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Filtering by Category: News

Pavlus inducted into Tupper’s Athletic Hall of Fame

Dan McClelland

By Rich Rosentreter

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

HALLofFAME copy.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The present is based around coaches and athletes who work hard to carry on what those before them have created – keeping tradition alive and creating new traditions for the future,” he said. “The past would not live on without the present, and the present would not be here without the past. Celebrating the Tupper Lake Athletic Hall of Fame is a strong reminder of this.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Town leaders willing to meet village over consolidation talks

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Village water still not meeting state standards

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

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

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

Similar notices have come annually for nearly a decade.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both wells developed are producing a robust supply of water.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hardwood mill to erect new office building

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The engineer called the mill operation very impressive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Village board provisionally appoints Nason as sergeant

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Tupper Lake hotel on NCREDC wish list

Dan McClelland

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

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

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

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

His company is headquartered in Midlothian, VA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Village performance park nearing completion

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Town board selling former downtown fire hall

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fire Prevention week began on Sunday, October 7 and ended Saturday, October 13

Dan McClelland

In the photo above from left were volunteers Matt Boudreau, Scott Shannon and Nick McLear. (photo provided.)

In the photo above from left were volunteers Matt Boudreau, Scott Shannon and Nick McLear. (photo provided.)

On Tuesday, October 9, Tupper Lake fire fighters visited the local L.P. Quinn School, to show the students the equipment and shared some important information on what they should do if they are ever in a house when it is on fire.

Firefighters put on their gear and masks to show the younger students what the firefighter would look and sound like so that the youngsters would not be afraid of the firefighter should they ever have to go into a burning building to find them.

The Tupper Lake Fire Department and its members hosted an open house at its station on Santa Clara Ave on Sunday, October 14.

Golf course study work applauded by town leaders

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Town leaders as a whole were very impressed with the work and study that went into the new report of the committee of experienced and very interested golfers who studied the local 18 over the summer, judging by comments Thursday night. The finished report was filed a month ago but was not released until Thursday when more elected leaders could be present.

Attending Thursday's session for a board discussion on the new document (see related story this week) were Gerry Goldman and Golf Pro Evan LaBarge, two of the dozen members of the study group.

Councilman Mike Dechene explained the committee was comprised of past golf course members and people “very adamant of keeping our golf course alive.”

The intent of the work, he said, was to benefit the current board and their plan to “keep things moving forward there, with the small amount of members that we have!”

“Very, very good meetings we had. A lot of good ideas came out of them.”

Of the report itself, he admitted he felt the finished product lacked a little bit about what we can do for the board that is in place right now. “The majority of this is about what happens if the town takes over or what needs to be done by the town to keep the golf course alive.”

He said the report, though, contains “a lot of good information.”

“This recommendation is that the town should take over the insurances, the fertilization programs at the golf course. My belief is that the greens, the tees, the fairways all belong to the town and we do not want this to fall apart. If we lost a green, for example, it would be unbelievable how much it would cost to rebuild it.”

“I agree with a lot of the stuff they have here. Whether or not we can fit it into our budget, that's something we need to talk about.”

He said the town currently budgets $4,500 for fertilizer used at the golf course and the Verizon communication tower yearly stipend of $4,000 also goes to course improvements.

So of the $30,000 request outlined in the report, he calculated that $8,500 is already going there.

As a municipality we just can't give money to an organization, but we can pay for services like a fertilizing company to treat the greens there. “They are our grounds being fertilized!”

“The town cannot let this golf course close up. I believe this committee was set up in case the board of directors does throw up their hands and say they can't do it anymore, the town would have to take over. I believe the board sitting here now would do that. Although we don't want to do that. We want the golf course board to be successful!”

John Quinn thanked his colleague and the volunteers who sat on his committee. “I know the time and effort was considerable!”

“-And they were happily there...meeting after meeting,” Mr. Dechene told him.

