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Author: Dylan McGlynn

Spa City Digital and Five Towers Design announce merger as Five Towers Media

Chad Beatty (left), owner/publisher of Saratoga TODAY Newspaper, Brad Colacino (middle) and Michael Nelson (right), co-founders and partners of Five Towers Media.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Five Towers Design Company and Spa City Digital have officially announced a merger of the two companies, forming Five Towers Media.

Five Towers Media will combine the offerings of both companies, providing digital marketing and design in a variety of spaces. The company will offer website design, SEO services, social media management, videography, graphic design, branding services, digital marketing, and more for clients. Five Towers Media also owns print publications, online news platforms, and podcasts. 

Co-founders and partners Michael Nelson, Brad Colacino, and Chad Beatty said the merger came about as a way for both companies to grow, expand, and improve their offerings in the community.

“We were both at a point where we were looking to expand, and we both have very similar business offerings,” said Colacino. “We have very similar views on how to conduct business, and goals for where we wanted to take our business. … It just seemed like a really good complement of skills.”

Nelson said that Spa City Digital was looking to grow, and said that Five Towers and Colacino were a “perfect fit” for the company’s goals.

“From our standpoint, growth over the course of the next one to two years was going to be challenging without Brad,” Nelson said. “His personality, his skills, and his company were a perfect fit.”

The merged company will be known as Five Towers Media, with Nelson saying the name change reflects the long-term goals of the company.

“We have plans on moving into Vermont and Florida very soon, with an overall long-term objective of being all across the country,” said Nelson. “Our brand, Spa City Digital, would not allow that type of growth into other markets, because it is such a geographic name. The rebrand will make for a seamless transition into new markets.”

Nelson, Colacino, and Beatty said that the merger will make things more efficient and convenient for their clients, compressing all of their offerings into one location. 

“From a client standpoint, they are going to see an increase in deliverability from us,” said Nelson. “Not only are we going to be able to do what we were doing, but we’re going to be able to do it better, and we’re going to be able to do it faster.”

“If (clients) wanted, for instance, Google ad campaigns or email marketing, I would send them over to Mike before,” Colacino added. “Well now, I don’t have to do that. Now, we’re one company. It just integrates things a little more cleanly, and we can provide those clients with an expanded offering, more opportunities.”

Colacino said this will make things more convenient for clients, and provide them with additional methods of growing their businesses.

“We have print marketing available with the news publications, we have these marketing automation email campaigns we can do,” said Colacino. “We can do online paid ads, things like that, all under one roof, with a single bill.”

Nelson, Colacino, and Beatty also stressed the importance of building connections with their clients, noting that they work with many small businesses in the local community. 

“It’s always going to be more important for us to form relationships than make a sale,” Colacino said. “We want to form long-term partnerships with them, and help them grow. It’s a case where the rising tide floats all ships.”

Five Towers Media is located on Route 50 in Saratoga Springs, sharing a building with Saratoga TODAY Newspaper. Beatty is the publisher of Saratoga TODAY.

“It really is a perfect fit,” said Beatty. “Our teams work side-by-side and form a symbiotic relationship. As the old Chinese proverb states, ‘None of us is as smart as all of us.’”

Fort William Henry renovating historic Carriage House into venue for weddings, events

An artist rendering of Fort William Henry’s Carriage House (Photo courtesy of Fort William Henry).

LAKE GEORGE — Fort William Henry is beginning work on the historic Carriage House, renovating the building into a new venue for weddings, meetings, performing arts, and more.

Sam Luciano, President of Fort William Henry, said the plans date back to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Carriage House was always on our radar,” said Luciano. “It’s a wonderful, old, beautiful building that would be very difficult to reconstruct today. … We just stepped up our game with it, we moved it ahead of some other projects we plan on doing.”

The Carriage House has been utilized for many different purposes through the years, with Luciano saying it was a playhouse when he began working for the Fort in 1984, hosting performances such as ‘Bugs Bunny Follies’ and ‘West Side Story.’

The Carriage House was then used as storage for several years, before eventually being converted into a fitness center. Luciano said the House was used as the Fort’s fitness center for about 10 years, before it underwent slight renovations to become a meeting space.

After the renovations are complete, with an expected target date of May 2023, the Carriage House will become the Fort’s main venue for weddings, banquets, and meetings, Luciano said.

“We still have the Lake George Music Festival, we’ll still host them (at the Carriage House) in August. But that will become, really, our wedding venue, and our banquet hall, and meeting facility,” said Luciano. “That’ll be one of the bigger ones. It’s one of the biggest spaces we have now to be able to hold large events.”

