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News

John Amoriell celebrates 107th

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The last day of 2018 was the 107th time that Junction native John Amoriell celebrated his birthday.

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The lively and clear-minded centenarian enjoyed the milestone with his friends, family and care-givers at the Mercy Living Center.

“Well, I made 107,” John grinned when we stopped by his bright and nicely decorated single room in Tupper's nursing home last week.

John was born in 1911 in what he says was then called Faust, the son of Sam and Mary Maglione Amoriell, who had emigrated from Italy.

Once the young couple left their homeland, they never returned, making Tupper Lake their lifelong home. John said the family name in Italy was Amoriello. He was 24 and she was 22. The young couple lived in New York City for a couple of years, but his mother didn't like the Mafia members and other gangsters like “the Black Hand” in their neighborhood so they moved to Tupper Lake in 1907, according to John.

John was born in a four apartment tenement building on Washington Street that was later torn down.

John was named after his uncle, who also immigrated to America and who lived for a time in Tupper Lake with his brother after Mary passed.

Sam Amoriell built an attractive new house about 1918 on what is now Malerba Ave., formerly Second Ave. There were originally seven boys and one girl, but John's brother Patsy, who would have been 108 this year, died in New York City as an infant.

Showing us a photo of his parents and his siblings, John said he is the last surviving child of Sam and Mary.

Longevity runs strong in the Amoriell family, however. John's father was 89 when he died and his mother, 77. Most of his siblings lived into their eighties and nineties, according to John.

John worked for the railroad most of his life, for many years as a laborer and later as a machine operator. The job, which began in Tupper Lake, eventually took him in later years to many places with the railroad including the main line in Albany, Schenectady, Little Falls, Amsterdam, as well as Remsen, at the base of the Adirondack Railroad.

Following his many years of work in the Tupper Lake area, he later commuted by train to the other posts- generally staying there a week at a time and returning here on weekends.

From about 1964 on he worked in Selkirk, where he retired due to a back injury in 1969. He drew a monthly pension of $138 after over 30 years with the railroad.

As a machine operator, driving pay loaders and other pieces of heavy equipment, he often moved ties and rails around the rail yards and worked on various rail construction projects.

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In 1937 John married Mildred Exware and the couple had two children, Sam and Annette. John's wife of over 70 years died at the age of 91 in 2011. In 2017 they would have been married 80 years, John calculated.

He called Mildred one of the best things in his life.

When he and Mildred married few houses had electricity and fewer had indoor plumbing. “Everyone had outhouses! They were cold in the winter!” he said with a knowing grin.

When the couple was first married they lived in an apartment over Ray Mikall's IGA at the corner of Main and Cedar where their son Sam was born in 1938. “It was a nice big apartment! The rent was $17 per month.”

Sam turned 80 last month, John noted.

Two years later the couple moved across the street to another apartment- this one owned by Elmer Farmer, where Annette was born in 1939. The rent was $11 per month. Mr. Farmer used to work for the railroad, noted John.

A few years later the couple bought a small house on Washington St. which they paid $500 for. “We lived there for a little while but there were so many bed bugs it was terrible!”

The Amoriell siblings

The Amoriell siblings

John and Mildred moved down the street to the Keeler house, where they lived until about 1945, when they bought their final home in that same neighborhood on what is now known as Amoriell Ave. They paid $2,000 for it. John and Mildred lived on the street later named after them for many years and after Mildred's death John stayed there until moving to Mercy four years ago.

Before moving to Mercy, John continued to roam the Junction neighborhoods aboard his motorized wheelchair.

John didn't serve in World War II, but he says he certainly would have served. He was registered and all set to go when the war ended.

During the Great Depression, when he said it was so tough to find a job, he did anything and everything he could to support himself, including picking berries to sell. During the Depression he eventually joined the Civilian Conservation Corp., working for two years on many local and area public works projects from its staging area and barracks at Cross Clearing.

“I was getting a dollar a day, $30 a month.”

John and his son Sam had a hunting camp at Lead Pond for years, and perhaps the first one there. Sam bought the place in 1978 and it was a regular haunt for them for decades. They started tenting at first and later built a camp.

“We had a wooden raft, but no boat! We'd row it out into the pond and boy did we catch fish!”

“I loved to be there...I loved the woods.”

Although he was a hunter until the age of 91, he holds the dubious distinction of never bagging a buck. “I shot at a lot of them, hit a few, but never got a darn deer,” he shrieked with laughter. By contrast, Sam bagged a deer every year, he added.

John said he and Sam had that camp before the forest company built a road to Lead Pond. For years they walked in from the railroad tracks, which now intersects the Lead Pond Road. He remembers the four-mile walk from Tupper Lake. Their camp was about a mile in from the tracks.

As more camps came to the pond and that section of local forest in general, the hunting pressure grew and they eventually sold it.

John also had a boat and motor and with it he and Sam frequented the local lakes where he loved to fish. The biggest fish John ever caught was an eight-pound Northern.

In the winters they ice-fished on Lead Pond, where they found lots of bass and pike.

His favorite fish, he said, is pike, which he said he became very good and cleaning and deboning.

John said he attended the “Junction School,” where the Moose Lodge is situated now.

He admits not being the best student and he frequently got into schoolyard fights. He only made it to the fifth grade, when he and school officials decided parting company was the best for all concerned.

“I got kicked out when I was only 14...I was in trouble all the time!”

He remembers the school supervisor, Flossie Chevrette, as a tough administrator. “She didn't like me very much!”

As a young teenager he couldn't find any work so for a couple of years he worked “on the little farm” his father had off Washington St. , behind what is now Malerba Ave.

At 16 he went to the Oval Wood Dish Corp., piling wood in the yard. “I was getting fifteen cents an hour or $6.30 per week.”

“They raised me to 25 cents an hour and that was a big deal!”

John began his career with the Adirondack Railroad, first working as a laborer. In those early years one of his jobs was feeding coal into the furnaces of the steam engines at the time. He said he remembers when the steam locomotives were switched to electric ones in the early 1950s.

A lifelong Yankees fan, one of the team's old-timers' fan clubs routinely sends him memorabilia which decorates some of his walls in his room. He received a Yankee bobby-head statue for Christmas. Another prized possession is a replica of one of the team's championship rings.

“I'm a Yankee man! Aaron Judge is my favorite player. He made 52 home runs last season!”

The outfielder was the American League's Rookie of the Year in 2017.

One of his care-givers, Rose Gaudet, is trying to organize a trip for John to the Big Apple so he can see his team play at a game this summer.

John remembers with great fondness the family homestead that John's father built in 1917, which was the longtime home of John's sister Mary and her husband Louis Malerba on Malerba Ave.

“When my father built it there was only three of us. It is a beautiful home. My father bought the land and built the house there. There was no Washington Street or no Lafayette Street, nothing at all.”

Washington Street was only a trail which he hiked to attend school or church in the Junction. Main Street was also a dirt road at the time, he recalls.

The house was on “five or six acres of land” and for years John's father and mother ran it as a small farm- tending a handful of horses, three cows, four sheep and some chickens. There was enough pasture land to take off hay for the animals each summer with a horse and wagon. John remembers cutting the hay with a scythe as a boy.

The family always maintained a big garden. He and Mildred also maintained a garden at their place several blocks away for years. “Everyone had a big garden in those days! There were also a lot of farms in Tupper Lake early on!”

On Sundays the entire family boarded their horse and buggy and headed via trail to the Holy Name Church, he remembers.

John said he enjoyed growing up in the early years of Faust when many of the residents were Italians, who came here to work on the railroad. Many of those families eventually moved on with the decline of the railroad.

