Village board considering “discontinuation” of Balsam Ave.

by Dan McClelland
The village board is considering selling Balsam Ave. to the owners of Raquette River Brewing  to allow them access to a lot behind and above their popular brewery where they'd like to build a production brewery.
At last week's village board meeting Mayor Paul Maroun distributed a letter from the brewery owners, Mark Jessie and Joe Hockey, regarding the discontinuation of Balsam Ave. as a village street and set March 21 at 6p.m. as a public hearing on the issue.
A year ago this month the brewery owners asked the village to extend Balsam to access the lot currently owned by the Sarazen family and the undeveloped corner of Balsam and Berkley.  Village leaders sent the request to their attorney, Nathan Race, for his consideration.
Speaking to the village board a year ago Joe Hockey said “Balsam Street would need to be extended approximately 150 feet to provide access to the property. The extension would be built through a wetland. I contacted Adirondack Park Agency (APA) biologist Mark Rooks to look at the proposal. It was determined that the project would require a permit issued by the APA bypassing the JIF process. It is approximated that 7,500 square feet of wetland would be disturbed. This would require the village to mitigate (create new wetland) approximately 15,000 square feet. Mr. Rooks, while looking at wetland maps of the village identified a possible mitigation site.”
It was recently discovered that the street is actually owned by the town and at a recent meeting of the town board, the officials took steps to transfer it to the village, which typically owns streets in the village corporation.
Extending the street to the Sarazen lot will require crossing a local stream with a small bridge or large culvert and filling in some wetland areas.  Under Adirondack Park Agency law, when a wetland is filled, a wetland area at least twice its size must be created.
If the village steps away and sells the street, the sale would put the responsibility for and  maintenance of  the existing road, extending it farther to the private lot  and any required filling of the wetlands to accomplish the extension on any new owner.  In this case it would most likely be Mr. Jessie and Mr. Hockey.
Mayor Paul Maroun noted briefly that evening that the discontinuation of the street requires several steps for the village.
The only person to comment on the issue that evening was Trustee Ron LaScala, who said the brewery owners now own both sides of the short street, since Joe Hockey's recent purchase of the house at 137 Main Street.  “For us to continue the street will required a considerable investment in engineering and construction costs.  It may be better to discontinue (ownership) of the street!”
He said with the brewery's planned purchase of the lot for the production brewery and the owners' current ownership of both sides of the street, the street holds little use as a public street for the village.
Mark Jessie said over the weekend the construction of a larger-scale production brewery to produce more product for their patrons and to increase distribution is still very much apart of their plans.

