educational settings and many are looking for a remote learning option. I believe that SCC has outlined a cohesive plan of Reopening that allows parents freedom and versatility to change their learning method as situations change. We have taken the time to address student, faculty and administrative needs in great detail.” 

Kilmade invites families to set up a meeting to discuss anything they have questions about, stressing that their comfort level is of utmost importance to him. For more information on Saratoga Central Catholic’s Reopening Plan, visit www.saratogacatholic.org.


Q&A with SCC’s New Principal: 

Q: What are your thoughts on this upcoming school year?
A: “I am very much looking forward to this school year. It’s definitely going to be different and present some challenges but I am enjoying getting to know the community here and working with them to come up with a plan that works for everybody.”

Q: How have the parents responded to the reopening plan?
A: “Very positively. We did a survey prior to formally publishing the announcement about the plan so there were a lot of questions about: can we be remote by choice, or are we going to be in-person? But since we’ve published it, it’s been very positive feedback.

Families will get the option every five weeks to choose to have their students be in attendance remotely. So that kind of satisfies families who were nervous about coming back and want to stay connected to the school. We also have the in person instruction so those who want to return to school in person can.”

Q: When do classes begin for the year?
A: “We start Sept. 14. [It’s] only a few days later, usually we start the week after Labor Day but we pushed it back so we had a couple of days for teacher meetings and student orientation.

That week right after Labor Day we will bring the kids back in small groups for a couple of hours and kind of go through what their day will look like and the do’s and don’ts.

[Starting two days later] gives us just a little bit more time. There is a lot of new procedure and things going on in the building that you have to get used to.”

Q: How has enrollment been? How are you dealing with the volume?
A: “Yes we have had an increase in enrollment. We are up about ten-percent from a month ago. For us that means 20 new students.

How are we handling it? We kind of identified our max class sizes. Classrooms can only hold a certain amount given restrictions on distancing. So what that means for example, eighth grade we can’t really have more than 30 kids because that’s two sections of 15 and we can do that. Once we get into groups of 16 or 17 [students] now we are running out of space. We had space in every class so we are doing okay. We don’t have to add classrooms or sections of things. We were kind of ready for an increase so we were able to handle it well.

Our max class sizes will be about 15 or 16 [students]. We have a couple spaces that can hold up to 20 but those spaces can’t be used by every teacher all day.

The building will be separated. We will have our middle school on one floor, ninth and tenth on another and eleventh and twelfth on a different floor as well. For the most part they will stay in those spaces throughout the school day, and there will be some movement.”

Q: What is the policy on in-person instruction and masks?
A: “What we are saying is that we will follow the guidance from the local health department and NYS. There is some clarification going on locally about what the guidance is.

Last time we heard and we interpreted: students, if they were in the hallway or common areas, had to have a mask but once everyone was in a class, seated and distanced it was optional. If that guidance changes we will adjust accordingly”

Q: Are you excited to be the new principal?
A: “I’m very excited. This is a wonderful community, even in the middle of all this, and not being able to meet people in person how I would prefer to, they have been very welcoming and gracious. It’s a great place to be.

The community here has been very supportive and the leadership of both the outgoing principle and the school board has been great.”

Thursday, 13 August 2020 12:24

Schools Safe to Reopen

SARATOGA SPRINGS — After Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that schools can reopen this fall, districts have already adjusted their learning plans for the 2020-2021 school year.

Local plans include learning models through in-person, virtual or a hybrid model. Each district has also planned two parent meetings before their start date this fall and more detailed information for each school district’s learning model has been defined. Additional information such as cleaning methods, busing and student and staff requirement is also included. 


The Saratoga Springs Central School District is planning to begin classes Sept. 9. They have outlined a learning model that prepares for in-person, hybrid and online teaching options. The district first plans to analyze curriculum to help determine what kids learned prior to schools closing this past March and adjust the new school year studies. After, they will incorporate New York State Learning Standards to be taught when schools reopen, using guidance from local and national professional organizations.

Through whichever model is selected before the school year begins, SSCSD teachers will provide grade level instruction in ways that will engage students in learning through a combination of lectures, videos and presentations along with other forms of teaching that holds outcomes, tasks and strategies.