“I see this report a little differently,” Councilman Quinn told his colleagues. “I didn't see this as any kind of blueprint for the town to take it over. Nothing could be farther from the truth, as far as I'm concerned. I want the current club and its board to continue to exist and prosper.

“We all want that!” Supervisor Patti Littlefield echoed.

“It makes recommendations not only for the town but spells out some specific things for the club to do! I see the success of the club would involve a closer working relationship and partnership between the two boards,” the councilman said.

“It's our property. It's an asset. If we did nothing and the place folded, it would be a great loss to the town. Much like Big Tupper was! -And we all know where that got us!”

Of the four major requests of the town in the committee's report, he said the one stipulating that all future equipment would be bought through the town on state contract is “a no brainer.”

“Taking advantage of state pricing and having tax exempt status, however it can be done legally, is something that can be done easily.

He called the $30,000 request to buy all fertilizer “pretty substantial.”

“But I talked to a few of the older members and the town board used to do that back in the 1980s when the costs were about half of what they are now. At that time they were kicking in about $15,000 per year. Subsequent boards decided that wasn't the right thing to do!”

“Whether we can foot the whole bill, especially in one chunk, I guess we'll have to see on what impact it has on our budget.”

“I'm not so sure- and I'd want to get more information about the insurance costs. We do carry insurance on that property for the winter time at least, probably year round.”

Mrs. Littlefield confirmed the town has insurance on its umbrella policy for that property. All individual buildings there are listed separately, she noted.

She said, however, the town does not carry insurance for what she called “a golf club operation.” The golf course board buys that and provides the town with a proof of insurance, she added.

The supervisor said the insurance coverage by the two parties should be studied, to see if there is duplication of coverage and there could be a savings found there if there is.

Mr. Quinn said he believes the town should get back in the fertilizer cost underwriting- “at least to the point of sharing the cost of keeping the grounds up. One of the recommendations I haven't been convince of yet is the club could turn over its assets- its buildings and equipment- in lieu of the $83,000 still owed to the town as interest on the bond to fixing the upper nine. I'm not convinced that's the right way to go, but I'm wondering if the club could meet the town half way” on the interest monies owed.

Asked to comment, Gerry Goldman said it would “certainly be a net gain for the club if the town were to assume” some of those costs. Assuming the entire fertilizer costs would be a gain of over $20,000 for the club in any year, he gave as one example.

“We've had a successful year this year, by the bar we set. We're certainly better off than we were last year. I think we're in better shape at the leadership level with Evan (LaBarge). And Sonny working in the garage. The fundraising has been a big boost to us.” Over $25,000 was raised by the board and its members this year in fundraising. He called it “a significant part of the club's surplus” at the end of this year.

“The volunteers also did a great job this summer and the golf course, as a result “looks better dressed.”

Mr. Goldman said the brush removal, the work to the fairways, cart paths, made a great difference. He calculated that the contributions of the volunteers this summer came out the equivalent of one full-time worker the club didn't have to pay.

He said too many volunteers gave a lot more than four hours a week that they signed up for.

“I think we have our head above water, but we're just not going to be able to survive any calamities!”

He said because the board is currently putting its budget for 2019 together, it would be helpful right now to know if any new town funding was coming.

Mr. Goldman said it's the view of most of the golf course leaders that if there was a surplus found next year, that money would go to updating course equipment.

Evan LaBarge said right now most of the equipment at the golf course is owned by the club. Some is leased.

As leases expire, the board would like to look at buying machinery outright, he said, cautioning that there are many variables.

The state contract option to the town would be very important, he noted.

He mentioned that for the first time in many years all the equipment the club owns was in operation this summer.

“It doesn't mean that it's in good shape or that it will run next year, but it just reflects the work of a good team!”

Councilman Dechene asked Mr. Goldman if he had noticed “any issues” between the two boards this year and was told there didn't seem to be any.

“I think we're going to face some challenges down the road. We're going to have to reexamine our relationship with the restaurant vendor. I know with all of our attention to the course, our board has some responsibilities to the vendor” which he said it hasn't been able to meet.