After the renovations, the Carriage House will have a capacity of 460 people in theater-style seating, and 300 for banquets, according to a press release. This is over double the capacity of the White Lion, where the Fort had previously held weddings, Luciano said.

“Last year, our intent was to redo our restaurant, redo our kitchen, open up a full-service dinner operation, and have the banquets on a three-season porch that wrapped around the White Lion,” said Luciano. “When we got in the middle of COVID and the renovations, the supply line crippled us. … So at that point, we pushed up against our wedding season, and we couldn’t proceed with the three-season porch at the White Lion.”

Luciano said the Fort was receiving requests for larger weddings than the White Lion can hold, leading them to the Carriage House.

“We still have the three-season porch on our radar, but we stepped up the Carriage House, and that will become our wedding palace,” said Luciano.

And the Carriage House, which Luciano referred to as “beautiful,” appears to be an ideal location for weddings and other events. The Carriage House has an outdoor patio for indoor and outdoor events, both an indoor and outdoor fireplace, and windows providing an unobstructed view of Lake George.

“We put the elegance of a high-end banquet hall, but we kept the barn destination wedding feel,” said Luciano. “That’s why we didn’t paint the ceilings, we kept them the natural wood and stuff. So you get the best of both worlds.”

HBT Architects of Rochester designed the Carriage House renovations, while BBL Construction Services Inc. of Albany will conduct the renovations, according to the press release. The Carriage House renovations are just part of a much larger project for Fort William Henry, with Luciano detailing work on other buildings at the site.

“Over 36 guest rooms were completely renovated and built to a standard of one of the high brands,” Luciano said. “Guests will be able to use their phone for a key for the door. We did 36 rooms, and we renovated our entire bar area. We expanded our kitchen out by six feet, and we did 28 guest rooms in our Grand Hotel.”

The Fort is also renovating all 64 rooms in the Standard West Motel and 30 more rooms in the Grand Hotel, said Luciano. 

“So by the end of next year’s cycle, every guest room in the Fort William Henry complex – 195 of them – will be completely renovated,” said Luciano.

The Fort has also added outdoor attractions for guests and the public to enjoy, with Luciano detailing the addition of six fire pits.

“We also put in six fire pits right on the edge of the property that sit on a bluff overlooking the lake,” Luciano said. “The guests or any of the public can rent, sit out there, enjoy the views of the lake in any season, and we’ll bring you out packages of wine, cheese platters, s’mores, et cetera. Full food service out there.”

Luciano said the Fort’s goal is to be “a major destination in Warren County.”

“I think the fact that we’re able to have this 18 acres with vast lawns that have not been infiltrated by development is one big key. (Guests) can sit and enjoy the unobstructed view,” said Luciano. “We’ve got the Fort Museum that we introduced last year. … We’re putting in a new research center over there with augmented reality. 

“The plans of the future developments of this property is so unique to the northeast, that it will be the destination in Warren County.”

Fed approves increase in interest rate: How does it affect real estate?

The United States Federal Reserve Committee has raised interest rates by 0.75 percentage points, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell announced on Wednesday. This brings the target range for the short-term borrowing rate to 3.75-4%, which CNBC reports is the highest since January 2008. 

Kristen Zorda, senior loan officer for Evolve Bank & Trust, said the rate increases are not necessarily reflected immediately in mortgage rates.

“As of today, there’s been the normal movement in the market,” said Zorda. “Not to say that we won’t see something in the future. … We just don’t really know what to expect. Right now, everything’s still kind of the same as it was before the meeting. We’re not 100% sure where things will go by the end of the year.”

Keller Williams Capital District real estate agent Paul Smith said the rates are still lower than they were in the 1990s, and noted that people could possibly refinance down the road.

“As people are scared with this rate, they still have the option if they want to buy, they can always refinance down the road when the market settles out, inflation goes down,” said Smith.

Zorda said a positive is the “leveling out” of housing prices.

“That’s good for buyers who have kind of been waiting for that to happen, after we had that really hot market the last couple years,” Zorda said. “Now we’re starting to see that sellers are decreasing the prices of their homes, there’s not as many multiple offers.”

Smith echoed this, saying that while inventory is not abundant, “there is some stuff that’s coming on.”

“With more inventory, it’s going to give customers more to look at. I don’t foresee you having to have a bid war anymore to win a house, unless you’re in certain areas,” Smith said. “I see a lot more balance.”

