ACR to open Big Tupper this winter! Repair work has been in high gear all summer

by Dan McClelland
Repair work has been in high gear at the Big Tupper Ski Center all this summer as various contractors and their crews rejuvenate the lifts and buildings there in anticipation of the opening of the well-loved facility this coming winter.
Adirondack Club and Resort Developer Tom Lawson announced earlier this year he would reopen the ski center this year and he's been working diligently to that end since then.
After a string of about seven winters of operation- some of which saw little or no natural snow and  big losses- Tupper Lake's ARISE  (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy) leaders called it quits last fall and didn't operate the mountain facility last winter.  The developers of the ACR, however, have stepped up to renew winter operations there- much to the excitement of many skiers here and across the North Country.
On two visits to the ski center    this summer  there was plenty of evidence of repair work underway.
The chairlift No. 2 base station, which was all but destroyed by strong winds blowing down from the top of the mountain several years ago, has been completely rebuilt by Don Bennett and his carpenters.  New siding, a new roof and new windows- four feet by eight feet in size- are now in place, as is a fresh coat of Oxford brown stain.  The base structure is completely rejuvenated.
The large new windows bring natural light into the area around the lift engine, where there was none before.
All the buildings in the base area have been stained the same shade of that deep brown for a very uniform appearance.
Repair work  is also underway on the lift operator control station, next to the engine building and to the entire Mitey Mite lift.
“The Mitey Mite has been totally rebuilt.  The top and bottom have been removed for replacement, the motor has been totally rebuilt,” Tom Lawson said on a second tour Friday.
All components of that lift- including the base building- should be back in place next week.  Parts of that trail have also been regraded.
Both chairlift No. 2 and the Mitey-Mite lift will be open this winter.  Chairlift No. 1 and No. 3 are due to be operating in the 2019-20 winter.
During our first visit about six weeks ago we met Derrick Shaw and Sandra Bushell, partners in a lift restoration company called Tower Dogs.
The partners actually work like dogs, as the expression goes.
The partners started at first light and work until dark.
Tower Dogs is known among any ski area operators all across the country for their diligence and hard work.  The partners have worked out west in recent years at Winter Park Ski Resort in Colorado and after they finish up here in July they were headed to Ski Liberty resort in Pennsylvania. Big Tupper was their opening gig of the season.
Everything they were sanding, scraping and painting there is now an attractive evergreen color.
Derrick and Sandra are  expected to return to Tupper Lake in mid-September to begin repainting  the old t-bar lift towers that will eventually support a new zip line down the mountain some year very soon.
During their time here they stayed at Timber Lodge at Moody and they had praise for its operator, Don Dew Jr.
They had completely painted half of the 14 towers and the chairs on lift No. 2 during our first visit and were due to finish in that days that followed.
All the chairs now sit freshly sanded, primed and painted and ready for rehanging in upcoming days.
The chairs were removed for close inspection by state inspectors and all passed.
The hangers which attach the chairs to the lift cable have all been removed too and shipped to a Vermont company for x-raying for flaws.  They are expected to be back by next week.
Lift specialists from a company called All Lifts which has worked at Big Tupper in the past completed mechanical work on the lifts.
The company was charged with making repairs to the  wheels and other equipment on the lift towers to put everything in top shape for the coming winter.
Mr. Lawson said the chairlift No. 3 engine has been extensively serviced this summer.
He had hoped that lift might be ready for this winter with an overhaul of its two buildings this fall “but the winter is just approaching too fast. It'll have to wait a year!”
Since our early-summer visit the restoration of the chairlift No. 1 base building was also tackled. It too has been rebuilt with new windows and  attractively painted.
All summer long the entire place has been bustling with the work of various contracting crews.  Some days there are as many as 40 workers on site.  Most of them are local people.
On our first visit Mr. Lawson said they hoped to put a temporary snow-making system in place for the lower trails, but on Friday he mentioned they are simply running out of time for this season.
Some of the old snow-making pipes were pressure-tested this summer but they are full of holes.
 The retaining wall next to the lodge has been removed and the earth will be graded in the weeks ahead so skiers can ski right down to their cars in the  parking lot.  Inspectors also felt the deteriorating wall was a hazard, he said.
Landscaping work is planned below and around the chairlift No. 2 building between it and where the resort's planned  hotel will be situated in the large open area at the end of the parking lot.
The ACR plan also calls for the construction of a new spa just below the western edge of the parking lot in the years ahead.
Adjacent to the spa will be the new skating rink planned- similar to the one in place at Sun Valley, Idaho.  The unique place will be designed by ACR investor Scott Allen, skating Olympian.
 Repair work has also commenced on chairlift No. 3, which services the top of the mountain.
Mowing of the trails has been done several times this summer by Jeff Trudeau, who is working with his grandson Josh's company which has been building the 11.5 mile great camp road beyond the Lake Simond.
Part of Josh's crew has been assigned to the mountain while another continues to work on the road into the great camps which is almost completed.  “Right now we're working on driveways (into the great camps).  Many of the lots have already been spoken for but people want to see where their houses will be going!” Mr. Lawson said Friday.
 Jeff  and others with Trudeau Construction  have used large commercial mowers to do the necessary mowing work at Big Tupper.
During our tour Friday Jill Trudeau, Jeff's daughter and Josh's mother and the Adirondack Club and Resort's administrative assistant, predicted there could be at least two more mowings of the mountain trails this fall to put them in good shape to receive the snow nature provides.  One mowing, which may involve some manual cutting,  will focus on the larger vegetation near the sides of the trails where the big machines can't reach and a late fall mow will be another attack at the trails themselves.
Jill knows the mountain well, having skied there since she was three years of age.  When she talks about it and about what's to come her fondness for the place is very apparent.
The resort plans call for a zip line, where the cable will run from the top of chairlift No. 2 area on the old t-bar poles down to the new lake planned adjacent to the lodge.  The restoration of those poles in the months and years ahead and the retrofitting for the popular zip line apparatus is expected to produce a whole brand new type of visitor to the mountain who will come in summers ahead to enjoy the new attraction there.
Future plans also call for a new indoor and outdoor bar building- with seating for about 250- on the slab that was once home to the ski shop and later a day care center. “There places are big out west!”
Entrance towers additions are also planned at both ends of the existing lodge, each with lots of windows to shed light there.
Extensive landscaping is also planned around the lodge.
The resort project is also expected to lease a snowcat for trail grooming operations this winter.
“We're working very hard these days to get everything ready for a good season of skiing this winter!” Mr. Lawson said on our first visit.
When the  Free Press crew returned for a second visit Friday it was amazing  the progress that has been made over the summer.
In recent weeks the entire 600+ acre property has been surveyed by an Albany-based firm using a large commercial drone.
The size of the remotely-controlled aircraft- nearly two feet across- made quite an impression on workers there in recent weeks.
Part of the reason for the topographic map the firm will have ready in upcoming weeks is the layout of a new mountain road to the 30 or so upper elevation residences that will be built below the top of chairlift No. 2 and the dimensions of the lots themselves.
The survey work was also needed to pinpoint the exact locations of new catchment basins in the lodge area to handle all the surface water that typically runs off the mountain.
Hundreds of tons of crushed gravel has been added over the summer to the existing mountain road to the chairlift No. 2 top area to repair it. More is stockpiled in the parking lot for more road work.
On Friday's ride to the top we found Charlie Madore and his crew busy rebuilding the lift station and cabin at the top of chairlift No. 2.
The cabin is being completely rebuilt with a new roof, insulation, new board and batten exterior siding to keep the lift operators at the top dry and warm this winter.  CM Construction crew has also completely rebuilt with pressure-treated framing materials  the platform where skiers get off the lift each ride up the mountain.
Charlie's partner is  Jason Roberge.
On our trip back down the road, as we passed the old ranger cabin, Tom mentioned their plans to eventually rehabilitate it, with rest rooms and a bigger deck where skiers could stop for a break.  Once plans are finalized, the ACR will apply for the permits to repair and improve the old cabin.
Pointing over to chairlift No. 1 he admitted it will require “the most work” to put back in operation.
When it is rebuilt it will feature again its mid-way station, where novices and intermediates can get off to enjoy the lower parts of the trails in front of the lodge.
“We've started the repairs to the towers of chairlift No. 1 but there's a lot of work to be done,” said the ACR developer.  Some of that work involves extensive repairs to the large bull wheel at top.
Chairlift No. 1 won't be open until the 2019-20 ski season, when chairlift No. 3 will also be open and operating.
Set for a new roof this fall is the ski patrol building, adjacent to the base lodge.  Among the repairs will be a new trussed roof.  Those materials were expected to arrive from Tupper Lake Supply this week.
Mr. Lawson met recently with Ski Patrol Director Tom Sciacca and some of his volunteer patrollers and they are ready to provide safety on the ski trails this winter.
The main floor of the Big Tupper lodge has been completed gutted in past weeks, in anticipation of a restoration over the winter.  The operation of the mountain this winter will be directed from the basement level while renovation proceed above.  More on the lodge next week.
Everything is full speed ahead right now at the hometown ski center as the ACR developers plan for a great season of skiing this winter!

