Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Earlier this week, a Brooklyn company reported through social media that its business relationship with Saratoga Brewing Company was recently terminated, forcing an evacuation of truckloads of beer-production supplies from the popular Excelsior Avenue warehouse.
Max Oswald, the owner of Saratoga Brewing, did not return repeated calls for comment.
Multiple attempts to contact Braven Brewing in Bushwick, Brooklyn and Mendocino Brewing Company in Ukiah, California also were unsuccessful. Both companies have existing partnerships with Saratoga Brewing, according to a report in the Daily Gazette.
A beer industry expert familiar with the situation, who requested anonymity due to an ongoing investigation, told Saratoga TODAY that the sudden closure of Saratoga Brewing is related to legal problems facing an executive at the international brand Kingfisher Premium Lager Beer.
A statement on the Kingfisher website describing the company’s history makes reference only to a licensing agreement with Mendocino Brewing Company.
A posting on Instagram Monday by Braven Brewing representatives explained an incident that reportedly took place at the end of last week: “When you’re told your partner brewery has gone out of business and you have 72 hours to remove $60,000 of packaging material and get 800 kegs worth of beer out of the tanks, what do you do? You get in your car and drive 4 hours north to conduct a rescue operation,” the social media post said.
“We were able to move 60 pallets of kegs, keg collars, keg caps, bottle caps, 6-pack carriers, and 24-pack cases into storage on Friday morning,” the Braven posting added. “Then we salvaged about $3,000 of hops, threw them into the car, and UPS’ed them to another brewery for future batches.”
Large tanker trucks sent to the Saratoga Brewing facility by Braven Brewing also removed fermented beer, the posting indicated, with the assistance of a special fitting to perform that task.
“All of this constitutes the closing of one chapter in Saratoga and the beginning of another” at the Ipswich Ale Brewery in Massachusetts, the Instagram post concluded.
Rob Martin, president of Ipswich Ale Brewery, confirmed that his company was contacted by Braven Brewing and agreed to make use of the hops and packaging supplies that were transported from Saratoga Springs.
“We’re going to start brewing for them next month,” Martin said of Braven, using that company’s beer recipes.
Stewart’s Shops President Gary Dake, who owns the property at 131 Excelsior Avenue, confirmed that financial problems at Saratoga Brewing are apparent. The company has been located there since about 1997, he explained.
“We’ve been having problems getting paid our rent,” Dake said, adding that he is already seeking new candidates for another beer producer at the site.
“We’d love to keep it a brewery, keep those jobs in Saratoga Springs and keep the economy thriving,” Dake said.
A candlelight vigil held in Congress Park on Aug. 31, 2017, also called Overdose Awareness Day. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
BALLSTON SPA – The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday for a local law that declares opioid addiction a “public nuisance,” as the resolution states, and establishes a “cost recovery procedure for the county’s expenditures incurred in providing services related to the opioid epidemic.”
County officials argue in the measure that pharmaceutical companies and physicians, not only drug dealers in the streets, should be held responsible for causing the problem of opioid addiction.
This week’s resolution follows a separate action taken last October, when the supervisors agreed in a special meeting to join a lawsuit filed by the New York City law firm Napoli Shkolnik related to the widespread distribution of opioids in multiple states.
“The opioid epidemic is sweeping the country,” the Jan. 16 resolution states. “Vast amounts of prescription opioids were sold, distributed and prescribed in the county over the past several years, a practice that continues today. The selling, distributing and prescribing of large amounts of opioids in our community has created a public health and safety hazard affecting the residents of the county.
“This crisis has devastated families, wreaked havoc on our economy, and produced a generation of narcotic dependence,” the resolution continues. “As a result of the opioid epidemic, costs related to healthcare, family and social services, criminal justice, addiction and rehabilitation, and many other areas have significantly increased.”
The resolution also sets a public hearing, which will be held at 4:28 p.m. on Tuesday, February 14 in the county complex at 40 McMaster Street in Ballston Spa.
According to Dr. Joshua Zamer, who leads a team of addiction specialists at Saratoga Community Health Center at 24 Hamilton Street in Saratoga Springs, 25 percent of all people hospitalized nationwide return home with opioid prescriptions.