District parents can chose between: in-person instruction where teachers and students engage in-person, at school and in real time, hybrid instruction where teachers and students engage in combination of in-person and online learning or online instruction where teachers and students engage through a Learning Management System and a virtual meeting platform. Each of the teaching models are defined below:

• In-person learning model: According to their school draft, the decision will be made to return to 100-percent in-person learning for SSCSD students if the district is able to comply with required health and safety requirements and guidance from the state. The district does not anticipate in-person learning occurring soon and hopes to safely return when it is possible.

• Hybrid learning model: refers to varying combinations of learning situations through schedules, student groupings or grade levels and how teachers deliver instruction. Teachers can deliver instruction through live or pre-recorded videos or through individual work. This learning model can occur in a building and across a district.

• Online and remote learning model: SSCSD will pivot to online learning if required by the state or the local health department. Students will have a set schedule to follow every day, which they plan to differ from the spring 2020 learning experience. District parents will make the decision to participate in the online and remote learning model based primarily on concerns regarding virus exposure with attendance at a school site. A “Virtual School Registration Form” will be made available through their SchoolMessenger, and will also be on the school website. Paper copies will be made available at the district office and is currently available to complete. 

Their reopening plan is available to all school community members via the district website at www.saratogaschools.org/reopening. The plan will be updated throughout the school year as necessary.


The Ballston Spa Central School District plans to welcome their staff on Sept. 8 but classes are not set to begin until Sept. 14. The district is hosting a re-opening orientation, chrome book pick-up and classroom connections prior to the first day of classes.

The district will provide parents the option for remote learning or in-person instruction and will need to commit to their decision for a six-week period. All of the learning instruction will be based on NYS Standards aligned curriculum and instructional materials. Teachers and staff will make assessments to measure and track students progress. 

Their elementary level attendance proposal will use buildings and classrooms and space allocations will abide by recommended guidelines. For the school day, Kindergarten through fifth grade will attend in-person Monday through Thursday and participate in remote learning on Fridays. Parents will choose between in-person or remote learning. The district selected curricular and instruction materials, and plan to prioritize Literacy and Math for in-person instruction.

BSCSD secondary level attendance proposal will also use buildings and classrooms, but grades sixth through twelfth will be primarily located in the High School. Their school day plans to allow specific grades to meet weekly, Monday through Thursday, on a three-week rotation. Week one will include grades sixth, eleventh and twelfth. Week two will include grades seventh and eighth and week three will include grades ninth and tenth. Courses of 15 or more students will be split in two rooms and instruction will be provided through a combination of technology and instructional personnel.


SCSD plans to begin classes on Sept. 10. The district will use existing internal and external communication channels to notify staff, students and families/caregivers about in-person, remote and hybrid school schedules with as much advance notice as possible.

Parents will have the choice to remain in the remote learning model and will be allowed to opt back into remote learning on a five-week incremental basis.

In-person instruction under the hybrid model for the district will reduced the number of students in each of our classrooms to adhere to CDC guidance regarding proper social distancing. As a baseline, face coverings are required to be worn any time or place that individuals cannot maintain appropriate social distancing. 

Given the possibility that communities may experience spikes in COVID-19 cases at any point during the school year, which may prompt short or long-term school closures, the district has developed a hybrid model of instruction. Under their hybrid instruction, student schedules will remain the same whether instruction is in-person or remote. Grades Kindergarten through fifth will report every day, in-person, with attendance and grading policies will be in full effect. Grades sixth through twelfth will be alphabetical split with an A and B day rotation which will reduce student capacity by 50-percent.

Per NYS guidance, schools can reopen if the region is in Phase 4 and if the region’s daily infection rate remains at or below five percent, using a seven day average after Aug. 1. Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises above nine percent, using a seven-day average, and the district planned a full, remote learning model in case this scenario results. Grades Kindergarten through fifth will see a new schedule to include daily, virtual contact with students in whole or small groups. Grades sixth through twelfth will follow an abbreviated, daily, remote schedule with a later start time; study halls and lunch periods will be “free” time.


In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection throughout all the districts, facilities operations will be geared toward meeting social distancing requirements and cleaning frequently touched spaces regularly.

Staff members are currently reviewing rotational models to try and maximize in-person attendance. In order to help accomplish this, each district plans to make adjustments to bussing, building capacity, and other needed changes at set increments.