Village orders electric car-charging units

by Dan McClelland
The village has ordered three “level two” electric vehicle charging stations to make Tupper Lake a destination for motorists who own electric cars.
Last month the village board ran with an idea by Electric Superintendent Marc Staves to order this charging units as part of a statewide grant program.
One of the new units will go to replace an outdated device in place at the Wild Center and Mr. Staves was expected to meet with those officials in the days following the board's August 15 monthly meeting.
The village will place one unit in the new parking lot in front of Flanders Park and one in the western end of the municipal park, near the Rotary pavilion.
The village crew several years ago installed a charging unit adjacent to the pavilion and Mr. Staves said he recently checked its usage by the owners of electric-powered cars and, in his words, “a whole lot of people” have taken advantage of it.
The signs advertising the charging stations will be part of a statewide system and will be all color coded, Mayor Paul Maroun noted.
The state is also developing a map where all these new charging stations are situated, so owners of electric cars can plan their itineraries around accessing them, bringing new people to town.
Mark Jessie and Suzanne Holiday, the new owners of the Faust Motel, earlier this year installed charging units at their place with an eye to attracting visitors there.
In another electric department matter that Mr. Staves briefed the board members on that evening, he said he met recently with the village's engineering consultants, the MRB group, and did a walk through of the department's garage on McLaughlin Ave. with an eye to its replacement.
He said the firm's representatives assessed the current condition of the old metal garage and have prepared a contract for the village to consider for them to oversee any replacement project.
The old garage, which is shared with the department of public works, has been plagued with roof ice problems over the years.
Mr. Staves said he expects the consultants will present a “needs layout schematic floor plan” to the village in upcoming weeks for the board's consideration.