He said his mother was a great cook and made the “real Italian food,” particularly on holidays, when all the Italian families on Washington St. would “come to the Amoriells for a party.”

John never learned to speak Italian, although he could understand it. It was always spoken in the home and his mother could barely speak English.

During his first years as a laborer with the railroad, he helped demolish the New York and Ottawa line from Tupper Lake to Ottawa.

In his those years too he would often be assigned to operate the plow on the train to remove snow from the tracks in winter from Montreal through Tupper Lake to Utica. For many years he operated a rail car called the flanger which had two blades attached to it to removed snow from between the rails. The flanger car, much like a caboose and heated with a coal stove, was usually positioned in the middle of a train. The flanger cars were sidelined to rail spurs and rail yards in the non-winter months, he noted.

If the snow or other debris between the tracks was not removed, a trail could derail, he explained.

The flanger car had steam-powered controls so that the two operators could actually stop the train if there was a problem on the tracks. He often operated the flanger with Piercefield's Charlie LaVassaur.

Plowing the tracks couldn't be done at more than 30 miles per hour, and John said he would often have to use his controls to slow down the engine.

The two flanger blades- one on each side- had to be raised by the operators at switches or rail crossings, to prevent damage to them.

A snow-plowing train would often derail in heavy snow areas. The crews carried ramp-like devices with them to pull the derailed cars back on tracks, with the strength of additional engines that were deployed from yards in Utica or Lake Placid.

One day operating the flanger, the blades hit a rail crossing, breaking them “all to hell,” he said with a big grin. “We could have been killed!”

One day too from his perch in the flanger car he spotted a car broken down on a crossing and stopped the train, sparing the life of the occupant.

The plowing trips would often take the entire day, so he and others would often have to stay over at either end of the 112-mile Adirondack Railroad line- in Utica or Lake Placid.

Sometimes so much snow would build up under the plow and the cars behind it they'd have to stop train to dig it all out, he told the Free Press.

Another of John's railroad jobs was walking the tracks, looking for missing spikes. He carried a hammer and extra spikes to replace them.

At one point his job was to walk the line to Floodwood and back nine miles every day. Sometimes he flagged down and hopped the southbound No. 2 for the trip back home.

He also remembers the months he spent walking the rails daily in the Sabattis and Nehasane area. He'd often meet an old man, in ragged clothes, who turned out to be Dr. W. Seward Webb, who financed and whose crews built the Adirondack Railroad from Utica to Tupper Lake in a single year in the early 1890s. “He was an old man when I used to talk with him. We used to talk about fishing and hunting!”

He said Webb would frequently entertain prominent people from the city who loved to hunt and they would come up by train.

“The deer herds there were wicked,” he exclaimed, a product of the car loads of molasses and grain Webb would order to feed them.

Caretakers there would occasionally take John inside the family's beautiful lodges, many of the walls of which were decorated with big game trophies.

In later years patrolling sections of track he was given a small three-wheel hand cart to use and to carry his repair tools. Before that he had to haul his tools in a bag he slung over his shoulder.

He always carried a flag to alert oncoming trains of his presence.

One of his less than favorite jobs in his early years was cleaning the platform of snow in front of the Tupper Lake station in anticipation of the No. 5 train, which left Utica before 2a.m. for arrival here about 5a.m. “The platform had to be completely cleared for the people arriving on the train! Some days there was a lot of snow!”

He also vividly remembers the ski trains full of skiers headed from the New York City and other points south to Lake Placid to ski for a week. The trains had engines on both the front and back and came full of lavish Pullman cars. “All people with big money!” he said, rubbing his fingers together.

He also remembers Tupper Lake's big rail yard with 13 tracks where the village playground now sits on Washington Street.

John also tended the rail switches out from Tupper Lake and as far out as Brandreth, where he would often have to stay in what he called “a little bunk house.”

The only thing there was a station and “a few camps in the woods.”

He remembers vividly too the day the snow plow hit several deer in the middle of tracks, because the train couldn't stop in time. “The next day we stopped and picked them up and the meat was still very good!”

As a hunter, while he may not have not been good with a rifle, he was obviously good with the plow and flanger on the train.

Happy 107th, John!

Pavlus inducted into Tupper’s Athletic Hall of Fame

Dan McClelland

By Rich Rosentreter

Standout Tupper Lake athlete Wendy Pavlus was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame on January 5 during a ceremony in the high school gymnasium.

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A 2007 graduate of TLHS, Pavlus excelled in both cross country and track, earning All-State honors four straight years and in her senior year was crowned state champion in the steeplechase. While at St. Lawrence University she won the 2009 NCAA Division III individual national championship in cross country.

Following the ceremony on Saturday Pavlus discussed her induction with the Free Press – and said she often thought about the Hall of Fame during her time as a student athlete.

“I would look at the plaques on the wall when I was in high school and it’s really an honor to have my own now,” she said. “I had hoped that someday it would happen. It’s exciting and such an honor!”

Pavlus said she found out a few weeks ago that she was nominated to be in the Hall of Fame and learned she would be inducted.

“That was nice. This really shows all the support in the community and it’s nice to still feel that even though I’m not competing in high school or college anymore,” she said. “It’s nice to still feel that there’s a connection even with so many years having passed.”

During the ceremony, Pavlus was praised by both Athletic Director Dan Brown and her former track coach and current friend Amy Farrell.

“The past is comprised of Hall of Fame athletes and coaches who paved the road for our current student athletes. Our Hall of Famers have set the standard for play, and built traditions which everyone has come to love and respect. The memories built by our Hall of Famers lay in this very gym … and on the football field out back,” Brown told the audience as he blended the past with present and future.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Farrell discussed some “fun facts” and said that when she started to help with coaching in Tupper Lake in 2003, Wendy was the first of the athletes on the track team that she had met.

“As a coach you’re always looking for potential in your athletes. When I first met Wendy in 2003 I saw a redhead overflowing with potential,” Farrell said, adding that Pavlus showed signs that she was going to be a great runner. “I had a great time coaching her.”

It was the time spent coaching Pavlus that Farrell learned more about not just the athlete, but the person as well.

“Although her accomplishments are impressive and very extensive, the best part of working with Wendy was watching her grow as a person. She is probably the most humble athlete I have ever worked with. Her work ethic, her level head and sense of humor have helped her exceed her potential and become the amazing person that stands before you today,” Farrell said.

“Congratulations Wendy and we could not be more proud and good luck in your next adventure!”

The Tupper Lake Athletic Hall of Fame was established in 1987 by basketball coach Steve Skiff and in its 31-year history there have been nine coaches, three teams and 71 athletes inducted. In order to be inducted, a potential hall of Famer must be nominated to the athletic director’s office and a panel of current Hall of Famers will first discuss then vote to approve the nominee.

The highlights in Wendy’s athletic career are, in high school, she was the 2007 New York State Champion in outdoor track for the steeplechase; in cross country she was a three-time state meet placer with a 5th-place finish, a 3rd -place finish and a 2nd -place finish. She holds the Section X record for the steeplechase; Wendy was the NAC, Section X League MVP in 2006-2007 for indoor track; she was the NAC, Section X League MVP in 2004, 2005 and 2006 for cross country. In college at St. Lawrence University Wendy was a five-time NCAA champion and an eight-time All American.

Newest member of TLPD has small town roots

Dan McClelland

by Rich Rosentreter

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The Tupper Lake Village Police Department recently hired two new officers and the Free Press met with one of them, Connor Hesseltine, to introduce him to the local community.