After three months, Zamer said, fully half of those people are still taking opioids.
“The new push is for a three- to seven-day prescription,” he told Saratoga TODAY during a September 2017 interview.
The resolution passed this week stipulates that Saratoga County “may initiate and recover costs through administrative, civil, and/or criminal action against the responsible party,” aside from the collection of “attorney’s fees, interest, and any other payment or type of damages the court deems proper.”
In the “public nuisance” section, the county estimates that “four in five heroin users” become addicted first to prescription opioids.
The resolution further states “that manufacturers of prescription opioids and those in the chain of distribution have wrongfully abused the privilege of selling and/or providing medication to our residents and must be held accountable.”
In recent months, Malta Supervisor Vincent DeLucia has indicated repeatedly that the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office happens to be so preoccupied by opioid-related crimes, such as larcenies, that it has less time to enforce local traffic laws.
At a Public Safety Committee meeting in September attended by DeLucia, Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo confirmed that larcenies are occurring countywide. But he stopped short of tying them directly to opioids.
Many burglaries and break-ins across the county are going unreported, officials added.
After the vote on Tuesday, Clifton Park Supervisor Philip Barrett explained that local lawmakers intend to “make it known that, if you deal drugs in Saratoga County, you will be caught.
“The increase in drug abuse that’s occurring in all forms,” Barrett said, justifies taking such legislative action.
Barrett was the sole vote in opposition to a separate resolution that transferred funds related to the pending construction of a $32 million public safety complex on County Farm Road in Ballston Spa, near the existing jail complex. That project is expected to start this spring.
Barrett, reiterating concerns he has raised previously in county meetings, said he prefers to see funds appropriated for an expansion of the jail complex itself—at much less cost.
“I’m not against a public safety building, per se,” Barrett offered. “It would behoove the county to fulfill a known need.”
Stillwater Supervisor Edward Kinowski, who is serving in his second year as board chairman, responded that Zurlo and others are reviewing “any improvements to the jail” with close consideration of New York State requirements.
“The jail is being addressed,” Kinowski said. “We are pursuing all avenues.”
(Left to right) Bill Morris discusses the Craw Farm South subdivision on Traver Road; and Joe Dannible of Environmental Design Partnership presenting plans for the Ballard Road Self-Storage facility. Photos by Larry Goodwin.
WILTON – After comments from local residents prompted some heated debate on a wintry Wednesday night, the Wilton Planning Board voted unanimously in favor of two construction projects not far from Town Hall on Traver Road.
The 19-lot Craw Farm South subdivision of single-family homes, involving almost 13 acres less than a mile south of the town complex, was first proposed several years ago.
Bill Morris of William and Judy Morris Excavating appeared before the board to discuss the project, on behalf of Malta-based McPadden Builders.
Morris said he expects construction to start later this year.
Planning Board Chairman Michael Dobis, as required by law, invited comments from local residents during the public comment period.
Yet Dobis went further in allowing multiple instances of open discussion between the residents, Morris and fellow board members.
Traver Road resident Jean Brew questioned the effects of another construction project on “the traffic flow in Wilton.”
Wilton Director of Engineering and Planning Ryan Riper indicated to Brew that all developers are required by law to pay “traffic mitigation” fees, and that a “professional consultant” is involved in local traffic studies.
Arleen and Gilbert Petteys said they live directly across from what would be the end of the development.
The Petteys requested that Morris consider putting up a fence to block the view, which he said did not seem prudent considering the need for plow access in winter months. Morris offered to plant white pine trees, but the couple rejected that idea.
Dobis interjected that white pines are favored most when they are “getting burned.”
Morris offered to meet at a later time with the Petteys to discuss other options.
Eric Rosenberg, who lost an election in November for the position of Wilton town justice, requested that planning board members consider his “bigger infrastructure” concerns and the “total impact” of all local development projects, among other matters.
“People are concerned that there isn’t the proper dialogue going back-and-forth about the schools,” Rosenberg said.
Planning board member William Rice, who repeatedly opined that governing boards should not hamper development, responded to Rosenberg that “the general trend” in the Dorothy Nolan Elementary School is “declining” enrollment.