All staff and students will be required to self-screen daily and parents or guardians will be required to screen their students and report daily. All students will be required to maintain a minimum of six-foot distancing while in school. This distance will be increased to 12 feet if students are singing, playing a wind instrument or participating in an aerobic activity.

More information about school reopening plans, and to follow the updated weekly versions, visit www.saratogaschools.org, www.bscsd.org or www.schuylervilleschools.org.

BALLSTON SPA – Saratoga 4-H staff delivered trophies to winners of the Youth Video Challenge for the Virtual Saratoga County Fair. 4-H members were asked to be submit videos about the animal species they would typically bring to the Saratoga County Fair. This Video challenge provided youth an opportunity to show case their animals and knowledge of the species they care for. Educators and animal science professionals judged the videos on Wednesday, July 22 and winners were awarded on Thursday the 24.

The Saratoga County Fair is the most anticipated event of the year for 4-H members. Youth work year round to breed, care for, and prepare their animals to be shown at this annual event. In the past, around 200 youth across the county participate in animal shows, species including: dairy cattle, beef cattle, horses, rabbits, sheep, goats and more. Youth and their animals are judged for cleanliness, animal confirmation, genetics, and other aspects of animal health. The cancelation of the Saratoga County Fair was devastating, yet youth came together to exhibit their animal in a fun and educational way.

The Youth Video Challenge for the Virtual Saratoga County Fair had three categories, Cloverbud, ages 8 and under, Jr., ages 9-12, and Sr., ages 13-18. Cloverbuds receive participation awards and first, second and third place trophies were given to the top three videos submitted.

Trophy Winners are as follows:

Senior Division:

First- Kohlby Himelrick with his Goat

Second- Julia Bodien with her Rabbit

Third- Collin Anderson with his Sheep

Junior Division

First- Eva Anderson with her Rabbit

Second- Aaron Myatt with his Guinea Pig

Third- Eva Anderson with her Chicken

Congrats to our winners. Despite the County Fair being canceled, Saratoga County 4-H has been working to create and renew our diverse educational opportunities to fit the changing educational climate. For more information about 4-H Animal Science opportunities, please contact Brieanna Hughes at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website at http://ccesaratoga.org/.

Monday, 03 August 2020 10:05

Local Pet Sitting Service Re-Invents

SARATOGA SPRINGS – In order to keep her business surviving through the

pandemic, Happy Hound Pet Sitting Service owner Kathy Lovelace completely reinvented herself and the business.

            Knowing dogs love social contact more than most people do, Lovelace wanted to continue her dog sitting and walking service to her clients. To achieve this, Lovelace first became COVID-certified by Pet Sitters International. In order to become certified, Lovelace learned about COVID-19 and how to not only protect herself but those around her as well.

“I learned all about the virus and the best ways to avoid it,” Lovelace said. “I want to keep my clients and their pets safe. I have also educated myself on the local regulations, such as stay at home orders, to know specifically how everything can impact our local area.”

Pet Sitters International is an international educational association for professional pet sitters based in North California. The pet-sitting association represents nearly 7,000 independent professionals, Lovelace being one of them.

            After becoming certified, she made some modifications to her daily routine as well as her business. Previously, Lovelace would meet and great clients and their pets inside. However, she recently changed the meet and great to be outdoors with masks and staying socially distanced.

“For home visits, if the client is home they will stay social distance with a mask or they agree to go into a separate room into their home. Sometimes they’re home because, well, they’re working from home. While I’m in the home, I wear a mask and while walking the dogs, I simply stay socially distanced,” Lovelace said.

She now enforces a strict hand washing routine as well and asked all clients to complete a COVID-19 form, asking recent travel, contact and quarantine questions. Her clients only have to fill it out once, and will sign to agree to report any changes of the form. Despite making those multiple changes, Lovelace still faces a challenge: clients working from home.

“I feel that the challenge is that I have established some nice clients who I really miss. Now, more and more people are working from home, so I’m not seeing my clients as much. I would see their dogs up to five times a week sometimes and I have became attached to them,” Lovelace said.

She believes that if other independent businesses adopt similar methods, they can be successful as well. However, one benefit to owning a professional dog service is that adoption rate has increased these past months.

“Pet adoption and dog ownership has gone way up. Adoption has helped bring sunshine into homes and it’s a great to see,” Lovelace said. “At the end of the day we are all in this together and we’ll make any and all changes as we need to.”