New advisory group charged with charting brighter future for golf course

New advisory group charged with charting brighter future for golf course by Dan McClelland
A new sub-committee of the town board is being formed to thoroughly dissect the operation of the Tupper Lake golf course and to recommend ways to help it flourish in the future.
The decision to create an advisory group came at Thursday's monthly town board meeting following a long discussion between members of the town board and the Tupper Lake Golf Course board, who had been invited that evening.  Representing the group that operates the town-owned golf course here were Mike Sovey, president, Gerry Goldman, vice president and Jim Boucher, board member.  Bruce Smith, a long serving past member of the board, was also joined the lengthy discussion.
The golf course representatives that evening welcomed the help of a new advisory group, which will be chaired by Town Councilman Mike Dechene, who currently serves with Supervisor Patti Littlefield, on the town board's golf course committee.
Membership of the new five- or seven-member group was not exactly nailed down that evening with the board giving Mr. Dechene  a week or so to talk to a number of people in the community with a golfing background who might be interested in serving.  Names suggested that evening included former golf course board members Ray Martin, John Moore, Ron Belleville, Steve Skiff and Steve Stevenson.  The committee will also include at least one member of the current golf course board, possibly Jim Boucher, who has an educational background in golf.  Golf Pro Evan LaBarge is expected to be a member.
President Mike Sovey began the dialogue Thursday evening, presenting the board with a tentative schedule of events there this coming season.
Town Supervisor Patti Littlefield called it “a pretty full schedule,” and Mr. Sovey said he was confident the number of planned events would grow.
“We're changing the way we're doing things this year!” He gave as one example, a new decision not to close the facility to public play on tournament days from now on.  “We lose too much money on those days” by closing the course to non-tournament players, he explained to the town leaders.
“We're really trying hard to turn things around to try to make as much money there as we can!” Mr. Sovey asserted.
The supervisor told Mr. Sovey and his colleagues that they had been invited there that evening “as a preamble” to a decision to appoint an advisory group to take a close look at golfing trends in general and here in particular with an eye to important improvements needed.
“We want to look at all the things that go into the running of a golf course- revenues, membership, maintenance, etc.” she told them.
She said her board “has been watching closely in recent years” the declining financial and membershiip situation at the golf course and would like to establish a committee.  “We know you are struggling and we want to help!”
The operation has seen many board member changes in recent years, staff changes and equipment problems, she noted.
She said there would not be more than two town board members on any new advisory group, and certainly not three as that would constitute a quorum of the board.
Financial problems and membership declines are a common problem for courses today, Mr. Sovey told here.  “A lot of courses are closing.  We're working very hard” to keep this one open!
Mrs. Littlefield reflected on the dramatic  decline in members.  “The members have dropped from 500 about ten years ago to 100, right?”
Mr. Sovey confirmed her analysis.
She said one of the big issues for her board is the outstanding debt owed to the town by the golf course board for the overhaul of the upper nine holes about 20 years ago.
Under the agreement, she said, there's supposed to be a $30,000 payment on the town bond  every year through the close of the current lease in 2020.
“You're a little behind,” so we've asked the country club board in recent months to tell us what it can pay each year and whether or not “it intends to fulfill its obligations” to the town and continue to run the club.
“Your contract expires in 2020 and we need to know if you plan to renew- and hopefully you will- and are you proposing to try to make those bond payments!”
The supervisor said the delinquent payments of $30,000 last year and $30,000 this year is money owed the taxpayers of the Town of Tupper Lake, who “footed the bill” for the course improvements.  “We feel we have to protect their investment...and that's why we're having this conversation tonight!”
Even though the town has retired the bond which covered the cost of the improvements, $120,000 covering four payments is still outstanding, it was noted by her.
“There was no payment last year, and this year we've said to you what is your plan? You have to give us something,” Mrs. Littlefield told the delegation.
She said some people in the community have suggested forgiving the debt but in checking with the state comptroller's office she learned the debt must be repaid to the town.
“We have to work together to figure this out!” she asserted, and Mr. Sovey agreed.
She said it was the recommendation of her board- after discussions at recent meetings- to create a town board sub-committee comprised of people here with an expertise in golfing “to take an outside look at what's happening at the Tupper Lake Golf Course” and the sport in general.
She said the advisors would be charged with looking at the entire operation.
Using the group's recommendation after a six- or seven-month study, “we'll all sit together and determine the best way to keep this thing going...whether it's the club that is running it, the town board running it, or putting it out to bid to a private party who would like to lease a golf course,” the  supervisor stated.
She said her hope is the two boards will find the best solution without a lot of disagreement.
“This is all for the good of the town and the course, because we all want it to succeed!”
“Don't you think this is a good idea?” she asked, to which the golf course representatives indicated they did.
“We all work very hard!” Mr. Sovey said of his board members.  “My phone rings more often from the country club than from my place of work.  “We're beating our heads against the wall to find ways to increase our revenues...and they're not there, not in Tupper Lake anymore!”
He said the current administration continues to reach out to visitors and out of town residents to patronize the local 18-hole facility. “But you can't bring in outside revenues if the integrity of our course is pun intended!”
The board in recent years has devoted a lot of its resources to maintaining the place, which has taken considerable man hours and payroll, according to the president.
The board, he said, is taking some of its direction from “our very young and energetic golf pro, Evan LaBarge.”
“We're putting a lot of our trust in Evan and hoping he can draw more people from his many golfing contacts!”
“Membership has declined so much it's killing us!”
He said that every year they pray for a good year...and each year they keep hoping this will be the year!
Gerry Goldman said the board “reorganized the staff” for this year and what he called “a positive development.”
He said they know there have been several revenue opportunities overlooked in past years which they hope to revisit.
There are also a number of new ideas they hope to employ.
“Unfortunately I don't think any one of those things can solve an organic issue in the sport today that people don't want to spend four hours playing golf.”  He said there have been all sort of ways suggested to cut playing time, some of which have “horrified” veterans of the sport.
He called some of the new rules proposed “ridiculous.”
Mr. Goldman said a golf course in Tupper Lake is incredibly beneficial to the community- both for its recreational value and its promotion of tourism.
He said when the Adirondack Club and Resort comes- and it looks like it's coming- it will need a golf course.  The developers have promised their investors that, he added.
“I don't see any way the golf course isn't present and running- as we go forward as a community!”
He said the debt incurred by the club when the improvements were done and financed by the town “is legal and I don't think anyone would argue we don't owe you the money,” he told the town leaders.  But when the debt was incurred we had 300 plus members and now we're down to 100!”
Mr. Goldman said that while the course continue to take in solid green fees each session, the dramatic loss of members and the $600 they each contribute each year is crippling from a financial standpoint.
Mr. Sovey noted that in the face of declining members the club recently offered a twilight league membership at a reduced price of $275.  He said while that helped somewhat it generated only a fraction of the funds paid by full members who have left over the years.  “But $275 is better than no money,” he explained.
Councilwoman Tracy Luton said an elderly golfer who served on the board when there was 300 members told her recently there are few places as impressive as the Tupper Lake Country Club, sitting on a mountain overlooking a lake.
“Many of us were hoping the (ACR) development was going to come sooner than it has” and the years of delay have left the future of the golf course hanging in the wind.  
The developers intend to require their new lot owners on Mt. Morris and the lands beyond to become members of the hometown course, which should dramatically boost membership over time.
Ms. Luton said the arriving resort will dramatically improve course finances.
Mr. Goldman said consistent leadership has been difficult there since Golf Pro Brent Smith left some half dozen years ago.  “We're probably had a turnover on our board approaching 30 people since then!”  Some of the board members who resigned aren't even members anymore, he added.
The frequent turnover in board membership has created “a lack of institutional experience,” he said he feels.
Mr. Goldman suggested four or five long-time golfers and golf course leaders here who should be considered for membership on the new advisory group.
He applauded the creation of what he called “a new planning committee between the two boards, because new, good ideas are a necessity for us now!”
The supervisor agreed with him “the older guys” will bring history to the discussions ahead.
Councilman John Quinn said both of the board have a big thing in common- neither one wants the golf course to close.
He said he didn't want to see the town board running the facility. “I want you guys to succeed,” he told the course brass.  “If there's any way that it can be done through a cooperative venture between you and  w the town or outside partners, let's do it!”
Jim Boucher spoke up at that point.  “I began playing golf there when I was ten!”  He said he attended a golf course maintenance course in college, and worked for a time at private courses downstate but decided later not to pursue a career in golfing.  He said joined PGA at one point and was a member for many years, with the help of Brent Smith.
He said he only  joined the golf course board in recent months, after taking up golf again last year.
“I think I have a lot of ideas” to help the facility which he intends to share at upcoming golf course board meetings.
“One of the last years I worked in golfing was at a big private club in Albany.  At one point it celebrated its 75th anniversary and three years later it went bankrupt.  So it's very common for golf courses to fail!”
Participation in the sport around the country is dwindling, and for small town golf courses like ours the fight to turnaround membership declines is even more difficult, he told the town board.
He said one thing he has noticed this past year is the absence of children on the course.  “We need to get more kids involved.”
During the years of operation of Big Tupper Ski Center here, free skiing was routinely offered to local children.  That same thing could be done at the golf course, he suggested.
The supervisor thought many volunteers will come forward to teach youngsters how to golf and run programs for them here.
Mr. Boucher expressed confidence there are many ways for the local course to improve its revenues through various new activities.
Mrs. Littlefield welcomed his input and ideas in the new improvement mission launched that night.
Like Mr. Quinn she said she doesn't want to see her board running the golf operation on Mt. Morris, but wants the current arrangement to succeed.  Mike Dechene echoed that sentiment too.
Gerry Goldman told the group: “This is a small town, and if we don't pull together, we're done. We may be done anyway, but if the work ahead turns into a cat fight between the town board and the golf course board,” the facility's future is grim at best.
The best way to avoid conflict between the parties is open communication, Mr. Quinn stated.   “We all must be able to connect in a timely and efficient manner.”
The comment was in reference to the  frustration among town board members several months last fall when Supervisor Littlefield and Councilman Dechene weren't informed of golf course board meetings.
When Mr. Sovey told him his board's next meeting was February 20 at the VFW post at 5p.m., the supervisor said he and Mr. Dechene would be there. She said they would be looking for the name of a golf course board member to serve on the new sub-committee.  She said too they would bring a list of knowledgable golfers with them who are interested in serving to share with the golf course representatives.
Mike Sovey said his board is currently in need of a new secretary/treasurer, in the wake of the recent resignation by Stuart Amell.
Mr. Goldman said it is important for the town to charge the new committee with specific tasks as part of the study work ahead.
The supervisor said they intended “to lay out their plan” in full at the March 8 town board meeting.

