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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Friday, November 21

Homeless Awareness Evening in Saratoga Tonight (Friday)

From Cheryl Ann Murphy-Parant, Saratoga Code Blue Coordinator ---

Saratoga County Housing Committee will host a Homeless Awareness Evening at Saratoga Springs City Hall, Friday, November 21, 2014 starting at 6 p.m.
Events include a viewing of the Code Blue Saratoga Documentary and a music video of the song dedicated to Nancy Pitts the homeless woman that passed away last December due to exposure to cold. 

Following the film and video, there will be a panel discussion on issues of homelessness in the area. 

After the panel discussion, there will be a Candle Light Walk in memory of Nancy Pitts and other homeless people who have died on the streets from City Hall to Code Blue's new location at the Salvation Army,  27 Woodlawn Ave., Saratoga Springs, NY. 

Participants will be able to tour the shelter. The Red Cross ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) will be parked next to The Salvation Army serving coffee and hot chocolate.

Tuesday, November 18

State Liquor Authority calls for emergency suspension at Buddha Tea House in Albany

The State Liquor Authority (SLA) issued an emergency suspension of the serving and consumption of alcohol at the Buddha tea House in Albany following a board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 18. The suspension comes after an incident on Nov. 9.  At approximately 1:45 a.m, an Albany Police Department (APD) patrol unit witnessed a victim of a stabbing exiting the Buddha Tea House.  APD officers responding to the victim were impeded by a violent altercation involving patrons of the Buddha Tea House, an altercation that erupted directly outside the bar in the immediate aftermath of the stabbing, resulting in the injury of two additional patrons.  APD officers report the licensee and staff were uncooperative with the investigation; by attempting to deny police officers access to the bar, denying the incident occurred inside the premises, denying APD access to security video, in addition to attempting to clean up the crime scene.  The SLA charged the bar with three violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, including disorderly premises and deliberately interfering with a police investigation, according to information in a press release from the SLA.
Buddha Tea House has a history of violence since opening in September of 2012, the SLA said.  On Oct. 25, 2014, APD patrol officers responded to a large brawl directly in front of the premises involving a patron striking other patrons with beer bottles. The staff again were uncooperative with police, with the APD reporting bouncers from the bar allowing a suspect to reenter the bar and escape through an emergency exit, in an apparent attempt to evade police.  On July 6, 2014, APD patrol officers again responded to a large fight involving patrons and security staff from the bar, directly in front of the premises.  Again, police report the licensee’s staff were uncooperative.  Buddha Tea House was previously fined $8,000 by the SLA on July 1, 2014 for five separate assaults occurring on October 19 and 20, 2013, and in 2014 on January 1, February 1, and March 9.
“This bar has shown a disregard for the law and a total lack of concern for safety of patrons, police and residents,” said SLA Chairman Dennis Rosen.  “This should serve as a message that we will not hesitate to take a license when a bar poses a danger to public safety.”             
 The State Administrative Procedure Act authorizes a State agency to summarily suspend a license when the agency finds that public health, safety, or welfare requires emergency action.  When the SLA summarily suspends a license, it also serves a Notice of Pleading alleging one or more disciplinary violations.  In invoking a summary suspension, the SLA has deemed the violation, considering each licensee’s disciplinary history, to be sufficiently serious upon initial review to warrant an immediate suspension, according to the release. 
The SLA said the decision is not final and the licensee is entitled to a hearing, though the suspension remains in effect until determined otherwise. 

Wednesday, November 12

Mouzon House owners launch video documenting gov't inaction

The son of the Mouzon House owners, Aaron Pedinotti, had launched a YouTube channel anticipating the start of development of the City Center parking garage.
Pedinotti and his parents, Dianne and Dave have attended numerous public meetings expressing concerns for the plans for the five story, 511-space structure that would loom over their restaurant and potentially put them out of business.
The Mouzon House is known for its lush outdoor gardens and sanctuary-like dining experience.  
Aaron Pedinotti said in his video he plans to document the progress of construction every day, noting noise disturbances, traffic problems etc.
He said he also plans to document interviews held with independent urban planners and designers to document and support the "inaction from city government" and generate further support for their opposition. 
“Once the garage is built, I intend to use my footage as the basis for a documentary about the consequences of city government inaction in the face of poor urban planning,” he said. 
The Pedinotti's launched a petition and collected over 300 signatures supporting opposition, presented at a joint meeting to the Planning Board and the Design Review Commission in September. 
Other residents have also started a petition with over 250 signatures which can be viewed here. 

You can view Aaron Pedinotti's first video here. The city Planning Board meets tonight (Wednesday) and continue its environmental review process for the project, which was truncated at their last meeting that ran close to midnight. 

Monday, November 10

Vent Fitness donating equipment to one local nonprofit for Extreme Gym Makeover

ALBANY>> VENT Fitness is offering an Extreme Gym Makeover to one local community organization in the Capital Region.  As part of a tradition of community involvement, sustainability and commitment to health, VENT will provide equipment such as stair climbers, treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical machines and other pieces of equipment to a local organization (including charities, not-for-profits and schools).