Hesseltine grew up in the North Country in Chateaugay and embraces the outdoor lifestyle. He attended SUNY Canton graduated in May 2015 earned a bachelor degree in homeland security associates in criminal justice.

“My father and I have always been outdoorsy such as hunting and fishing. Rural areas have always been appealing to me. I’ve never wanted to move to a city or anything like that. When I got the call here, I thought to myself, that’s woods, that’s lakes, and I’ve always enjoyed both,” he said.

Following his graduation from college, Hesseltine said he was hired on a government contract conducting background investigations. He then landed a position as a corrections officer in Vermont for about a year, but didn’t really enjoy all the aspects of that job and decided to pursue a job as a police officer.

“I thought this was something I’d enjoy much more and so far I have. I decided to take the exam and Tupper Lake was the one that called me,” Hesseltine said. Once that call came, he began the police academy in June and graduated in November.

When he donned the policer uniform, it was fulfilling a desire that Hesseltine traced back to his childhood.

“It started pretty much like any little kid when you see flashing lights and the uniform with a gun and all that stuff and you think about how cool it is,” he said. “Until you get older and realize just how much they actually do and the hard part. It was something that interested me and thought I’d like to be doing.”

Hesseltine said he really became serious about making law enforcement a career path while he was a high school student in about tenth or eleventh grade.

“I knew a guy who was on the U.S. Border Patrol. I did a program and that really pretty much piqued my interest in law enforcement. I am pretty family-oriented so I wanted to stay somewhere in the area. For the border patrol I would have had to go down south so being local like this could not have worked out any better,” he said.

On the job

Now that Hesseltine is on patrol in Tupper Lake, he said he enjoys working in the community and appreciates the welcoming atmosphere he has found across the village. One of the main challenges he has faced is being the new guy in town.

“So far the challenge has been going from being a civilian when I’m walking out in public to now being in a small town and everybody knows I’m a police officer. And being new to the town, I don’t know anybody here,” he said. “Also learning all the policies and procedures and all the laws, what people can or cannot do. It’s a lot to take on in such a short amount of time.”

It has worked to his advantage that Chateaugay is similar in size to Tupper Lake. Hesseltine has been to this village as a member of the opposing team when he played basketball in high school, but said he never traveled beyond the gym and McDonald’s. Now having the opportunity to patrol the area and get familiar with the Tupper Lake community, he said he has had positive experiences.

“Everybody I’ve met has been extremely nice to me. Any issues I’ve had, people have been there. I’m renting a place, and people always say ‘Hey, if you need anything, I’m sure we can help you.’ Everybody at the department has been great. They’re all willing to lend a helping hand which is nice,” he said.

Hesseltine said he plans to remain a member of the local community now that he holds a prominent position – as does his bride-to-be.

“I don’t think I ever want to work in a big city area. Whenever I’m not working I’m either hunting or fishing or doing something on the water. To leave this area is something I would not really want to do,” he said, adding that he has an additional connection to the Tri-Lake area as his fiancee is a registered nurse and just got hired at Adirondack Health. The couple plans to wed in August 2019 and make this area their home.

“So it really could not be much better. She is really supportive and her father is a retired detective for St. Lawrence County, which is also nice. There are not many people who know what it is like being married to a police officer, so her growing up like that is nice. It’s nice having support like that at home.” Hesseltine added.

Working in a small community such as Tupper Lake is something Hesseltine said he truly enjoys and said there are many aspects of the job that he appreciates.

“I think one of the major aspects of a small community is that you get to know everybody and learn about who everybody is. On one side it is nice because you get to know who the good apples are versus who the bad apples are. It makes it easier when you are not dealing with a population of a million people,” he said adding that from a daily standpoint, getting to know the community has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of his job.

Since joining the local police department, Hesseltine said he has been invited over for dinner and other social gatherings along with getting people to offer to plow his driveway.

But there are other intangibles that Hesseltine said has taken some getting used to, such as experiencing things on the job, which is not the same as merely training practices at the academy.

“There’s definitely a big difference between the academy where people are not in your face yelling at you compared to being at a traffic stop standing on the side of the road and there are cars going by and there’s a guy in the car not from the area not being pleasant. It’s tougher,” he said. “I had to learn to hold back and just say ‘Here’s your ticket and court date.’ I had to learn to let someone vent and not worry about it. I understand they’re upset because they got a ticket.”

Hesseltine then added his message to the Tupper Lake community.

“I’m happy to be here and looking forward to being a contributing member of the community and hope to be on a good note with people in this community,” he said, adding that he really appreciates people coming up to him to greet him. “Thank you to everybody for being so welcoming.”

Look for a story on the second new officer in an upcoming issue of the Free Press.

Town leaders willing to meet village over consolidation talks

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Town leaders said Friday they are amenable to a joint meeting with their village counterparts to discuss ways local government operations here could be more efficient.

In recent weeks Trustee Ron LaScala has pushed town officials, first at their December meeting and later at the village board's own monthly meeting a week later, to begin a study of ways to consolidate the two local governments and their operations.

The trustee right now favors a consolidation method where the village would expand to the same size as the town.

Following LaScala's presentation to his peers on December 19 Deputy Mayor Leon LeBlanc suggested the town and village boards meet early in the new year. Board members agreed and Mayor Paul Maroun said he would set up the joint meeting.

At the end of the town's lunch-time meeting Friday Councilman John Quinn raised the joint meeting suggestion with his colleagues, saying he was open to it.

“Maybe we should also be thinking of other things of mutual interest to discuss with them at the same time?” he suggested.

“We don't meet with them often, so it would be a good opportunity.”

Supervisor Patricia Littlefield thought the last time the two boards met in full session was about five years ago when the boards convened in the Wild Center's conference room to discuss the pending promotional contracts with ROOST (Regional Office Of Sustained Tourism).

“We talked about doing it more frequently, but it never came to pass!”

Mr. Quinn suggested that a representative of the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC) be invited to the meeting. DANC, which just completed the town's sewer and water district consolidation project, would be a likely candidate to do any village-town consolidation study.

The supervisor said she will also ask the state department of state, which has advanced various scenarios for municipalities to combine in recent years, to send a representative to any joint meeting of the local boards.

“That way we hear: 'not what I think I know,' but how it works!”

She said one of her fundamental questions in any discussion of a consolidation study is “who pursues it?”

Littlefield stressed: “I'm 100% behind a study. But we need to know who is supposed to do that study.”

“If the village wants to expand its boundary to the town...is that their study?”

“We're not shrinking. They want to expand!” she continued.

“I don't know that it's just not their business,” she confided to her board members.

“No one should go into a study saying 'we want co-terminus (governments)...or we want dissolution or we want consolidation.”

She said any study should determine the various options open to the community and what happens if one option is selected over another.

One answer that must come is who should be the sponsor of any study or can it be a joint-study, she mused.

“If the proposal is to expand the boundaries of the village to the town's, do we even have a right to be part of that?”

Quinn said Carrie Tuttle of DANC has forwarded information about consolidation options to the town for the perusal of the board members.

On the Article 17 option advanced by LaScala, Quinn said “ultimately if we were headed that way the town board would have to vote to approve and the voters in the area to be annexed into the village would have to approve.”

If a decision was reached to dissolve the village, that would be decided by the village board and village residents, not the town board and town residents, who would have no say.

The supervisor said if the study resolved that the best option would be co-terminus, maybe the best order would be consolidation or dissolution (of the village) or to do nothing.” She said there have been many studies on consolidation of governments around the state where it was recommended that nothing be done.