One of the board's responsibilities, for example, was the maintenance of 200-place settings. “I can tell you right now if you go to a wedding at the country club, you're going to get Chinette. That's just one of responsibilities we haven't been able to meet.”

Concerning a lot of the fixtures in the kitchen, he said it was safe to admit the club has been remiss in its obligation to replace things...simply because the club doesn't have any money.

He said the club couldn't replace a gas stove that was needed and Operator Jim Ellis had to buy his own.

Mr. Goldman speculated that if Mr. Ellis doesn't renew his lease, the club's on the hook for finding a $8,000 or $10,000 gas stove.

Kitchen equipment is expensive and many of the club-owned pieces have been cobbled together over the years, he noted.

Unless there are improvements made there, the club may eventually have to renegotiate the lease with any current or future vendor, he suggested.

“We are mindful of the burden you all face in guarding taxpayer dollars and making decisions how to best spend them. I think we would be idiots if we came in here and held our hands our and said 'give us money no matter what'.”

“We're just hopeful we can look at the whole operation as a plus for Tupper Lake!”

He said he agreed with Mr. Dechene that he has an affinity for playing the course over the years with “guys like his dad.”

“The thought of that place not being there just doesn't make any sense to me!”

“You can't have a Preserve Associates resort up there without a golf course!”

“We must find a way to keep it going!”

“Well said,” Mrs. Littlefield told him.

Next week: long time golf course employee Daniel “Boonie” Carmichael weighs in on discussion of course's future.

Golf course analysis to be reviewed by town officials next week

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The report by the town committee charged this past summer to look for innovative ways to move the Tupper Lake golf course into a brighter future will be the fodder of board discussion when the town board meets on October 11.

Earlier this year Town Councilman Mike Dechene called together about one dozen local residents who love golf and who were very familiar with the workings of the local 18 and the sport in general. A number of the committee members like Ray Martin, Ron Belleville and John Moore were former golf course board members and several were current board members, including Jim Boucher. Golf Pro Evan LaBarge was also a key member of the study group.

Mr. Dechene chaired the committee.

At the September town board meeting Mr. Dechene had the group's report in his hand, but asked his colleagues to postpone its release until all five board members could study the finding. Missing that evening were Deputy Supervisor John Quinn and Councilwoman Tracy Luton.

“I think we should talk about this when we have a full board,” he told Supervisor Patti Littlefield and Councilwoman Mary Fontana that evening.

“I'd like to hold its release until then!”

He said the volunteers who studied the revenues, expenses and current practices at the town facility with an eye to finding good paths on which to move forward “worked a lot of hours” on their assignment and the report it generated.

Mr. Dechene said the committee gathered “lots and lots and lots of information” and came up with some very realistic expectations for the golf course's future operation. “They did a fantastic job overall!”

Mrs. Littlefield, who sits on the town board's golf course committee with Mr. Dechene, said the group members “brought a lot of expertise” to their assignment, which began in early summer.

“They brought a lot of information to their discussions. In particular they looked at how things were done when times were good!” she stated.

Mr. Dechene said he believes strongly that the town-owned golf course can be an economic driver here, if operated correctly.

The supervisor said the committee was asked to come up with ways to improve the golf course at a time in America when the sport is on the wane.

“How do you make people get interested in golf?

She said a game of golf “is a five hour tour”...a five hour commitment and people today have a difficult time finding five hours in their busy lives to devote to something.

Mrs. Littlefield said that in addition to the members of the study committee there are a number of local residents who routinely volunteer to help there.

She called the golf course “a great facility” that is not nearly used to its fullest.

The board of directors there routinely struggles “to make ends meet” what with declining members.

To generate revenues the golf course leaders annually stage a number of benefits, she said.

Mr. Dechene noted that one event the board staged this year generated $21,000 to help the course's bottom line.

