MILTON – The Milton Republican Committee has endorsed John Frolish for town justice, Supervisor Dan Lewza said at Wednesday’s Town Board meeting.
The 22nd Annual Family Fun Day takes place at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds. FREE ADMISSION, sponsored by the Village of Ballston Spa and Town of Milton.
The day includes games, rides, music and family friendly priced food, snacks and drinks.
Gates open at 3 p.m. and close at dark after the first fireworks show of the summer!
MILTON – John Privitera, an attorney representing developers Thomas and Bruce Boghosian, demanded Wednesday that the Milton Town Board “remove and reprimand” Planning Board member James Staulters. [Read more…]
BALLSTON SPA – Meg Stevens has a lot of memories of the free Family Fun Day the Village of Ballston Spa has been hosting over the past 20 years. Some of them are touching, some of them are hilarious.
Stevens has been on the committee that organizes the event since the third year, but remembers all of them.
One of Stevens’ favorite memories happened two years ago. Carrie Zayak, a former village clerk, was holding a pie-eating contest. Stevens said she had one more group of kids, but not enough blueberry pies. [Read more…]
MILTON – Although this is Catrina Kohl’s first year as director of the Milton Summer Camp, she is excited for the program rather than nervous in her new role.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Kohl said. “I have a great group of teenagers as my counselors this year and they’re all excited.”
Kohl was the camp’s assistant director last year. She worked with a children’s church program for five years prior to working with the Milton Summer Camp, and she’s been a teacher for 15 years in the Ballston Spa School District. [Read more…]
Annual village race could be reaching finish line
BY BARBARA COOK
Mayor John Romano is looking for young drivers to participate in the 11th Annual Rolling Roadsters Race on Saturday, Aug. 4. Last year’s race had to be cancelled for a lack of entries, and Romano said if participation is down again this year the event will be removed from the village’s regular schedule.
“The participation in this event has been dwindling over the last several years and I said at last year’s event that this year would be a ‘do or die’,” Romano said at the July 9 village board meeting. “I’m really hoping that there will be enough individuals who sign up for this race.”
The race is open to youths aged seven to 16. The roadsters, which are soapbox derby-type cars, may be built by individuals or organizations.
According to Meg Stevens, who has been involved with the event since its inception in 2000, the original cars were made of plywood but Union Fire Company took it to the next level by building one of lightweight metal.
The race is held on Bath Street, starting on a ramp that is released by a starter. The painted finish line is at Washington Avenue. Stevens said the cars have been clocked going as fast as 25 miles per hour. A sand pile is located at the end of the track to help stop the cars.
“Many of the young racers forget to apply the brakes and the sand stops them without injury to them or their cars,” Stevens explained.
Romano said drivers are required to wear a helmet (bicycle helmets are permissible), elbow pads and a seatbelt. The cockpits of the roadsters must be covered by padding, and all vehicles undergo a pre-race safety inspection on race day.
Stevens said the race has been cancelled twice for lack of entries, in 2009 and 2011. She said at one time there were seven roadsters participating, but the last few years there have only been two or three. When the original racers outgrew their cars they passed them on to other children.
“My favorite part of the entire event,” said Stevens, “was the smiles on the faces of all the children, whether they were racers or ‘pit crew’. I also enjoyed seeing
family members cheer on their racers, and watching Mom and Dad tuning up the car between races.”
Stevens and her husband, who together with Romano was one of the founders of the race, are still involved. He created the specifications and designs the double elimination chart. She keeps records of all the racers and fills in the charts during the races.
Deadline to enter the race is 4 p.m. Friday, July 27. Information and entry applications are available at the village office at 66 Front St. The raindate for the race is Sunday, Aug. 5.
‘I believe this place deserves to exist’ says new museum board president
BY BARBARA COOK
You might say volunteering is in Meg Stevens’ blood. As a child, her grandmother took her along to deliver food baskets to the needy. As a mother herself, Meg took her infant son to visit shut-ins.
“Throughout your life, people give to you,” Stevens explained. “When I needed people, there were some absolutely wonderful people who were there for me. I always thought, ‘I want to be one of those people who helps where it’s needed.’”
Stevens’ husband also volunteers, and is supportive of her efforts in the community. “We both have a long history of volunteerism,” she said, “which is one of the things I liked about him when I met him.”
A member of several boards, Stevens was recently named president of the board of the National Bottle Museum. She got her start at the museum in the 1990s as a paid administrator. Although she was paid for 10 hours a week, in reality she often put in as many as 60.
Stevens steps into the shoes left by longtime volunteer director and board president Jan Rutland, who passed away in October, 2010. Gary Moeller, the collections manager, filled the director position.
“It’s going to be tough for both Gary and me to fill the shoes that came before us,” Stevens observed. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We know that; we’re both willing to take on the challenge.”
Although it’s “nerve-wracking” taking over the leadership position, Stevens said she accepted it because the museum fills a niche in the community. “I believe this place deserves to exist,” she said.
The National Bottle Museum is the only one of its kind, dedicated to recognizing the products of one of America’s first major industries, bottle making. The collection ranges from the 1700s to the 1990s and includes bottles for medications, perfumes, liquor, soda, milk and, of course, Saratoga water.