Adirondack Sky Center to hold open house previewing new museum Friday

Adirondack Sky Center to hold open house
previewing new museum Friday
On Friday, August 10, from 3-5pm, the Adirondack Sky Center (formerly known as the Adirondack Public Observatory) will host an open house at its property at 178 Big Wolf Road, to share its plans for the AstroScience Center museum and planetarium.
The outlines of the new c will be staked out on the grounds so that visitors can picture themselves in the Planetarium, Exhibit Hall, and other spaces planned for the museum.
Organizers will provide free popcorn and lemonade, and great music to celebrate this project’s unique ability to show the “Dark Skies” available in the Adirondack region.
Situated on four acres of raised land in the northerly area of Tupper Lake, the Adirondack Sky Center benefits from some of the only dark skies and the most pristine atmosphere east of the Mississippi River. Interest from across the U.S northeast and the local community has spurred the organization to aim to establish a permanent Adirondack center for astronomy and space science, the AstroScience Center, at the site.
Complementing The Wild Center natural history museum, the ASC’s AstroScience Center will greatly expand science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning in the region, while also strengthening Tupper Lake’s appeal as a meaningful travel destination.
The ASC completed Phases 1 and 2 and is working on Phase 3 now. Phase 1 focused on development of a Roll-off Rooftop Observatory (RORO), completed in 2012, where stargazing takes place year-round. In 2016 Phase 2 was completed, wherein Envision Architects worked with the then-Adirondack Public Observatory to develop options for site and building plan concepts. A preferred concept design has been selected and developed with a cost estimate. Phase 3 includes finalizing designs and Phase 4 is building the AstroScience Center, and a Research Telescope building, is Phase 5. Now in a Capital Campaign to help fund Phases 3, 4, and 5, the Sky Center volunteers invite residents and visitors across the Adirondack region to experience the thrill of possibility this ambitious project offers, at the open house and on its web site and Facebook page.
When complete, the center will have many day-time events and offerings, including a Planetarium, a modern style with room-edge projectors and all-seating viewing; a lecture hall (which will be available for renting out), appropriate for lectures, concerts, etc.; an interactive classroom, where visitors can do self-guided hands-on activities and classes can have guided discussions, robot building, arts classes, and more; with 14,000 square feet of public space, plus 3,000 square feet of space in the basement.
“Gazing at the night sky in the Adirondacks is an awe-inspiring experience,” said Senator Betty Little. “While so many people visit our region for the beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers and incredible recreational opportunities, the stellar spectacle above is something that many urban and suburban visitors don’t see at home either. The Adirondack Sky Center’s plans for the AstroScience Center Museum and Planetarium is very exciting news. This will be a tremendous tourism and educational attraction and I am pleased to lend my support to help secure funding for this project which is sure to inspire.”
James McKenna, CEO of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST), said "The Adirondack Sky Center in Tupper Lake is the right idea at the right time! It will interpret 'The Wilderness Above' for travelers as the Wild Center across town interprets the wilderness below  and it will tap into our under-appreciated 'Dark Skies.' Large new audiences, such as the many who visit our National Parks just to see night-time views without light pollution, will be lining up once the AstroScience Center opens its doors."
Board President Carol Levy said “The AstroScience Center museum, the second building being constructed to comprise the Adirondack Sky Center, will be a facility providing astronomy-related experiences both day and night for visitors of all ages.”
“It will exponentially expand our educational offerings, including the ability to host many school groups, scout field trips, and more, year-round and will be a center for Astrophotography including training, imaging with telescopes, and processing,” noted Board Vice-President and Tupper Lake Central School District Superintendent Seth McGowan.
Gib Brown, a trustee and retired meteorologist at Newschannel 5, WPTZ, said “This community, Tupper Lake, knows how to get things done. I'm confident that the AstroScience Center will become reality in the years to come."
Residents and visitors are invited to come and get a peek into the future at the observatory on Friday from 3-5pm. Make it an evening with the lecture (following) by Jeffrey Miller of St. Lawrence University, at Tupper Lake High School, at 7p.m., and stop by for free stargazing at the Observatory, beginning 30 minutes or so after sundown (around 9pm), with a guided discussion and telescope viewing of our unique Adirondack night sky.
Check or its Facebook page, or call 518.359.3538 between 10-5 weekdays, for details.

In preparation for Friday's open house, plastic-covered color drawings of the wonder to come to Tupper Lake at the new AstroScience Center have been placed this week on the graded site of the proposed facility off Big Wolf Road.

