Amsterdam Spring Fling 2015 – Best Ever!


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Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, Entertainment, Music, Outdoors, WPHO | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Amsterdam Family YMCA (in Hagaman)


Like many others, this blogger had written off the Amsterdam Family YMCA when it moved out of the City of Amsterdam and established itself in the Village of Hagaman in a former school at 58 N Pawling Street. How dare they abandon us, I thought!  I have to admit it was this type of  narrow-minded thinking that stopped me from seeing just what they had to offer. That was until I met Nancy Carr, Executive Director/CEO of the Amsterdam Family YMCA.

Nancy told the story of just how the Amsterdam Family YMCA had to move. She impressed me as a very well spoken and dedicated individual who really cares about the local community. She also listened to my questions and took the time to answer every misconception I had about the YMCA and its mission. She challenged me to see for myself, offering to give me a tour and a day pass for a free workout. I took her up on that offer on Wednesday and I have to say I was very impressed with the facility, the staff and the patrons of the Amsterdam Family YMCA.

I’m not used to being around kids and the name Amsterdam Family YMCA  made me think there would be screaming children running around the facility while adults were trying to exercise. That was so far from the truth! I should have realized there are many types of families and although the YMCA has a first rate NYS certified day care facility, it is a separate part of the building. They care for infants, toddlers and pre-K children (ages 6 weeks to 5 years old) in four different rooms, each specialized with activities for specific age groups. It operates from 6:00am-6:00pm. I toured the day care during lunch and the children were all well mannered, well behaved and a pleasure to talk to. The day care facility at the YMCA is equipped with video cameras so parents can check in on their children on the internet if they so desire.  A full-time day care enrollment also includes a family membership to the Amsterdam Family YMCA.

The family referred to in the name is more about the interpersonal relationships developed at this YMCA. The staff and patrons all know each other by name. If one of the seniors misses a regular exercise class, Guido the personal trainer checks up on them! The individual attention is what separates the Amsterdam Family YMCA from one of the franchise gyms. Guido took the time to assess my needs and walked me through their exercise machines, correcting my posture and positioning as I did my workout. He managed to make me sweat in no time at all! You can tell when someone really loves their job because their passion quickly turns to expertise. Everyone I met at the Amsterdam Family YMCA had that same passion. Even though I only spent a couple of hours there, I did feel like part of the family! See for yourself…

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Nancy Carr, Executive Director/CEO of Amsterdam Family YMCA

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Guido Posso, Personal Trainer/Instructor, Amsterdam Family YMCA

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Manny, YMCA Staff

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The Amsterdam Family YMCA has a variety of programs and classes for kids and adults, some are offered free of charge. Please check their website for details or visit their facility on Pawling Street in Hagaman. From April 1 – May 31, 2015, the Amsterdam Family YMCA is sponsoring a Scrap Metal Drive with proceeds going to the YMCA.  Call them and they will pick up your scrap metal for free! They pick up in Amsterdam, Hagaman, Perth, Broadalbin, Galway, Tribes Hill, Fort Johnson, Fort Hunter, Cranesville and Minaville.

Call the YMCA at (518) 842-2130

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Categories: Amsterdam, fitness, sports | Tags: ,

A Somber Occasion


The devastating Nepal quake last weekend has left over five thousand dead, thousands more unaccounted for, and hundreds of people stranded 20,000 feet on Mount Everest.  Reports state the death toll could rise to over 10,000 people. The earthquake, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale, has obliterated homes, ancient temples, and historical landmarks.  Nepal is seeing devastation on levels never before imagined, according to reports.

The Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization held a memorial service this morning, for those killed in the Nepal earthquake, at the Western Supreme Buddha Temple in the Town of Glen, New York. This was not the usual celebration held by the Chinese Buddhists as the thought of the death and destruction in Nepal weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of the Buddhist monks and students. You could see it in their faces as they entered the temple in a funeral procession.  As Elise translated the message of Buddhist leader, Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi, I felt the same wave of sadness and concern. A gong sounded the start, middle and end of the service. In memory of those who died in Nepal and to help those who were injured, the monks and students chanted a 100 word mantra to the beat of a wooden percussion instrument carved in the image of a fish. Through prayer and meditation the participants sent to the departed what they believe to be a part of themselves attained through merit or good deeds to help their spirits pass on to be reborn in a better life.

Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi emphasized the cultural importance of Nepal, its rich history and influence on the practice of Buddhism in our world today. He announced that the WPHO will be donating $200,000 HK dollars through its Hong Kong affiliate to help with Nepal recovery efforts. In addition the WPHO will be purchasing $300,000 HK dollars worth of Dharma instruments and Buddhist statues from Nepal to help it recover economically.

The service ended with the same orderly procession that it began with, the WPHO members reserving this day for prayer and meditation.

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Categories: History, WPHO | Tags: , , , , ,

Amsterdam’s Failed World Trade Center Memorial


City officials never told new Riverlink Park concessionaire it was there, in fact they don’t want anyone to know about a piece of the fallen World Trade Center that sits hidden near the fence at Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park.  It was supposed to serve as a memorial to those who died in the tragic terrorist attack on American soil savagely killing over 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001.

Robert von Hasseln, Amsterdam’s Administrator of Community and Economic Development who also holds the position of City Historian, wanted to make sure that Amsterdamians never forget that day when the hijackers took over American Airline flight 11 that changed course in the air over Amsterdam, New York, eventually crashing into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Von Hasseln arranged to have a surviving column of the World Trade Center’s north tower transported to the City of Amsterdam to be memorialized in a fitting presentation at Riverlink Park.

The 11,000 pound, 18 foot column was unceremoniously dumped on the East end of Riverlink Park four years ago. There was supposed to be a monument built around the erect column with a public dedication ceremony in Spring of 2012. On December 15, 2011, Amsterdam’s Mayor Thane described the proposed memorial to Recorder reporter Jarrett Carroll;

The cement column will be planted upright into the ground once the ground is workable again. We will be mounting it as an obelisk on the section of land between the cafe and the blacktop, There will be a circular mediation area surrounding it with trees, explanatory signage and benches. It will be a strong symbol that will serve as both a visual and abstract representation.

The memorial was never built, the public dedication ceremony never happened. The World Trade Center artifact remains where it was dumped four years ago, hidden behind Riverlink Park’s event tent.

This serves as another failed promise of the Thane administration, a disgrace to those who died and a slap in the face to those Firefighters, Police Officers, Paramedics and volunteers who worked so hard to rescue victims of that attack. It is also an insult to my fellow Veterans who joined the service after 9/11, sacrificing their lives and limbs to fight the war on terror.

It is disingenuous of Mayor Ann Thane to say this project was not forgotten and always on the priority list. That is all just political spin. The truth is, the project was tossed around like a hot potato with nobody wanting to take ownership and get it done. It went from von Hasseln to the Veterans Commission, to Joe Isabel, back to von Hasseln and was finally dumped on the Recreation Director in December of 2014. There are no set plans, designs or even a location to erect the memorial. I wrote three blog articles about this situation on the Grove Street Photographer over the past four years, the last one picked up by WCSS radio and then it went viral. I am very pleased to see the WTC memorial finally getting the attention it deserves. There is something wrong with local government when you have to shame politicians into doing their jobs. Mayor Ann Thane should acknowledge responsibility for this failure and apologize sincerely to the citizens of Amsterdam and the relatives of those who died in the WTC bombing on 9/11.

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Categories: Amsterdam, historic amsterdam league, historic preservation, History, Politics | Tags: , , , , , ,

The Apple


Tuesday, April 7, 2015, the World Peace and Health Organization celebrated the Goddess of Mercy on Grove Street in Amsterdam, New York.  Quan Yin is what the Chinese Buddhists call the Goddess of Mercy. Often depicted as the Goddess with 1000 arms because of her self-less dedication to help others and to remain in the earthly realm worlds until all other living things have completed their own enlightenment and thus become liberated from the pain-filled cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.