Councilman Mike Dechene reminded the board of the earlier study directed by Marvin Madore, where it was found basically that there would be little or no cost savings to taxpayers by dissolving the village.

The supervisor continued: “From what I gather the finished study doesn't recommend one direction. It will say: 'here are all your choices'. -And one choice could be: 'don't do anything'!”

She said she didn't think any study should be for the purpose of reducing to one form of government. The aim is to make things more efficient for the taxpayer. “These are all called 'efficiency studies'.”

“If consolidation (of governments into one) makes is more efficient, then so be it, but it may not!”

She said one option would be for the local governments to continue to work together, “and we already do a lot of that.”

Littlefield then proposed doing a study to see what is found.

John Quinn proposed a motion “that the town board is not opposed to participating in a study of what level of consolidation might be pursued.” Dechene backed his move, saying “since we've all been together we've always felt that way!”

Littlefield said it was clear no one can predict the outcome of any new study and what its recommendations will be.

“We can't sit in this room today and say we think it would be best if we did this or did that!”

A study would bring together all the pertinent facts, the ramifications of this move or that one, she stressed.

Free Press Publisher Dan McClelland said in the earlier study directed by Marvin Madore, there was no impartial person or organization to direct it.

Kirk Gagnier, town attorney, said “you need an objective arbiter in the middle to look at what cost savings there are and what decisions are hard in that way and the boards may want to look at some of those recommendations and say 'we don't want to do this, or do that, because it may create this hardship for people'.”

He said a key element in looking at making local governments more efficient is what that does to the jobs of individuals who work for the town and village.

“Having a committee do it, there's too much predisposition, given all the history and everything else, so you need some objective party” to oversee any process, he recommended.

Supervisor Littlefield noted that any consolidation of the two governments would involve an incredible amount of “legal preparation” and research done in preparation for the future operations of the various town and village departments.

“As lay people we cannot presume to know all the answers” to the many questions that will come up, she asserted.

Gagnier suggested the best way to proceed right now is for the both boards to commission the study and agree to split its costs.

Any consultant would come back to the board with an objective finding, he said. Ultimately the boards and the voters would decide, but it is critical that the information they will use to make their choice is objective. “That way you won't run into some dead end because some one is worried about what the answer might be!”

Littlefield said she wants to initially determine from the state department who should sponsor any upcoming study. She said there is grant money to initiate the study, more if a vote is held and the balance of costs coming if any consolidation occurs. “So in the end a study may cost nothing” to the sponsoring body. However, in the meantime, someone has to front the cost of the study and wait for reimbursement from the state, she added.

She proposed a department of state representative be at the discussion table when the two boards meet “to get the real answers.”

Gagnier suggested any state agency representative invited to that upcoming meeting be briefed in advance on some of the facts and details which are unique to this community.

One important detail in any discussion of combining town and village governments would be the effect, if any, on the village's municipal electric system, it was noted in that afternoon's discussion.

Patti Littlefield called the future of our relatively low-priced electric system “the biggest question” in any upcoming consolidation talks.

“Let's get the ball rolling, however” she said of the upcoming talks between the two boards.

Peewee Lumberjacks rack up big numbers again over weekend’s double header

Dan McClelland

by Ian Roantree

The Tupper Lake Peewee hockey team hosted a double header in the morning and afternoon of Saturday, December 8, taking on the Saratoga B team, and maintaining a seven-game winning streak.

Over the course of Saturday’s two games, the Lumberjacks put the puck in their opponent’s net 23 times and only let four into their own.

At 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, the Lumberjacks finished the game with a nine point deficit against Saratoga’s B team with a final score 10-1 for Tupper Lake. Mason Fowler and Karter Kenniston both scored hat tricks that morning. Logan Flagg put in two and Kyler McClain and Gavin Mitchel each scored one.

Sawyer Dewyea, Kyler McClain, Christian Moody-Bell, Gavin Mitchell and Mason Fowler all scored assists. Brayden Shannon protected the net in Saturday’s first game. Out of Saratoga’s 21 shots, Shannon saved 20!

After a short break, the boys returned to the ice at 2:15 p.m. but they didn’t plan on going easy on the Saratoga B team.

The peewee’s leading scorer, Karter Kenniston, put seven goals past Saratoga’s goal tender, maintaining his high scoring average. Logan Flagg scored two and Sawyer Dewyea, Mason Fowler, Gavin Mitchell and Kyler McClain each scored one. Kyclain assisted two goals and Sawyer Dewyea, Aiden Amell, Brayden Shannon and Phillip Lindsay each assisted goals as well.

The peewees will put their winning streak on the line and leave the comfort of home ice when they take to the road this weekend with games against Malone on Saturday, December 15 and Tri-Town on Sunday, December 16.

Village water still not meeting state standards

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Despite the arrival of new, clean well water from the Pitchfork Pond Road site into the village water system this year, there is still enough water from the Little Simond source in the system to cause recent water tests to fail.

As required by law the village recently mailed a letter to all its water customers stating the local water system “has violated a drinking water standard.”

Similar notices have come annually for nearly a decade.

“Testing results from 2017 and 2018 show that our system exceeded the standard, or maximum contaminant level for total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and haloacetic acids (HAA5s).”

The levels for the TTHMs was 80 parts per billion and for HAA5s, 60 parts per billion.

The results came from the four samples collected each quarter at two village sites- the Pine Grove Restaurant and the village office on Park Street.

Since the well system came on the Pine Grove samples are below the maximum contaminant levels, but they have been exceeded at the village office.

Village officials wrote they expect the Pine Grove samples to get even better in the months ahead and also at the village office, where they are expected to soon pass.

“TTHM and HAA5 samples at the Pine Grove are now below maximum contaminant levels (MCL) and it is anticipated that within the next few quarters” the samples taken at the village office will also drop below state standards, according to the letter.

TTHMs and HAA5s are groups of chemicals formed in drinking water from lakes and rivers during disinfection when chlorine reacts with naturally occurring organic matter (leaves, algae, aquatic plants, etc.). Exposure over a long period of time has been linked to cancer and other diseases.

Drawing water from Tupper Lake and Little Simond are the reasons that village water tests haven't met state Department of Health and other standards for years.

It was the primary reason village leaders moved to develop the $6 million ground water system at the site off Pitchfork Pond Road in the past two years.

Both wells developed are producing a robust supply of water.

When the well system came on line this summer the village water department discontinued drawing water from Tupper Lake at its Moody Road filtration plant. In recent months steps have been taken by the water crew to shut down the plant and mothball it.

The water from Little Simond, treated at the Lake Simond filtration plant, still continues to be a village source, and currently flows into uptown neighborhoods and at Moody.

As time goes on more village water will come from the new wells and less from Little Simond, improving the overall quality of village water.

Right now downtown residents receive well water while uptown neighborhoods are receiving a combination from the two sources, Mark Robillard, water superintendent reported this week.

“We're using half as much water from Little Simond now than before the wells came on line,” he explained. That source will be used less and less as time goes on.

He said his crew was able to flush much of “the old water” from the entire system earlier this fall but didn't get a second opportunity to flush the system again, what with winter arriving so early.

Mr. Robillard said that in coming weeks and months they will be “pushing more well water” uptown and to Moody to further dilute the Little Simond water.

He said the eventual goal will be to have the well system service the entire community, if the abundant water flow from the wells is sustained.

For now, however, it's too soon to abandon that remaining surface water source located on the Reed property, he added.

State health officials want all communities to draw their water supply from below-ground water sources.