Planning board member Erinn Kolligian politely advised that the Craw Farm South subdivision involves the South Glens Falls school district.
“It’s tough having increased traffic, but think about the opposite,” Rice added later, noting how property values appear to be decreasing as residents move away from other rural areas of New York, where development is lacking.
Attorney Mark Schachner, who represents both the planning and town boards, guided members through part of the state Environmental Quality Review process before the unanimous vote to approve the Craw Farm South subdivision.
Some final reviews by Riper and county officials are necessary before construction can commence.
There was nearly an hour of discussion relating to the Ballard Road Self-Storage proposal, which was presented by Joe Dannible of Clifton Park-based Environmental Design Partnership.
Dannible said the 9-acre project will be “strictly for a self-storage facility” with fully enclosed units. There will be no storage of vehicles or RVs, he said.
Rosenberg again questioned the planning board about various aspects of the proposal.
Town officials previously approved the Ballard Road storage project. But much of the discussion this week revolved around complicated changes that were made in relation to grandfathering such approvals.
“We don’t treat anybody else like this, and I don’t think we should start now,” insisted planning board member Brett Hebner. “We want to be consistent in the way we treat applicants.”
“Our intention is to move forward as quickly as we can,” said Saratoga Springs attorney Matthew Chauvin under questioning from the board. Chauvin appeared with Dannible on behalf of the Ballard Road project.
The planning board unanimously approved the special use permit for the Ballard Road facility, but the process is not yet complete. A final site plan still must be presented and approved.
SARATOGA COUNTY – Peter Pepe, a Queensbury filmmaker, easily remembered what was in the box when he pulled it out of storage almost two years ago.
It contained materials Pepe had compiled in the 1980s, when he started collaborating with others to reveal the Great Sacandaga Lake’s history in a documentary.
He had recorded interviews with about 20 people, who shared memories of the Sacandaga Valley before it was permanently flooded by construction of the Conklingville Dam in the northern Saratoga County Town of Hadley.
But that initial filmmaking effort “fizzled out,” Pepe explained last week, noting how he “always wanted to finish the story.”
Pepe “said a little prayer,” since he perceived finding the box again as a sign that a new collaboration was possible. “Then I get a phone call from Lauren Roberts,” he added.
Roberts, the Saratoga County historian, expressed an interest in telling the exact same story. Pepe indicated that she was motivated by previous contacts with a retired schoolteacher who had experience in underwater archeology.
Together Pepe and Roberts wrote the narrative script for “Harnessing Nature: Building the Great Sacandaga,” a new documentary that was produced utilizing some of his original footage from 30 years ago.
“This is a project that a lot of people are interested in,” reported Roberts, who organized the first public viewings in November to much fanfare. In the last two months, she said, thousands of DVD copies of the film have been sold.
Saratoga County Director of Planning Jason Kemper joined Roberts and Pepe in producing “Harnessing Nature.”
“I think my generation or those around my age don’t have a clear understanding of the sacrifices made by those in the Sacandaga Valley when the lake was created,” Kemper offered in an email. “Hopefully this film illustrates the sacrifices made and the tremendous benefit the lake has provided both in terms of flood control as well as recreationally.”
In her own email, Roberts elaborated: “Peter, Jason and I worked on this project for approximately 18 months and conducted many interviews, visited locations around the lake and filmed in all four seasons. As someone who has lived on the lake all my life, I truly enjoyed this project and found it to be a very compelling story.”
Except for two submerged bridges, Pepe emphasized, “there’s nothing under water” in the Great Sacandaga Lake, despite “urban legends” to the contrary that still persist.
Moreover, he said, the original dam planners did not foresee the “strong bonds” that would develop among property owners on the sizable lake that was created.
“It’s not as commercialized as Lake George,” Pepe observed. “Sacandaga is basically a great big neighborhood.”
This week, Roberts organized two viewings of “Harnessing Nature” at Hadley-Luzerne High School: the first at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18 and a second at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20.
Film viewings in the school’s Alice Harris auditorium are free, but anyone interested in attending is required to pre-register by visiting eventbrite.com or calling 518-696-2112.