Buddhist Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi spoke to the gathering of WPHO staff and students yesterday, encouraging them to emulate Quan Yin and to get rid of ego that will block their path to enlightenment.  Apples were passed out to the congregation and the spiritual leader marveled at nature’s perfection. The apple tree with it’s many branches was not unlike the many arms of Quan Yin, reaching out and producing a product that relieves the pangs of hunger. He reminded the students that the farmer coats the apple with wax to prevent it from deteriorating and so must they continue to practice the Guang Huan Mi Zong Health Dharma to keep their bodies healthy so they can continue their mission of promoting world health, peace and harmony. It is not enough, Shi emphasized, to practice (meditate) and become energized unless you use that energy to selflessly help others.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration | Tags: , , , ,

Friends of Sanford Stud Farm Annual Gathering


In the 1870’s, carpet-manufacturing innovator Stephen Sanford was advised by his physician to “buy a farm and a couple horses” and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of life in the country in order to escape from the stressful environment of his busy internationally acclaimed carpet business. It was a “therapeutic” decision that would lead to one of the largest and most recognized thoroughbred breeding facilities in the nation.

The purple and gold colors of Sanford Stud Farm, also known as Hurricana for the winds that blew over the farm from the Mohawk Valley below, would grace the Winner’s Circle of the Kentucky Derby with George Smith. Sanford Stud Farm was also the first American stable to win the prestigious English Grand National Steeplechase.

Today, only a few of the magnificent buildings remain. The training track is a shopping mall and the monuments memorializing Sanford winners have all been removed from their original places of honor.

In spite of the deteriorating buildings the Sanford Legacy lives on, immortalized by the Grade II Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, The Hollie Hughes Handicap at Aqueduct and by the still-standing Broodmare Barn located on rt 30 in the Town of Amsterdam, New York.

Please consider a membership or donation to the immediate goal of the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm. The broodmare barn has been standing for nearly 200 years. However, due to the neglect of recent years, a significant portion of this irreplaceable structure is facing almost certain collapse. Without your support, one of Amsterdam’s major landmarks could be lost forever.

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Friends of Sanford Stud Farm  is a Not-For-Profit Organization in unison with the Town of Amsterdam formed to help oversee the restoration and preservation of the former Sanford Stud Farm as a heritage center because of its historical, educational, architectural and cultural signifigance. The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) Not-for-Profit Corporation. On May 5, 2013, one of goals of The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm was realized in being recognized as a place of national prominence in getting listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Following the preview of the Sanford Legacy Exhibit at the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame on March 24, 2015, The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm held their annual social gathering and officer installation at Amsterdam’s Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse.

 2015 Board of Directors

President – Scott Friers, Vice President – Thomas Foster, Secretary – Linda Gates, Treasurer – John Lesniewski

Directors

Mary Ann Metz, Ron DiCaprio, Tom DiMezza, Jenny Brewster

It was a very nice evening catered by MUNI’s gracious concessionaire Laura Elmendorf who put out an excellent buffet. The evening opened with a speech by FSSF President Scott Friers. Sam Hidebrandt told a very entertaining story describing how a man was tricked by a shady tailor into buying an ill fitting suit. Sam was also chosen to receive the outstanding volunteer of the year award. He never ceases to amaze with his vast knowledge of the history of the Sanford family and thoroughbred racing and his dedication to the cause. Restorations on the Broodmere barn were extensive this year due to the efforts of volunteers, an engineer and Kucel Construction who also received awards. Many gave speeches including Victoria Tokarowski, curator of the Sanford Legacy exhibit, Pierre Manigault, Great Gandson of John Sanford, spoke about feeling part of our family here in Amsterdam.  Although he lives in Charleston, South Carolina, Pierre finds the time to attend our local events. He and his mother Landine Manigault have been generous benefactors to FSSF. Official proclamations signifying the importance of the Sanford Legacy were issed by NYS Senator George Amedore and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara’s office by their local administrative assistants. Town of Amsterdam Supervisor and member of the FSSF Board of Directors, Tom DiMezza spoke about the Town’s continued dedication to this project.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, Friends of Sanford Stud Farm | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Sanford Legacy