Sports stars, media figure inducted to Sports Hall of Fame

Hall of fame 3.jpg
Kathleen Bigrow

Kathleen Bigrow

by Ian Roantree
The friends, family and fans of Tupper Lake athletes came together on Saturday at the Tupper Lake Middle-High School to honor the latest inductees to the TLMS’ Athletic Hall of Fame.
After the Ladyjacks regretfully lost against St. Regis in a close game of basketball, players cleared the court in preparation of the ceremony.
Saturday was a mark for several significant moments. The ceremony marked the 30th anniversary of the Hall of Fame itself, having finding its inception in the 1987/1988 school year. For 30 years, the Hall of Fame Committee would induct 71 individuals including coaches, players and two teams—some of whom were in attendance at the ceremony.
But unlike previous inductees, one of the new Hall of Famers wouldn’t have been seen on the field or court, nor would they have been seen standing amongst the players on the bench. Instead, this newly inducted member of the Hall of Fame would have be seen all over the sidelines, finding the right angles for the perfect shots. The 2018 Hall of Fame ceremony saw the first media coverage member to be inducted.
“As we celebrate tonight, we are here to pay tribute and respect to more than just the contributions of the three we have here. We are here to celebrate the past and the present of Tupper Lake,” said Athletic Director Dan Brown, who initiated the event from a podium that stood beneath the southern basketball net. He continued, “the past is comprised of Hall of Fame athletes and coaches who paved the road for our current student athletes.
“The present is based around coaches and athletes who work hard to carry on what those before them have created—keeping tradition alive and creating new traditions for the future. The past would not live on without the present, and the present would not be here without the past. Celebrating the Tupper Lake Athletic Hall of Fame is a strong reminder of this.”
Mr. Brown went on to give a nod to those responsible for the night.
“The Hall of Fame committee has done an excellent job selecting tonight’s inductees and the level of intensity they utilize in determining their selections is impressive.”
Mr. Brown also made a shout out to past hall of fame inductees who had been sitting together in the bleachers to Brown’s right. “Without you, our athletics would not be what they are today.”
And lastly, Brown thanked the custodial staff for their support, and the athletic department secretary, Shannon Kelly, who was responsible for organizing the event and spent several hours doing so.
After finishing his opening remarks, Mr. Brown went on to introduce the first athlete to be inducted into the Hall of Fame that evening—Faith Bedore McClelland.
From the start her high school athletic career, Faith quickly made a name for herself both on the basketball court and on the soccer field, where she would be a fierce competitor, gaining a notoriety from her opponents, and a reputation from her team and classmates. Despite their love for their teammate and leader, some of Faith’s teammates hated practicing against her “because she was just so good.”
Faith was coached for five years by Jim Merrihew, beginning when Faith was named to the junior varsity team in eighth grade and then moved up to varsity when she was a high school freshman.
This week Jim shared some of his comments about her impressive high school career.
“Faith was ready to play varsity as a freshman and that was rare at the time.  She seemed comfortable with the older players and her teammates soon recognized she was a pretty good player!” he said.
The long time girls basketball coach remembered when he was coaching her JV team in a game against Northeast Clinton.
“There were four over-times and Faith got us into each over-time with her three-pointers.  Although we lost, it turned out to be a tremendous back and forth game; lots of fun for both sides!”
As a freshman on the varsity team she was often a starter and she saw a lot of court time, he also remembered.
He said that year Faith had a remarkable goal.  She was bound she would make 500 three-point goals in practices.  So every time there was a break in practice, during or before and after, she shot three-pointers.
The coach remembers her reaching her goal of 500 three-pointers.
Coach Merrihew called her a hard worker on the court and very driven.  In three-point goals alone, she was one of the top two or three players in the entire section, he noted.
He said Faith “pushed herself,” and was “very coachable,” in his words.
“She turned out to be one of a handful of girls I coached over the years who became assistant coaches on the floor.  They knew what everyone was supposed to be doing!”
“Faith didn't just score a lot of points, she was the complete game- good at rebounding, shooting, stealing, ball handling, foul shooting.”
As a top player she also made everyone around her better, he said.  His daughter who played with Faith told him that many times.
He also said she also inspired others around her to do their best.
Mr. Merrihew said Faith became a team leader as a junior and senior on the varsity team and she did it, in his estimation, “by performing on the court at a top level.”
Faith was also a remarkable defensive player. “She somehow knew what her opponents were doing...she'd step back for a moment and then explode, usually intercepting a pass and driving down the court to score.  She seemed to always know where the ball was going to be!”
“Faith was a player, a real competitor. No matter what, if it was practice, a game or simply seeing who could fill up their water bottle first, Faith wanted to do it the quickest and she wanted to be the best,” said Fred Short, who coached Faith but who unfortunately couldn’t attend the ceremony and send off his former star into the hall of fame.
While playing soccer, Faith and her teammates won several CVAC (Champlain Valley Athletic Conference) championships and became a critical figure in establishing the girl’s soccer legacy in Tupper Lake.
On the court, Faith continued to exercise her athletic abilities. By the end of her junior year, Faith raked in a total of 792 career points. Little did she know, she would come out even hotter in her senior year, scoring 402 points in a single season, bringing her total to 1,194 points, a “high score” that few Tupper Lake athletes could match or surpass. There are only four athletes that are in the “1000 point club” and Faith is the only woman to make the ranks.
A high point count isn’t the only significant feat that Faith earned as a Tupper athlete. Her other career milestones include being a three-time Division 2 all star, a three-time CVAC all star, she was a Press Republican all star in her senior year, and finished in second for points scored in the CVAC one year.
Even after leaving her high school glory behind, Faith returned to the high school to coach, passing down her athletic insights and abilities to the younger generation of Tupper athletes. Today, Faith is a caring, contributing member of the community, a business owner and mother.
After Dan Brown introduced Faith, he then introduced the next speaker, Gordie Duval, a retired track and field coach, who would then introduce the next athlete.
Like the athlete inducted before him, Josh Dupuis was known as a great athlete in more than one sport.