Capital campaign launched for $15 million astroscience center

Capital campaign launched for $15 million astroscience center by Dan McClelland
Tupper Lake will be home to a second world-class museum and research center as early as five years from now, according to the newest campaign of the Adirondack Public Observatory.
This month the APO, with headquarters on High Street and its  roll-off roof observatory at its hilltop campus above Little Wolf Lake, is launching a five-year $15 million capital campaign to build its new state of the art astroscience center.
The fundraising campaign begins this month with $1.2 million the APO volunteers have raised for the  center to date.
The modern center is phase 2 of the APO project, and follows on the coattails, in a most grandiose fashion, of the building of the roll off roof observatory in  2011.  Phase 3 is a new $2 million research telescope in a building behind the new center- to be built later.
The astroscience center will be built at about the center of the APO campus, on the side of the existing hill.  Skip Lemieux Contracting and crew have this past week opened a second and lower road into the property off Big Wolf Road, and have marked out with flags the footprint of the new building for events there beginning today.
The new center will be open many afternoons throughout the year and offer many day-time programs and offerings.  It will also be open  several evenings each week for night-time viewing.  
Included in the center will be a modern planetarium- a giant movie theater of sorts with room-edge projectors, a screen across a domed ceiling and innovative seating for as many as 65 curious visitors to relax and enjoy the intricacies of the heavens.
APO President Carol Levy said recently there are many “sky shows” available for screening in planetariums across the country that will be offered for viewing in our planetarium.
People will be able to view the sky and all that it features in the various coming shows inside the planetarium and then go outside in the evening and observe it live, she noted during an interview last week.
The scientific building, which will provide 14,000 square foot of public space and 3,000 square feet of space for storage, mechanical rooms and offices in the basement, will also feature a large lecture hall, available for rent by local and area organizations.  The lecture hall will be home to various lectures, concerts and other events associated with the science of astronomy.
Included too will be an interactive classroom, where visitors of all ages can do what APO leaders are calling “self-guided hands-on activities” or take part in guided discussions.  Activities like robot-building and similar scientific experiments will be regular fare found there.
One of the exhibits the APO leaders are planning is a “build your own alien” machine, where people can push buttons to create their own planet and the type of inhabitant that could live there.  There will be selections for the size of a planet, its type of atmosphere, its temperature, its composition- and from that will come the type of plant or animal or alien that could live there.
“It will be about creating a new world, creating aliens who would occupy it, and how they would move and live,” said Ms. Levy.
“We hope to have an interactive component in every exhibit,” remarked APO Vice President Seth McGowan.
 There will also be space in the new building for conference rooms, which organizations and businesses can book for special sessions and large meetings.
It will be home to various changing exhibits designed to peak curiosities and excite people about the science. Astrophotography, including training, taking photo images with telescopes and processing will be regularly featured at the new exploration place in Tupper Lake.
To be called “The Adirondack Sky Center, it will be what has been described by the scientists at the National Academy of Sciences last year as “a hub for teaching and learning- inspiring a love of exploration beyond our world...”
“Building on the love of nature and wilderness nurtured by the Adirondacks, the Adirondack Sky Center will inspire and encourage the love and knowledge of the wonders of the universe through science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).”
The exhibits, lectures, hands-on activities and conferences inside the new center will provide materials and information to aid visitors in the understanding the breathtaking objects and processes being discovered by the science of astronomy, according to the institute.
“Outside, under the dark skies of the Adirondacks, lessons will come alive as visitors are guided to see, with their own eyes unaided, with binoculars and telescopes, and through visual simulations in the planetarium- across  the vast distances of space to objects that challenge our understanding and even our imagination.  The combination of low humidity, high altitude, and lack of light pollution provide ideal conditions for night sky viewing,” the scientists wrote.
The building will face south and in front of it will be parking in lots down the hill.
All exterior lighting, much of it landscape lighting,  will be dark sky compliant so not to interfere with sky viewing at the roll off roof observatory or the coming research telescope.
David Levy, a scientist who has given APO presentations a number of times in recent years, said of the coming project recently: “Formerly the Adirondack Public Observatory, the Adirondack Sky Center is revealing the treasure of the dark Adirondack skies. Over the last 15 years the sky center has evolved into a regionally recognized center for the observation and study of the cosmos, and has been growing its mission to provide quality educational experiences for people of all ages through the science, technology and history of astronomy.
“No science inspires as does astronomy. And the Adirondack night sky, the wilderness above, is simply spectacular!  It is the dark skies of the New York State's Adirondack Park that something unique is being crated: the Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory!”
The executive directors of the APO include Ms. Levy as president, Seth McGowan, vice president, Sandie Strader, secretary, Mark Moeller, treasurer and Alexander Crispo, member at large.
The board of trustees include: David Aguilar, Carole Barrett, Gib Brown, A. Wallace Everest, Jr., Kirk Gagnier, Jerry Hacker, Jim LaValley, Tom Lawson, Jeffrey Miller, Dr. Aileen O'Donoghue, the Rev. Rick Wilburn and Tom Wojtkowski.
Advisory board members are Art Cacciola, Tim Connelly, Jr., Barbara Grose, Linda Levy, Peter Litchfield, Susan Lawson, Bruce McClure, Nick Moeller and Kate Martin.

Village officials: “Don't be afraid to water your lawns!”

“Don't be afraid to water your lawns!” is the message from village leaders to village residents and water district customers this week.
“I'd like people to water their lawns!” Trustee Ron LaScala, who oversees the water and sewer department, announced at Wednesday's monthly village board meeting.
“We want to put our new wells to the go ahead and water!” he asserted.
Water and Sewer Superintendent Mark Robillard, in his report to the board, said he'd like “to push the new wells to the limit” to get an exact idea of their performance and recovery times.
He warned homeowners, however, to use some discretion and not let their hoses run continuously. “I don't want folks to be foolish” with their water use.
Mr. Robillard said these hot, dry summer days are optimal to test the new system, which came on line in recent weeks.
In past summers, when all village water was drawn from Tupper Lake and Little Simond, residents were asked to water their lawns only  on alternative days, as those sources required expensive chemicals to treat their water.
“Normally at this time of year we'd be doing a lot of backwashing at those two plants- and running into a lot of overtime” wages because we had employees working weekends and evenings.
With the plentiful supply of water coming out of those new wells beyond Pitchfork Pond, and the fact that the new water source requires a relatively little amount of treatment, his department will see a lot less over-time, it was noted.
Mr. Robillard said since the new village well water system came on line in the past two weeks, customers have been enjoying “cold, clear water” from their taps.
Any cloudiness that was noticed in the days following the start-up should now be gone, and if it persists, he said his office would like to know about it.
“How's the water pressure in the Junction neighborhoods?” Mayor Paul Maroun asked the room that evening.
“I noticed a little drop, but it's still great,” said Cedar Street resident Pete Edwards, code enforcement officer.
“Mine's fine!” noted planning board member Jan Yaworski, who has done extensive renovations to her Oak Street house where she hopes to eventually devote one bedroom to a bed and breakfast operation.
To enjoy the full benefit of the new clean and minimally treated well water flowing into town down the new mains on Kildare Road, Mr. Robillard suggested residents clean the screens on their faucets.
Mr. LaScala said right now all the village's water is coming from the new wells, and not from Little Simond or Tupper Lake, the latter of which will soon be mothballed by the village.
The wells are both holding about 54 feet in height of water and are replenishing almost immediately, the trustee told his colleagues and the public that evening.
“The wells are both holding very level,” in terms of their water content, Mr. Robillard agreed.
As of publishing time, the water experiment has ended.