Zorda said that it is still a good time to buy or sell a home, saying that “comparatively,” rates are still low.

“If you think about what you borrow money for, and the rates that you borrow it, credit cards are upwards of 20-some-odd percent sometimes,” said Zorda. “You’re borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars over 30 years, and you’re only being charged, let’s just say, 7% or something on the 30 years right now.”

Smith also said that while interest rates may rise, many will be able to purchase a home for a lower price.

“They also would’ve paid a lot more money for a house,” Smith said. “They might’ve got a lower interest rate, but they would pay a lot more for a house on the market. I think they’re going to find a lot more balance in what they’re buying.”

And Zorda stressed that the Capital Region is “still a great market.”

“The Capital Region is an amazing place to invest, whether you’re buying a primary home, a second vacation home, or you want to rent something out,” Zorda said. “I highly recommend using real estate as a tool for investing and building wealth. (It’s) definitely still a great time. If you’re on the fence, it’s just time to go for it.”

Smith said prospective buyers should not “be scared of the market, still look into it.”

“Because there’s a lot of options out there for first-time home buyers,” said Smith. “There’s grants available, there’s things out there that can still save them money that can counteract the interest rates. Don’t give up. Stay positive, and stay focused.”

Cerrone HVAC helps keep homes, businesses warm as winter approaches

QUEENSBURY — As colder weather approaches in Upstate New York, it becomes even more important to ensure heating systems are working properly. That’s where Cerrone Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning comes in.

Cerrone provides installation, maintenance, and repairs for heating, air conditioning, and plumbing systems, and also helps deal with air quality. 

The company, which has primarily dealt with residential properties, has been increasingly providing commercial services. Joe Cerrone, the manager and owner of Cerrone, said this is mainly due to an increase in construction in the Glens Falls area.

“Over the years, we’ve slowly grown, mainly doing new construction and residential service and repair and installations,” said Cerrone. “Just due to the recent Glens Falls renovation projects that are going on right now, we’ve been getting our foot more in the door for commercial projects.”

Dealing with commercial heating is different from residential heating, Cerrone said.

“(Commercial heating is) a bit more in-depth, I would say,” said Cerrone. “There’s a lot more things going on.”

The company had taken on what Cerrone described as “light” commercial projects in the past, but has focused more on the commercial side with the growth of Glens Falls and its surrounding areas.

“We’ve done commercial projects, like light commercial projects, before,” said Cerrone. “But more recently, there’s just been a lot more construction going on in our area that we’ve had the opportunity to bid on the jobs.”

As winter nears, Cerrone said routine maintenance is important to keep heating systems working properly.

“Routine maintenance is a big one. We do offer fall and spring services, preventative maintenance services. Those kinds of things are pretty big, because we can catch issues before they happen, so they’re not left in the middle of winter without heat,” Cerrone said. “We do offer 24/7 emergency service, but just to catch the issues before they happen and prevent them is pretty big.”

Cerrone’s service area stretches from Bolton Landing to Saratoga Springs, according to their website. 

“We’re right in Queensbury, so we’re very local for a lot of businesses in Glens Falls,” said Cerrone.

The company provides service to locations such as Glens Falls, Queensbury, Hudson Falls, Warrensburg, Fort Edward, Lake George, Gansevoort, and Wilton.

Cerrone, who grew up in Lake George, said it is “great” to be able to provide services to the local community and watch it grow through the years.

“It’s great, watching this area grow throughout the years,” said Cerrone. “Glens Falls, 15 years ago, wasn’t anything like it is today, with the new restaurants popping up that we’ve done a lot of work in.”

‘We put a lot of effort into it’: Lucky Puppy Adoption Center helps dogs find new homes

Scout, one of the dogs at Lucky Puppy Adoption Center in Argyle (Photo courtesy of Lucky Puppy Adoption Center).

ARGYLE — Lucky Puppy Rescue in Argyle looks to help dogs find a home in Upstate New York. And they travel a long way to do so.

Lucky Puppy’s rescue center is located in Bonifay, Florida, roughly 90 miles west of Tallahassee. Founder Teri Mattson, who resides in Bonifay, said the organization started “completely by accident,” after she found two abandoned puppies in a park.

“There were two little puppies down there, playing in the mud and water,” said Mattson. “There was only one other person there besides me, and I said, ‘Are those your puppies? They’re really cute.’ He said, ‘No, somebody dumped them off here.’”

Mattson and her partner took the dogs in, and “it snowballed from there,” she said.

