'Saratoga Casino Hotel' Becomes The Official Name In Casino Rebranding; Hotel Opens Soon

May 5, 2016

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A new sign, 'Saratoga Casino Hotel,' was erected at the casino on Jefferson Street in Saratoga Springs. The casino is rebranding itself in anticipation of opening its new hotel in June.

Saratoga Casino and Raceway has changed its brand for the property. It announced on April 27 it will now be called the Saratoga Casino Hotel.

The change took place immediately, in advance of the anticipated opening of its new 117-room hotel expansion.

Officials said the brand change reflects the casino's transformation into a comprehensive, modern destination that offers something for everyone.

"The addition of the hotel and its amenities, including Morton's The Steakhouse, creates an entertainment experience unmatched in the region," said Rita Cox, senior vice president of marketing at Saratoga Casino Hotel. "Our new brand is a product of this transformation, highlighting that we are a complete entertainment destination within the already world famous tourist destination that is Saratoga Springs. First-time and repeat guests alike will find new reasons to visit, and to keep coming back, for all that we have to offer."

The $40 million, 123,000-square-foot hotel is set to open in July, officials said.

Featuring 117 luxury rooms and suites, the hotel will be located just steps away from the casino floor and harness track. The hotel's premium rooms and suites are named after the raceway's founders and longtime President, Roland Harriman, Dunbar Bostwick, and Ernest Morris. Suites feature large bay windows, and many overlook the harness track. Additionally, guests will be able to watch and wager on live harness racing from every room in the hotel.

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Construction Of Solar Project In Halfmoon Is First 'Shared Renewables' Project In NY State

May 5, 2016

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Solar panels like these in Halfmoon can help reduce energy bills for some residents.

Courtesy Clean Energy Collective

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), state Department of Public Service (DPS), EnterSolar and Clean Energy Collective (CEC) began a collaborative project in April involving construction of the first Shared Renewables community solar project in New York state.

The project is taking place in Halfmoon.

State officials said the project advances the goals of the state's Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy to build a clean, resilient and affordable energy system by helping to make clean energy a possible choice for more residents.

The success of REV depends on communities taking charge of their own energy as New York increases the growth of electricity generation at customer sites to supplement power generated at central power plants, NYSERDA officials said.

The announcement was made at the groundbreaking for the project April 27 in Halfmoon.

The Halfmoon Community Solar Project will feed solar energy to the grid operated by New York State Electric & Gas Corp. (NYSEG) and will allow more than 100 residential customers in NYSEG's Capital Region territory (parts of Columbia, Essex, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Washington counties), including low-income residents, to participate in local clean power generation and save money on their electricity bills.

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Distracted Driving Program Is Important To Automobile Museum's New CEO Jim Letts

May 5, 2016

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Jim Letts was appointed the new CEO of the Saratoga Automobile Museum.

Courtesy Saratoga Automobile Museum

The board of trustees of the Saratoga Automobile Museum appointed Jim Letts, CEO of the Saratoga Regional YMCA for the past 12 years, as the museum's new executive director,.

"While serving as the CEO, Jim has had amazing success, growing the Y's membership from 6,900 to 26,900, while raising many millions of dollars through capital campaigns to support and expand the Y's facilities and activities," said Anthony Ianniello, board chairman. "We think he is a perfect fit for our extremely active, rapidly growing museum and are thrilled to have him on board"

One of the factors in Letts coming to the museum was his interest in its nationally recognized distracted driving program, museum officials said.

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Downtown Saratoga Gets Women's Shoe Store, Stephanie Anne's, In Downtown Marketplace

May 5, 2016

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Stephanie Siracusa has opened a new show store, Stephanie Anne's in Saratoga Springs.

©2016 Saratoga

By Maureen Werther

Stephanie Siracusa is trading in her real estate career for a new pair of heels--to be exact, a whole store full of them.

Her new shoe store, Stephanie Anne's, opened in the Saratoga Marketplace, 454 Broadway, on the main level, in between Pangea and Mango Tree. Siracusa offers a wide assortment of shoes, boots and sandals that will appeal to women who love shoes.

"I've thought about opening either a clothing or a shoe store for years," said Siracusa. She is originally from Dallas and lived for several years in New York City as well. When she moved to Delmar, the Shoe Depot in Saratoga became her "go to" store for shoes. "When they closed, it left a gaping hole in the market," she said.

When Siracusa moved from Delmar to Saratoga Springs a few years ago, her plan was to either sell real estate or open a shop. She stuck to that plan and worked with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services on Broadway.

But, the lure of opening her own retail store was strong and, after a couple of years as a realtor, she decided to make the career change.

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'Curtain And Carpet Concepts' Offers Rugs, Window Treatments, Drapery In One Spot

May 5, 2016

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Cathy Carollo, owner of Curtain and Carpet Concepts, with assistant designer Scott Drake.

©2016 Saratoga

By Jennifer Farnsworth

After years of being in the home decor business, Cathy Carollo said she knew it was time to find a space that could accommodate both her growing business and her growing dream.

Carollo has been helping clients with curtains, carpets, and home décor for 22 years. She bought the popular Curtain Exchange of Saratoga in 2002 in the former fire department building at 543 Broadway.

To account for expansion, she moved recently to larger space and created Curtain and Carpet Concepts at 46 Marion Ave., in the shopping area that has Fresh Markets, Smashburgers and other commercial ventures, behind the Hamlets housing project.

"I have been in business in Saratoga, in the oriental rug and carpet end, for 22 years, beginning with Jacobsen Orientals, then with Stockade Orientals as a third-generation rug dealer," said Carollo.