Evening games delights crowd again

One of the highlights of the Tupper Lake Woodsmen's Days is the Saturday evening games, and this year was no exception.
As always the crowd, dominated with local residents, loved the excitement.
This year offered five male tug of war teams and the groaning and grunting of big men was pronounced throughout the contest.
The winners this year after some major struggles was the Lizotte Logging team.  A pick-up team of kayakers training at the Lake Placid training center plus Brent Bowman's sons Connor and Michael put together the second best effort of the evening. Their team was called Team Gutpa.
A team called Mossy Oak pulled third best.  Young Life had a team in it this year too.
In the women's tug of war Rope Burn, a group of local ladies continued their winning ways for about the fourth year in a row with another first place finish.
An offshoot team from that same winning gang, called Burn Rope, managed the second prize.  Some gals in town for a bridal party put together a third place win with a team called Merger.  The gals even treated the crowd to a patriotic song after the pulling.
Team Danny, another Young Life contribution, was the fourth set of ladies to pull.
By contrast to earlier years when as many as five or six teams tried to scale the grease pole, Saturday's climb only attracted two.
Back for their eleventh try up the pole to ring the bell was Tupper's best, Team Dozer, which is always dominated by members of the Skiff family.
For the first time in ten years, the agile climbers didn't ring the bell, although top man Ryan Skiff came within an inch or so of doing it.
Missing this year on the team was anchor man Ricky Skiff and in his place was Josh Dupuis.  Also missing from the line-up was Travis Skiff.  Back this year were Ryan Moeller and Chase Kavanagh and a new member was Joel Counter.
Although no bell was rung, Team Dozer was still the winner.
The other climbing team was The Bear in Camp from Young Life.
This year featured a team of women climbers, and some of the cast of Rope Burn.  The lady climbers were Michaela Warren, Alyssa Rupert, Crystal (Reandeau) Billian, Yvonne Sutton and Paige Foley.
Good job, girls!

Woodsmen’s Days heavy equipment contests draw many teams

by Rich Rosentreter
Contestants were able to show off their ability to operate functions of heavy equipment as part of the Woodsmen’s Days competitions over the weekend.
Among the heavy equipment competitions were a loading contest, skidding competition, truck driving contest and four-man competition.
There were 15 competitors in the loading contest in which basically each competitor uses a hydraulic loader to transfer eight wooden blocks, one by one, from red squares on a grid to red squares on another grid then return them to the red squares on the original grid for a checker board contest.
This competition was won by Jon Duhaime with a time of 3:22.20. The runner-up was Scott Lizotte with a time of 3:26.08 and taking third place was Buck North with a time of 3:27.09.
The skidding competition featured 20 contestants with 11 being from out of town. Contestants had to dismount the machine, hook chokers on logs, return to machine, fasten seatbelt and proceed around obstacle course as directed by judges. There were also four women who gave it a try as well.
Taking first place was Scott Lizotte with a time of 1:08.33. Coming in second was Mike Moon Jr. with a time of 1:23.32 and taking third place was Will Middlemiss with a time of 1:24.83.
In the trucking competition there were six contestants who demonstrated their truck-driving skills on an obstacle course and also had to back the rig to a loading platform.
Buck North captured first place with a time of 0:45.39. In second place was Scott Lizotte (1:00.72) and taking the third spot was James “Beefy” Donah (1:07.08).
In the four-man competition there were six teams total, with one team being a female squad. This event was introduced to Woodsmen’s Days in 1986 and gives the spectator a first-hand look at what is a typical day for a crew, according to the Woodsmen’s website. Each team member performs one phase of the simulated logging operation as the cutter fells three trees, then the skidder chokes the logs and brings them to the landing. The loader operator and the cutter work together to buck the logs and then load them on the truck. The trucker then hauls the logs to the finish line and the team with the lowest total time is declared “Top Crew of the Woods” the site explains.
In first place was the team of Jon Duhaime, Mike Rust, Scott Lizotte and Frank Tice with a time of 6:31.82 and one penalty. In second place was the team of Mike Trivieri, Bob Schram, Neilson Snye and Buck North with a time of 7:23.15 and one penalty.
The women’s team included Ciera North as the skidder, Stephanie Breton as the loader and Tenielle Moeller manning the truck. Hank Denis served as cutter (we didn't want a woman really running a chainsaw in case of an accident, organizers said).
According to one event worker, the girls had fun and the crowd really enjoyed watching women try what some of these men do every day.