The Argyle location came about after Lucky Puppy’s Florida rescue center began transporting dogs to be adopted out of centers in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. 

“We started with a large van, and we moved to a school bus, and then now we have a big commercial bus that we use,” Mattson said. “We would literally vaccinate them, get them healthy, fix them, and then drive them up to these rescues and hand them off, and then they would adopt them.”

That model was not financially stable for the organization, so Lucky Puppy purchased a former boarding kennel and training facility in Argyle and converted it into an adoption center for dogs from the Florida rescue.

“It’s the same corporation, Florida and New York, but the rescue is in Florida where there are so many abandoned dogs, and the adoption center is here in Argyle,” said Mattson.

Transporting the dogs from Bonifay to Argyle involves a bus ride of 24 to 28 hours, said Mattson, who typically drives the bus herself. 

“We’re very blessed that our bus is set up to where it makes a comfortable trip,” Mattson said. “It’s still stressful, and it’s still long, but it’s a comfortable trip for them health-wise.”

The Argyle location, at 511 Pleasant Valley Road, is an “ideal” location, Mattson said. There are two buildings to house the dogs, as well as a home that Mattson and fellow Florida employees stay in while visiting the location. Mattson said several dogs typically stay in the home while people are there, “so they get a little feel of what the house is like too.”

The buildings have fenced-in yards connected, while Lucky Puppy’s property also includes walking trails through a wooded area and another open field that the organization hopes to expand to.

“When we purchased the property, the idea is to expand. We would be able to put more buildings over on this area, because it’s nice and open, and then fence in the whole property so we could have the woods for play, and the area between the house and the kennel,” said Mattson. “Our biggest point is we try to give them enrichment, not just put them in a kennel and hope somebody comes by and picks them out for adoption.”

Mattson said the organization emphasizes exercise and activity for the dogs, saying “it builds their confidence.”

“When you adopt them and take them home, you have a dog that’s more confident, that’s willing to meet new people, go new places, it makes for a better adoption,” Mattson said.

Lucky Puppy specializes in medium and large-sized dogs, Mattson said, naming breeds such as shepherds, border collies, and “all the kind of mix-ups.”

“A little bit of lab, a little bit of retriever, a little bit of border collie,” said Mattson. “People that are looking for good family pets, we can help match them. We know the dogs so well, when you come in and tell me what your life is like, I can say, ‘Oh, this is the dog for you.’”

Mattson said the adoption center typically has 30 to 35 dogs on-site during the warmer months, and said there are “almost always” between 150 to 200 dogs at the rescue center in Bonifay.

The adoption process begins with an online application, Mattson said, which is reviewed by volunteers at Lucky Puppy.

“We have a team of volunteers that would go through that application,” Mattson said. “If you have a pet now, we would check your vet records.”

After the application, an appointment can be made to visit the adoption center to meet the dogs.

“Sometimes, they have a specific (dog) that they want to meet, that they saw online,” said Mattson. “That’s good, we can start with that. But we actually, sometimes, may steer them toward a different one if the first dog they’re interested in is not a good match.”

Mattson said when evaluating matches, Lucky Puppy looks at things like fenced yards, apartments, and more.

“If it’s a young, active dog that needs to run and play a lot, a fenced yard is probably more suited. If it’s an older dog that just might do some leash walks and maybe hang out a little bit, that may not be required,” Mattson said. “People, if they live in an apartment, there’s some dogs that might do well in an apartment, there’s other dogs that would be crazy and bark and disturb your neighbors.”

All of the dogs at Lucky Puppy’s adoption center are fixed and vaccinated before arriving in New York, said Mattson. The center will also take a dog back “if something doesn’t work out.”

“Sometimes, somebody takes home a puppy and they don’t realize the demands of it. The amount of time for training, the amount of time for potty training,” Mattson said. “We’ll always take them back, but we’d hope, of course, that that won’t happen.”

Lucky Puppy also offers fostering opportunities, allowing a dog to live in a home until they are adopted. Mattson said it helps prepare the dogs, as well as provides them with a comfortable environment.

“They’ll take them home and let them live with them until they get adopted. It’s excellent, because they get some extra one-on-one attention,” said Mattson. “They can spoil them a little bit, they can also train them a little bit. They can expose them to riding in the car, expose them to what it’s like living in a house. It’s kind of like a prep school for adoption.”

Mattson said the typical foster stay lasts a week to two weeks, saying it is “a way to have a little fun but not have the commitment.”

The organization is also doing what it can to establish a strong footing in Upstate New York, appearing at numerous outdoor events and offering volunteer days.