“I’ve always been a history buff,” Stevens said. “I’ve always liked history. I like beautiful glassware, so the two seemed to fit me.”
Stevens’ favorite bottles are shaped like violins. A small case at the museum houses a violin exhibit, but Stevens also has a collection in her home. She has a collection of Murano glass pieces on display at the museum.
Downstairs are exhibits totaling about 2,000 pieces. A rolling ladder, left from the building’s previous life as a hardware store, gives staff access to the higher shelves.
Upstairs are special exhibits and an artists’ gallery, where sculptures and paintings are periodically displayed. Two special exhibits from Jan Rutland’s personal collection will be retired at the end of the month. One is uranium glass, which Stevens describes as the museum’s “wow factor.”
The second Rutland collection is of paperweights, all filled with intricate designs made of blown glass. Even the transparent wings of a tiny bumble bee are glass.
Two challenges faced by most, if not all, non-profits are attracting new volunteers and securing funding. The board of The National Bottle Museum is a working board, so all members volunteer at the museum.
There are very few, if any, grants for history museums and the museum receives no municipal money. It is funded through donations at the door and the annual bottle show. There are museum members throughout the world, but annual membership is only $10.
Stevens said some new fundraisers are on the horizon.
In addition to the bottle exhibits, the museum has a hot glass teaching facility around the corner on Washington Street. Classes in flameworking are held Tuesday evenings and Saturdays.
Stevens said the glass studio was a dream of Rutland’s. “She was a woman of vision,” Stevens recalled. “The museum exists because of her.”
Lewza proposes local development corporation, sparks discussion over two days
BY BARBARA COOK
An economic development proposal by Milton Supervisor Dan Lewza ignited a wildfire that may still be smoldering.
At the April 18 town board meeting Lewza had his assistant, Teri Wilson, present information about local development corporations (LDCs). Following the presentation, members of the public and the board fired questions at Wilson, Lewza and town attorney James Craig.
Resident John Olenik challenged Lewza’s decision to have his “secretary” make the presentation instead of doing it himself. Lewza responded that Wilson is more than a secretary and that she has been involved with all the research he and Craig have done on LDCs.
When Olenik asked why the town needs to establish an LDC when it already has an economic development committee, Lewza said the two are very different entities.
“The economic development committee is to give suggestions on how we can cut through red tape, how we can move things forward, how we can bring business in and how we can bring people into the town,” he explained.
Craig explained there are grants that an LDC can apply for which are not available to municipalities. In her presentation, Wilson said some of the grants that would be pursued are the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Business Enterprise and Rural Community Development Initiative. Both help existing businesses grow and thrive, thus creating employment opportunities. Grant funds could be used to help businesses comply with the town center plan.
In response to a question from Councilman Joseph Miranda, Wilson explained there are three founders, or incorporators, of the not-for-profit corporation, who then appoint a board of directors. The board chooses a Chief Financial Officer and appoints a governance committee and an audit committee. All positions, including an appointed attorney, are volunteer.
Council members John Mancini said Barbara Kerr expressed concern about the same people serving in multiple town positions and the possibility of conflicts of interest. Miranda also had reservations on the issue of transparency.
Lewza pointed out that his administration has been marked by transparency. Every meeting will be open and residents encouraged to come to any and all town meetings, he said.
Resident Meg Stevens said she didn’t like the idea of town assets being passed off to a corporation the residents hadn’t voted for. She wants the town board to be in charge of town assets.
Some questions were answered in more depth at the next night’s economic development committee meeting.
The town is about a decade behind in economic development, Lewza explained, and needs to be ready when satellite companies feeding GLOBALFOUNDRIES move into the area. He said Milton is ideally situated in the middle of the western part of Saratoga County. “We have a golden opportunity here,” he urged.
The LDC board of directors and committees would be made up of town and village residents, with board members at every level of the corporation to provide checks and balances.
James Angus, vice president of community economic development for the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation, said LDCs are covered by the Public Authorities Accountability Act, so they must adhere to open meetings laws and report annually to the state.
Councilman Frank Blaisdell had asked the previous night about by-laws for the corporation. Lewza explained that most of the by-laws would be adapted from the Greater Glens Falls Local Development Corporation. He suggested that the three incorporators could begin working on the by-laws while waiting for the corporation paperwork to be approved and returned by the the state.
Mancini suggested that the town board and the economic development committee also participate in crafting the by-laws.
Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano said he has lived in the town and village his entire life, and has seen how unprepared the area is for growth.
“We’ve got a new supervisor who is working extremely hard to bring the town back to life,” Romano said. “Personally, I think the supervisor and the board are to be commended for looking for new and creative ideas to move this goal that everybody has forward.”
Lewza acknowledged Olenik’s comment from the night before, admitting that he made some mistakes in the presentation and that he should have provided more information to members of the board and public. He reminded the group that after only three months, he’s still new at his job.
At the May 2 agenda meeting, Lewza will explain the concept of local development corporations and why he thinks the town would benefit from forming one. Public comment will be welcomed. Lewza said he wants to make sure everyone is onboard with the idea and that the public has the opportunity to participate in town government.