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Filtering by Category: Featured

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!

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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

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)

Water district improvement, expansion in high gear

Dan McClelland

The North Country Contracting firm is moving steadily along with the expansion and improvements planned for town water district No. 3 at Tamarac. It's the same company that worked on the village well project at Pitchfork Pond this summer. When these photos were taken Thursday the crew was moving past tee No. 4 at the golf course and heading up the Big Tupper access road, excavating and laying pipe to the new water tank beside Sugar Loaf Mountain. In its digging the crew encountered a lot of hard pan and glacial fill, which contained some dandy-sized boulders shown in the photo below. Plans are to have the project and its new water tank substantially completed by year's end. The workers are working extended days to reach that goal, according to comments from project watchers at Jim Ellis' Burgundy Steakhouse. (McClelland photo)

District's capital building improvement project coming to close

Dan McClelland

Editor's note: this is the first in a three-part series about the conclusion of the Tupper Lake School District's current school improvement project.

The school district's $8.3 million capital improvement project which began early last summer is wrapping up these days, and so the Free Press took a morning tour of the three buildings last week with Business Manager Dan Bower to get a close-up look of some of the projects tackled.

This particular building program was submitted to the state education department about 2013 and it took nearly a year before approval came. However, due to a staff shortage there and a backlog of building projects by districts across the state the final start date didn't occur until early 2017.

Mr. Bower noted Wednesday that future projects shouldn't see comparable delays, as the education department is currently retaining more staff to process building improvement requests…

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