“Josh was a three-time first place all-conference defensive end and earned the respect of his teammates, coaches and just as important, the respect of everyone who played against him...especially quarterbacks,” said Duval.
Josh started playing football and baseball at a young age, both of which he excelled at. To stay busy during the colder months, he got involved with indoor track which “turned out to be a really good thing,” according to Duval, as that’s where Josh made a lot of his athletic accomplishments.
“His dedication in the weight room combined with help from his shot put coach, Charlie Hoffer, resulted in Josh improving his throws to establish school and section records along with a state championship title.”
During the indoor track season his senior year, Josh broke both the school and section record in shot put. The record was previously held by state champion and Tupper Laker, David Bedore, but when Josh threw the shot 60 feet and eight inches, he overcame Bedore’s record of 59 feet and three and a quarter inches. Unbeknown to Josh, his senior year would continue to be a fruitful one.
Later that year, during the outdoor track season, Josh became the first thrower in New York State to surpass the 60 foot mark, breaking the record that had previously been shared by Gene Thompson of Mineville and of course, David Bedore.
His outdoor track career would reach its peak when he made a 61 feet and 7 and a half inch throw later that season.
With that track record, Josh naturally went off to compete in the state championships where he placed fourth in the discus and became the overall New York State champion in shot put.
Josh’s sports career didn’t end after receiving his high school diploma. He attended SUNY Brockport in his post-secondary studies where he played football and track where once he again, he broke the indoor shot put record. Between indoor and outdoor, he was a five time All-American in shot put.
“I know I speak for the entire coaching staff and anyone who knows Josh in saying that he is a class act and role model for other,” said Mr. Duval, who invited Ted Merrihew and Charlie Hoffer to assist him in handing over the award to Mr. Dupuis.
The last inductee, as mentioned above, is the first media coverage personnel to be inducted into the hall of fame.
“She was something,” recalled Jim Ellis, who took to the podium to honor the last inductee of the night, Kathleen Bigrow.
“The tool of her trade was the camera. Kathleen would go to game after game after game. Football, basketball, baseball, track; what a great contest she had a chance to witness and document here in Tupper. Sports in the 1950’s saw great battles and she began to chronicle them during her time working for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise as a reporter, and later with the Tupper Lake Free Press. She reported on all sports. She was specially happy when women began to claim their place in the sports world.
 “I remember, she was here at one football game, and she got nailed on the sidelines and broke her leg while she was trying to take pictures!
“She was a tough competitor in her own right. She loved not only the fact that we had kids that were participating in sports, but the thrill of the games was the thing that really made her happy.”
Kathleen passed away in 2014 and left behind a legacy of the sports and stories she documented and the lives she touched through dedication to the community.
To accept the award, Kathleen’s great nephew and fellow hall of famer, Ray Planty approached the podium in her place.
Publisher Dan McClelland was also asked by Mr. Brown to say a few words about Kathleen. Although he abbreviated his comments that evening, after Mr. Ellis' praise, the text is published below:
“It's my privilege to be here this evening when the Tupper Lake High School Hall of Fame Committee honors my daughter in law, Faith, and my old friend Kathleen Bigrow.
“Kathleen was very generous, giving away more of her photographs perhaps  than she ever sold.  In that same generous spirit and another impressive photographer, Jim Lanthier found a rare shot of Kathleen with retired teacher Ed LeBlanc when they were out on Raquette Pond searching for what Ed used to like to call his pike-burgers.  Jimmy, who inherited Kathleen's extensive photographic collection, donated large photos of  Kathleen, Josh and Faith for the school wall of fame.
“Kathleen was ahead of a time.  She began a photography business here at a time when most women were stay at home moms.  She worked in a world of men- men who ran our governments, men who ran our schools and men, who for the most part coached our teams.
“A hard-charging, confident woman, we saw her stand toe to toe with her male counterparts in public discussions over the years, never giving an inch.  Kathleen loved to argue about taxes and politics.  A life long Democrat, she never swayed from her belief in her party.  If the Dems nominated a jackass for office, she'd tell you how well he or she “hee hawed.”  If the Republicans did, that was an jackass.
“In the 1950s  Kathleen took a job as the local correspondent for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.  At the time Tupper Lake was covered by three or four regional dailies, in addition to the Free Press.
“Kathleen's vivid but not always factual reporting (she believed the truth was wasted on a good story) sold papers for the Enterprise, greatly expanding its circulation here.  The police blotter was her thing.
“She eventually had a falling out with Bill Doolittle or some other publisher eventually and moved to the Watertown Daily Times and filed stories and her many photos there.  The old timers here nicknamed her “Brenda Star,” after the fictitious female cartoon reporter.
“By that time she had already chronicled in thousands of photos of Tupper Lake events.
“When my former partners and I bought the Free Press from the Quinn family in 1977, one of the first things we did was hire Kathleen as a part-time photographer. It was a very wise move.  She was tireless and worked seven days a week.
“Kathleen had two major passions, when it came to covering the news.  She loved to chase ambulances, police cars and fire trucks.  Many times she beat the emergency vehicles to the scene.
“Her second passion where the kids of the community.  She loved to venture into the elementary school here to take photos of pupils working in their classrooms and on special projects.  She loved high school sports and she routinely took action and group photos of every Tupper Lake team over the decades.  It wasn't about winning or losing, it was about striving for success, doing your best for your team and staying healthy and happy as a result.
“In that regard I believe she is a very fitting candidate for our sports hall of fame.  If Kathleen was alive today she wouldn't have been happy with tonight's acclaim and she probably would have made a fuss, as she often did publicly.  But in her heart she would have been tickled!”
Saturday night Mr. McClelland closed his brief remarks by joking that if he had known Faith was going to become a McClelland, he would have paid more attention to her exemplary sports career when she was in high school.
This is how organizer Dan Brown summarized the impressive fraternity during Saturday's ceremony: “Our Hall of Famers have set the standard for play, broken gender barriers, and built traditions which everyone has come to love and respect.” Dan Brown said of the group during the ceremony.