The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York previewed their latest exhibit, the Sanford Legacy, to the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm, select guests and the press on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. The exhibit, researched and designed by museum curator Victoria Tokarowski of Fultonville, showcases the significant contribution of Amsterdam’s Sanford family to the sport of thoroughbred racing. The exhibit opens to the public March 25, 2015 and runs through 2016. Tuesday’s event was attended by Sanford family descendent Pierre Manigault from Charleston, South Carolina, Son of Sanford jockey Louis Hildebrandt, Sam Hildebrandt, Montgomery County Legislator Barbara Wheeler, Town of Amsterdam Supervisor Tom DiMezza, Friends of Sanford Stud Farm President Scott Friers and several members of FSSF as well as the media. For more information just click on this link: National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame _SKR7989_SKR7991_SKR7998_SKR7994_SKR7999_SKR8002_SKR8008_SKR8012_SKR8019_SKR8020_SKR8021_SKR8026_SKR8028a_SKR8029_SKR8030_SKR8031_SKR8033_SKR8034_SKR8035_SKR8037_SKR8036_SKR8038_SKR8040

Categories: Amsterdam, historic preservation, History, Sanford Stud Farm | Tags: , , , , ,

The Next Mayor of Amsterdam, Mike Villa


The Clubhouse of Amsterdam’s Municipal Golf Course, run by Laura Elmendorf, hosted the first social gathering for City Amsterdam Mayoral candidate Michael Villa last night. In attendance were about 150 people representing many generations, occupations and political parties. This show of force was a large sign that the citizens of Amsterdam want a change in leadership. Mike Villa believes he is the candidate with the leadership experience to make that change. Introduced by Amsterdam businesswoman and Recorder VP of Sales and Marketing, Pat Beck, Villa spoke of his plan to bring much-needed leadership, integrity and fiscal responsibility back to our city. He wants our citizens to once again take pride in the fact they live in Amsterdam, New York. Mike Villa was both grateful and overwhelmed by the large number of people supporting his candidacy.

You can contact Mike Villa or give to his campaign through his website, Mike Villa For Mayor.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, History, Politics | Tags: , , ,

The Year of the Ram


Amsterdam’s World Peace and Health Organization celebrated Chinese New Year today at the Goddess of Mercy Temple on Grove Street.  2015, according to the Chinese astrological charts, is the year of the Ram. Visitors from as far as New York City as well as Amsterdam residents attended the simple ceremony. Guests were invited to light an incense stick and make a wish for the new year on front of an ornate wall composed of over 1000 images of Buddha. After the incense lighting, guests gathered around a table of traditional sweet treats that all had symbolic meanings. Jennie Wong explained the cultural tradition of the Chinese New Year celebration after which, guests travelled to the Five World Buddha Temple on East Main Street to receive a 2015 Chinese calendar screen printed on bound bamboo.  Buddhist Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi was noticeably absent from today’s ceremony.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, WPHO | Tags: , , , ,

Celebration of Buddha’s Enlightenment


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Today the local Buddhist groups celebrated the day Buddha was enlightened. Despite the ongoing snow storm, a handful of local residents, including Recorder photographer Trevor Junquera, did participate in the formal Buddhist ceremony held in the Goddess of Mercy Temple on Grove Street. They parked in the adjacent parking lot owned by the Buddhists to attend the event. There was no parking available on city streets because of the snowstorm. The Buddhist organization is currently fighting the revocation of their tax exempt status for the parking lot, purely a measure of harassment perpetrated by the City of Amsterdam.

The beautiful celebration featured a performance by the Buddhist clergy that involved both chanting and song in honor of Enlightenment Day. The World Peace and Health Organizations’ spokesperson Jennie Wong told the story of Buddha’s enlightenment and how Buddhism came to China, both in Chinese and English. Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi presented gifts to the members and guests attending.  Both received 2015 calendars printed on bound bamboo and English speaking guests received a book describing the Buddhist leader’s mission in the USA. After the ceremony everyone was treated to traditional La Pa porridge, which was very tasty.

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After the ceremony, Jennie Wong showed me an email received from Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane in response to a cordial email sent inviting her to attend the Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony. The response by Amsterdam’s Mayor made Ms Wong cry. I was both disgusted and ashamed by the nasty, vindictive official response our standing Mayor sent this religious organization. The allegations in the response are totally false. Is this the kind of person we want representing the City of Amsterdam? It is time for new leadership.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, Equality, Human Rights, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , ,

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