The supervisor said the people who serve on the golf course board are “very positive thinking.”

“As we develop our budget we are hoping we had help- maybe by covering grounds maintenance expenses,” she offered.

“My goal is to build a strong partnership” between the town board and the golf course board.

Mr. Dechene said he thought that partnership already exists.

He applauded the study group members for the “passion” they brought to their assignment by the town this summer. “It's going to bear fruit” in the years ahead.

He asserted again that the town board does not want to operate the golf course. The elected officials want the golf course board to be successful, according to the councilman.

“I'm very happy with the report. I think we're headed in a good direction!”

He admitted there are always a lot of nay-sayers in the community who probably don't think so, but he said he believes the future can be bright for the local course.

Tupper has most electric car charging stations in Adirondack Park

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The village's three new electric car-charging stations are now in operation, Electric Department Superintendent Marc Staves relayed in a report to the village board last month.

The village was able to secure the hardware for the stations through a state grant and Mr. Staves' crew members installed them- two in the municipal park and one at the Wild Center.

The first one to go live was at the natural history museum on Friday, September 14- a day before it hosted a national electric car conference.

Mr. Staves said the new charger came in handy for one participant who drove his electric car to the Wild Center to the event, not knowing there was a unit there. He was able to charge up his ride with it.

Mayor Paul Maroun said there have been some requests for a charging station in the uptown business district and Mr. Staves is currently exploring that possibility. One possible site might be new village parking lot across from the village office, he thought.

Right now there are seven public and private charging stations in the community, it was noted.

“There's no excuse for people not to come to Tupper Lake to charge their cars,” said the electric department chief. He said Tupper Lake now has more charging units than any other community in the Adirondacks.

Mr. Staves thanked the Robert Merrill family for the loan of its electric car to test out the three new units his department installed.

He said one of the requirements of the grant program is that all units have to be load-tested on a vehicle, so the Merrills loan of their car saved money for the village, which would otherwise would have had to rent an electric car.

He said right now each station here is in what he called “a free vend mode,” so users can charge their cars for free. The benefit of having chargers in a community is that owners of those types of cars plan their travel paths around them. Mr. Staves said he feels the village should soon establish a fee structure and he said he will be discussing that with officials from the New York Power Authority at a meeting with them that month.

Trustee Clint Hollingsworth suggested placing concrete bollards in front of the units to protect them from collisions and plowing and Mr. Staves said he had been thinking about the need for them.

In other news in his department, he said that evening the tree-trimming project underway at Moody by a private contractor was about half completed. “The guys did a tremendous job and very much opened up the (transmission) line right of way for us.”

Trustees Clint Hollingsworth and Ron LaScala said they had both walked portions of the right of way along Route 30 where the crews were cutting and applauded the work. “They did a real, clean job!” was how Mr. LaScala described the workmanship by the contractor.

He said he had never realized how overgrown the line easement area had become.

The board that evening also approved the resignation of electric line helper Kaine Favro, who returned to his native South Dakota.

Asked by Trustee LaScala why the relatively new member of the electric crew left, Mr. Staves said he just wanted to return to his former employee closer to home.

He also reported that Verizon recently accepted the village's proposal to hang its lines on village utility poles. The telecommunications company will pay the village $16,000 each year for that privilege.

Register to vote at library Saturday

Dan McClelland

There's no reason Tupper Lakers aren't able to vote in the November election!

County election officials have made it easy with the announcement this week that there will be a voter registration drive this Saturday, October 6 from 10a.m. to 2p.m. at the Goff Nelson Memorial Library.

In addition to registering to vote, those who attend will also be able to pick up absentee ballot applications.

Here are some of this year's important voting deadlines:

Registration and party change deadline is Oct. 12. Address change deadline is October 17. The last day to postmark an absentee request is October 30. The last day to vote by absentee in person is November 5 but this must take place at the county board of elections office in Malone.

Any teenager 17 years of age can also participate in the election process. They may pre-register to vote and while they cannot vote until they are 18 years of age, they can work as a poll inspector- duties for which they will be paid.