Meet the 2018 TLHS Sports Hall of Fame inductees

by Rich Rosentreter
Three new members were recently announced as inductees to the Tupper Lake High School Sports Hall of Fame - Faith Bedore McClelland, Joshua Dupuis and Kathleen Bigrow and there will be an induction ceremony taking place on January 20 to honor each one.
The Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1987 by the Tupper Lake student council, under the direction of boys basketball coach Steve Skiff, in order to recognize outstanding athletic achievement, dedication and service among the community, students and coaching staff.
Faith was selected because of her achievements on the basketball team, Josh for his accomplishments on the football and track teams and Kathleen, who passed away in 2014, was selected for her support as a fan and dedication to covering Tupper Lake athletics as a photojournalist.  
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Hall of Fame and this will be the 25th class being inducted.
The Free Press recently contacted Faith and Josh to get their reaction to being bestowed with the honor of entering the local school’s Hall of Fame. Tupper Lake Athletic Director Dan Brown also provided the some information on the two student athletes.

Faith Bedore McClelland
Faith scored 1,194 points as a member of the Ladyjacks, the most for any female basketball player in Tupper Lake School history. She had 103 three-pointers averaging 1.3 per game. In her career, she had 64 games where she had double figures for scoring out of 83 total games.  
Faith played varsity basketball all four years of high school and in her career she was a three-year Division II All-Star, three-year All-CVAC All Star, named to the Press Republican All-Star Team (as a senior). Also as a senior, she was the second leading scorer in the CVAC and netted 402 points during that season.  
Faith said she was pleased to be represented among Tupper Lake finest student athletes who have been named into the Hall of Fame and it gives her a special reason to reflect upon the past.
“It is an honor to be inducted into a group that includes so many accomplished athletes!” she told the Free Press. “It brought back so many wonderful memories. As adults we kind of move on with our lives and get caught up in the day to day of here and now. It was nice to take a few moments to reflect on such a wonderful time in my life.”
Faith said that playing sports in the community is a time she will always cherish and fondly remember. She also praised the efforts of everyone involved in organizing and assisting in the school sports programs.
“I loved every single moment of Tupper Lake High School basketball. The smells, the sounds, the fans, my teammates, my coaches who spent endless weekends, evenings, holiday vacations, summers and more to give us the gym time that we wanted. It was such a special time in my life,” she said. “I would do anything to go back in time to play one more game!”
Joshua Dupuis
Josh was a 2004 graduate of TLHS.  During his sophomore year on the varsity football team he was named to the First-team CVAC All-Star Team as a defensive end.  He had 16 sacks and won the Unsung Hero Award that season. In his junior year on the team that won the Class C Division Title, he was named as the Press Republican All Area Football Defensive Player of the Year.  Dupuis also was named to the First-Team CVAC All-Star Team as defensive end for the second consecutive year.  
Josh also played indoor track throwing the shot-put and was undefeated in league meets. He finished in second place at the state meet. He also played outdoor track and again finished in second place at the state meet.  
In his senior year he played on a football team that earned another Class C Division title and Josh received the Outstanding Defensive Linemen Award.  During the winter's indoor track season he finished second at the state meet in shot-put for the second year in a row and broke the school record. He earned the Most Dedicated Award for his effort.  During the spring's outdoor track season, he threw both the shot and discuss. In shot-put he set a new Section 7 and school record - a record that was stood for 42 years within the section.  Joshua broke this record five times during the season.  At the state meet he finished in fourth place in the discus and first place in the shot-put.
Kathleen Bigrow
Kathleen, who worked for the Free Press and Adirondack Daily Enterprise covering sports among other things, passed away in 2014. The Free Press recognized her in an editorial as “Tupper Lake’s premier photographer for decades, was known by generations here as the hard-charging fictional journalist, ‘Brenda Starr.’ She considered it a compliment.”
The editorial also described one of her experiences taking photos of a Lumberjacks football game.  She was about 75 at the time.
“One time Kathleen was on the sidelines of a local football game when she was so affixed on the game looking down through her lens, she didn’t notice an errant ball carrier who bowled her over and broke her leg. That didn’t keep her down long though. She was back on the beat a few weeks later- hobbling to get to assignments.”
“Kathleen was one of the most dedicated and hard-working people I've ever known,” Free Press Publisher Dan McClelland said this week.
He said Kathleen, a native of Saranac Lake, began her career as a local photographer, shortly after her marriage to Bert Bigrow of Tupper Lake.
For a time she was the Tupper Lake reporter for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and she loved the local police beat and filed many stories about some of the mishaps and arrests in the community.  In the 1950s and 1960s Tupper Lake was covered by a number of major regional newspapers like the Syracuse Post-Standard and the Watertown Daily Times and the Saranac Lake-based daily was trying to break into that market.  Kathleen, who sometimes began her stories with “Rumor has it...” and who was never interrupted by the truth, was credited with greatly helping the Enterprise grow its subscriber base during her years there, Mr. McClelland said.
After she left the Saranac Lake newspaper she continued to write local news for the Watertown Daily Times.  She also submitted her photographs to the Tupper Lake Free Press for publication on a regular basis.
“In 1977 when John Morris and I purchased the Tupper Lake Free Press one of the best things we did was to hire Kathleen as our part-time photographer.  For nearly two decades she covered almost every event in the community, taking thousands of photographs to that end.”  Kathleen was up every morning at 5a.m. to develop her photos in her basement dark room. She also worked in the Free Press dark room with a giant Kenro process camera, which converted her photographs through the photomechanical transfer process into screened prints suitable for the offset printing process, he added.
“Kathleen was a big fan of local sports and she attended and covered with her photography most junior varsity and varsity games here.  It would  be unusual here if you played sports in the 1960s through the 1980s that Kathleen didn't take your team picture.”
“She loved to see kids giving their all to their favorite sports and she dedicated herself to doing her best to chronicle that!” according to Mr. McClelland.
After Kathleen retired from the photography business in the late 1990s, she opened up an antique shop, The Sorting Gap, on Park Street and ran it for at least a half dozen years.  It was a place where many older locals stopped on a regular basis to catch up  on the news of the day.  Conversations routinely centered on Adirondack Club and Resort, of which she was a robust supporter.