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Vischer Ferry General Store Offers Breakfast And Lunch; Also Jewelry, Soaps, Lotions, More

May 5, 2016

Louise McManus, left, and Anouk Booneman are the owners of Vischer Ferry General Store at 357 Riverview Road, Rexford, that features a café open for breakfast and lunch.

©2016 Saratoga

By Liz Witbeck

Vischer Ferry General Store, owned and operated by Louise McManus and Anouk Booneman, features retail space as well as a café open for breakfast and lunch.

The store, at 357 Riverview Road, Rexford, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 22.

"People have been thrilled," said McManus, who opened the store in December. "They want a place to eat and to walk to. Some people even come in twice a day."

McManus worked at the bridal shop Lily Saratoga for 10 years and also worked as a jewelry designer before opening the business. She brings to Vischer Ferry General Store her knowledge of the retail industry and is responsible for purchasing items for that portion of the store.

"My inspiration is trying to carry unique things that nobody else carries," said McManus. "I am very inspired by nature. I love the nature preserve that we have here. Many of our items are tied to nature in some way. We also have a lot of books, history related items, and local items."

Some of McManus' favorite items at the shop include the jewelry line by Alex Monroe. The line features nature-inspired pieces, such as rabbits and birds. Another favorite is Library of Flowers, a bath and body line featuring lotions, perfumes, soaps, candles, oils, bubble bath, shower gels, and more.

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Ballston Spa Fitness Expands, Adds Indoor Cycling Studio With Six Certified Instructors

May 5, 2016

Tiffany Robyck, owner and founder of Ballston Spa Fitness on Ralph Street in Ballston Spa, offers a new array of fitness programs in a new indoor cycling studio called Ballston Spa Cycle.

©2016 Saratoga

Ballston Spa Fitness has expanded its facility with the addition of a new indoor cycling studio called Ballston Spa Cycle.

"I've wanted to do this for several years," said Tiffany Robyck, owner and founder of Ballston Spa Fitness. "I am an outdoor cyclist and I love to ride. I wanted to share my love for riding and indoor cycling workouts, and I saw a need for this in the Ballston Spa area."

Ballston Spa Cycle is in the same location as Ballston Spa Fitness, 18 Ralph St.

There are six certified indoor cycling instructors who offer classes at various times every day of the week. Classes are 45-60 minutes long.

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Business Briefs: May 2016

May 5, 2016

NBT Bank was named 2015 Financial Institution of the Year at the 12th annual LPL Financial Institution Services Program Leadership Conference held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

NBT Bank was nominated by LPL growth consultants and selected from more than 750 financial institutions based on quantitative and qualitative factors, including year-over-year growth, thought leadership and innovation

The annual conference is one of the industry's largest gatherings of financial institution investment program leaders, with more than 250 bank and credit union program managers and executives in attendance this year. The conference provided attendees with the opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities in today's financial services environment and the importance of wealth management for the long-term growth of community banks and credit unions and to network with peers.

* * * 

The Ballston Spa Business & Professional Association will be sponsoring a Networking Breakfast on Tuesday, May 17, from 7:30-8:30 a.m., hosted by Community Emergency Corps, 78 Thompson St. in Ballston Spa.

Community Emergency Corps, which celebrates 50 years of service in 2016, is a nonprofit, emergency medical service organization that serves the Village of Ballston Spa, the Town of Milton, part of the Town of Ballston. The breakfast falls will include a demonstration of life-saving equipment, as well as a discussion about the world of EMS.

Cost for the breakfast is $5 with advance reservation or $10 that morning, both payable at the door. Business and community members are welcome.

The BSBPA sponsors networking breakfasts every month at different locations in Ballston Spa. For more information or to RSVP, call 885-2772 or email

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Beekman Street Cafe Opens On West Side In Saratoga Springs' Beekman Street Arts District

May 5, 2016

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Darren DeVietro, left, and his father Dominick DeVietro, have opened the Beekman Street Cafe in the Beekman Street Arts District in Saratoga Springs.

©2016 Saratoga

By r.J. DeLuke

A new restaurant serving breakfast and lunch has opened on the west side of Saratoga Springs, specializing in fresh breakfast sandwiches, homemade baked goods and its unique blend of coffee.

Beekman Street Cafe opened in April at 51 Ash St. in the Beekman Street Arts District (at the corner of Beekman and Ash streets), "quietly," said co-owner Darren DeVietro, and its official grand opening was held May 1.

He owns the business with his father, Dominick DeVietro. The pair has owned the restaurant 62 Beekman St., just down the block, for nearly three years.

DeVietro said about a year and a half ago, 62 Beekman started making its own homemade desserts (he is the baker) and "they just took off" in popularity. With the demand growing, and limited space, they started looking for another place where the baking could be done.

The building, formerly Rena's Fine Flowers, became available and "we jumped at it," DeVietro said. "We love the arts district. We love where we''re at and all the locals."

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Adirondack Cruise And Charter Company Sets Sail, Offering Boat Tours On Saratoga Lake

May 5, 2016

Hal Raven has started a boat charter and cruise company on Saratoga Lake.

©2016 Saratoga

By Sarah Jean Worden

There's a new way to enjoy Saratoga Lake this summer with the introduction of local entrepreneur Hal Raven's latest venture, Adirondack Cruise and Charter Co.

"Don't worry about driving," said Raven. "Grab a bottle of wine and come out with us."

Raven runs a boat charter and cruise company that will take people around the local lake. Tours will typically be two-hour rides for up to eight people with a cost starting at $275.

