Saratoga Shorts for Thursday Jan. 14

Finally, a good plan to move into the 21st century: Currently, four Amtrak trains stop at Saratoga Springs daily - two going to Manhattan, two returning - but, those aren't convenient for commuters to New York City. A railroad track that is being installed between Albany and Schenectady will remove a decades-long bottleneck, and allow for more frequent service, potentially to Saratoga Springs, reports the Times Union.

To catch an early-morning departure, commuters have to drive through rush-hour traffic to catch a southbound train at Rensselaer. (It’s a drag, believe me).

The Empire State Passengers Association has advocated for more Saratoga Springs service, and officials at the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County both expressed a similar interest. State transportation officials will ultimately decide whether Saratoga Springs will see more passenger rail service.

Plans are moving forward at Saratoga Casino and Raceway for the development of a 117-room hotel and a 160-seat steakhouse restaurant, which is slated to open this summer. To help finance the $39.3 million expansion project, the racino last October sold a 25 percent stake of the business - for $24.8 million - to the Louisville gaming and hospitality company Churchill Downs Inc., and has just secured a $15 million construction loan for the balance from Citizens Bank , according to published reports in the Times Union, and the Albany Business Journal.

In 2015, Sustainable Saratoga spearheaded a Centennial Tree project that saw 35 large-growing trees planted in 18 prominent locations, funded by a broad range of private and public partners. The group hopes to increase those numbers and is seeking well-organized volunteers with good people skills to help with emails and track volunteer lists during the months of March and April. For more information, go here.

Rumors continue to swirl, according to the Times Union, about a potential sale of GlobalFoundries to either a rival company or the Chinese.

Hattie’s Restaurant annual Mardi Gras Soirée will be held Saturday, Jan. 16 at Canfield Casino. Since its founding in 2001, the event has raised more than $600,000 for various charities. This year’s beneficiary is the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The event is themed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in celebration of the New York City Ballet’s inaugural performance that opened SPAC in 1966. Reservations are $100 per person and can be made by email at: cpronto@spac.org or calling (518) 584-9330 x. 119.