Blogs > Fresh Ink

Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Saratoga Center for Family offers advocacy, education, therapy — and needs your help

Journalists take pride in giving a voice to people in need, with hopes of inspiring readers to action. But some stories are so private that they can be told only in generic terms — such as those involving children who are victims of abuse or neglect.
The Ballston Avenue building in Saratoga Springs
served some 400 children and their families in 2012.
Photo by Erica Miller/

That’s one of the challenges in raising awareness and encouraging donations for groups like the Saratoga Center for the Family, a nonprofit, countywide organization that last year provided therapy and healing to 400 children and their families in the building you’ve passed a million times on Ballston Avenue, between SPAC and Price Chopper.

As reporter Jennie Grey explains, “the Center for the Family focuses on building healthier families in Saratoga County and beyond, helping those struggling with trauma, depression, anxiety and disruptive behavior disorders who have experienced physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Victims of assault, human trafficking, domestic violence, divorce and bullying come for healing.”

There can be no so-called poster child for the organization. Yet the need is there, and the services can be provided only with the generosity of people who will never know the children and families they are helping. So I’m trying to help spread the word.
The Saratoga Center for the Family
offers a welcoming environment to children and families.
Photo by Erica Miller/

Next Wednesday is the Saratoga Center for the Family’s annual Celebrating the Power of Hope event, a cocktail party with food and entertainment and the silent and live auction that are components of so many worthy fund-raisers. Auction items include a one-year downtown Saratoga Springs parking space, two Southwest airlines tickets, and box seats for a day at Saratoga Race Course during the 2013 season. 

The event will recognize Raymond O’Conor, former president of Saratoga National Bank and Trust Company, for his continued support of the center and the community. It will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. April 24 at Longfellows Restaurant. Cost is $75 per person for age 36 and older, and $50 for 35 and younger.

Learn more about the organization and the Celebrating Hope and Power event at or by calling 587-8008.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kids: Write about Saratoga, win ice cream

Students in grades 2 through 8 in Saratoga County are invited this month to tell The Saratogian about what makes summer special.
The contest is part of Saratoga 150, celebrating a milestone anniversary of horse racing in Saratoga.
Select essays will be published in The Saratogian and winning writers will receive Stewart’s ice cream certificates.
To enter, students should ask an adult to share a special memory or experience of Saratoga in the summer and describe what they had to say in 150 or less. Email your essay to by April 30. At the top of the entry, writers should include their name, grade, school, teacher’s and parent’s names, and a contact phone number.
The contest is designed as an exercise in interviewing and writing.
Entries will be considered in three categories — grades 2 and 3, 4 and 5, and 6 to 8. Winners in each category will be awarded ice cream certificates of $25 for first place, $15 for second and $5 for third.


Monday, April 1, 2013

City police going after drug traffickers

The Saratogian’s online and front-page centerpiece story this morning pulls together piecemeal reporting that had been done since December about local drug arrests.
The story is not over. But it was time for reporter Lucian McCarty to put into context the otherwise disparate stories of what police are doing to pick off drug traffickers in and around Saratoga Springs.
The first piece broke in last December as a more or less routine story. A 47-year-old Milton man was arrested on a warrant that Saratoga Springs police said was part of an ongoing investigation into cocaine and other drug trafficking. He was charged with four felonies — two counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance —and two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanors.
Over the next three months, a total of 18 people were arrested in six raids in connection with drug trafficking as part of an investigation that includes the Saratoga Springs police, neighboring law enforcement entities, and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
What’s been seized, police say, includes an undisclosed amount of cash, 245 bags of heroin, 4.5 ounces of cocaine, two ounces of crack cocaine, three pounds of marijuana, and hydrocodone, oxycodone, suboxone and liquid PCP worth between $30,000 and $40,000 on the street.
Serious quantities of drugs are passing through the city, and some of it is staying right here. Police Lt. John Catone says drug addicts drove a 33 percent increase in burglaries and 10 percent increase in larcenies reported last year. To their credit, police are clearly trying to go after the bigger fish. Members of the Saratoga Springs Police Department and the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office have the credentials of DEA agents, enabling them to follow the trail of drugs and money, as McCarty reports. People with information about drug dealing should call the SSPD’s anonymous line at 584-TIPS.
The use and sale of illegal drugs in Saratoga Springs and surrounding locales could be the basis for a whole special report, which we’ve discussed in the newsroom as a project to tackle. For now, The Saratogian had the responsibility to begin to tell the bigger story by acknowledging the efforts of police and tying together the arrests thus far.