“I’ve been trying to capitalize on the fall weather, where it’s so beautiful and people are out walking around and going to the different outdoor events,” Mattson said. “So I’ve been capitalizing on that, so there have been times when I drive back to Florida and spend the night, and then I load up the bus again and drive back.”

“I’ve had people come here and say, ‘We’ve been looking for a puppy to adopt for over a year.’ And here, I have 100 of them down in Florida, waiting to get their turn up here,” Mattson continued. “And they’re healthy, and they’re vaccinated and ready to go to a home. … When you deal with us, we have them off on the right foot to be able to go into your home and be a lifelong pet.”

Lucky Puppy charges adoption fees, but a majority of income is via monetary donations, Mattson said. 

“We do charge an adoption fee for the dogs, which helps to kind of go back and cover the vet work that we’ve done, the vaccines, the spay surgeries, things like that,” said Mattson.

Donations help cover the costs of utilities, insurance, vehicles, fuel, and more, said Mattson. She said the organization, like many others of its kind, is in need of funding.

“We have to feed them, house them. We vaccinate everybody, we do flea and tick prevention every month for every dog, which is thousands of dollars,” Mattson said. “Especially when funding isn’t coming in to support that.”

Mattson said the situation with strays and owner surrenders is “overwhelming,” mentioning a crate with four dogs that was left at her home’s carport, and that the organization recently rescued roughly 40 dogs from a house in Florida.

“We operate on such a spectrum. I need money down there to take care of those dogs that we just rescued, and then I need money up here to support our adoption center to be able to get them into homes,” Mattson said. “In order to keep us open and operating, we need monetary support.”

Mattson said Lucky Puppy accepts Venmo and PayPal donations, and mentioned the organization also welcomes volunteer work. Mattson herself is a volunteer, she said, holding an unpaid director position.

She emphasized the work that has gone into Lucky Puppy, saying “we put a lot of effort into it.”

“I also think we could win people over if they come here and see what we do,” said Mattson. “I know this sounds egotistical, but we do a good job. … I live at the farm where the rescue is, my partner and I live there. I’m pretty much 24/7. When babies are being born, I sleep at the kennel and deliver puppies. When puppies are sick, I take them home and care for them there. When I come up here to New York, I stay in the house.

“So I live it, and I know how much we put into it.”

Operation Rolling for Resilience hosting second annual Veterans Day fundraiser at Atlas Jiu-Jitsu

Image provided by Justin Hall

UPDATE (11/2): This event has been rescheduled to Nov. 19.

SOUTH GLENS FALLS — Veterans Day is fast approaching, and Atlas Jiu-Jitsu in South Glens Falls, along with nonprofit Operation Rolling for Resilience, is preparing to host its second annual Veterans Day fundraiser event on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Justin Hall, a veteran who helped start the event, said the initial idea came after he competed in 22 jiu-jitsu tournaments in a ten-month span from October 2021 to this August, raising money for veteran suicide awareness.

“Operation Rolling for Resilience is the name that we gave our movement for the tour for veterans suicide awareness,” said Hall. “In doing that, we came up with the idea to turn it into a nonprofit organization for people with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, and things of that sort.”

Hall said he and Atlas instructor Joseph Zakriski initially discussed hosting a seminar, but it quickly evolved and has become an annual event.

“Then we decided to take it a step further, and ask some other people to get involved and join up on it, and they all did,” Hall said. “At the time, we got a yoga instructor, we got everyone involved and it ended up just taking off from there.”

Hall said he runs Operation Rolling for Resilience along with Zakriski, Nicholas Regner, and Miranda Smith.

The Veterans Day event will offer both adult and childrens’ lessons for No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a judo class. Hall said the classes will be aimed at beginners, encouraging new people to try it out.

“They’re going to be entry-level classes, or just some basic techniques to get people introduced to the sport,” said Hall. “Some things that aren’t going to require a ton of skill up front, that way anybody can walk in and give it a shot.”

The childrens’ no-gi jiu-jitsu class runs from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., with the judo class following from noon to 1:30 p.m. The adult no-gi jiu-jitsu class runs from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. After the adult class, Atlas will host a ‘Veteran and First Responder Intro to Operation Rolling for Resilience.’

A minimum donation of $20 is required, and will allow guests access to all three classes. The introduction to Operation Rolling for Resilience is open to the public, Hall said. The nonprofit has a page on GoFundMe, Hall mentioned, and also accepts cash donations.