New food concessions, conversion of house to store at brewery discussed by planners

by Dan McClelland
Exactly where Mark Jessie and Joe Hockey, the owners of the very popular brewery, Raquette River Brewing, will place up to four new food truck concessions, was the fodder of discussion at December's planning board meeting.
That evening there was a very brief public hearing on the brewery owners' plan to retrofit the white clapboard house at 137 Main Street into a ground floor store with offices on the second floor.  No one appeared at the hearing and Planner Paul O'Leary reported he had received no comments from the public on the issue, since the hearing date was announced earlier that month.
For the past two years the brewery has been selling a copious amount of brewery souvenirs- hats, shirts, mugs, etc.  The small corner of the bar area is jammed with items for sale, so opening up the ground floor of 137 Main for a new brewery store would permit the partners to expand their souvenir inventories and display them better.
When the regular portion of the meeting convened, planning board member Jim Merrihew asked Mr. Hockey, who was present that evening, if he and his partner had finalized any of their plans to add four new concessions to their operation and park them along Balsam Ave.
At an earlier meeting when the store idea was proposed to the planners, Mr. Hockey had also noted the rearrangement and the increase of the food concessions on their site.  Up to now the only food truck on site was the pulled pork and barbecue concession operated for the past two years by Don Vaillancourt. This fall Mr. Vaillancourt decided to move his mobile operations to a southern state, where the outdoor cooking and barbecue seasons are much longer.
“Will these be placed on your land or on the village right of way?” Mr. Merrihew asked Mr. Hockey.
Mr. Hockey said there have been no specific sites set yet for the concessions, and they are waiting to hear back from the village and its attorney.
He noted earlier that their company would be arranging to have the utilities for the new concessionaires installed along Balsam Ave.
“So should we approach this as if the food trailers will end up on your property?” Mr. Merrihew continued.  “-And then the village (board) can decide if they are permitted on the street right of way!”
Planning board chairman Shawn Stuart reminded Mr. Merrihew the food concessions were not part of the matter at hand that evening. “Tonight's hearing only involves the plans for the house” at 137 Main Street, he told him.
That being said, Mr. Merrihew told Mr. Hockey  they would have to return to the planners for “the food trailer positioning” issue.
The chairman wasn't so sure about that. “Whether or not these temporary structures are placed in the street's right of way or not is a village issue that doesn't involve this board.”
Planner Paul O'Leary noted, however, if the village board denies the brewers the use of the street's right of way, they would have to apply to the planning board before situating them on the side and back lawns of the 137 Main Street property.
“It would be a new use,” he told the board members.  He said too the village board may seek a recommendation from the planning board on the wisdom of placing the mobile units on the village right of way of Balsam Street.
Mr. Hockey said their plans call for situating the electric, sewer and water utilities on the 137 Main Street property for use by the new concessionaires.
Planning board member Dave St. Onge wondered if an electric line could be run from the house.
Mr. Hockey said there used to be an old mobile home at the rear of the property and the various utility lines are still in place.  He said village superintendents Mark Robillard and Marc Staves had assured them the services could be tapped from there.  He also noted that the utilities would be separately metered at each mobile food concession.
He noted, as an aside, that Jim and Kelly Facteau, owners of the Marketplace on Route 3&30 have “already committed” to placing a food truck there.
“They plan to make a substantial investment in a trailer and they need a decision,” he added.
These mobile rigs, much like the state of the art one Don Vaillancourt had built several years ago, take between four and six months to produce after they are ordered, Mr. Hockey told the planners.
Village Code Enforcement Officer Peter Edwards said if the village permits the food trailers to be situated on the Balsam St. right of way, the owners would only need to apply to  his office for a routine vendor's permit.  “They would be treated like any other vendor who comes to town!”
A vendor's permit could be issued in less than a week, he promised.
Mr. Merrihew said he really liked the plan to situate the new parking lot at the rear of the 137 Main Street lot and run a new exit along the perimeter of the parcel to come out on Main Street at the house's existing driveway.  Mr. St. Onge also liked the traffic routing plan.
Shawn Stuart wondered if they had approached the state Department of Transportation about that traffic plan and Mr. Hockey said they had and were told by DOT officials that providing there was no construction on the state highway right of way, it was not considered “a permitable project.”
Mr. Stuart asked about any plans for a handicapped accessible entrance to the new store and was told a ramp would be built along the side of the building.
Asked about a front awning, Mr. Hockey said the exterior of the house would be repainted and remodeled in keeping with the overall design of the brewery buildings.
The house's clapboard exterior and trim will be the same shades as the other nearby buildings.
The only new structural changes planned, in addition to the handicapped ramps, would be “repairs to the front porch,” he told the planners.
On a motion by Bob Collier, seconded by Doug Bencze, the special use permit for the house conversion was unanimously approved by the planners.
Following the approval Mr. Hockey noted that if for some reason the village board won't approve putting the food concessions on the village street- admitting he doesn't anticipate that- then a new plan would be submitted for situating them on his new property at 137 Main.
He noted that the issue must be resolved one way or the other very soon out of respect the  Facteaus and any other concessionaire who have considerable work to do before the start of the summer season.
Bob Collier said in the event the village didn't approve of parking them on the street, he didn't anticipate any problem issuing the brewers the permit to place them on the 137 Main Street property.
“Would it require another hearing?” he asked Planner O'Leary who guessed it might.
That prompted Jim Merrihew to explain  that it was his intention to avoid unnecessary delays when he made the comment  earlier in the meeting about “pretending” the trucks were going on his property.
Mr. O'Leary said he would confer with Attorney Kirk Gagnier on the need for a second hearing and if one was needed it could be scheduled for the January meeting to save the applicants a month's time.
The use of the right of way decision must come from the village as soon as possible, it was noted by Mr. St. Onge.

Town to spend $90,000 on road work materials this summer and fall

by Dan McClelland
A sum of $90,000 will be spent on road materials for 1.4 miles oftown roads in Tupper Lake this summer and fall, judging by an agreement approved at Thursday's town board meeting that governs the expenditure of town highway monies.
The permanent improvements currently underway and to follow this fall include $56,287 in repairs to Lake Simond Road a distance of 5,300 feet from the intersection of Route 3 easterly.  The work involves the application of a two-inch top coat od asphalt, compacted to a thickness of one and one half inches.
Another $25,884 will be spent on improvements to the last 1,600 feet of that town road whereNo. 4 crusher run gravel will be applied and then a three-inch binder course of asphalt, that will be rolled to 2.5 inches in thickness.  The town crew has been working there extensively this summer.
Also on the department's schedule this year is the application of a two-inch top coat of asphalt (compacted to 1.5 inches) on a 615 foot long section of Bushey Avenue at a materials cost of $7,829.