Editorial: PD's bike rodeo was amazing

Tupper Lake Police Officer Mike Vaillancourt outdid himself this year in the 11th staging of his bike rodeo, sponsored annual by the Tupper Lake PD and several local groups and businesses.  Mike promised our readers last week the event would be bigger and better than any he has produced in the past and it was.
It was a grand affair, from its start at 10a.m. Saturday to the finish four hours later.  The laughter of hundreds of children and the very visible efforts of youngsters challenging themselves through skills and drills to be better bicycle operators were clear evidence of its success.
From humble beginnings 11 years ago when Officer Mike started the program to teach kids bicycle safety, its growth over the years has been amazing.  He told us last week he only had enough money to give out 15 bicycle helmets down at the firemen's strip that first year.
Last year, the first time it was held at the new Emergency Services Building after years at the L.P. Quinn lower parking lot, the event drew about 300 children and there were 140 bike helmets given away to local bike riders.
This year Mike figures there were 600 participants and 225 helmets were distributed to kids without them.  What a great investment in the community and in the health of our youngsters!
The weather was perfect Saturday, with plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the high sixties and low seventies....perfect bike riding weather.
Mike said this week our strong plug for his event in the story we ran about it in last week's issue was a big factor in the huge attendance boost this year.  Thanks, Mike! It's easy to promote good things and the annual bike rodeo is certainly one of those things.
There were some important lessons for kids and their parents to learn that day.
The New York State Police “seat belt convincer” roll-over vehicle, brought to the event by Trooper Mike Kohan and Station Commander and Sergeant Ryan Fountain, made a very vivid impression on the minds of everyone who watched it roll over that seat belts save lives.
Without a seat belt the dummy inside was freely tossed about and sometimes tossed out.  It didn't take much imagination to figure out how serious the injuries would have been to the dummy not wearing a seat belt.
At one point he folded like a crushed cup under the vehicle after expulsion.
Another greater demonstrator of danger that day was the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board's pedal car which youngsters were encouraged to drive through a course of cones, while wearing goggles that simulated impaired driving.  We took a look through them and everything was very distorted.  The kids struggled to stay on course, as a drunk driver would.
Through Rick Reandeau, who always brings along the Woodmen Life bounce house, two new portable slides were secured for the event from Taylor Rental in Saranac Lake.  Judging by the lines of kids waiting to board them they were extremely popular.
The little ones seemed to like to bounce but older kids really liked the slides, one of which was an alligator.
So popular were the inflatables that Mike plans to add another Taylor Rental piece- a 60 foot long inflated obstacle course with lots of challenges for youngsters.
There were both off road and on road courses to challenge the bike skills of kids, and there was a constant flow of riders through them.
DPW Superintendent Bob DeGrace and his men created an incredible course between the ESB and the arena and it featured a number of obstacles.  Great job, DPW'ers.
Flutterbug the Clown who has been making kids laugh and painting their faces since almost the event started was another popular feature of this year's event.
A large number of community volunteers were also present from the members of the Kiwanis Club signing up kids for free things including two new bicycles to students like Henry Denis tending to the
 obstacle courses to firemen like Haji Maroun and Scott Shannon cooking hot dogs and hamburgers.  The one we were offered was great, but paled, of course, to one of those Lions burgers, smothered with Lions onions, that were being served that day by Lions Kurt and Mark Garrelts down in the park at the James Person Memorial Tournament
The inside of the fire station was filled with booths and vendors giving out assortments of safety reminders and souvenirs to the kids.
One of the greatest things about Mike's event is that there is never an excuse for any child or adult to leave hungry.
Shaheen's Supermarket generated the makings of 500 hamburgers and hot dogs- and added another 50 sets when the firemen ran out.  The local IGA is very generous when it comes to kids, as many of our local businesses are.
Dozens of pizzas were furnished by Guido's Pizzeria.
Stewarts completely ran out of its five large tubs of ice cream, given out as part of its make your own sundae gift.
There were only five bottles of water left from a donation by Jreck Subs of over 400 bottles.
The Larsen family's ice machine couldn't keep up to the demand for free snow cones.
Judging by the sticky faces we saw the Piercefield Fire Department ladies auxiliary's cotton candy was a hit too.  Pounds and pounds of delicious popcorn was generated by the Aubuchon Hardware staff.
With all the various types of treats available, we reckon there was more than a few kids with upset bellies that evening.
The availability of two bike mechanics from High Peaks Cyclery, who came armed this year with a host of bike parts for fixes on the spot, was a big boost for the event this year.  In past years there has been only one mechanic there for free tune-ups.
One local mother on a fixed income was incredibly appreciative of the repairs done to her daughter's bike there.  Without the assistance of that company she didn't have the money to get her child's bike fixed this summer and the girl would have went without.  The mother's eyes were full of tears as she thanked Officer Vaillancourt.
Something new this year- in an effort to keep kids there until 2p.m. was a huge giveaway of 75 gift certificates to McDonald's for Happy Meals and 100 Stewart's sundaes.  It didn't work out as well as Mike planned, time-wise.  It took almost 45 minutes to call out and find the winners.  Next year  Mike is just going to call up all the kids and give them free certificates for the treats.
The budget for the event has grown dramatically over the years.  In the early years Officer Vaillancourt spent weeks drumming up funds for it.
This year the event got a $2,000 boost from the village its the police department's budget and $5,000 when a $2,500 gift from the Sellon family of Gull Pond was matched by the Adirondack Trust.
Mike will be working with the Adirondack Trust's Russ Cronin in the week's ahead for other gifts from the charitable foundation.
Not counting the very generous donations of food products and gifts from local business, over $10,000 is spent each year on helmets and other products that are given out to local children.
Mike told us this week his event would not be possible without the amazing support he gets from this community, its organizations and businesses.
They are the reason, he says, the event continues to flourish year after year, treating kids and their families to a great day and teaching them valuable lessons of bicycle safety.
-Dan McClelland

New arts center to open on Park St.