On Wednesday, Jan. 10, Roberts showed a clip of “Harnessing Nature” and briefly discussed it as part of her regular report to the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.
Edinburg Supervisor Jean Raymond praised Roberts for thusly preserving the lake’s history and informing area residents.
“I really urge everyone to look at this film,” Raymond said.
For more information, visit http://thegreatsacandagalake.com/.
Malta Pointe residents speak out at the town board meeting on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
MALTA – Lacking steady supplies of water in their homes since New Year’s Eve, a couple dozen residents from a mobile home and apartment community off Route 9 crowded into Malta Town Hall Monday night to demand better responses to the problem.
“We want answers,” concluded one of the first women to speak.
For more than an hour, Malta Supervisor Vincent DeLucia allowed residents from the Malta Pointe community (also called Malta Gardens) to express their frustrations about faulty water pipes underground that apparently failed during the New Year holiday.
The issue dominated the Malta Town Board’s first official meeting of 2018.
“This is a cataclysm. This is a water failure,” explained Ron Simoncini, a spokesman for the Solomon Organization, the New Jersey-based firm that manages the community. He was invited to address the residents’ water woes at the Jan. 8 meeting.
Simoncini waited patiently before making his own comments and answering questions from the people of Malta Pointe. He assured them that finding prompt solutions is a “corporate priority” at Solomon.
“We want this fixed as fast as humanly possible,” Simoncini said. “There is no budget for this. We’re spending what it takes.”
Residents expressed anger mainly about an ongoing lack of water or water pressure in their kitchens and bathrooms, complicating their basic daily activities; as well as difficulties many have experienced in communicating with Solomon officials.
One woman simply displayed a small glass jar filled with cloudy water, saying it looked so questionable even after being boiled.
“We can’t create the water. We don’t have a municipal water supply,” DeLucia told the affected residents.
DeLucia also made a point of telling Simoncini that many Malta Pointe residents had contacted town hall, noting how the individuals at the back of the meeting room Monday were “a small representation” of those with water problems.
After Councilman Timothy Dunn had scrolled through a computer file and reviewed the original planning documents for Malta Pointe, he noted how Solomon is required by specific town code to provide adequate water supplies to the residents.
The Malta Code Enforcement Office issued at least one notice of violation to the firm.
Simoncini acknowledged repeatedly that Solomon officials intend to comply with the legal requirements within 14 days. He added that more than a dozen people met this week on site to discuss the issue, including staff members of the New York State Department of Health (DOH).
Jill Montag, a DOH spokeswoman, confirmed in an emailed statement that a meeting occurred Tuesday regarding “long-term steps to address the water system’s ability to keep up with water demand.”
Montag indicated that DOH officials are working with Solomon “to have them develop additional source water either on site or by connecting to a neighboring water system.”
She added: “The Department will continue to work with Malta Gardens and take all necessary steps to ensure that this issue is resolved.”
“I have high-quality water” with pressure exceeding 70 pounds per square inch, offered Marissa Mackay, owner of Saratoga Water Services, a company that has supplied developments in that part of Malta with water for decades.
Mackay attended the meeting Monday and stated that her goal is not to promote her business, but “to make sure that people are taken care of” in the community.
She said Saratoga Water Services already has suitable pipes installed underneath a fire hydrant located off Knabner Road, which is the main drive to the businesses, apartment complexes and mobile homes in Malta Pointe.
Mackay offered Simoncini her company’s contact information and urged him to discuss a possible connection of pipes. “If you’re going to be chasing water-main breaks, I think it makes sense,” she said.
Simoncini did not return a follow-up call for comment.
Installing commercial water pipes generally costs $100 per foot, Mackay explained, adding that many “technicalities” make even a rough estimate difficult for the actual needs in Malta Pointe.
The total cost to Solomon, Mackay said, would be “less than developing two new wells.”
WILTON – At its first monthly meeting of 2018, the Wilton Town Board approved a measure to purchase Traver Road property in case future plans develop to expand the town complex.
The resolution authorized a purchase price of $160,000 for the parcel at 15 Traver Road owned by Martha Kilburn, stating the land will be used “for town purposes.” Last year, the same property had been assessed at an amount totaling $8,000 more.