W. Scott McGraw awarded sixth annual Dr. Edward L. Trudeau Award

Adirondack Health Foundation Gala raises more than $100,000 to invest in capital improvements
At the Adirondack Health Foundation’s Black and White Bow Tie Gala, W. Scott McGraw accepted the Dr. Edward L. Trudeau Award, which recognizes those who demonstrate the qualities of courage, compassion and generosity in their service to Adirondack Health. McGraw was honored as immediate past chair of the Adirondack Health Foundation board of trustees and for leading the Foundation’s Future of Care campaign.
This year’s event, which took place on the evening of Saturday, July 8, raised more than $100,000. Honorary co-chairs Nancy and Lee Keet welcomed nearly 400 guests under elegant white tents on the Great Lawn at Paul Smith’s College, steps from Lower Saint Regis Lake. The funds raised will be invested in the Future of Care campaign.
“The Adirondack Health Foundation is incredibly fortunate to have attracted Scott’s interest and enthusiasm, and this honor is certainly well-deserved,” said Kevin Brady, chairman of the Foundation’s board of trustees. “Scott’s wisdom, tenacity, humor and humility have gone a long way toward shaping the future of healthcare in the Adirondacks.”

“This year’s Gala Committee, comprised of 38 board members, employees and community members, began planning last November. They worked tirelessly to create an exceptional evening for a very special honoree,” said Hannah Hanford, executive director of the Adirondack Health Foundation. “Thank you from the heart to our volunteers, underwriters and auction donors. Their generosity, and that of those who attended, made this year an extraordinary success. Net proceeds will be directed toward funding two critically important capital projects – a new surgical services department and MRI suite in Saranac Lake and a brand-new Health and Medical Fitness Center in Lake Placid.”  
This year marked the 20th annual Adirondack Health Foundation Gala. Generous donations from local businesses and community members made for an extensive silent auction, and exceptional items such as vacation packages and sports tickets had bidders raising their arms during the live auction at dinner. Attendees also enjoyed a short video featuring time-lapse footage of the ongoing construction at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, where the new surgical services wing is being built. Late last month, hospital officials and community leaders broke ground on a second building project – Adirondack Health’s Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center.

McGraw, this year’s Trudeau Award recipient, spent 22 years at CBS television network and ascended to the office of executive vice president of sales and marketing for CBS Sports. More recently, he served as executive vice president and general manager of national advertising sales for the Discovery network.
In his acceptance speech, McGraw announced that total contributions to the Future of Care campaign are “north of $10.5 million, toward our goal of $12 million.” He also noted that more than 600 community members have given to the campaign, and that there has been record-level support from Adirondack Health physicians, nurses and staff.
A resident of Lake Placid and Hobe Sound, Fla., McGraw joined the Adirondack Health Foundation board in 2011. He also serves as the current chair of Skidmore College’s board of trustees.
“Like all good leaders, Scott is versatile,” said McGraw’s longtime friend and Golf Magazine contributor, Gary Galyean. “The expected and the unexpected are both dealt with thoughtfully, and an unharried answer is found and applied. As has been written about other great leaders who possess this rare quality, Scott is like the man who can move the piano and play Tchaikovsky on it, too.”
To learn more or to make a contribution to the Future of Care campaign, please visit

Summer Reading Program announced

The theme for the local library's summer reading program 2017, which is set by the NYS Library, is "Build a Better World."
The staff at the Goff Nelson Memorial Library will again collaborate with Tupper Lake Central School to encourage and challenge students to read a book a day over the summer to prevent the "summer slide.”
The school usually offers prizes to students who read the most. Here are some dates for the summer reading programat the library:
June 26th: Registration starts for the Summer Reading Program at 10a.m..
Children and teens can register any time after that. We plan to have face painting, prizes, reading logs, lists of suggested books to read, and giveaways to get everyone excited about reading over the summer.
The readers meet on the four Fridays of July: July 7, 14, 21, and 28 at 10:a.m. There are plans to collaborate with the Kiwanis Club of Tupper Lake again to read some appropriate books and do crafts that are connected with the theme.
On July 21 at 10:15 a.m., Lisa & Klaus Meissner will perform for the program. They will have some stories and songs that go with our theme of "Build a Better World."

Blissville in Tupper Lake

Blissville in Tupper Lake
A video screening of Blissville in Tupper Lake will be held on August 17 at the Adirondack Adult center, located on 179 DeMars Blvd, at 1 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
It is sponsored by the New York State Council on the Arts, and the local organization Adirondack Adult Center, and the Goff Nelson Library.
A special treat from Blissville will be given to each attendee.
Blissville...An Investigation is a video about a remote and overlooked corner of Queens, NY.
Blissville is the former name of the town, of about 80 houses, a triangle cut off by physical barriers from the rest of the city.
In addition to the world's largest fortune cookie factory; there is a factory with the exclusive rights for making replicas of the Statue of Liberty; a sushi factory, an Afghan bakery, and a giant car crusher. Through street interviews video maker Hank Linhart investigates the origin of the name of Blissville, and the character(s) of the town.
Along the way we discover a nearby Romani village in the 1930's. The village was the largest gathering of Romani in the US and was known as the "Gypsy Ellis Island". The village was razed to make way for a highway to the 1939 World's Fair.
Through its dynamic mix of residents and industry Blissville is extremely rich in nationalities, many people on the first rung of immigration.
The video is about the tapestry of daily life and the resiliency of a small town in shadows of midtown Manhattan. The vitality of the town speaks to small towns everywhere.
Blissville is more of a ‘docu / poem’ than a documentary. (59:52 - 2017)
The accompanying website encourages the audience to share stories, pictures and video of their town.
Hank Linhart is a media artist who lives in Brooklyn and formerly taught video at NYU, SVA, and Pratt Institute. Previously, he co-produced Fearful Visitation an experimental documentary about the 1904 General Slocum Disaster in NYC harbor, which until 9 / 11 was New York’s largest disaster. The video premiered at the NY Historical Society and was aired on several PBS stations.