Starting small this season with just one eight-passenger pontoon boat, Raven already has big plans for the future of his business. He anticipated adding a 30-passenger vessel to his lineup to accommodate larger parties. Part of his vision includes early 1900s-style steamboats like ones that used on the lake a century ago.

"It just seems so Saratoga," he said.

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Red Robin Gourmet Burgers And Brews Is Set To Open On Former Pizzeria Uno Site In July

May 5, 2016

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This rendering shows a typical Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews building in the 500-plus restaurant chain. Company officials are anticipating a July opening.

Courtesy Red Robin

By Liz Witbeck

Red Robin will open a new restaurant in summer 2016 at 3008 Route 50 in Saratoga Springs, on the site that was once Uno Pizzeria & Grill, which closed last year.

"We can confirm that Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews is planning to open a new restaurant in Saratoga Springs in summer 2016," said Les Lehner, senior vice president of real estate at Red Robin.

He said the restaurant is tentatively slated to open in July. It is located on 1.3 acres of property.

Lehner said renovations for the site include improving the patio space with lighting; moving the dumpster and enclosure areas; and enhancing the curb. The exterior will also be modified to have the Red Robin look and signs. There will not be a drive-through at the location.

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Bike Party Returns To Henry Street In June With A Race, Parade, Family Activities, More

May 5, 2016

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Bike riders enjoy themselves at last year's Henry Street Bike Party, organized by the Henry Street Business Group. It will take place again on June 16 between Lake Avenue and Caroline Street.

Nicole DeHaven, Two Danes Photography

Business owners on Henry Street Saratoga Springs will hold the second annual Henry Street Bike Party from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 12.

It will feature an adult big wheel race, a kids bicycle parade and story ride in Congress Park, a bike decoration contest and exhibit, a bike rodeo, free bike helmets and safety gear, bicycle stunts and tricks contest, live surf rock music, food, drinks, vending and more.

All activities are suitable for the entire family, organizers said.

Officials said this year's event seeks to attract bike enthusiasts of all ages, and aims to promote bike culture, safety and expanded citywide programs to support bicycle-friendly initiatives.

A block of Henry Street, between Lake Avenue and Caroline Street, will be closed to traffic beginning at 7 a.m. that day.

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Persistence Pays Off For Tom Stock, A Local Photographer Marking 25 Years In Business

May 5, 2016

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Tom Stock, a Gloversville native, started his local photography business in 1991 and never looked back. He celebrates 25 years in business in 2016.

©2016 Saratoga

By Maureen Werther

Tom Stock recalled an exact moment just like it was yesterday. He was driving home after a long day of work--a 16-hour day, to be precise--when he found himself driving behind a new, bumble bee-yellow Jeep with a bumper sticker that read, "If you're not the lead dog, the view never changes."

That bumper sticker was the impetus Stock needed to become his own boss.

Born and raised in Gloversville, he moved to Delaware after graduating from Syracuse University and began working for a commercial and industrial photography company. While he was doing the kind of photography that he loved, he realized that he needed to be working for himself.

Two months later, after doing extensive market surveys, he packed his equipment in his car and drove to Saratoga Springs, where he set up shop. He hasn't looked back.

Stock recalled that in January of his first year in Saratoga, his business earned a whopping $6. But he was undaunted. His mother phoned him to tell him about jobs she saw in the classified ads. He would tell her, "Mom, I already have a job." Her reply would be something like, "How many hours did you spend today doing photography?"

His answer, he said, was: "I'm working on my business."

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$350,000 Grant Coming To Corinth To Help Improve Housing For Income-Eligible Buyers

May 5, 2016

New York state has more than $1.2 million in state grants to promote home ownership and improvement programs for low- and middle-income New Yorkers, including $330,000 for Corinth to significantly improve a dozen homes for income-eligible households.

"By expanding home ownership opportunities across the state, we are building stronger, more vibrant communities from the ground up," Gov. Mario Cuomo said. "This is one more step toward ensuring that all New Yorkers have a safe, affordable and decent place to call home."

Home ownership, improvement and preservation programs are among the many initiatives that form the foundation of Cuomo's new, $10 billion House New York 2020 program to create or preserve 100,000 affordable units over the next five years.

According to the governor, since 2011, HCR community renewal programs have awarded more than $440 million in grants for various projects ranging from public facilities improvements to home ownership.

The Corinth Home Improvement Program will use the $330,000 in funds to improve 12 single-family homes located on scattered sites in Corinth, placing the highest priority on ensuring that residents are living in safe homes. Most of the homes in the town were built over 70 years ago, and grant funds are needed to address typical repairs that may be too costly for many homeowners to afford, according to the governor.

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Huntington Learning Center Prepares Students For College Entrance Exams And Other Testing

May 5, 2016

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Katherine Hagen is the executive director of Huntington Learning Center.

©2016 Saratoga

By Jill Nagy

Huntington Learning Center in Clifton Park offers individualized tutoring for young people trying to catch up, attempting to get a leg up on their peers, or looking for help preparing for college entrance exams or other standardized tests.

The center, a franchise of a national company, has been owned since 2014 by Randal and Katherine Hagen. Hagen is the executive director. Her husband, Randal, is part owner but not active in the business. The facility opened under other ownership in 2008.

The tutoring facility serves children in grades K-12, and a few adults working toward high school equivalency certificates. There are three tracks: academic skills, exam preparation and subject matter tutoring.

The first track concentrates on reading, math, writing and study skills for grades K-12. The students are trying to get caught up or, in some cases, get ahead and move into an accelerated track in school, she said.

Exam preparation provides one-on-one instruction for students preparing for college entrance examinations, military placement tests, the high school equivalency (TASC) exam, and Common Core exams. It is a Common Core-aligned center, she said, with a curriculum that tracks Common Core standards. Time is also devoted to test-taking strategies and techniques to minimize test anxiety and stress.