Town Clerk Sue Baldwin indicated that the board has no current plans for any specific use.
Wilton officials are reviewing plans to build a new Town Court and expand a portion of Town Hall at 22 Traver Road.
A new facility for Wilton seniors also is planned for town property on Northern Pines Road, following a demolition of the existing structure named after Lillian W. Worth.
BALLSTON SPA – The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors will vote next week in favor of moving forward on construction of a new public safety complex near the existing Sheriff’s Office and county jail.
Supervisors agreed this week that the proposed $32 million project on County Farm Road meets the standards of being an “unlisted action” under the state Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).
The county is acting as lead agency on the project and also will issue a formal “negative declaration,” which indicates it will not have adverse impacts on the environment, according to SEQRA rules. Construction is expected to start this spring.
As first proposed more than 10 years ago, the new complex will consolidate the administrative operations of Sheriff Michael Zurlo’s department and multiple county agencies involved with public safety. The existing county jail will not be affected.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Members of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce are calling a proposed change to state labor rules the “death of common sense” in relation to small businesses.
Specifically, the chamber opposes a “call-in scheduling mandate on private and nonprofit employers,” as described in a Jan. 5 email alert.
“If approved by the New York State Labor Department, the draft rules would require workers get an additional two hours’ pay for shift assignments given without at least 14 days advance notice,” the chamber wrote. “As a result, this rule will essentially penalize any employer that calls-in an employee to work any shift that becomes open at no fault of the employer.
“We’ve heard from more chamber members than usual on this issue who are [concerned] about the costs, the paperwork, and the loss of flexibility they will have in filling open shifts,” the chamber added.
When reached for comment, Chamber President Todd Shimkus called it “one of the least popular” state proposals he has “ever seen.”
The Labor Department officially published the call-in rule change in late November, initiating a public comment period that was extended to Monday, Jan. 22.
In a posting this week on its Twitter account, the chamber welcomed an extension of the comment period, but added: “What small employers need is for this #deathofcommonsense proposal to be permanently rejected. Just say no now!”
Business owners from across New York were invited to participate in a related forum in Albany on Thursday, Jan. 4 that was organized by state senators.
“If this rule becomes law in New York, we will have the most restrictive, burdensome call-in pay regulation in the nation,” argued State Sen. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) at the outset of the forum. Jacobs is calling on state officials to rescind the measure.
The proposed call-in rules “simply ignore the reality of operating and growing a business,” testified Unshackle Upstate Executive Director Greg Biryla. “This impacts businesses everywhere.”
Cullen Burnell, a Labor Department spokesman, responded in an email: “We remain confident that at the end of the robust public participation process that has included several meetings and direct input from countless stakeholders and the public, new fair and balanced rules will be finalized to ensure workers are protected.”
Burnell did not respond to a request for more detailed information.
Chef Julia Sanzen prepares and presents the Farmers Hardware Impossible Burger. Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Chef Julia Sanzen, a self-described “non-vegetarian,” was more than happy to join her vegetarian partner Tyler Russell last summer as they ordered special plates in a vibrant city eatery.
Sanzen and Russell, co-owners of Farmers Hardware at 35 Maple Avenue, traveled in July to a popular New York City restaurant, where the California-inspired “Impossible Burger” was on the menu for the first time.
For more than an hour, the entrepreneurial couple waited in line to order the meatless burger. They were equally eager to taste its distinctive blend of water, wheat and potato protein, plus coconut oil and other plant-based compounds that closely resemble those found in typical meat.
“This burger is the real deal and we believe it’s going to be well received by both herbivores and carnivores alike locally,” Russell said in a prepared statement.
“It’s scary how spot-on the look, texture, smell and taste is,” added Sanzen, who plans to formally start serving her Farmers Hardware version of the Impossible Burger at a 6:30 p.m. launch party on Thursday, Jan. 11. “It even bleeds like a beef burger.”
Various delays meant that Sanzen and Russell were unable to offer the Impossible Burger last spring, as planned, when they first opened their Maple Avenue brunch hall—in a brick warehouse utilized long ago for storage by the Serotta bicycle family—ahead of the horse-racing season.