Village officials are adamant that all village water is “safe to drink, cook with and bath in. Some people may wish to take additional practical measures to reduce their exposure. We do not consider these measures necessary to avoid health effects, but they are provided as options. These include using bottle water for drinking and cooking purposes, or using water pitchers containing an activated carbon filter or tap-mounted filters. Ventilating bathroom area using exhaust fans or by opening windows when showering or bathing can also help reduce exposures from chemicals released in the air.”

Tupper Arts Snow Ball a hit!

Dan McClelland

Tupper Arts organizers are basking in the glow this week from a very successful Snow Ball which raised thousands of dollars for the arts and cultural programs the new organization will offer children and adults here this coming year.

“We're so appreciative of how well the community supported us in our first Snow Ball,” chairwoman Louise McNally said this week.

Over 200 people purchased $50 tickets to attend the progressive event, which began at the former Ginsberg's building and moved two hours later to the Tupper Arts new gallery in the former Futterman's Furniture building.

Both pieces of the Snow Ball featured complimentary wine and beer, much of which was donated by local pubs, taverns and breweries, and hors d'oeuvres, prepared with skill by the staff at Well Dressed Food.

Both pieces of the party featured great entertainment. Jim & E, (Jim Boucher and Eric Pasternak) performed from the loft area above the giant timber staircase at the building now owned by Louise and Mike McNally and Leah and Stanley Rumbough. When the party was moved at 9p.m. across Park Street, it was Spring Street's turn to entertain the merri-makers. Band members included Ed Schaum, Josh Pratt, Leon Jessie and Val Rogers.

This was the arts organization's first try at Snow Ball, reviving it after a several year absence after ARISE used it each year for about a half a dozen years as its principle money-generator to open Big Tupper Ski Area.

“We thought our first try was great. It was the product of a lot of hard work by dozens and dozens of people who want us to be the vibrant program we will be,” said the very pleased McNally.

“Hopefully we can reinvent it again, with some exciting new twists!”

She said the event will go a long way to helping Tupper Arts offer great music, art and dance programs of many kinds to our community in the new year. In particular we will be able to offer a number of new and innovative programs for our children to enjoy.”

“Tupper Lake always comes together to support good things, and our event this weekend was no different!”

Part of this year's theme focussed on the many new developments coming to the uptown business district and the community at large.

Punctuating the event was the exciting announcement of the coming of a new Lake Placid-based long time business, the Adirondack Store, which will be teaming up with Garrett Kopp's Birch Boys business, both under the same roof.

Many volunteer hands make for joyous community Thanksgiving

Dan McClelland

For at least 25 years the celebration with good food and good cheer of Tupper Lake's annual Thanksgiving observance has been brightened by the selfless volunteers at the local Knights of Columbus and several groups like the Kiwanis Club which assist the fraternal organization each year.

Over 600 Thanksgiving meals were provided local residents, 500 of which were delivered to their homes.

Three of the youngest volunteers Thursday morning were Luka Dukett (second from left), Jenna Carmichael and Lexy Sabin. Assisting them with the packing of take-out meals were Joanne Bickford (left) and Ann Maltais (right). Below them was pie-cutter Carol Peets. Diane LeBlanc (not shown) was busy over in the corner of the K.of C. bar area, lining up all the containers for filling (at right).

Dave and Diane LeBlanc have been working to help the K.of C. members with their various projects since 1974. For years they worked alongside manager Dick Moeller, who is believed to have started the dinner.

Out in the kitchen Thursday morning were Yvon Fortier, Mike Russell, Jim Pryor, Joe Kimpflen and Tom Walsh. Hiding from the press this year was Dave LeBlanc.

Asked how long they have each volunteered in preparation of the festive meal, most didn't know. Yvon's been helping for ten years and Dave and Tom figured they've been involved from that start. Jimmy said he's been helping for at least several years. Joe figured two. Our well known Santa couldn't remember how many years he's been helping. For years, however, he and his brother Ralph were mainstays in the kitchen each Thanksgiving. Great job, all volunteers.

Tupper Arts gains valuable photographic collection, thanks to gifts of local man

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

In the words of Tupper Arts volunteer Ed Donnelly, the new arts and cultural organization “has been given a valuable resource that has significant historical significance” to this community, the tri-lakes region and the Adirondack Park.

At the heart of that gift is the vast photographic collection of the late Free Press photographer Kathleen Bigrow and its caretaker, Jim Lanthier. The project is called “the Kathleen Bigrow Film Conservation Project.”

Continues Mr. Donnelly, “the acquisition of the photographic collection from Jim Lanthier provides Tupper Arts with the unique opportunity to protect, archive, catalog and disseminate the images” taken by the well known local photographer over five decades.

The collection contains thousands of photos and negatives taken by Kathleen and other earlier photographers here, that were collected by Lanthier in recent years.

“We literally now have in our possession a snapshot in time of a bygone era,” Donnelly recently wrote about the unfolding project.

To make all this possible Jim Lanthier has donated a very modern computer system involving a sophisticated and expensive negative scanner and printer to accomplish the permanent preservation of the collection.

He has created with new paint and remodeling a new work station in the back room of the new gallery and arts headquarters on Park Street.

The local photographer who is seen at most local events will be working with local high school students in the months and years ahead who will be taught how to create digital images from the sometimes very old film negatives.

According to Lanthier during a recent tour of his new studio, all of Kathleen's negatives and many of the even older negatives he's collected over the years, some from the Moody estate, will be digitized, stored and preserved on multiple external hard drives.

Once scanned and digitized the original negatives will be placed in sleeves or envelopes of non-acid materials and placed in boxes especially designed for archiving.

Extensive tables of contents will be created for each box, as part of the cataloguing.

Once high school students learn the skills of scanning, Lanthier also figures he'll buy a sophisticated printer where they will be able to make images of the old files. “I'm going to give them everything they need to learn about local history,” he explained.

Phase 2 of the project involves moving the folders of scanned images from the main computer to back up hard drives. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software will be used to create a searchable image database.

Through the scanning, cataloging, archiving and all, there are seven phases to the project.

Working with Lanthier and Tupper Arts leaders is art teacher Shannon Kavanagh and her digital arts students.

“It will preserve Kathleen's photos forever, and at the same time the local high school kids will learn about their history because they will be working with it.”

Another benefit for them is learning to use the various hardware pieces in the new system.

The sophisticated scanner can scan negatives of all sizes, from 8.5 by 11 inches down.

During her entire five decades in the business Kathleen used studio-type cameras. The first ones were top view and later ones were back view. In the early days her negatives were the very large four inch by five inch film, with presented a dramatic depth of field where images up close and in the distance were all in focus. She later moved to 2.25 by 2.25 inch film, but never to 35mm.

Jim's new scanner comes with various pieces to accommodate negatives of all sizes.

He hopes the students will come down to the Tupper Arts studio for their regular classes and even after-school.

“This may give them an edge with some of this technology” that will prove valuable to them in their future careers, he noted.

Lanthier thinks the collection could eventually generate revenues for the new arts center. “We could probably create post cards to sell like the paintings that hang in the new gallery!”

Once he's finished painting the back room, he hopes to erect a wall of old photographs there for visitors to view and enjoy. “It could be a rotating display.”

Lanthier, an excellent carpenter who specializes in Adirondack furniture and who has made pieces for many top lodging facilities in the area, also fashioned a new and polished work table for the studio.

“As students are doing their thing here, I'll be working on my other projects here, some involving his vast collection of Kathleen's actual print photos.

According to Donnelly, it is estimated there could be 500,000 negatives to be scanned.

