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Archive for ‘August, 2011’

Region Rattled: Rare Quake Shakes Up East Coast

Originally Published in the Saratogian Newspaper. Print Edition, Wed., Aug. 24, 2011. Click Here to Read Online.

By SUZANNA LOURIE, slourie@saratogian.com

State Employees

State employees mill about on the Empire State Plaza near the Corning Tower in Albany Tuesday, August 23, 2011 after an earth quake centered in Virgina shook the east coast. (J.S. Carras/photos@saratogian.com)

SARATOGA SPRINGS — At 1:51 Tuesday afternoon, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake, 3.7 miles deep, struck Virginia, rattling the entire East Coast up to the Capital District and beyond.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake’s epicenter was located in a town 44 miles northwest of Richmond, Va., in Louisa County. In Washington, D.C., the White House, Capital Building and the Pentagon were all evacuated due to the strength of the tremors. Flights from the Reagan National Airport outside of Washington, D.C., were also put on hold.

The quake, close to a 6 on the Richter scale, shook the computer monitors in the Lake Avenue office of The Saratogian here in Saratoga Springs. Within minutes, calls from people in towns across the county started rolling in and the newspaper website and social media outlets exploded with feedback.

Bob Gordon, who lives in Pyramid Pines on Old Gick Road in Wilton, said he felt the quake for about five minutes, and although nothing broke, it shook the entire house.

“We live in a mobile home and it shook the place like nothing,” he said.

Like many in the area, Judy Shrade of Nelson Avenue said that at first, she thought the vibrations were from a passing truck, but when the shaking didn’t stop, Shrade knew it wasn’t a truck causing her glassware to clatter on the shelves.

Quakes don’t strike this area often, but 87-year-old Saratoga resident Roslyn Pittinger has had earthquake experiences in the past. After yelling to her daughter, “Your washing machine is backing up,” Pittinger said her daughter responded that it wasn’t even on.

“I’ve lived a lot of places and felt this before,” Pittinger said, still laughing about the incident.
NORTHEAST_QUAKE_RISK
While the ground was still rumbling, people from Virginia to New York reported the events using social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook to tell the story as it was happening in real time.

Even state Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, tweeted at 2:27 p.m., “My office in Schenectady was shake, rattle and rolling from the earthquake!” On Facebook, Steve Lyon added, “Definitely felt it here, about 8 miles east of the track, just off Route 9.”

 

South of Schenectady, a spokesperson from the Albany branch of the National Weather Service said their building, “shook like crazy,” and most staff evacuated the premises. Employees at the Capitol Building and government agency buildings also were required to evacuate their office, but returned to work later that afternoon.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement at 2:43 p.m. announcing that effects of the quake in New York state were being monitored by the State Office of Emergency Management and that as of that time, there had been no reports of damage to buildings, bridges, roads, power grids, the Indian Point nuclear power plant or other infrastructure.

Locally, the Saratoga Springs Police Department said although no emergencies or accidents had been reported as a result of the quake, more than a dozen calls came in immediately after the ground stopped shaking.

Lt. Robert Jillson of the Saratoga Springs Fire Department said firefighters were dispatched to a possible gas leak, but said he didn’t know if it was related to the earthquake or if it was just coincidence.

Since no horse races are run on Tuesdays, “dark days,” at Saratoga Race Course, thankfully no horses were running when the ground shook. Dan Silver, communications director for the New York Racing Association, said as of around 3 p.m., there had been no reports of harm to any horses, who were safe in their stalls in the backstretch.

Although the Virginia quake was felt here in Saratoga County, it wasn’t the first earthquake of the day for New York state. The USGS reported a smaller, 2.2 magnitude earthquake, 13.3 miles deep, that hit three miles outside of Altamont, a town just 20 minutes northwest of Albany, at 6:35 Tuesday morning.

Earthquakes might be rare in the Capital District, but it was only one year ago on Wednesday, June 23, 2010, when Saratoga residents felt the rumblings from a 5.0 quake that hit northeast of Ottawa at 1:40 p.m. — today’s earthquake coincidentally struck on the same date, the 23rd, of a different month, August, just 11 minutes after last year’s quake.

Later Tuesday, the USGS confirmed two aftershocks hit near the epicenter in northern Virginia — the first, magnitude 2.8, at 2:46 p.m., and the second, at 3:20 p.m. with a magnitude of 2.2. The National Weather Service said no tsunami was expected as result of the quake.

Saratogian reporters Michael Cignoli and Lucian McCarty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Savvy Savings: Coupon-Cutters Save Hundreds at Local Stores

Originally Published in the Saratogian Newspaper. Print Edition, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011. Click Here to Read Online. 