Election commissioner Tracy Sparks and Tupper Lake Republican Chairman Ray Bigrow were instrumental in setting up Saturday's event.

Trio of volunteers tackles placement of huge stones for bandshell seating terraces

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

In an impressive undertaking three local volunteers moved over two dozen massive granite blocks into place Saturday in front of the Lions bandshell in the Village of Tupper Lake's new performance park below Martin Street.

The stones which were cut about two degrees on each side to form semicircles of about a dozen pieces each measured approximately two feet wide, two feet deep and five feet long. Each weighed two tons.

Because the large pieces were not exactly two feet high- varying by as much as two inches at times- crushed stone that had been placed in the seating tiers earlier by Lemieux Contracting and Kentile Excavating had to sometimes be massaged by hand shovel to arrive at the desired thickness.

Black dirt will be placed behind each stone to form a 12 wide seating tier in front of the new performance place this fall and then sodded.

The work bee was directed by Trustee Clint Hollingsworth, who brought the large pieces by Tom LaMere's large fork lift machine from where they had been off-loaded near the shoreline from three tractor trailers in recent weeks. Clint fed the big pieces to his dad, Tinker, who was operating the village Volvo excavator. Tinker has a reputation as one of the best operators in the region, and to watch him move those heavy pieces into place, moving them less than a quarter of an inch at times, was testimony to his reputation.

The third man on the team was Doug Snyder, who helped the elder Hollingsworth make the final adjustments on the placements, after rigging up the harnesses for each heavy piece.

By 2p.m. Saturday, the three had all but a half dozen retaining wall pieces in place, shy a couple a pieces which are still on order.

Masonry Contractor Mike Donah of Adirondack Fireplace has offered to tweak with his chipping tools and his know-how some of the pieces so their surfaces and fronts are flush, according to Trustee Hollingsworth.

At the base of each retaining wall the village electric department has installed every six feet or so the wiring and fixtures for Ballard-style lighting which will sit on top of small piers.

These photos show just a little of the incredible amount of work tackled by the trio that day.

Wild Center, ROOST team up on VR project

Dan McClelland

Katie Stuart and Patrick Murphy testing out the virtual tour.

Katie Stuart and Patrick Murphy testing out the virtual tour.

by Ian Roantree

Sue Fitzpatrick gazing in awe at the view from atop Goodman Mountain.

Sue Fitzpatrick gazing in awe at the view from atop Goodman Mountain.

On a good week, in a busy season, Tupper Lake’s Chamber of Commerce is the default Tupper Lake tourist information center, providing local knowledge to the eager tourists who visit our town throughout the year. During the tourist-heavy months, anywhere from 30 to 50 tourists per week come through the chamber doors at 121 Park Street looking for things to do.

With all of the great places and breathtaking views that our area has to offer, simply leafing through brochures or surfing through online photo galleries doesn’t always do them justice. Which is why the Wild Center and ROOST have teamed up to offer tourists, and potential Wild Center customers an immersive experience.

The experience is a visual one, putting the viewer in a immobile look out, like being inside the tower viewers found at tourist destinations around the world. But it’s not a clunky, heavy set of binoculars that squeak as they turn, it’s an Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset.

By slipping on these VR goggles, you can be swiftly taken somewhere else while remaining in the comfort of the chamber office. While the experience that ROOST and the Wild Center have created within the goggles are mild compared to what VR technology is capable of, your senses are still tricked as you’re brought into a three dimensional, panoramic simulation.

Users will find themselves in the middle of a guided tour through the museum, or on the Wild Walk, while other Wild Center guests walk amongst you. But it’s not limited to the Wild Center. The VR headset will take you to the top of Goodman Mountain, the Tupper Lake golf course, the municipal park looking out over Raquette Pond, and other scenic spots within the community and surrounding area.

