Homeowners ask: what will it take to get guard rails?
By Phyllis Larabie
The Wolberts were at their Albany home when they were notified by their daughter on Thursday morning that they need to contact the Tupper Lake Police Department. Their daughter told them their garage at the corner of McLaughlin Ave. and LeBeouf Street had been hit again. Debbie and Rob had to take time off from their jobs to come to Tupper Lake.
At approximately 11p.m. Wednesday evening April 25, the Wolberts' garage was again struck by an errant vehicle. This time it was 29 year old Michael Valentine of Tupper Lake who was driving a Chrysler 300 when he left the side of the road.
The camera that the Wolberts had installed on the outside of their garage shows the Chrysler leaving the road rolling over twice, striking their covered snowmobile trailer and then going through the garage door, before coming to rest on all four wheels. The passenger, Kevin Beaudette was able to get out of the vehicle on his own.
Valentine had to be extricated by the Tupper Lake Fire Department. Both individuals were transported to AMC in Saranac Lake by the Tupper Lake Rescue with non-life-threatening injuries. Mrs. Wolbert told the Free Press reporter this week she estimates the car was traveling over 70 mph.
Valentine refused to a sobriety test on scene and refused blood work at the hospital. He was arrested and charged driving while intoxicated with a previous conviction, imprudent speed and moving from lane unsafely. He was arraigned and bail was set at $6,000. He posted bail and was scheduled to appear in court on Monday, April 30, at 1p.m. for a preliminary hearing. He will return to court on Monday, May 21 at 5p.m.
Debbie Wolbert noted that by Thursday afternoon the garage area had been cleaned up, thanks to the help of approximately 50 people, who included Tim O’Neil, Wally and Jeannine Kennedy, Buck North, Tony Roy and a large pizza.
As this reporter walked around the scene Debbie pointed out the mud and pieces of car all over the inside and out side of the garage, the hole in the wall and other damages done to the structure of the garage. She also pointed out some damages to a tractor, a bumper pool table, shelving and other items. The garage door has been removed and the opening is now covered with a blue tarp. The couple lost about a tank of propane due to the accident as they keep the garage heated. With the garage door damaged all the heat went out the door.
Mrs. Wolbert stated, “I don’t sleep at night: I’m not making this up! When we come up here and I hear a car tires screech. I wake up in the middle of the night worrying this is going to happen. I worry about my husband, when he works out there and when my grandchildren are out there. I worry that someone is going to get killed!”
The Wolberts are now in the process of having some large boulders put up on the edge of their property.
“I have to barricade my house to protect my property,” she said.
After the October 2017 incident Mrs. Wolbert spoke to Franklin County Highway Superintendent Brad Marsh to ask for guardrails to be put up to help to protect her property. McLaughlin Ave. is a county road. According to the homeowner, after a town board meeting, Mr. Marsh told her that guardrails would be put up in the summer. She pointed out that in the fall the department put up a few extra signs, the yellow ones with arrows. “Drunk drivers are not going to pay attention to those,” she stated. “We need guardrails!”
Thursday morning as they were cleaning up the debris from the accident, she noted that Mr. Marsh drove by and as she waved for him to stop he kept driving.
She said she called out to him: “whoah, whoah and he replied “no.” He drove up the road more and then turned around to come talk to her.
She said that in their conversation Mr. Marsh denied that he said that guard rails would be put up. According to Mrs. Wolbert Mr. Marsh said there was no money in the budget, and guard rails are expensive.
Debbie figures “Those guardrails can’t cost more than a life!”
The homeowner put a call in to Legislator and Mayor Paul Maroun as well as to Paul Lauzon, Franklin County chairman of the public works and safety committee about having the county erect guard rails put on that corner and the approaches to it.
On January 26, 2018, the Wolberts woke up to the crash of a large pine tree that is decorated with lights for the holiday toppling to the ground. They watched the video footage and watched as a vehicle left the road, crossed their lawn, over the driveway and a small embankment of snow, striking the tree, continuing down the lawn, and out of sight.
On October 29, 2017, Matthew Bushey of Saranac Lake was driving a 2005 Toyota pick-up truck, when he lost control of the vehicle and struck their enclosed snowmobile trailer and then became lodged into the side of the garage. All five passengers in Bushey’s vehicle escaped serious injuries.
In June of 2016 their home was hit by a young man who drove his fathers' car into the house. Mrs. Wolbert was home when the car hit the house, and got outside in time to see the driver flee the scene. It was then they decided to put up a security camera. It was certainly worth the purchase price as it has caught the other three incidents.
Rob and Debbie Wolbert of Albany purchased the property at 242 McLaughlin Ave back in 2008 and began to get it set up for their retirement home. In 2015 they built a two-car garage at the edge of their property. In the two and half years that the garage has been standing it has been struck twice, and both times in the past six months.
County Legislator Maroun said the county is looking at hiring a private contractor to install the guard rails the Wolberts are requesting. At this writing he did not know when the work could be done. The county's estimate for the work is between $12,000 and $15,000- according to Mr. Maroun.
Homeowners ask: what will it take to get guard rails?