Hall said the mission of Operation Rolling for Resilience is to help veterans who are struggling connect through jiu-jitsu, free of charge.

“A lot of the struggles, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, and those kinds of things, we’re looking to kind of alleviate that and give them the community, sense of camaraderie, and purpose again,” said Hall. “That’s what jiu-jitsu has done for me, so I aim to give that back to them and kind of make it like a space where they can be themselves and work on themselves. … An environment where it’s sociable, it’s safe, and it’s a good stress outlet.”

Hall served for nine years in the Army, he said, noting the need for services to assist veterans is important as he, “was one of those people that needed that at one time.”

“I know if I needed that help, and those sort of resources weren’t available when I needed it, there’s definitely a need for it in the community,” Hall said. “Instead of sitting back and waiting for that miracle to happen, we want to be that for everybody else. We’re going to be there, we’re going to take the reins, and take this wherever it takes us.”

Hall, who is a blue-belt at Atlas, mentioned that the attendance at last year’s event was better than anticipated, and said he hopes to see “a big turnout” this year. Hall grew up in the Glens Falls region, and emphasized the community support in the area, saying “the roots run deep all around.”

“This area is known for the local support,” said Hall. “It’s one tight-knit area, and there’s a lot of love that gets around, for sure.”

‘It’s opened up great things for us’: Northern Living NY joins ARCC

A view of Lake George from a Northern Living rental property. (Photo provided by Northern Living NY)

LAKE GEORGE — Lake George has long been a popular spot for tourism, and Northern Living NY is working to make sure every visitor has a quality stay near the lake.

Northern Living NY is a “full-stream vacation rental management company,” offering rental homes and other services for those vacationing in the area. Owner and CEO Katelyn Moskos worked in property management prior to founding Northern Living, saying she “just saw the need for it in the area.”

“There were a lot of hotels and resorts, and big families coming that were being divided between different units,” said Moskos.

Along with her husband John, Moskos started with just one home, purchasing a lakefront property and renovating it to be rented out. 

“We started renting it, and it was successful. From there, we used the equity and purchased another home,” Moskos said. “We kept going, and I think by home number two is when I said, ‘OK, this is inspiring enough and successful enough to do this for other people.’”

Now, Northern Living NY has nearly 70 houses available for rent, with Moskos saying the company owns nine properties of their own. Northern Living works to book guests and maintain upkeep on all of the properties available for rent.

“From there, we do all the marketing, advertising, photography, videography,” said Moskos. “We take care of booking the guests, doing background checks for the guests, all of the financials. … Take care of the guests before, during, and after their stay.”

The company has a wide variety of properties available for both small groups and large ones.

“We specialize in more high-end luxury lakefront properties. Some of them are 2-bedroom, and then some of them go up to ten bedrooms,” said Moskos.

Northern Living also owns the Adirondack Kayak Company, Moskos said, allowing guests to conveniently rent kayaks or other water crafts on the lake. The company also owns Lake George Design, which can assist owners with renovations, furnishings, and more.

Moskos noted that Northern Living can connect guests with local businesses for “whatever they need,” saying the company can connect guests with private chefs, wedding planners, and more.

“We have a wonderful group of local businesses that we work hand-in-hand with,” Moskos said.

And that group will likely only increase in size, with Northern Living having recently joined the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

“I think it just opens the horizon even more for what we can offer for our potential guests, and what we can refer to local businesses,” Moskos said of joining ARCC.

Moskos said “it’s opened up great things” for Northern Living, noting that the Chamber helps establish and grow connections with other local businesses.

“I think it’s great networking, not only for myself, but for other local businesses,” said Moskos.

Moskos said many of Northern Living’s renters come from cities, noting that Lake George is a great place to get away from the “hustle and bustle.”

“We have about a 60% returning renter ratio, which is really great,” said Moskos. “The families continue to come see us year after year. They may not stay at one specific property, but they’ll travel within our platform, which is really nice.”

Lakota’s Farm hosting ‘Haunted Barn Bash’ this weekend

Photo provided by Lakota’s Farm

CAMBRIDGE — Halloween is around the corner, and Lakota’s Farm is helping get the community in the spirit with the first annual ‘Haunted Barn Bash’ on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m.

The Bash will have a live DJ, catered food, a cocktail bar, a costume contest, and more. Lakota’s Farm owner Kimberly Finney said she is excited to put on the event, saying she loves Halloween.

“I’ve always loved Halloween,” said Finney. “We’re actually having a blast right now, because we’re decorating the barn all spooky, when we normally do weddings and more formal events.”