Unlike the Wild Center footage, however, the other destinations are still images stitched together in a panorama, still creating the same effect of being there. No matter where you look, up, down, left, right, behind and in front, robust images fill the space. It feels like you can almost reach out and feel the environment that the goggles take you to.

It all started with the VR marketing company, Frameless Technologies, which were contacted by the Wild Center for help with this campaign. “We wanted to go to trade shows and conferences and try to get tour operators and travel agents interested in putting the Wild Center in their products,” said Patrick Murphy, the Wild Center’s community engagement coordinator. “It (VR) was an easy way to communicate what the Wild Center is to people across the country.”

“We produced some video, got a few of our own headsets and shared it at a tourism advisory council meeting and some of the folks there from the Saranac Lake chamber were interested in putting it in their visitor center,” Murphy continued.

This project is still in testing stages. The VR headset at the Tupper Lake chamber office was donated by Frameless Technologies for a pilot run to see how people engage and interact with it, and to see if it actually draws those users to different locations around town.

To create the videos and images viewed inside the Oculus Rift headset, special photography and videography techniques and equipment are required. Capturing a 360 degree image is one thing; capturing video is another endeavor.

The first time Frameless Technologies visited the Wild Center to capture 360 video content, they brought a GoPro rigged with five cameras that together filmed live. In post-production, the footage captured was stitched together seamlessly by a software. The VR company returned later with a newer camera, that looked like a ball that worked to the same effect although fetching higher quality results.

Despite the content-rich, where you can see panoramic images of our surrounding area on your computer or smart phone screen, much like you’d see through the VR goggles (albeit much less immersive), some folk, usually the older ones, want to to go straight to the source of information. Now, they can get both the human interaction while experiencing the power of digital marketing with the virtual reality (VR) technologies that will hopefully entice those tourists to check out the sights the goggles display.

But with a result driven attitude, ROOST’s Tupper Lake regional marketing manager, Katie Stuart recognizes that this project is only as good as the outcomes it produces. “We want to track people coming here and putting it on, but how can we really know if people are going out to these destinations?”

The simple solution Stuart and Murphy came to was asking users to post on social media with a hashtag (that is yet to be decided) with a picture of the destinations they visited.

And as this project becomes more widely used, more still photos and videos are intended to be added to the VR goggles to attract visitors to other areas and stores in the area.

“We’d like to include local businesses like Spruce and Hemlock and Birch Boys and other trails and summits in the area,” said Sue Fitzpatrick, a chamber of commerce board member and volunteer.

Even for those who learn about Tupper Lake online instead of at the chamber like some, anyone can view the Wild Center’s VR videos at and can be viewed from your smartphone, computer or even uploaded to your own VR device.

Main floor of Big Tupper lodge to see major redo

Dan McClelland

Big Tupper_06.jpg

by Dan McClelland

Editor's Note: this is the second article in our two-part series on our recent tours of the Big Tupper Ski Center and the tremendous amount of renovation and reconstruction work that has been underway there.

As part of the work preparing for the reopening of the Big Tupper Ski Center this summer by the Adirondack Club and Resort developers, there has been considerable focus on the center's large lodge.

The plan for this winter is to fix up the ground floor of the lodge to accommodate skiers with restrooms, warming areas with tables and chairs and the administrative and office area. While the pulse of the operation will be there, reconstruction will be in full swing on the second floor all winter long.

In anticipation of that the entire second floor has been gutted, revealing the large trusses and steel support beams after almost all the old partitions and ceiling materials have been removed.

For local skiers who know that space well, it now appears double in size, with everything gone.

Apparent too is how well built the lodge was. The original A-frame portion of the lodge with its large, laminated and open trusses is in excellent shape. The large area which was later added to accommodate a larger cafeteria, dining room and bar appears to be also very well built with large steel I-beams and columns supporting 50 foot long manufactured trusses. All that now is visible with the ceiliings and sheet rock and board wall coverings gone.