By SUZANNA K. LOURIE
slourie@saratogian.com

Couponing

Coupon-cutter Charlene DuBuque of Milton clips coupons with the help of her 8-year-old son, Tom McClean, and 6-year-old daughter, AriAna DuBuque.
(ED BURKE, eburke@saratogian.com)

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Extreme Couponers. Sure, you’ve heard of them: ordinary people saving extraordinarily large sums of money by clipping coupons. And maybe you’ve seen them on TLC’s hit reality show, “Extreme Couponing.” But do these savvy savers really exist here in Saratoga Springs?

The answer is yes. Meet two local super couponers: Charlene DuBuque of Ballston Spa and Kate Scott of Saratoga Springs.

Between the two of them, DuBuque and Scott save more than $700 on groceries and household items every week.

How do they do it?

To cut costs and fight back against a tough economy, DuBuque and Scott plan financially savvy schedules each weekend, starting with the bonus coupons found in the weekend editions of local newspapers.

“On Sundays, I wake up and get the two local papers. Then, my mother-in-law and friends send me their coupons, so I’ll have about six or seven copies of the same inserts that you get in one paper, which is six or seven times the discount,” Dubuque explained.

Scott’s routine is a little different. Early Saturday morning, she heads to Stewart’s to pick up four copies of the Times Union’s early bird special edition with extra coupons.

The next step is digital. Both women spend between 30 minutes to an hour each day comparing print coupons to current sales at stores like Price Chopper, CVS and Rite Aid. They’re looking for online coupons and sales that match their print coupons.

“At least half match up each week with the sales,” DuBuque said.

Coupons

Coupon-cutter Charlene DuBuque of Milton transitions her coupon collections from an over-stuffed folder to a larger binder with clear sheets.
(ED BURKE, eburke@saratogian.com)

 

After scouring the print and online deals, it’s time to start clipping.

“My two oldest kids clip and they get free TV time — they love it and it helps a lot,” DuBuque said with a laugh.

Once everything is meticulously laid out, Scott and DuBuque arrange their personal coupon binders.

“I cut the coupons and organize them in the binder — I plan out everything I’m going to buy that week,” Scott said.

DuBuque also uses a coupon book with the vouchers carefully laid out, organized not only by store, but by aisle. That book travels with DuBuque to every store, just in case she happens to see something forgotten on the list.

On the off-chance they do see an item not on the list, DuBuque and Scott rarely surrender to the urge to make an impulse buy.

“The thing is, I do everything with coupons. We don’t buy anything unless it’s with a coupon, from going out to restaurants to buying clothing,” DuBuque said.

Scott agreed. “I don’t even remember the last time I went anywhere without a coupon, and I never splurge on random items,” she said.

It might be strict, but living by the couponer’s code pays off. DuBuque saves between $200 and $500 each week while shopping for six, and Scott saves around $200 between herself, her boyfriend and two pets.

“There’s no way we could have the kind of stuff we have if I wasn’t clipping. Even once I’m in the job force, I’m still going to do this,” DuBuque said.

 

Although DuBuque recently finished graduate school, full-time work isn’t an option right now.

“My husband makes a decent salary, but it’s not enough for six people, and two of my kids have special needs — my baby goes to therapy, so it’s hard to find a nine-to-five,” she said.

DuBuque said she saves the most each week at Price Chopper due to their policy of doubling coupons up to 99 cents.

Price Choppers’ competitive Capital District coupon deals are about to be broadcast nationally.

A Price Chopper spokesperson said the TLC show “Extreme Couponing” filmed a segment at the Watertown Price Chopper several weeks ago to profile an extreme couponer from the area. The air date is still uncertain.

“We’ve definitely noticed an increase in people using coupons since the show started,” said Tom Smith, the Ballston Spa Avenue Price Chopper’s front end manager.

Although DuBuque and Scott aren’t quite as extreme as some of the crazed TLC couponers, both admit that the hobby does have a darker side.

After learning to clip from her mom, Scott quickly surpassed her mother’s couponing compulsion.

“It’s definitely an addiction,” Scott said. “If I don’t do it — yesterday we went out to the lake and I was like, ‘I have to do my coupons’ — I feel anxious when I don’t do it or if I buy something without a coupon.”

DuBuque agreed, saying, “It does become kind of addicting. When we were in Plattsburgh, we would get stuff pretty much free and we’d have so much stuff — just coming out of the closets. Now I only buy things we need or just a little extra.”

 

Of all the addictions in today’s society, saving hundreds of dollars per month doesn’t stand out as a cause for worry. Of course, all habits need moderation, but DuBuque and Scott are two examples of local extreme couponers who, with a little extra time and effort, manage to balance their lives with their savings.

“I’ll never go back to shopping without coupons,” DuBuque said. “I started clipping coupons when I was 17 and I’ve never looked back.”