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Business Report: Image Matters For Your Development

May 5, 2016

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Rose Miller is the president of Pinnacle Human Resources LLC.

Courtesy Pinnacle Human Resources LLC

By Rose Miller

Many businesses have incorporated a less formal dress code and everyone agrees that dress in general has expanded to incorporate a wider variety of acceptable attire. Talk to the business owners who sells suits and they will tell how things have changed.

This fact lead many to believe that image doesn't matter anymore and that is far from the truth. The real fact is our actions and motives are constantly being scrutinized by others. If you doubt it, tell me the last time you saw an ad, the cover of a book or a Facebook post where you didn't make judgments about the person based on what you saw. Now, be honest.

People are constantly observing your behavior, including how you dress and forming theories about your competence, character and commitment based on the image you send out to the world. So it's only wise to add your voice in framing other's theories about who you are and what you accomplish. Basically you want to strategically present yourself in a way that communicates your desired professional image.

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M&M Consulting Provides Coaching, Training For Job Seekers, Employees And Businesses

May 5, 2016

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Michelle Mitchell, owner of M&M Consulting, expanded her business to Saratoga County.

Courtesy The Saratogian

By Maureen Werther

Michelle Mitchell, owner of M&M Consulting, grew her business drawing on years of experience, first as a member of the armed forces and, later, working for engineering and computer technology companies that serviced the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

After serving her country as a member of the Air Force during the mid-1980s, Mitchell worked for a time in Germany for a computer company before returning to continue her career back in the states. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, she continued in the field of computers and computer technology, working in downstate New York as inside sales and support for her company's engineering team.

She then moved on to become a component engineering consultant, where she was, in effect, the "gatekeeper," managing the acquisition of highly specialized parts for submarine assemblies and other military equipment and components.

During this time, Mitchell began to develop the ideas for a consulting business.

"I knew a lot of people from my years in the armed services and in business," she said. When engineers she knew from work got laid off, she began helping them by rewriting their resumes and helping to connect them with other companies.

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Business Report: Customers Are Key To Success

May 5, 2016

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Michael Cruz is president of Lighthouse Advisors LLC in Queensbury.

Courtesy Lighthouse Advisors LLC

By Michael Cruz

Whenever I speak with new business owners, I ask a simple question: "What do you think the number one key to your success will be?"

All too often the answers are money or having the right people on board. The real answer--the only answer--is customers.

Most entrepreneurs tend to be product centric. They know a lot about specific products in their industry. They "know" what their customers need. Often they are right. But that's not enough.

Knowing what customers need, and knowing what they value are not the same thing. Sales is all about establishing value. It requires us to focus on the economic proposition. What will customers trade their hard-earned cash to get from us? Sales is the ultimate form of customer feedback. We ignore building a customer base at our own peril.

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Work On New Bridge Crossing Mohawk River Into Rexford, Part Of Route 146, In Underway

May 5, 2016

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This bridge from Rexford in Saratoga County to Niskayuna is being replaced.

Courtesy NYS Department of Transportation

Construction of a new Rexford Bridge carrying Route 146 over the Mohawk River between Rexford in Clifton Park to the town of Niskayuna began in April.

The project is expected to cost $33 million, state officials said.

"The Rexford Bridge is a vital link between these communities that thousands of Capital Region residents depend on every day," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "This project will ensure this bridge remains viable for years to come and is yet another example of our commitment to improving the safety and strength of our transportation infrastructure across this state."

Work will begin first on constructing a new roundabout at the intersection of Aqueduct Road and Route 146 in Niskayuna and intersection improvements at Riverview Road in Rexford, the governor said. Motorists should allow additional time in their travels, particularly during commuting times, during construction of the intersections.

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Construction Of La Quinta Hotel In Clifton Park Nearly Complete; June Opening Expected

May 5, 2016

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This rendering shows a new design concept used by the La Quinta hotel chain, called Del Sol. It is the style of the new hotel being built on Route 9 in Clifton Park that is near completion.

Courtesy Anthony Casale

By R.J. DeLuke

Construction of a new La Quinta hotel is nearing completion on Route 9 in Clifton Park and should be open some time in June, its owner said.

Anthony Casale, who owns Casale Rent-All in Clifton Park, is the sole principal for the four-story, 104-room hotel. It is located at 1749 Route 9, near Northway Exit 9. It sits on a 4.5-acre lot.

Bette & Cring in Latham is the general contractor for the project. The company has done projects in the area including the Hampton Inn in downtown Saratoga Springs, Saratoga National Golf Club and Hyatt Place in Malta.

Casale said construction crews are working on the stucco exterior and also doing some interior sheetrock work. But it could be open as early as June 20.

Construction began in November.

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Bonacio Construction Proposes Demolition Of Former Dorm, Construction Of 26 Condos

May 5, 2016

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Moore Hall, a former Skidmore College dormitory, would be razed and become the site of new condos, according to a project seeking city Planning Board approval.

By Maureen Werther

Bonacio Construction is planning a condominium project on Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs at the site of a former Skidmore College dormitory.

The plan is for 26 units to be built after the demolition of Moore Hall at 28 Union Ave.

The project must first be approved by the city Planning Board.

"These things take time, and this is just the beginning of what is typically a lengthy process," said Larry Novik, director of business development for Bonacio Construction.

Bonacio is teaming up on the project with Norstar Development of Buffalo, pending approval. Norstar is the owner of the former Skidmore dormitory, which they purchased from Skidmore in 2009 for $1.12 million.