by Dan McClelland
Tupper Lake's uptown business district will soon be home to a new arts center where  various types of art and music will be enjoyed and cultivated throughout the entire year.
Two years ago Louise McNally took over the direction of Tupper Lake's Art Show and last year she paired it with a very successful street festival with the help of a small committee of volunteers.  She is also currently the mainstay of the Tupper Lake beautification program with the village, where pots of flowers and greenery now grace our business districts every season of the year.
Since last summer the local resident has been working on a replacement to the defunct Tupper Lake Arts Council, which folded about two years ago.  This spring saw the birth of the new cultural organization here called Tupper Arts.
 Tupper Arts' first event happened in April with the successful staging of Tupper's first Mud Ball at the train station.  The informal gala raised over $4,000 to pay for  entertainment Friday nights this summer at the new Lions bandshell in what Tupper Arts is calling its Summer Sunset Series of free concerts.
Two of the people who Louise has gathered around her this past year are newcomers Tony and Lynn Quinn who three years ago purchased from the Tupper Lake Christian Center congregation the building that was for decades the home of Futterman Furniture at 106 Park Street.
Louise and members of her small group and the Quinns have been meeting in recent weeks and in recent days finalized an arrangement where the spacious storefront building will be home to a new arts center.
“We're very excited about it!” Mrs. McNally said Monday.  She said one of her dreams in recent years has been to open an arts center in Tupper Lake.”
“Tony and Lynn were very supportive of providing us space when we approached them.  Like us they are very excited about what can happen there in the years to come.”
“They love the community.  They really want to make a difference!” Mrs. McNally told the Free Press.
Lynn is the daughter of  Woody Maroun, a popular barkeeper here for many years and Nancy (Peets) Maroun.
Lynn was born in Tupper Lake and she and her parents moved to Buffalo when she was three but visited here often over her childhood as w the majority of her family members live here.  She lived here in 1984 and 1985, helping her dad run Woody's High Hat Lounge on Park Street. That was also the year she met Tony in Florida.
The couple lived there through 2012 when they moved to Tennessee. They are currently transitioning into Tupper Lake full time.
The storefront areas in the front of the building will become retail space where Tupper Arts in a new gift gallery will sell the paintings, crafts, jewelry and other products of local artisans and crafts people.
The organization will be looking for volunteers in the months to come to staff the store.
In the spacious area  partitioned off behind the retail and office areas in front is where arts, culture and music will be enjoyed and promoted in various types of exhibits, shows and live performances in the months ahead.
The building features about 9,600 square feet of space spread over its main level and basement level floors- so there's plenty of room for cultural endeavors and activities of all sorts.
“In addition to art shows, musical theater, dramatic productions, etc. for the community to enjoy we want to be a place to foster local talent,” Mrs. McNally explained.  To that end, the new Tupper Arts Center will be home to a variety of workshops and classes over the course of the year where people can take art lessons, music lessons, dance classes- the majority of them taught by local artists and musicians.
She said she was hopeful those folks will come forward to share their talents with others.
The goal of the Tupper Arts leaders is to also make the new place self-supporting through the activities hosted there.
“Our goal is also to become the hub for many good things to happen here, and particularly the development of a love and appreciation of art and music by our young people.”
The fledgling Tupper Arts committee is in the process of obtaining not for profit status through the Internal Revenue Service and once that designation is granted all donations will be tax deductible.  In the meantime the new group is working with ARISE, which has that status currently.
The building that the Quinns will make available to Tupper Arts is “perfect for our purposes,” she noted this week.
Louise is currently working with high school art teacher Shannon Kavanagh, who has challenged her students to create artwork that will be affixed and displayed all across the top of the building's front on Park Street.
They will be just temporary, however, until a new facade for the building is created in a flavor appropriate for an arts center.
The first event the new place will host will be a gala and fundraiser organized by Tupper Arts on the eve of the annual art show on Tuesday, August 7 at 7p.m.
“It should be a very historic, celebratory evening to welcome this year's summer art show in our new place on Park Street,” said Louise.
For decades the art show was run out of the community room in the basement of the Goff Nelson Memorial Library.  Two years ago it was moved to the Tupper Lake train station and last summer to the former Ginsberg's Department Store building on Park Street.
Now with a new and permanent home, the art show this year is expected to be extended from four days of so to the entire month of August.
“We are truly indebted to Lynn and Tony for their belief in Tupper Lake and its brighter future and for their support of our dream to create an arts center here for the enjoyment of the people of our community and our visitors,” Mrs. McNally said in closing. 