And a 200-year-old barn is likely the perfect place to host a spooky celebration.

“We definitely feel like there are some haunted spirits that live here,” Finney said. “I can’t imagine there couldn’t be.”

The costume contest will feature three categories, with winners receiving a gift certificate to a future farm-to-table dinner at Lakota’s. Contest categories are: Best Costume, Best Couple, and Best Group.

“We’re going to do three sets of it,” said Finney. “Just to entice people to dress really fun and be creative with their costumes.”

Catered food will be provided by Wandering Food Dude, featuring a charcuterie board, hor d’oeuvres, and food stations throughout the barn. DJ John Waddell will provide music for the evening.

“(Wandering Food Dude) just did our last farm-to-table dinner just a few weeks ago, our last one of the season, and it was incredible,” said Finney. “They’re newer to having their own business, but they’re certainly not new to the catering world.”

The Haunted Barn Bash will have a cocktail bar, as well as tarot readings by Aviana Shaman, who Finney said also attended the fall festival at Lakota’s.

“She was here for our fall festival, actually, and everybody really seemed to love her,” Finney said. “We thought it would be a really fun, spooky element to have Tarot readings at a Halloween party.”

The Bash is selling two types of tickets, a $25 ‘Dance the Night Away’ ticket, and a $65 ‘Dancing and Dinner All-You-Can-Eat’ ticket.

“People can buy tickets just to come to the party, which includes some light snacks and things. It’s kind of admission to the event,” said Finney. “The ($65) ticket is, the caterers are going to do a cocktail hour, and bites of yummy food, kind of farm-to-table themed, throughout the entire evening.”

Finney also mentioned several overnight accommodations in the area for potential guests, including the Preserve on the Batten Kill and the King’s Inn.

“There are cabs that come out here now, and Uber comes out to the farm,” said Finney. “We want everybody to have a good time, but be safe.”

And the Bash will offer a chance for the community to celebrate Halloween, with Finney saying, “we absolutely love doing the community events.”

“The community events are definitely really special to us, whether it’s the festivals, the farm dinners, or the annual Halloween party,” Finney said. “We just love meeting all of our neighbors.”

Lawsuit filed against Moreau Planning Board, Saratoga Biochar: CEO says claims are not ‘remotely accurate’

Artist rendering of the proposed Biochar plant in Moreau. (File photo)

MOREAU — The Clean Air Action Network of Glens Falls has filed an Article 78 petition against the Town of Moreau Planning Board and Saratoga Biochar Solutions, alleging that the Planning Board did not adhere to the State Environmental Quality Review Act before green-lighting a proposed agricultural fertilizer plant by Saratoga Biochar.

But Ray Apy, CEO of Northeastern Biochar Solutions, says the claims made are not accurate, saying they are “a delay tactic.”

“While we would not provide details specific to our planned response to the Article 78 complaint, I can tell you that the complaint is simply a delay tactic that is severely flawed in logic and law and will be readily defeated,” Apy said in a statement. “None of the claims made are remotely accurate.”

The planning board had issued a conditional negative declaration for the project in March, ruling that it would not have adverse environmental impacts. The petition filed by CAAN, however, says that the planning board has received “a variety of information” that should have led to the decision being revisited.

According to a release by CAAN, this information includes, “Saratoga Biochar’s admission that its facility would release PFAS into the air and that the sewage sludge would be trucked in from downstate and western New England.”

The Biochar facility would be the first in New York State, and would use pyrolysis to convert as much as 720 tons of sewage sludge per day into biochar, a charcoal soil amendment, according to the release. The facility would also release quantities of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, PFAS, and more.

A positive SEQRA declaration would have forced Saratoga Biochar to produce an Environmental Impact Statement, the release says, which would detail the project’s impact on the community. 

“The interim planning board chairperson told me that in his 18 years on the Moreau Planning Board, no applicant has ever been required to do an Environmental Impact Statement,” said Clean Air Action Network chair Tracy Frisch in the release. “Such a track record suggests that the planning board has not been using all the tools at its disposal to protect the best interests of the community. Not only is the planning board failing the people of Moreau; it is also breaking the law.”

CAAN is aiming to have the Planning Board’s conditional negative declaration ruled invalid, and have the project re-examined by the Board.

Apy continues to dispute the suit, saying it is “unfortunate” that CAAN has chosen to fight and delay the project.