Tupper Lake honors heroes on Veterans Day

Dan McClelland

Veterans, service men and women and civilians of Tupper Lake came together on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to remember and honor those who have fallen and have served in the line of duty for their country.

Gathered at the Tupper Lake War Memorial, on the blocked-off Park Street, community members braved the cold to pay their respects to the men and women who braved so much more.

In traditional fashion of a Tupper Lake service, the Rev. Rick Wilburn lead the opening prayers. The master of ceremonies, local AMVET commander, Ray Bigrow, welcomed the community to the service and introduced and invited the guest speaker, Col. Steve Reandeau, to approach the podium.

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome to today’s ceremony. I’m honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to speak with you today on such an important occasion. We are here to honor our veterans and current service members, to remember the sacrifices they have made and continue to make and the courage it takes to defend our honor, duty and country.”

Reandeau then asked for a show of hands from all the veterans who were at the service that morning. “Thank you for your service,” he said to the men and women who lifted their hands at his request.

He continued, “it was a hundred years ago today, November 11, 1918 at 11 a.m. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that the allied powers signed a ceasefire agreement with Germany at Compiegne, France, bringing the war we now know as World War I to a close.

“President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day the following year on November 11, 1919, with these words: ‘To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given america to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.’

“Originally, a two-minute suspension of business at 11 a.m. was followed by celebrations including parades and public meetings. Today we honor our veterans with gatherings such as this with less fanfare but no less gratitude. In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress made the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, switching the word ‘Armistice’ in favor of ‘Veterans’. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954.

“From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

“I left Tupper Lake on November 16 1975 with the full intent on serving four years in the Air Force and getting out with experience in my chosen career field. But then something interesting happened to me and many others I was stationed with. We found a camaraderie and bond that was strong.

“The Vietnam era had ended in July of that year and many of the older Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) told us how they were shunned in their local communities, mainly in cities. They felt wanted and at home in the military and realized that they were making a difference.

“This had a great impact on me and changed my life. I wanted to be part of this.

“Most of the time when we think of veterans we think of the combat soldier and rightfully so. Many gave the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedom and many more suffered debilitating injuries and post traumatic stress disorder making life difficult, for that we owe them our everlasting gratitude.

“However, many of the gains in our foreign policy came through the humanitarian relief efforts of our veterans such as assisting in hurricane or earthquake disaster recovery. In these cases the civil engineers take the lead along with our health professionals. We provide food, clothing, clean water and medical care to those in need and put a small amount of normalcy back into these grief stricken places allowing victims of disaster to get back on their feet. The American veteran did this with pride.

“Military life is not all action and high stress environments. Many young troops do thankless but valuable jobs. We call this tooth to tail, with tooth being the combat personnel and the tail being all the support troops who make it come together. Mechanics, transportation personnel, pay clerks, administrative specialists, morale welfare and recreation specialists and numerous other career fields that go along with being prepared for war and keeping that fighting edge. All contribute greatly to the end goal of ensuring the security of our great nation. The war fighters need a place to decompress when they get inside the wire, (base camp) and they need to have peace of mind knowing that there is an infrastructure in place filled with other soldiers, sailors, marines airmen and coasties to take care of them and their families when they are in harm’s way or even when they are stationed at a remote site.

“Veterans miss many of the life events we take for granted; being present at their child’s birthday parties or graduation, missing an anniversary, or being a young troop and stationed in a foreign land away from mom and dad for the first time during the holidays.

“Our veterans give up some of the freedoms we as americans have and do it willingly with a sense of duty and honor for a grateful nation.

“As former Congressman Rand Neugebauer stated, ‘while only one day of the year is dedicated solely to honoring our veterans, Americans must never forget the sacrifices that many of our fellow countrymen have made to defend our country and protect our freedoms.’”

In the tradition of a Veterans’ Day ceremony, the Tupper Lake High School band performed a number of patriotic pieces, including a service song medley of the Ballad of the Green Berets and Marches of the Armed Forces.

Also in tradition, community members and organization laid their respective wreaths at the base of the memorial.

The Tupper Lake Honor Guard, with additional non-honor guard military personnel then performed the ceremonial three-round rifle volley. Taps was performed by 11th grade student, Shannon Soucey who is the official Honor Guard bugler.

Before Reverend Rick Wilburn closed the ceremony with the closing prayer, the high school band performed Stars Over America, which is an arrangement of the Service songs melodies over America the Beautiful, ending with The Stars and Stripes Forever.

Later that afternoon, the Tupper Lake Honor Guard held a special Veteran’s Day service at Mercy Living Center to honor and pay respects to the veterans that live at Mercy Living Center and who were unable to attend the Veterans’ Day Ceremony at the war memorial.

Orwell's Animal Farm this weekend at TLHS

Dan McClelland

The Tupper Lake Free Press was granted the opportunity to get an early viewing of the Tupper Lake High School fall play, a stage rendition of George Orwell’s literary classic, Animal Farm, that tells the story of the Russian revolution and into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, all from the perspective of farm animals that have “seized the means of production” of the farm from their human overlords. Animal Farm will be shown on Friday, November 9 and Saturday, November 10 at 7 p.m.

Hardwood mill to erect new office building

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Tupper Lake Hardwoods is planning to build a new office at it mill campus at 167 Pitchfork Pond Road.

At the planning board's October meeting Manager Chris Dewyea and engineer Kurt Bedore of KB Engineering of Burnt Hills near Albany came before planners to explain the plans for the addition.

Mr. Bedore said plans call for a detached 30 by 40 foot single story building on a slab.

Running through the site plan, he said the building will contain three offices, a storage area and a unisex restroom. It would be situated just to the right of the mill entrance.

The mill was built in 1993- the year that the industrial park next door was created. “It was permitted by the Adirondack Park Agency and has been in existence since then... a great employer in town ever since,” explained the civil engineer.

He said Mr. Dewyea and the mill's corporate owners have wanted to build their detached office building “to improve on the business environment when they have guests and vendors” and away from the noise in the mill.

It would also be situated away from the general traffic flow of trucks and equipment in the mill yard.

The engineer called the mill operation very impressive.

The new office, he said, would tap both a new septic tank and the existing septic tank, which was originally designed to handle a company with 32 employees. Right now there are 17 employees at the mill, with plans to hire three more to work in the new office building.

From a design perspective, the original septic system is very much underused, the engineer told the planners.

A separate septic tank will be installed near the office, with the leaching materials pumped up to the leach flow of the original system, essentially for a double system, the engineer explained.

Water service to the building would come via a one-inch line off the main six-inch line servicing the mill.

The electric service will also be underground from transmission lines on Kildare Road.

The new office headquarters will have four parking spaces allotted to it, plus a handicapped space.

The small office parking lot will be surfaced in stone dust.

It will have a covered entrance of timber frames, sconce lighting, and horizontal and vertical fir siding.

“The owners wanted to make it a little nicer looking as a place of business,” Mr. Bedore told the planning board volunteers.

Tupper Lake Hardwoods Inc. is a subsidiary of Peladeau Lumber of Quebec. The company was founded more than 50 yeas ago by Edward Patenaude and Jean-Piere Peladeau.

It has become a leader in today's hardwood industry. In the early 2000s Greg Patenaude and Christian Clavel assumed leadership of the company.

The new office at the local mill will be built on a concrete frost wall with pad and will be heated with electricity. The building's siding will be tan in color.

Chris Dewyea said in their planning, they wanted to set the office back out of sight from passersby on the town. It will be hidden mostly by the thick tree cover along the road.

Board member Jim Merrihew suggested appropriate signage be installed to guide visitors to the new office.

“We've always had signage but with this new building there will be more,” Mr. Dewyea told him.