VENT Fitness is proud to present the Extreme Gym Makeover project.  VENT is fulfilling its commitment to sustainability by donating its available club-quality, industry-leading fitness equipment to one local community organization.  The project will also provide non-structural renovations and facility improvements (including painting, flooring, etc.) to the chosen organization’s fitness area.  If the organization does not presently have a fitness area, VENT and partners will create one in an area or space that is unused. 

VENT Fitness President Bill Lia, Jr. said, “Schools, charities and non-profits are a vital part of our community.  Helping to improve the health and wellness of the people served by community organizations just makes sense on every level.”

Those wishing to nominate an organization for the Extreme Gym Makeover should visit to apply.  Applicants may include photos, videos, an essay and anything else that might help illustrate the need for a makeover. Nominations are now open and will be accepted through 11:59pm EST on December 7, 2014.  One organization will be chosen to receive the Extreme Gym Makeover on Monday, December 22, 2014.  The makeover is expected to occur in early 2015.

Facility improvements and non-structural renovations are to be provided by The Pike Company and other partners.

Monday, November 3

H&V Collision Center Awards Four Deserving Capital District Veterans With Cars

H&V Collision Center Awards Four Deserving Capital District Veterans With Cars

Four local veterans and their families will receive the refurbished automobiles at luncheon this upcoming Veteran’s Day

ALBANY>> H&V Collision Center, one of the largest independently owned collision
repair facilities in the Capital Region, will be hosting a luncheon on Veteran’s Day to give four deserving veterans and their families cars as part of the 2014 Keys To Progress. The event is the 7thand will also be sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Progressive Insurance, Axalta Performance Coatings, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, LKQ Corp, and The Goldstein Auto Group. It will take place on November 11, 2014 at 11 am EST at Progressive Insurance, 1586 Central Ave., Albany, NY.
The veterans and families were hand-selected based on their involvement with the military, their exemplary efforts to improve their families’ lives and their need for a reliable automobile. The recipients include US Army veteran Dan Cooper from Cherry Valley, who cares for his two children and his wife, who suffers from a rare blood disorder. Dan continues to serve in the National Guard and a vehicle would help him spend more time with his family. Tom Kudlack, a US Army veteran, of Watervliet served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was injured during both deployments. He now shares custody of his 4-year-old son and a car would provide an easier commute to work and allow for more time to care for his son. Marine Corp veteran, Marcus Jackson of Ballston Spa, was raised with 11 siblings by his grandmother and he joined the military in search of a better life. Now, Marcus cares for his 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son while searching for a full-time position that he can apply his experience from the Marines. Lastly, Patrick Boyle of Queensbury served in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan as a Security Specialist. Due to this rigorous position, Patrick is now partially disabled but is working and caring for his 6-month-old daughter. With the donated car, Patrick will return to school and find a full-time job.

“It has been incredible to meet these four individuals and their families and we are beyond excited to give them a safe and reliable automobile, something that is so critical in navigating everyday life,” said Rich Tanchyk, assistant vice president at H&V Collision. “Our organization is committed to serving our service men and women as well as our community. We hope that these cars serve as a catalyst for positive change in the lives of the people that deserve them most.”

H&V Collision Center is a veteran owned company that proudly supports the military and their families. Their unique program connects insurers, collision repairers, paint suppliers, parts vendors and others who collaborate to repair and donate vehicles to deserving individuals and service organizations in local communities throughout the country.

Equitas Realty Launching Fall Food Drive Supporting Shelters of Saratoga

SARATOGA SPRINGS>> As temperatures drop, Equitas Realty agents will be fanning out through their communities to collect much-needed donations to Shelters of Saratoga (S.O.S.), the area’s only men’s and women’s homeless shelter. Starting November 14, families will find a door hanger with a collection bag and a list of the dozen items most in demand, including canned goods, powdered coffee creamer, sugar and Stewarts milk cards as well as socks, underwear, bedding and personal care items such as soap and toothpaste. Monetary donations are also welcome. The door hanger includes a raffle ticket to win a free turkey in time for Thanksgiving.

On Friday, Nov. 21 Equitas agents will collect bags from doorsteps throughout Saratoga Springs, Ballston Spa, Wilton and Greenfield. This is the fifth year that Janet Besheer, broker and owner of Equitas Realty, has organized agent efforts on behalf of S.O.S. through either food drives or onsite work programs. “As Thanksgiving approaches, we hope families throughout the area will fill their collection bags to benefit those most in need of the safe housing and meals that Shelters of Saratoga provides.”

S.O.S. offers food and shelter daily to the homeless or those at risk of homelessness. They also provide referrals, information and client advocacy. Their shelter, youth and mobile outreach and
affordable housing programs serve more than 1,700 people every year.

Equitas Realty is a new and innovative brokerage with more than 35 experienced agents and agent teams. It is located at 38 High Rock Ave. in Saratoga Springs.