Tupper Lake gathers to pay respect to the fallen

by Ian Roantree
On Monday’s warm bright morning, community members and local veterans came together to participate in the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Tupper Lake War Memorial. They came together to honor those who have fallen in the line of duty and made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the freedom and safety of Americans here at home.
Monday’s ceremony was lead by American Legion Commander Mark Moeller.
Moeller, standing behind a VFW podium, welcomed everyone who attended the service on behalf of the American Legion Post 220, VFW Post 3120, AMVETS Post 710, Adirondack Leatherneck Marine Corps League and the Tupper Lake Honor Guard.
After Commander Moeller’s opening remarks, he invited the Rev. Rick Wilburn to the microphone to lead the opening prayer.
After amens were said from all in attendance, the Tupper Like Middle High School band performed the Star Spangled Banner.
Boy Scout Troop 23 and Cub Scout Pack 23 led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commander Moeller returned to the podium to introduce and invite the VFW Post 3120 latest, and first ever female Commander, Tracy Luton, who was also the ceremony’s guest speaker, to approach the podium.
To some, many people would know Tracy Luton as a mom, a dental assistant, or the lady at the VFW, or even as the woman who speaks her mind, sometimes too much. “I’m still learning,” Tracy said.
From 1987 to 1992, Petty Officer 3rd Class Tracy Luton served in the United States Navy as a Machinist aboard the USS Samuel Gompers (AD-37), a 645 foot Destroyer Tender. On that ship, Tracy was one of the approximate 300 females aboard. With around 1000 men aboard, “needless to say, I was the minority,” she said.
During her time with the navy, Tracy sailed the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. She’s been to the Persian Gulf, Dubai, Bahrain, the Philippines, Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Japan. She was initiated into the Shellback Society, a long standing naval tradition of when “pollywogs” cross the equator at sea.
In 2005, Tracy joined the VFW, then the Tupper Lake Honor Guard in 2010. For the several years, she served as the First Vice Commander of the VFW under Ray Tarbox, and just this spring, she was elected as the first female commander of the VFW Post 3120.
Even with her naval accomplishments (which include the Battle Efficiency Ribbon, Humanitarian Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment ribbon, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Navy Unit Commendation and Good Conduct Medal) and her work with the local veterans associations, Tracy’s greatest accomplishments are her three daughters, Paige, Amie and Shannon and her granddaughter, Brooklynn. “They have made me so proud and I’m so glad God chose me to be their mom and grandmother,” she said.
She continued, “I was born in a small town not much bigger than Tupper Lake. I was raised in Central Square, N.Y. I have three older brothers and I assure you they never took mercy on me. They treated me like one of the boys. My parents did the best they could for what they had. My dad raised us with a strict hand while mom kept things as calm as possible.”
Tracy wasn’t the first member in her family to join the United States Military, and she knew from a young age that she would serve her country.
“My dad was a Marine,” she said. Her dad’s brother and her Uncle Robert “Bob” Catherman was a Marine too, both of them having served in Vietnam.
“My dad came home,” she said, “but my Uncle did not.”
Tracy’s Uncle Bob was killed in action in 1968 when his platoon was ambushed in the middle of the night.
“He gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom as did so many young men and women.”
Tracy never knew her Uncle Bob personally, but nonetheless, he made a huge impact on her life having heard his story of how he was killed and how brave he must have been. “I grew up listening to my grandparents talk about my uncle and how they missed and grieved him. I couldn’t imagine the terror in those young soldiers’ eyes.”
Tracy’s Uncle Bob was only 19 when he died.
Tracy said, “the silver lining to this story is that 15 or so years later, my grandparents received a call from a man and asked if their son was Robert Catherman and whether he served in Vietnam. This man said, ‘I have been looking for you for years and I have something that belong to you that was your son’s. He came and met with them. He brought with him a shoebox with some pictures, letters, one dog tag, and some other things that belonged to my Uncle Bob. My grandmother said that day made her heart fill with such joy because she got to touch him again.”
“Memorial Day to me is my Uncle Bob, but not only my uncle, but all the uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters and most important, the sons and daughters who gave their lives, the ultimate sacrifice, so we could have our freedom. It’s also to remember all who served our great country, who have departed even if they didn’t die while in the service.”
As Mrs. Luton finished her speech, members of the community began the ceremonial laying of the wreaths.
Wreaths were laid at the memorial by the following community organizations: Boy Scouts of America Troop 23 and Cub Scout Pack 220, Girl Scouts of Northeastern NY, Tupper Lake’s Service Unit 454, represented by Cadette Troops 4170 and 4123, Knights of Columbus Council #2177, the staff of Sunmount, Tupper Lake Central School District, Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department and the Ladies Auxiliary, the Village of Tupper Lake, the Town of Tupper Lake, the American Legion Post 220, the Tupper Lake Honor Guard, the Adirondack Leathernecks #1268 Marine Corps League, Amvets Post 710 and the VFW Post 3120.
After the laying of the wreaths, Mike Larabie, Commander of the Tupper Lake Honor Guard initiated the three-round rifle volley, another ceremonial ritual of Memorial Day. The  members of the Honor Guard are Ray Tarbox, Tracy Luton, Joe Leblanc, Ray Bigrow and Kodata Britton.
After the thunderous shots from the honor guard, the crowd at the war memorial fell silent, as a Tupper Lake High School student performed the bugle call, Taps, followed by a performance of a medley of patriotic songs from each of the military’s service branches. Year after year, those students perform so well.
Finally, Deacon Jim Ellis ended the ceremony with a closing prayer, as the Rev. Rick Wilburn did to open the ceremony.
Ellis started, “on this monument are nearly 40 men who have given their lives in defense of our country. They’re Tupper Lake natives, each of them, from World War I through to Vietnam. By the numbers, 400,000 women have served in our armed forces. We appreciate them and we appreciate the mothers who stayed behind and took care of their families in a time when we didn’t recognize the value of our women in the armed forces. Up in the Tupper Lake cemetery, over to the left, towards the rear in the fourth quadrant, you’ll find white tombstones that remind you of Arlington, these are the bodies of the men that we have been entrusted with from the days at Sunmount when it was a veteran’s hospital. We don’t forget them, as veterans we decorate their graves with the colors of our nation. This day is specially hard for those of us who have lost good friends, friends that I drank beer with, friends that I played cribbage with. May god have mercy on all of their souls, and may they be rewarded for their sacrifices they made on our behalf so that we’re able to celebrate this day. We also ask Lord, that you inspire us to be both Americans and those who worship their God. We thank you for all these blessings. We ask your benediction in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.”

Editorial... Anne Marie Lewis was devoted to kids, to her community

The Tupper Lake community was shocked and deeply saddened this week by the news of the very premature death of Anne Marie Lewis.
Over the years as the district's speech language pathologist we heard her speak several times at board meetings about her work and some of the programs with students she directed.  We also spoke to her numerous times privately about her role there and the assistance she offered her charges.
We always found her to be incredibly serious when she spoke of her profession. She was very proud  of some of the gains that were being made in her field medically and instructionally, and she spoke of them  with enthusiasm.
Anne Marie was all about her students and how she could best help them learn and overcome any difficulties.  She was the consummate educator and she held the respect of all of her colleagues for her fierce dedication to the kids and her defense of them.
A tireless worker we routinely saw her at board meetings long after the end of the traditional work day, representing one or more of the school-associated organizations she volunteered to help.
Anne Marie was not all work, however.  She was lots of fun- with a great and often dry sense of humor.
She devoted many volunteers hours to the workings of the L.P. Q'ers parent-teacher group, both as a parent and an educator.  Her baby was the elementary school book fair each year which she ran tightly and efficiently so that it was financially successful to further the good work of her group and to put as many books in the hands of local kids as possible.  Anne Marie glowed every time she gave a report of its success to the board of education.
During her adult years here Anne Marie made a big difference in the community, and her family should be very proud of her and of all she accomplished in a relatively short time with us.
-Dan McClelland