The administrative offices are currently situated right inside the mill and with the offices moving to the new building that will free up space for mill expansion next year, Mr. Dewyea explained.

With that expansion, production is expected to grow by 60% starting next year, the manager predicted.

Asked by member boB Collier about plans by the company for a second shift, the manager said he is happy with one.

There was a brief discussion about the lighting around the office and it was noted that it will be all downward directed.

The mill, however, requires a certain amount of powerful lighting around it for safety purposes, Mr. Dewyea noted.

Board members were all very satisfied by the presentation and the proposal, judging by their comments.

“There is no real action required by this board” beyond approving the site plan, Chairman Shawn Stuart told Mr. Bedore and Mr. Dewyea. The approval came moments later that evening.

Village board provisionally appoints Nason as sergeant

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Police officer Jordan Nason, the village PD's K-9 officer, was provisionally appointed as a department sergeant at a special meeting of the village board Friday morning.

Chief Eric Proulx explained that the department is down to only one sergeant at the present time, who is Sgt. Geoff Carmichael, a retired officer from the Saranac Lake village department. To employ Sgt. Carmichael the village must obtain a waiver each year from the state retirement system.

The chief said he recently canvassed his officers and only Officer Nason expressed an interest in the administrative position.

Since he is not currently on the county civil service list as he has not yet taken the sergeant's exam, Officer Nason was appointed provisionally to the new post. Before he can be permanently appointed he will have to attend a three-week supervisor's school in January and successfully complete the sergeant's exam in a fashion he is among the top three on the civic service list.

After schooling, the new sergeant will be able to work with the department full time, even though the provisional appointment continues, the chief explained.

The chief said similar arrangements between the village and other police officers here have done in the past.

Chief Proulx expressed his confidence that the young officer is capable of assuming the new administrative duties with training.

Trustee Ron LaScala, who said he recently met at length with Officer Nason, echoed that sentiment.

In another employment matter that morning, the board officially accepted the resignation of electric department line worker Chad Montana, whose fiancé apparently took a new job out of the area.

Trustee LaScala lamented his departure, noting he was the second electric department worker who has left in recent months.

He explained that it is costly to the village when trained employees leave, after the village has paid for their training.

“There seems to be a lack of foresight into staff planning,” he stated. “We need to find better ways to retain these guys!”

Mayor Paul Maroun estimated that it costs the village about $80,000 to train an electric lineman over the course of four years.

He said there needs to be legal ways to retain them. “They need to stay at least three years!” for the village to recoup its training, he added.

Chief Eric Proulx suggested clearer employee retention language could be negotiated into the next village contract with electric department employees.

Blacktopping of village streets underway

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The annual autumn blacktopping of village streets by the department of public works, in concert with the county's highway department and its paving equipment, began last Tuesday.

Town paving projects with the county apparently concluded last Monday.

On Thursday the Free Press photographer found the joint village-county crew on Woods Ave., as the photos attached show.

According to DPW Superintendent Bob DeGrace the list of street scheduled for new coats of blacktop this fall are Front, Arden Lindsey, Amell Lane, part of Cedar near Tupper Lake Supply and Maple Street.

Mr. DeGrace told village leaders that there has been a lot of demand for asphalt across the North Country this year- pushing back a number of projects for local towns and villages.

Trustee Clint Hollingsworth wondered if Church and Deer streets were on this year's list.

Village Clerk Mary Casagrain said they weren't, as new laterals to many of the homes there still have to be installed.

Mr. Hollingsworth said those streets are very bad and in need of major re-construction soon.

Trustee Ron LaScala said that once the water and sewer line work is done there next year the village might be better off hiring a private contractor to do the paving work.

“We don't have the manpower to tackle projects like that.”

“Then maybe we should contract out the work?” suggested Deputy Mayor Leon LeBlanc.

“I agree!” said Trustee LaScala.

Officials at the table that evening agreed that those two streets needed major reconstruction- including new water and sewer mains.

Trustee LaScala said a major redo like that shouldn't be tackled by the village DPW and sewer and water crews, but left to a private contractor. “Our guys should be focusing on our many smaller projects” in coming years, he argued.

“They should be maintaining our infrastructure, not building it!”

Village Clerk Mary Casagrain said “it is very expensive to contract out” to the work. She remembered when the village attempted to go that route a decade ago when it redid Water Street. The price for a private contractor to rebuild the street at that time was $750,000.

Mayor Maroun said the board could look at contracting out the work needed on those two streets, and at least get prices.

In other DPW matters that evening, Mr. DeGrace said the new pick-up truck his department ordered recently on state contract has arrived.

He received board permission to advertise for sale the old 2006 pick-up it replaces on the popular equipment sale web site, Auctions International.

New Tupper Lake hotel on NCREDC wish list

Dan McClelland

A new Tupper Lake hotel is among the projects on a state grant wish list released last week by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. The new hotel proposed for here was one of 17 priority projects listed by the regional group.

The NCREDC has been very successful in recent years, winning millions of dollars in grant money from the state's economic development agency's annual pool, competing against similar regional agencies covering the entire state.

The Tupper Lake priority project is a $10.9 million hotel that Tupper Lake native Rick LaMere's company is proposing to build on a three-acre parcel on Demars Blvd.

Mr. LaMere, who relocated with his family to Virginia over a decade ago, is associated with the NorthSouth Construction Co. which helps build major hotels.

His company is headquartered in Midlothian, VA.

Mr. LaMere's building firm has apparently done a lot of work with Shamin Hotels, which is an upscale hotel chain on the east coast, often erecting new structures for the Hilton chain. Shamin is headquartered in Chester, VA.

Mr. LaMere has been back home in Tupper Lake several times this year, meeting with Mayor Paul Maroun and others on plans to build a major destination hotel here. Some of the meetings have included Community Development consultant Melissa McManus and Franklin County Industrial Development Agency executive director Jeremy Evans.

According to the mayor this week the builder is looking at two sites on “the boulevard”- the former ATS Auto Parts parcel adjacent to several properties Rick's brother Tom owns there and the former Aubuchon and former A&P Store plaza.

“The IDA is ready to help with financing,” said the mayor who is also our county legislator. He also said the Shamin group is also expected to be a partner in this new venture. “Rick's company has built thousands of hotel units for Shamin!”

According to the description in the NCREDC list the new Tupper Lake hotel would cost $10.9 million, with $2.2 million sought in state funding.

“NorthSouth Construction wants to rehabilitate a 3-acre parcel of commercial land... with a lodging hotel to promote tourism and private investments. The new facility affiliated with the Tru by Hilton brand would feature 75 rooms, a breakfast dining area, an indoor pool, a fitness room, a business center, a small market and an outdoor patio area. The hotel is projected to create 20 hotel jobs and 100 construction jobs.”

Other priority projects looking for state money in this area include a new $6.5 million headquarters for Saranac Lake's Pendragon Theater, a $4.8 million building and commercial center for Citizen Advocates in Malone and a $1.6 million renovation of space at Adirondack Health to provide pulmonary rehabilitation and physical therapy services. A fourth local project is $2.3 million restoration of the Trudeau home in Saranac Lake into a public museum dedicated to Dr. E.L. Trudeau's treatment of tuberculosis.

Last year the village board began a quest to secure a major brand-name hotel for this community to help it be more of a destination for tourists.