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Inn At Saratoga Renovates Space For Use As Gathering Place For Guests And Customers

May 5, 2016

The Inn at Saratoga recently completed a restoration project creating the Side Room, a gathering space that was the original lobby of the building dating back to 1843.

©2016 Saratoga

By Liz Witbeck

The Inn at Saratoga recently completed a restoration project, opening up a space called the Side Room, a gathering point for guests and the public alike.

The room was the original lobby of the hotel when the building was erected in 1843. It eventually was used as a formal dining room.

"The room was under utilized," said Liz Israel, general manager of the hotel. Her family has been involved with historic preservation in Saratoga Springs for several decades.

Israel and her team envisioned the room as a space where guests could come, relax and talk.

The carpeting in the room was taken out, revealing a thick cement foundation. Beneath that, there was hardwood flooring, which was restored. One of the stark elements in the room are the windows, which are pocket doors that can be opened up in the summer.

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Contractor Builds 130-SF 'Tiny House;' Would Consider More With Enough Public Interest

May 5, 2016

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Clifton Park contractor Karl Schnitzer displayed this 'tiny house' recently at SUNY Adirondack and Skidmore College. The cottage has a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen area and storage space.

Courtesy Kurt Schnitzer

By Jennifer Farnsworth

The trend of tiny houses--cottages of small square footage that give owners bare living essential--is being seen in home and garden magazines and on home improvement television shows, particularly over the past year. Now, it is making its way to the local region thanks to Clifton Park contractor Karl Schnitzer.

Building a tiny home model was not something Schnitzer created overnight. In fact, he said he spent over eight years researching them, looking for a blueprint that met all the amenities of a home, and all within a tidy 130-square-foot space.

In New York City, he met designer Jay Shafer, who is somewhat of an expert on building tiny houses. He bought Shafer's blueprints and from those created a house that was fit for upstate New York residents.

Schnitzer recently showcased his tiny house model at an Earth Day celebration in April at the SUNY Adirondack in Queensbury. He also displayed the house at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs.

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Saratoga Springs Housing Authority Policy Establishes Its Three Complexes As Smoke-Free

May 5, 2016

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This high-rise apartment complex on South Federal Street, Stonequist Apartments, is one of the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority's complexes that is now smoke free.

Courtesy Saratoga Springs Housing Authority

Saratoga Springs Housing Authority said in April that to protect the health and safety of its residents it has implemented a no-­smoking policy in all 339 of its housing units. It also limits smoking elsewhere on its properties.

The policies went into effect May 1.

"We are proud to take this important step in protecting the health and safety of our residents, employees and visitors," said Executive Director Paul Feldman."Whether it's second-­hand smoke filtering into neighboring apartment or common areas through doorways and ventilation systems, or the fire dangers associated with cigarettes, smoking presents risks that needed to be addressed."

The policy is in effect at all three of the authority's housing complexes: Jefferson Terrace, Vanderbilt Terrace and Stonequist Apartments.

In addition to prohibiting smoking indoors, the policy establishes a 25-­foot smoke-­free boundary around all outside entrances and exits and windows and a 50-­foot smoke-­free boundary around the authority's playgrounds.

Feldman said the policy was discussed and developed over the past year in collaboration with Glens Falls Hospital's Health Promotion Center, through its state-­funded Living Tobacco-­Free Initiative.

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Citizens Committee For Mental Health Names Laurie Nelson As 2016 Citizen Of The Year

May 5, 2016

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Laurie Nelson,Saratoga County Citizens Committee for Mental Health Citizen of the Year .

Courtesy Saratoga County Citizens Committee for Mental Health

Laurie Nelson was selected as the Saratoga County Citizens Committee for Mental Health 2016 Citizen of the Year for her 30-plus year career serving people living with mental illness.

Nelson was honored on May 4 at the Mental Health Matters benefit at Longfellows Restaurant.

Nelson was formerly the deputy director for Transitional Services Association, where she worked for many years and in several capacities. She began her career working for the state Office of Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities, which is now the Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities.

After joining Transitional Services Association, she worked in the community residences and served as a program supervisor for Hammond House.

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'Hands For Hope' Give Casino Employees Opportunities For Local Community Service

May 5, 2016

Saratoga Casino Hotel has unveiled a new community service, company-wide initiative, Hands For Hope, that provides opportunities for employees to get involved with hands-on volunteer projects and community causes in the communities where they live.

"Hands For Hope represents all the things we do in the community," said Tom Wiedmayer, general manager at Saratoga Casino Hotel, formerly known as Saratoga Casino and Raceway until a rebranding announced at the end of April.

"From support for the personal causes of our team members, to our annual charitable donations made to local organizations, to the thousands of hours volunteered by our team members in their communities, Hands For Hope brings these things together and represents our belief in the importance of supporting the communities where we live and work," he said.

In 2015, the facility donated over $240,000 to charities across the Capital Region. More than $2.5 million in monetary, sponsorship and in-kind donations has been made since the facility first opened in 2004.

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Joan Johnsen Receives Empire State College Foundation Award For Professional Excellence

May 5, 2016

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President Merodie Hancock and Alec Meiklejohn presented Joan Johnsen, center, with the 2016 Empire State College Foundation for Excellence Award in Professional Service.

Courtesy Empire State College

Joan Johnsen, director of academic review for the Northeast region of SUNY Empire State College,has received the Empire State College Foundation Award for Excellence in Professional Service.

Johnsen received her award at the annual All College Conference held in Saratoga Springs at the end of March.

In announcing the award, last year's recipient Alec Meiklejohn said Johnsen "has worn many hats in the past 10 years at the college and actively participates in a number of collegewide initiatives and committees outside the scope of her own work. With great attention to detail and a deep knowledge of college policies, she excels in her service to students and works with her colleagues across the college."