“What is really unfortunate in this is that a group that self-describes as ‘environmental’ has filed a complaint that will only delay a project that has tremendous environmental and human health benefits,” Apy said in his statement. “This does not change our plans for the Moreau Industrial Park at all.”

‘Match.com for philanthropy’: Knitt helping nonprofits and businesses connect

Photo provided by Lisa Munter

After spending 15 years in the nonprofit sector, Lisa Munter has first-hand experience with the difficulties of finding and connecting with supporters. Now, she’s looking to change that with the launch of Knitt, a website to help nonprofit organizations and businesses connect with each other.

“Regardless of who I was volunteering for, I was still hearing the same level of frustration,” said Munter. “‘Where’s our next level of support going to come from?’”

Munter said many nonprofits do not have the time or funds to seek out necessary supporters, while saying that on the other side, business owners can become “inundated with responses.”

“Even though they want to do their due diligence, it’s reactionary, because a lot of times they’re just trying to keep up with the requests. They’re busy focusing on their job,” Munter said. “So a lot of times, you hear the pain point of frustration of getting inundated with requests, not really having a real mindfulness about who they’re giving to and why they’re giving.

“I just was like, ‘OK, how do we simplify this and bridge the gap?”

That is where Knitt comes in. Munter described Knitt as a “web-based platform that mindfully connects nonprofits and business owners in a time-efficient and sustainable way.”

“We call it the Match.com for philanthropy, because it really is just that,” said Munter.

Nonprofit organizations and businesses can fill out a profile on the site, and will be matched with organizations who share similar interests and values. 

“What it does is it allows you to get out of the hamster wheel of the time that it takes in order to find the right relationships,” said Munter. “It’s like the ultimate networking platform.”

Knitt simplifies the process of connecting for nonprofits and businesses, but also ensures they are being connected with organizations that are strong fits.

“Giving should not be transactional,” Munter said. “It’s supposed to be purposeful, and it’s about sustainability, it’s about the relationship behind that.”

This can help businesses and nonprofits cut back on the time spent sending or receiving requests for support, Munter said.

“If you’re giving to multiple organizations, or you’re getting inundated with requests, or if you’re spending several hours a month filtering through all of the mailings and email and text requests, try Knitt,” said Munter. “Because it will simplify and streamline that process, and it will weed out those relationships that you have a hard time saying no to.”

Munter said that businesses can select which specific types of organizations they want to be matched with, helping avoid requests that may not be a good fit.

“It’s kind of a polite way of the ‘no solicitations’ sign, which can be negative,” Munter said.

Before launching, the Knitt website went through a long process, with Munter saying they went through a year and a half of customer discovery and launched a beta phase for businesses and nonprofits to test out.

“I met with local nonprofits and business owners, hearing all of the things that frustrate them, and how they would prefer it to be, and then built it into the platform,” said Munter.

And organizations were even finding matches in the beta phase, with Munter saying one nonprofit had been “trying for years” to connect with a potential donor before the two matched on Knitt during the beta phase.

“They happened to match on Knitt, during beta, and because of that fictitious relationship, it opened the door for an actual, real relationship,” Munter said. “Now that donor was going to help support their next fundraiser.”

Munter said she is proud of Knitt for helping organizations understand the reasons behind specific donations and support, which she referred to as “the why.”

“I feel like we are the only thing out there right now that really is a true understanding of the ‘why’. The why of the mission, and an understanding of the why of the donor, why they give,” said Munter. “Why not use Knitt, and you’re linked instantly. You know why you are matched, and then you can continue that journey of a conversation and a relationship.”

Knitt also has a decline feature for matched organizations, which requires the declining side to input a reason why the match was turned down. 

“Sometimes the understanding of the no is just as valuable as the understanding of the yes,” said Munter, noting that it can allow organizations to see where their message could improve.

The site also has a suggestion box, allowing users to send in notes and comments on possible ways to improve the service.

Knitt operates on a subscription-based model, with Munter saying it is set up as a tiered system. Nonprofits pay a $50 signup fee, which Munter said helps Knitt vet the organizations. Nonprofits can then utilize the site for free until they receive $5,000 in donations, then are moved to a $40 per month plan according to the Knitt website.

It is similar for businesses, beginning as a free service until $2,500 is donated, at which point the donor is moved to a $20 per month plan, the website shows. The plans for both nonprofits and businesses continue to increase in price once other donation points are reached. Yearly payment plans are also offered.

“If you know you give to multiple organizations, or if you’re a new business to an area and you’re looking to get involved, sign up for Knitt,” said Munter. “Fill out your profile, and see who comes into your inbox.”