Lovelace can be reached by phone at 518-583-6561 and is located at 72 Waterview Drive in Saratoga Springs. To learn more about Lovelace and her business, visit https://www.petsit.com/pet-sitter-saratoga-springs-ny-happy-hound-pet-sitting-service-llc.

Monday, 03 August 2020 10:01

Homemade Donut Shop Grand Opening

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The anticipated opening of Darling Doughnuts happened this past Wednesday, July 29.

The store will operate as a grab and go counter with limited outdoor seating. Owner of Darling Doughnuts Natascha Pearl-Mansman designed a rotating menu to feature ten different flavors of doughnuts each week.

            They offer full size doughnuts for $3.74 each, mini doughnuts for $2 each and a recent addition of “box of holes” that sells 12 holes for $6. Doughnut flavors range from fruity to savory and all flavors can be found online at https://www.darlingdoughnuts.com/menu.

Some menu items includes: Café Latte, espresso and cream glazed doughnut with a latte art design; Banana Split, banana glazed and topped with chocolate banana chips; and even a Pizza doughnut, topped with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and pesto, then baked until bubbly.

Darling Doughnuts can be reached by phone at 518-430-2018 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The shop is located at 441 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.

Monday, 03 August 2020 09:56

Gyms Still Facing Economic Hardship

BALLSTON SPA – Nearly a month into phase 4 of reopening New York and local gyms are still not allowed to open their doors.

            For one gym in Round Lake Ballston Spa, those doors will now never open. Global Express Fitness opened their doors to a new location in Malta in early January. With almost two months of being opened, the gym was forced to shut doors at their previous location in round lake, with no plans to reopen them.

            “We did close our Round Lake location due to the impacts of COVID-19. We appreciate everyone who kept their membership during this time. Unfortunately because of the amount of people who decided to cancel, we just could not sustain both locations,” Express Fitness Owners wrote on Facebook. “Four months without a gym is unbelievable.”

            All workout equipment has moved to their new facility built in Malta. Any memberships will be valid at the new Malta location once they’re allowed to open their doors.

            Saratoga Peak Performance wanted to open their doors in Phase 2, when “specialty gyms” were allowed to reopen.

            “For the time being, we will abide by the state guidelines for Phase 4 opening…It’s putting myself and our great staff of personal traners at great economic hardship and simply makes no sense when you consider the hundreds going into big-box retail stores daily, yet we can’t open with just eight clients,” Bryan Briddel, owner, wrote on Facebook.

            As on July 20, each of NY’s 10 regions have reached the final phase of the four-phase reopening process. To date, movie theaters, gyms, and gatherings with more than 50 people are not allowed. With outbreaks increasing around the country, Governor Andrew Cuomo has not mention a Phase 5 when the remaining industries will be allowed to reopen.

            The City of Saratoga Springs' Commissioner of Public Works Anthony Scirocco announced this week that Saratoga Springs based gyms, fitness trainers, and yoga studios are able to use Congress Park, High Rock Park, Geyser Road Veterans Memorial Park, and the Waterfront Park to host workout sessions without paying rental fees. The proposed rental and use policy was unanimously approved by the City Council at their July meeting.

            Gym classes and workout are not the only to move outside, as street dining has seen a massive increase this past month. The village of Ballston Spa, downtown Saratoga Springs and Schuylerville announced this week they will expand outdoor seating options. In order for a business to reopen they must meet general requirements such as strict cleaning and sanitation, mandatory face masks for all employees and customers and coronavirus cases must be traced, tracked, and reported to regional public-health officials.

The strength studio called Evolution Strength and Performance moved to the virtual world when the pandemic began, and their online on-demand training portal has been successful since. Not only did the gym change the face of its company, they also expanded the gym and rebranded themselves to be called Kettlebell Works.

“Back in May we restructured everyone’s gym memberships. We made the decision to predominantly become a remote based business with minimal in-person work, and that’s our direction moving forward,” Owner Chris Abbott said.           

The new studio is double the size of the old one, and has been ready to open since April. Kettlebell Works is located at 26 Commons Blvd in Clifton Park and can be reached at 518-235-3896. Global Express Fitness is located at 43 Round lake Rd in Ballston Spa and can be reached at 518-400-1428. Saratoga Peak Performance is located at 30 Gick Rd in Saratoga and can be reached by phone at 518-505-9542.

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