"President Hancock told me she could feel my heart beating," said Johnsen, upon receiving the award. "It is the students that inspire my work. I feel that it is the students who do the hardest work."

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Personnel Briefs: May 2016

May 5, 2016

P Brief - Kathleen Fialkowski.jpgBallston Spa National Bank announced that Kathleen Fialkowski, business development officer, received the 2016 Summit Employee of the Year award.

Fialkowski was recognized for her exceptional dedication to customer service and the bank's core values of teamwork, respect, accountability, integrity and leadership, bank officials said.

Fialkowski joined BSNB in 2014 as a branch manager in Burnt Hills. She was promoted later that year to business development officer, which is her current position.

The following monthly Summit Award winners were also recognized for their contributions and commitment to the bank's customer service objectives: Christine Kernochan, Chris Rowland, Joanna Simard, Matthew Howard, Lydia Griffiths, Bethany Russell, June Lane and Noelle Kahler.

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P Brief - Lou Izzo.jpgLou Izzo was named president of the Select Sotheby's International Realty franchise in Saratoga Springs.

Izzo joined the firm as co-owner and real estate broker. He has more than 25 years of experience in real estate, including serving as president of HUNT Real Estate ERA in Buffalo. He is also CEO of Real Estate Leadership, an international consulting firm.

The company also announced director of operations Andrea Demoracski was promoted to vice president.

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'Maestro's At McGregor' Is Now Open To The Public At Well-Known Wilton Golf Club

May 5, 2016

Maestro's Hc.jpg
This is part of the dining area at Maestro's at the McGregor at McGregor Links in Wilton.

Courtesy Maestro's at McGregor

Maestro's, a former downtown Saratoga Springs bistro housed in the Rip Van Dam building on Broadway, re-opened in the newly refurbished clubhouse at McGregor Links Country Club.

Formerly known as Maestro's at the Van Dam, the restaurant has been renamed Maestro's at McGregor.

In 2014, Bill Donovan and business partner Nick Adie started Symphony Catering to meet requests of patrons who were looking for catering and planning services for parties and events.

Donovan said he was not planning on reopening Maestro's, but when McGregor Links became a viable option as the new home of Symphony Catering it made sense to consider operating a restaurant out of the clubhouse.

Renovations started in January. The restaurant had a soft opening for McGregor members in early April.

The restaurant is now open to the public seven days a week, serving lunch from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. and dinner from 4 p.m.

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Skidmore College Will Lead Teaching/Learning Collaboration Involving Three Other Colleges

May 5, 2016

Skidmore College will lead an innovative collaboration on teaching and learning with on-campus museums through a joint exhibition with Colgate University, Hamilton College, and the University at Albany made possible by a three-year, $222,500 grant from the Teagle Foundation.

Project director Mimi Hellman, associate professor and chair of Skidmore College's Art History Department, will lead this initiative by guiding museum staff and faculty members across disciplines at each institution in the development of courses, assignments, and curriculum that consider how subject matter, medium, authorship, physical and institutional setting, display and labeling strategies, audience, and museum programming shape learning experiences.

Officials said the catalyst for the development of new pedagogical modalities will be This Place, an exhibition of more than 600 images by 12 internationally acclaimed photographers that explores the rifts and paradoxes of the highly contested spaces of Israel and the West Bank.

This Place will be on exhibit simultaneously during the spring 2018 semester at the museums at each of the four participating colleges. In addition to the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, the institutions are the Picker Art Gallery at Colgate University, the Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, and the University Art Museum at the University at Albany.

"Skidmore College and the Tang Teaching Museum have been national leaders in museum-based interdisciplinary undergraduate education," Hellman said. "We now have the opportunity to do something that I don't think has been done before: four institutions of varying types and experiences with museum practices will interrogate an art exhibition together and separately, break new ground in curriculum and course development, and discover new best practices that can be shared and replicated to enhance undergraduate education nationally and beyond."

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County Job Retention Initiative Unveiled By Two Chambers, Saratoga Prosperity Partnership

April 7, 2016

Marty Vanags, president of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, speaks from a podium at Shmaltz Brewery in Clifton Park where the Business First Saratoga initiative was announced.

Courtesy Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership

The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, along with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Southern Saratoga County, announced on March 29 the details of their new Saratoga County business retention and expansion initiative they have dubbed Business First Saratoga.

Through problem-solving and advocacy, Business First Saratoga serves local business owners by developing relationships to better understand the opportunities and challenges of doing businesses in our region, the three organizations said in a news release. Some areas that this program can assist businesses with are workforce development, financing, international markets access, government regulations, resources for small businesses, and utilities.

"When people think of economic development, they often think about the big attraction projects. While that's incredibly important, we also need to pay attention to the businesses that are already here in Saratoga County, whether they've been here for a year or are a multi-generational business," said Marty Vanags, president of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. "A program like Business First Saratoga is an organized and deliberate way to build the foundation for our region's future growth."

The Partnership first outlined its intention to launch a business retention and expansion initiative in its two-year economic development plan, the Saratoga Strategy, released in December. In that plan, the Partnership also identified potential partners for the initiative and has since undergone training with both the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Southern Saratoga County.

"Our Chamber's board of directors voted unanimously to approve our participation in the Business First Saratoga initiative because we believe in pulling out all of the stops to help local employers to succeed, grow and thrive," said Todd L. Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.