It was only a few weeks ago, according to Russell, that Farmers Hardware “received news” that a steady supply of the product for their dining customers could be provided by California-based Impossible Foods.
“I was in the car the next day picking up two cases in Jersey City for Julia to recipe test with,” Russell said.
Jessica Appelgren, a spokeswoman for Impossible Foods, indicated that her company’s relatively new burgers are produced in a large Oakland facility and distributed frozen nationwide to hundreds of restaurants.
The Impossible Burger accounts for about 30 percent of the new customers in whichever establishment it is served, Appelgren said. There are many discerning consumers, she added, who “love” the eco-friendly practices that are a common feature of this and most other vegetarian food products.
“It’s hugely popular,” Appelgren assured. “This is people’s go-to burger.”
“In development since 2011, the Impossible Burger cooks, smells and tastes like ground beef from cows—but is made entirely from plants,” Sanzen and Russell reported in their statement. “The Impossible Burger, which debuted in July 2016 at Chef David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi in Manhattan, won a 2017 Tasty Award for best food startup.
“The Impossible Burger is produced without hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol or artificial flavors,” they added. “It uses about 75 percent less water, generates about 87 percent fewer greenhouse gases, and requires around 95 percent less land than conventional ground beef from cows.”
Renee Farley. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
MALTA – This week, one military veteran braved the frigid air and crawled under his mobile home to inspect ductwork after his heat failed to work.
In early December, the strut on another veteran’s car was so severely damaged that it ruined one of his tires, too.
Six days before Christmas, a young military couple—both active-duty National Guard—were struggling with money problems that made it difficult to afford gifts for their two children, who are 5 years and 8 months old.
All year long, situations like those arise suddenly for local veterans and military families.
That is when Renee Farley and the other volunteer members of the Malta Veterans Appreciation Program (MVAP) immediately send “call to action” alerts by email and through social-media; or directly provide whatever assistance is needed.
In recent weeks, Farley and the MVAP volunteers were prompted by such circumstances to step up their efforts; and the related alerts to help people whom Farley calls “hometown heroes” were answered.
After New Year’s Day, Farley personally intervened in the case of Leroy, the veteran whose heating system was somehow compromised in the midst of the cold spell.
With the help of her son and another young man, Farley temporarily patched heating ductwork that was damaged—possibly by animals—underneath Leroy’s mobile home. Then she issued a call to action for a permanent fix.
In the case of Mike, the veteran with a disabled vehicle, Farley said there was “a united front” by Stacy and Jim Fantauzzi of Northeast Fire Protection Systems in Ballston Spa, who bought two new front tires; Lake Auto Parts in Burnt Hills, which donated a new strut; and Mark’s VW and Import Service in Mechanicville, which donated the garage space and a couple hours’ worth of labor to get Mike and his family back on the road.
“We got all the parts and we did all the work,” offered Mark Thompson, owner of Mark’s VW and Import Service. “We were happy to fix it for him.”
Bryan Haas, a retired Sgt. 1st Class in the U.S. Army and secretary of the five-member MVAP Board of Directors, met with Haley and Jordan, the National Guard members, during their time of need. He said Haley had provided a list of preferred items.
“I got every single thing they asked for,” Haas said, “plus a ton of food.”
The MVAP program, according to Farley, donated more than $500 in groceries and a gift card so Haley and Jordan would find it easier to enjoy the holidays with their kids.
“I have a Chevy SUV. I filled it up twice,” Haas continued. “We slam-dunked it. They actually told me it was the best Christmas they had since they’ve been married.”
In addition to the MVAP network, Haas said crucial assistance was provided by the Veterans Miracle Center in Albany.
“When we do those calls to action, the response is phenomenal,” he added.
The MVAP volunteers also work to ensure that local veterans can manage regular trips to medical appointments and the routine activities of daily life.
The group is coordinating on ongoing fundraiser for the proposed expansion of the veterans’ memorial walkway in front of Malta Town Hall.
Memorial bricks can be purchased naming individual veterans and their military branch; the bricks will be a permanent part of the display, which includes a small piece of steel from the World Trade Center.
Farley said the military veterans thusly memorialized do not have to be local.
For more information, visit the website www.maltavets.com.