Riley Gillis completes Eagle Scout project

Dan McClelland

Rob Gillis, Riley Gillis, Dominic Dattola, Lisa Gillis, Doug Bencze, Peg Mauer, Adam Boudreau and Joe Salamy

Rob Gillis, Riley Gillis, Dominic Dattola, Lisa Gillis, Doug Bencze, Peg Mauer, Adam Boudreau and Joe Salamy

Riley Gillis, son of Lisa and Rob Gillis of Tupper Lake, recently completed his Eagle Scout Service project, the last phase in his journey to becoming an Eagle Scout. Riley’s project involved enhancing the west entrance of the Goff Nelson Library’s Community Room.

Riley attended a board meeting where Peg Mauer, library manager, described struggling with snow removal at the entrance facing Raquette Pond. In addition to installing a gable roof over the entrance, Riley and his team of volunteers removed pavement that had buckled from frost and installed paver stones at the entrance. They also removed a large stump and replaced a section of cracked sidewalk leading to the entrance. Over 104 hours of service from a dozen volunteers were spent to complete the project. The multi-phase project began in October of 2017 but the early winter weather forced the construction phase to be postponed until the following summer. The finishing touches were completed in August of 2018.

Before a Scout can begin working on their service project, they must submit a detailed proposal to the district advancement committee for approval.

In an email to Riley, the chairperson stated “I like this project for several reasons. You will provide an important improvement to one of the most used public facilities. You are also facilitating the village to complete the sidewalk. When I was a Boy Scout, there was a sign in our troop meeting place. It stated: The one who gets ten to work is greater than the one who does the work of ten. You are getting ten to work. Keep it up.”

Riley would like to commend the businesses which donated materials as well as the volunteers who were instrumental in completing this project. They include: Adirondack Fireplace, Bencze Logging, Village of Tupper Lake, Kentile Excavating, Aubuchon Hardware, Tupper Lake Supply, Gillis Realty, Rob & Lisa Gillis, Peg Mauer, Tom Gilman, Rob Drasye, Mike Donah, Doug Bencze, Ken Hubbard, Paul Maroun, Bob DeGrace, Adam Boudreau, Joel Boudreau, Fred Gates, Doug Bencze, Andre Suave, Rick & Dominic Dattola, Jane and Bruce LaVoy, Joe Salamy, and Richie Moeller.

Bob DeGrace, Paul Maroun, Riley Gillis, Tom Gilman, Bruce LaVoy

Bob DeGrace, Paul Maroun, Riley Gillis, Tom Gilman, Bruce LaVoy

Village performance park nearing completion

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

One of the last elements in the completion of the Village of Tupper Lake performance park in Flanders Park was wrapped up this week by a Watertown-based landscaping firm.

The LandPro landscaping company, owned by John Moody, laid the granite paving stones in the plaza area in front of the Lions bandshell, where people will dance to performers there in coming years.

The crew of about a half dozen men also backfilled with village-provided sand and earth behind the large granite retaining walls stones. By Friday most of the sod that will top the terrace seating was in place. The crew also planted a number of new trees and grass-type shrubs on the grounds of the performing venue, next to Mill Street, and behind the bandshell, where they will help absorb some of the surface water from the sloping grade of the park.

The company owner is a cousin of Wes Moody, who owns Moody Tree Farm at Saranac Lake.

At Monday's village board meeting Mayor Paul Maroun thanked Trustee Clint Hollingsworth for the work he and his father, Tinker, did maneuvering the two-ton granite stones into place to form the seating terraces on a recent weekend. Helping too was one of Clint's employees, Doug Snyder.

He said to “align and calibrate” the semi-circular retaining walls with the village's large excavator was nothing short of impressive.

“Thank you on behalf of the entire community!” he told the trustee.

Trustee Hollingsworth chaired the overall project for the village along with Trustee Ron LaScala. Spearheading the development of the bandshell structure itself for the Tupper Lake Lions Club was Lion Tom LaMere.

Speaking about the performance park Monday night Mr. Hollingsworth admitted there had been some concerns among the volunteers on the village committee about the ability of volunteers to lay the heavy plaza stones in front of the bandshell, so the decision was made to contract out the final leg of the project.

The overall funding for the new performance area and the transformation of that section of the municipal park came from the village's multi-million dollar pool of waterfront revitalization grant money secured for the village from the state department of state in recent years by Consultant Melissa McManus

LandPro was the only North Country firm to submit a bid on the landscaping piece. It's price was about $90,000- after the village committee and the village board negotiated it down some.

“The plaza, as of Friday, was almost finished, with some fine tuning left to do on the edges,” Mr. Hollingsworth told his colleagues.

The seating terraces are now all sodded and most of the new vegetation and shrubs are in place, he added.

The company's paving stone crew should be back this week to grout between the large two foot by two foot stones with a polymer sand, which repels moisture, according to the trustee and local contractor.

He said too the stones are all with a quarter-inch of tolerance, as designed by the architect on the project, Andrew Chary

Tom LaMere still has some pieces of trim and other wood to install on the rear walls of the bandshell building and glass plates will be hung on the two sides.

“I guess it's very safe to say we're going to be enjoying performances there next summer!” said a very pleased Mr. Hollingsworth.

He took a moment too to recognize the Hazelton Lumber Co. of Wilmington for its recent donation of about $1,000 in wood materials for the bandshell. The company, which also has its own mill, donated much of the Douglas fir in the structure at its cost and charged only minimally for the milling work required. A number of other local companies have donated considerably to the project this past year including Kentile Excavating and Lemieux Construction, which did weeks of site preparation work this spring, Mitchell Stone Products with a major donation of gravel, John Gullen Fine Carpentry, Hyde Fuel and others.

The Tupper Lake Lions Club raised over $40,000 towards the cost of the bandshell, with donations coming from club activities and from hundreds of local supporters.

Mr. Hollingsworth called the building of the new performance venue “an amazing collaborative project and humongous community effort.”

Town board selling former downtown fire hall

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

With the Tupper Lake Heritage Museum now moved over to its new home in the train station, town officials on October 11 agreed to put the former downtown fire station building up for sale.

Over five years ago an earlier town board tried to sell the Pine St. building. The only bidder eventually backed away from the deal.

Supervisor Patricia Littlefield raised the matter in old business at the October monthly meeting.

“Do we want to sell the former downtown fire station as excess property?” she asked her board. “Do we want to put in on the market now? Do we want to wait for spring?” she asked.

“The sooner the better, as far as I am concerned” Councilman John Quinn told her.

“We have the appraisal on it.” added Councilman Mike Dechene. “I think we should move forward with it.”

Town Clerk Laurie Fuller reported this week the appraiser's price was $121,000.

The officials that evening moved a resolution deeming the building surplus property and agreed to advertise for bids, setting the appraisal price as the minimum bid in the tender. The separate motions were offered by Mr. Quinn and they both passed unanimously.

Town Attorney Kirk Gagnier said the town should sell the building “as is” via a quit claim deed, with the purchaser assuming all closing costs.

The bid opening is November 29 at 2p.m.

Landscaping work in high gear at performance park

Dan McClelland

Crews from LandPro landscaping contractors of Watertown have been on site this past week at the village performance park where the Lions bandshell is situated. In the photo at top workers tamp the dance floor area in front of the bandshell in anticipation of the laying of a mozaic of two-inch thick granite pieces. Sand and top soil was also trucked to the site by the village department of public works, for placement by the firm's workers behind the three rows of two-ton granite retaining wall pieces. Sod is expected to be placed in the terrace areas this week. Some of the LandPro technicians have also been involved with various plantings of grass-style and evergreen shrubs in and around the outdoor performing place. The village awarded the contract for landscaping to the Watertown firm, the only bidder, in recent weeks for a price of about $90,000. (McClelland photos)