"We believe working together with our partners in this venture and other organizations that might join us in the future will help us to open more doors and to close more deals creating more jobs and investment in Saratoga County." he said. "To win in economic development these days, you must first win by helping existing local employers to take advantage of new opportunities or to overcome challenges individually and collectively and that's what this initiative promises to do."

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Gov. Cuomo Signs Law Boosting Minimum Wage, Establishing 12-Week Paid Family Leave

April 7, 2016

The newly approved New York state budget includes a minimum wage increase that is the result of several compromises.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on April 4 signed legislation enacting a statewide $15 minimum wage plan and a 12-week paid family leave policy.

For workers in New York City employed by large businesses (those with at least 11 employees), the minimum wage would rise to $11 at the end of 2016, then another $2 each year after, reaching $15 on Dec. 31, 2018.

For workers in New York City employed by small businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer), the minimum wage would rise to $10.50 by the end of 2016, then another $1.50 each year after, reaching $15 on Dec. 31, 2019.

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SEDC 'Advance Saratoga' Plan Has Target Of Creating 9,000 Jobs, Expanding The Economy

April 7, 2016

By R.J. DeLuke

The Saratoga Economic Development Corp. (SEDC) has launched Advance Saratoga, a five-year action plan that continues to accelerate economic growth in our county.

Advance Saratoga, SEDC said in a statement, "is our private-sector-driven plan for continuing to accelerate economic growth in Saratoga County." It is a five-year plan with a budget of $3.5 million for which the agency is raising funds to support the effort.

A kickoff reception was held April 6 at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs.

"In putting together the Advance Saratoga initiative, we first looked back at the economic development success stories that helped make Saratoga County the hub of activity it is today," said SEDC President Dennis Brobston. "You tally up the numbers and see that SEDC has played a role in the creation of more than 17,500 jobs. Projects we've been involved in generate over $34 million in tax revenues every year. And the cumulative investment of these projects total more than $13 billion.

"That's the environment Advance Saratoga comes out of. But this is about more than our rich past. It's about the future of Saratoga County. This is the private-sector plan that takes our economic development success and elevates it to the next level."

SEDC projects it could generate 9,460 new direct and indirect jobs, $352 million in new payroll and more than $15 billion in capital investment.

"Through our Advance Saratoga initiative, we are asking private-sector SEDC members to commit to continuing their investment, taking our economic development efforts to the next level," the agency said.

"Since our founding in 1978, SEDC has positioned Saratoga County as an ideal place to grow a business, invest in the future and create jobs. In that time, SEDC has assisted with more than 200 successful business attraction, retention and expansion projects, accounting for more than 17,000 new jobs, millions of dollars in annual tax revenue and $12 billion in business investments."

SEDC said its plan is targeted to five industry sectors "that have proven track records of success in our region and/or complement existing businesses. These success stories -- combined with SEDC's worldwide relationships, bold new marketing strategies and tactics, and the financial and intellectual capital of our private-sector partners -- will ensure that Saratoga County remains a premier destination to invest and grow a business for years to come."

The agency said the aim of Advance Saratoga is to aggressively sell Saratoga County's world-class assets with a new, highly targeted marketing campaign; accelerate highly strategic and targeted job creation and retention program to generate the highest possible return on investment; and build and strengthen Saratoga County's capacity to expand economic opportunity.

Targeted industries are semiconductor manufacturing and supply chain, light manufacturing, corporate headquarters and warehousing/distribution.

SEDC said those sectors "will be made vividly aware of our many advantages: a highly educated and skilled workforce, build-ready real estate, in-place infrastructure and competitive incentives."

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Chamber of Southern Saratoga County Hands Out Awards, Reviews Its 2015 Achievements

April 7, 2016

Three generations of DeCrescentes receive the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County's Angel Award from new Chamber board chairman Josh Spain and Chamber CEO Pete Bardunias.
Courtesy Chamber of Southern Saratoga County

The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County (CSSC) highlighted achievements and presented awards at its annual dinner on March 31 at the Hall of Springs at Gideon Putnam Resort, attended by 326 people.

"I'm honored to be the chairman this year," said Josh Spain of Momentive Performance Materials. "With our great staff, dedicated volunteers and a diverse membership, it's easy to see why this chamber is accomplishing so much."

Pete Bardunias, celebrating five years as president and CEO, said, "We've made many things happen together as a community and what's fueled our growth has been the generous financial support of our major partners and sponsors as well as the dedicated and active involvement of every member of this chamber."

Bardunias said the past five years have seen membership jump 15 percent, from 927 members to 1066, making it the third largest chamber of commerce in the Capital Region and among the largest in New York state. During that time span, the chamber's revenue has grown 25 percent, reversing negative trends and reeling off a four-year streak of finishing "in the black."

He said the money has been reinvested, allowing for projects such as maintaining historic Lock 19 in Vischer Ferry, work at the Brookside Museum, the creation of the three Community Business Alliances and more."

Eight awards were given out to members.

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New Mexican Restaurant, Blue Agave, Occupies Space Near Race Track That Was Once Leon's

April 7, 2016

Owner Brad Smith, left, is the owner of Blue Agave Cantina at 135 Crescent Ave. in Saratoga Springs. He hired Patrick Longton, right, as executive chef.

©2016 Saratoga

By Maureen Werther

Blue Agave Cantina opened in mid-March at 135 Crescent Ave., the site of the former Leon's Restaurant.

Brad Smith is the new owner and Patrick Longton is the chef.

Native Saratogian Smith received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his master's degree from UNLV School of Hospitality. His credentials include managing some restaurants in Las Vegas, including Wynn, Bobby Flay's Mesa Grille and three of Wolfgang Puck's restaurants.