Little Wolfstock returns to beach Saturday

by Dan McClelland
There are few class reunions held in the North Country that can rival the big one in Tupper Lake when hundreds of Tupper High alumni are treated to ten hours of some of the best music they grew up to during their high school years.
On Saturday Paul Chartier's Little Wolfstock returns to its birth place in 2012 at the town's Little Wolf Beach and Campgrounds for the second time.
The daylong festival of great music and fond remembrances by classmates of high school began in 2012 when organizer Paul Chartier was asked to help with his Class of 1972 40th reunion.
“I'd never done anything like a reunion and I was willing to try butit got me thinking.  I didn't want to do something traditional!” he told the Free Press this week.
He remembered the class of 1971 reunion organized by his friends Stuart Nichols and Bob Lewis the year before and how of the 130 graduates that year, only about 35 people- including spouses- showed up.
“It seemed to me that for all that work, the end result was a disappointment for those organizers!”
The Tupper Lake native, who is now retired after a career in communications and graphic design at Sunmount DDSO, said he figured if he organized a reunion for all the classes of the 1970s he might be able to create an event that would draw 350 people, not just 35.
When he added the unique musical twist to the event, his first Little Wolfstock that year drew upwards of 1,000 people.
“I'm a lover of live music, and so with all the talented musicians Tupper Lake has produced over the years, I figured let's get them all together” to play for their classmates.  It was a formula that worked in a big way.
Contacting every Tupper Lake musician from years gone by he could, the first event produced about a dozen performances- individuals, duets and bands.  Some musicians- like Clark Blanton of Long Island and Jim LeBlanc of the Carolinas- came long distances to join the show.
A second event in 2014 produceda similar musical line-up and there are more than 16 acts planned for Saturday.
“The first year we barely had enough powerin the new town pavilion,” he remembered this week.  A long extension cord was run from the shelter area to the concession stand several hundred feet across the beach's parking lot that first year.
By the 2014 event the town had installed a new 200-amp electric services just to power the pavilion area.  Musical groups today need a lot of electricity to run their sophisticated sound boards, amplifiers and such.
That year Paul invited the classmates of the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s and numbers swelled to almost 1,500.  It was what those classmates wanted and the interest showed in the numbers.
“We started calling it the 'largest reunion' in the Adirondacks!”
From the start Paul knew he only wanted to do it every two or three years, because to do it annually would tarnish the draw.
For his 2017 Little Wolfstock he has invited everyone who ever attended Tupper High School and their friends, including past and present teachers, staff and administrators.
“It's a very open format this year...essentially everyone is invited!
“It's a giant bring your own picnic,” he noted, adding that the Tupper Lake Lions Club food shack will be there to feed those who don't pack a lunch or dinner.  Lion Tom Sciacca, well known local chef, is directing that effort.
Paul's approach to the successful reunion is keeping all costs down.
The only major expense is the services of Vermontville sound technician Russell Farr, who brings everything with him the musicians will need to power and amplify their guitars and other equipment.
“That's how we can have so many different people performing one after another,” he said of the reason he's retained Mr. Farr.
To pay for his production costs, organizers will be passing a hat that day among the various local graduates in attendance.
The local Lions Club is a co-sponsor of the event, and so the service organization's liability insurance will be in play.  The town has also waived the usual user fees for the pavilion and has agreed to bring more portable toilets on site to handle the big crowd that is expected.
“Any money left over we always donate to a local charity or community organization,” the organizer explained.  Last year it was the food pantry; this year any surplus funds will go to the children of Jamie Rose Martin, in care of her sister Jen Tice, he said this week.
The event will feature both “a big stage” in the pavilion and a little one too.  That way smaller acts will perform between bigger ones for a constant flow of great music.
Lined up so far for the main stage (in order of appearance) is Dennis Pickering's “2 Bits,” Clint Hollingsworth and friends who now call themselves “Bad Influence,” Evan Bujold and his band “Late Earth,” soloist Jess Mayotte, Jim (Boushie) & E., Brock Gonyea, Ben and Jay (Ben McClelland and Jay Martin), “Spring Street” featuring Dan Spada and Josh Pratt from Tupper Lake, “The Jones Boys, “Hammer Lok,” making its first appearance at the event, Tom Snye and his band “Bittersweet and wrapping up the big party, beginning at 9p.m. will be Jeff Gonyea's band “Legend.”
“Legend,” for a finale, will call other musicians that day back to the stage for a rousing all-star jam, headlined by “Sweet Home, Alabama!”
Part of the big finish too will be a choral attempt at the Tupper High school song, “Deep in the North Land,” the lyrics of which were written by L.P. Quinn.
Some of the talents expected to perform on the smaller stage over the ten hours are Jim Lemieux, Kurt Gagnier, Dale Reandeau and Erin Booya, Clark Blanton, Jeff Boushie, Deanna Courtney and “Chi Chi” Glanda and her son.
“I have a variety of other musicians who have said they may appear.”
The organizers said the talent pool is still open this week.  “If you are a musician from Tupper Lake, I'll do my best to squeeze you in!”
Mr. Chartier can be contacted at 359-3562.
As a person who has been a fan of local music throughout his lifetime here, he figures there are more people and groups performing music here right now that at any time in Tupper's history.
“If everything goes as planned it'll be non-stop music from start to finish!” he predicted.
In his planning work, Daniel “Bonnie” Carmichael has been a big help, he told the Free Press.
Another familiar face the graduates will see on the grounds Saturday will be Ken Carmichael, known to many here as “Mr. Fun,” and who has the tee shirt concession this weekend.
Jerry Fletcher will be furnishing extra trash barrels for the event and Greg Jessie will be bringing over from his residence a short distance away some of his foos ball tables from his large collection to generate a little good-natured competition.
Lion and Town Councilman John Quinn has signed up “for light detail,” and is expected to string a number of strands of Christmas lights to give the grounds a festive feel.
The event will be held rain or shine, and Mr. Chartier is hoping for a repeat of the first two Little Wolfstocks.  In 2012 rain and thunder threatened but held off all day and the last time in 2014 it was a sunny day with a nice breeze from the west.
The extended forecast this week, as of press time yesterday,  is calling for full sun, so let's keep our fingers crossed.
“I'm hoping to see people of all ages and from all classes herecome out.,” invited Mr. Chartier.  “It promises to be another great time!”