“We encountered no surprises when we tore everything out. The lodge was extremely well built!” Tom Lawson told us during our second visit to the place on August 24.

Right now work crews of carpenters- most of them local- are buttoning up the exterior of the lodge building for winter, when the work will move inside.

A number of the existing windows on the parking lot side had been reframed in the anticipation of the arrival of many new windows this week and next. New window openings have also been cut into to that side.

New windows are also coming for the others sides of the lodge, to replace old or broken ones. Some window openings have been temporarily covered with sheets of plywood.

“Our goal for this winter is to get the ski center back open for the kids!” Mr. Lawson said that day.

The second floor of the large lodge- which measures about 9,000 square feet- was opened up to give the engineers and architects who are doing its redesign a good look at what they are working with, he explained.

The overall plan for that space, however, is to keep it entirely open.

For the years of its operation a large part of the second floor was hidden from public view by the partitions, behind which were storage and operational area for the cafeteria and bar.

That day Jill Trudeau agreed with us that the second floor seems double in size now. Jill is the ACR's administrative assistant.

“It's very light and airy and the new design will maintain that. The whole idea is to keep it open,” she explained.

The only partitions remaining for now are those which cordoned off the old bar area. They'll be coming out soon.

Jill said that at least 20 dump truck loads of old building materials have been removed from the second floor area so far.

“Right now we've taken it down to its skeleton to begin the renewal,” added Tom. “When its done you'll be able to see across the entire second floor of the building, for the most part!”

At both ends of the existing lodge 30 foot lonog two story entrance additions are planned.

Mr. Lawson said at each end of the existing lodge will be large stone twin fireplaces- each with two openings. One opening will face into the existing lodge and one into the new addition, in each case.

Stone masons will be on site this winter, with all the carpenters, to tackle the construction of those massive fireplaces.

The second floor, like the ground floor, will also see all new restrooms.

The ceilings on the second floor will all be nine or ten feet high, to add to the openness.

The floor between the two floors is all reinforced concrete. It's very sturdy and in great shape. To bring everything exactly level, however, a shallow layer of special concrete coating may be applied over the winter, Mr. Lawson expects.

As to the specifics of where the cafeteria, bar and dining rooms will be on the second floor, that's still to be decided, based on what the engineers and architects recommend, he said. “At this point the design is evolving day by day!”

In the original plans for the Adirondack Club and Resort, the lodge was going to be replaced with a building in the style of a great camp.

Those plans have changed, at least for now. “We like the lodge and we think we can transform it into a place which skiers will really enjoy. It sits where it belongs so why replace it?”

Adding to the openness of the second floor, new entrance areas off the slopes will all be walled in glass for the maximum amount of natural light streaming into the interior, he explained.

The staircase that connects the two floors will see new iron wrought railings, rather that solid half-walls, as part of the winter construction work.

The lodge will be getting a new metal roof, some of it this fall and some next construction season. Each metal piece used will be the entire length of the roof side, so there will be no overlapping.

A patio area with fire pits is also planned in front of the lodge next summer.

“When we're done I think people will be amazed,” he said with a smile.

One of the local firms which will be working inside the lodge this winter will be CWM Construction (Charlie Madore and Jason Roberge), which is currently finishing an complete overhaul of the chairlift No. 2 off-boarding station.

Tom and Jill both figure there's going to be a lot of work for local and area tradesmen inside the lodge this winter.

“From the start we've been trying to hire locally,” noted the administrative assistant.

In related Big Tupper news Tom Lawson recently met with ski patrol director Tom Sciacca and some of his volunteers. According to Mr. Sciacca everything is set to go for their vital safety and rescue services this coming season.

New trusses for the old ski patrol building, which currently has a flat roof, are expected to arrive soon and that building will have its new roof this fall.

On the day of our last visit four large and unsightly utility poles near the ski patrol building were removed, after Tip Top Electric technicians cut off the electricity to them.

Big Tupper_08.jpg

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

Dan McClelland

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

Dan McClelland

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.