In 2011, Smith returned to Saratoga and worked for DZ Restaurants for a period of time, before becoming part owner in 2014 of the Mexican Connection. Blue Agave is his latest culinary adventure. He said he is excited about his collaboration with Longton.

Longton has an American/French culinary background, but when he and Smith got together to talk about Blue Agave, "It was like two musicians jamming and feeding off each other's passions," said Smith. The menu is "kind of like Bobby Flay meets Rick Bayless."

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Warren Tire Plans To Build New Facility In Halfmoon, Its 16th Location In The Region

April 7, 2016

Warren Tire Co. will build a 7,200-square-foot store at 159 Stone Quarry Road, just north of the Crescent Bridge, about two miles from this store in Clifton Park.

©2016 Saratoga

By Jennifer Farnsworth

Warren Tire will build a full-service automotive repair shop in Halfmoon, about two miles from its long-standing shop at the corner of Routes 9 and 146.

The 7,200-square-foot store, with eight service bays, will be built at 159 Stone Quarry Road, just north of the Crescent Bridge. It could open this fall.

The location, on the west side of the road, is still a wooded lot. It is near two competitors: Adirondack Tire and The Tire Warehouse. Bob Kellogg, owner and president of Glens Falls-based Warren Tire, said he wasn't targeting the other businesses when he picked the site.

"We were just looking for a spot in Halfmoon or Clifton Park to secure our future there," he said.

The store at the corner of Routes 9 and 146 is leased property. Most of it sits within the town of Halfmoon and a small portion is in Clifton Park. Although Kellogg recently renewed the lease, he wanted the security of knowing he also owned a building in the town.

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Saratoga Springs Hotel Occupancy Rates Rose In 2015, Annual Tourism Bureau Report Says

April 7, 2016

Demand for hotel rooms, and hotel occupancy rates, were both at higher levels in 2015 than the years before, officials of the Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau said at its 31st annual meeting and dinner held on March 16 at the Saratoga Springs City Center.

In addition to highlighting the successes of 2015 and their initiatives for 2016, the bureau welcomed new members of the board of directors and Executive Committee.

A crowd of 175 members, government officials and others attended.

Bureau officials highlighted the 2015 annual report, noting that despite Saratoga County seeing a slight decrease in occupancy percentage because of new hotel inventory in Saratoga Springs and the county, overall demand and revenue were up significantly.

In Saratoga County, according to the report, demand for rooms was up 7.2 percent in 2015, over 2014. Revenue from hotel night stays was reported at $106.5 million in 2015, versus $96.5 million in 2014.

Occupancy rates, the report said, were at 68.7 percent in 2015, down 1.6 percent from 2014.

In Saratoga Springs, demand was up 10.2 percent from the previous year, according to the report. Revenue was as $71.3 million in 2015, 12.4 percent higher than the $63.5 million in 2014. Occupancy rates reached 69.2 percent, 4.9 percent above 2014, when the rate was 66 percent.

At the Saratoga Springs City Center, the report said the number of conventions/events held in 2015 was 420, versus 326 in 2014. That translated to an 80,185 room nights, compared to 66,191 in 2014. Estimated economic impact was reported at $29.5 million for last year, compared to $23.7 million in 2014.

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StoredTech Opens Office In Albany Business Park

April 7, 2016

By MAureen Werther

Mark Shaw, president of Stored Technology Solutions, has a simple and straightforward business philosophy.

"When clients ask for a product or service, we don't like to say 'no,'" he said.

So, when his company, Stored Technology Solutions, began receiving repeated inquiries from their customers for a training space, he decided it was time to give them one.

Storedtech offers clients a "comprehensive portfolio of voice, data, and video solutions," according to its website, and the company's rapid expansion is a result of being responsive to the needs of its customers.

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Saratoga Game Station Offers Chances For Kids And Families To Enjoy Pool, Air Hockey, More

April 7, 2016

Saratoga Game Station opened on March 1 at 18 Geyser Road in Milton.

©2016 Saratoga

By Liz Witbeck

Marybeth Stacchini knows about teenagers. She has been working with them for the past 15 years as part of her driving school, Marybeth's School of Driving, located in Saratoga Springs.

An accident at work last year prevented her from continuing to do the driving lessons. Stacchini was at the kitchen table one night playing ping pong, when she came up with an idea for a new business: a venue where children and families could go to play games with each other.

Saratoga Game Station opened on March 1 at 18 Geyser Road in Milton.

The gaming center features table tennis, foosball, air hockey, billiards and darts. Customers come and pay $5 for each hour of unlimited games.

She hopes that this will be a resource of entertainment for adolescents, instead of getting involved with drugs and alcohol. "This gives them a safe place to go."

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Saratoga Springs Will Be Site Of Conference For Housing, Economic Development Officials

April 7, 2016

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen will host the third annual Strengthening Cities, Communities, and Homes Summit, a day-long gathering of housing and economic development professionals.

Also hosting will Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan; Amsterdam Mayor Mike Villa, Glens Falls Mayor John "Jack" Diamond, Schenectady, Mayor Gary McCarthy, Plattsburgh Mayor James Calnon and Troy Mayor Patrick Madden.

The summit is schedule for 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, April 11, at the Hilton Saratoga, 534 Broadway.

"This year's summit is targeted toward introducing and enhancing working partnerships focused on housing and community development," said Yepsen. "The agenda for this important summit promises to be outstanding, with exceptional keynote speakers and multiple break-out sessions."

"This summit truly exemplifies a model of federal, state and local governments partnering with the private sector to create stronger and more vibrant communities," she said. "It is partnerships such as these that not only allow us to present a successful summit but to tackle national issues on a local level, such as ending veteran homelessness."

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