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The Wild Center celebrates the arrival of two new North American River otters on June 22

Dan McClelland

The Wild Center family is expanding this summer with the arrival of two male North American river otters. The pair make their debut in Otter Falls on Saturday, June 22 from 10am to 5pm, which also marks The Wild Center's inaugural You Otter Run/Walk 5K benefitting the Center's Betsy Lowe Fund for Adirondack Education.

The pair began their journey to The Wild Center in Ohio where they were trapped as nuisance animals. Crayfish farmers in Ohio often trap North American river otters as their diet subsists of crayfish, as well as snakes, frogs and fish. These trapped river otters are often slated to be killed and used for fur, or in some cases, relocated to areas without enough food to survive. The Wild Center's Animal Care staff was made aware of their situation and jumped at the opportunity to rescue the pair. The otters join the Center's three other otters: Louie, Scarlett, and Squirt.

Currently unnamed, the otters will be welcomed by a group of youths from Akwesasne as they learn about the mammals, then discover suitable names in the Kaniehkehaka language. The naming project works to keep the spirit alive of the lasting Ways of Knowing partnership between The Wild Center and the Haudenosaunee community.

First student film festival draws praise

Dan McClelland

Rotary Club President Rick Dattola and Rotarian Seth McGowan flank two of the folks who helped organize the recent first Adirondack Student Film Festival in Tupper Lake at the Wild Center- teacher and advisor Wendy Cross and student Grace Mitchell.

Rotary Club President Rick Dattola and Rotarian Seth McGowan flank two of the folks who helped organize the recent first Adirondack Student Film Festival in Tupper Lake at the Wild Center- teacher and advisor Wendy Cross and student Grace Mitchell.

by Dan McClelland

The first Adirondack Student Film Festival, dubbed “Beyond the Peaks,” generated some impressive student films among the 50 entries from seven different school districts across the Adirondack Park. Organizers called it “a red carpet event!”

That's what one of the student organizers, Grace Mitchell and her teacher, Wendy Cross, told the Rotarians during a recent lunch meeting at the Burgundy Steakhouse.

Wendy is a high school art teacher, who also teaches the film class.

The 50 entries came in seven categories: comedy, documentary, horror, drama, public service, “Made in the Adirondacks” and open.

The event was a sell-out at the Wild Center on May 10, with 165 tickets sold.

For those who couldn't attend but wanted to, the show is on Youtube. It runs over two and one-half hours, Miss Mitchell told the Rotarians and guests.

“Overall, I say it was a great success!” Her teacher agreed.

“It gave students here and in communities across the park a chance to speak and to get their ideas out there,” said Grace. “The films showed a lot of quality!”

She thought the Wild Center was a perfect venue, as it was shown off to many area visitors. The natural history museum's Flammer Theater was used to show the films. There was apparently live-streaming to screens in the Wild Center lobby too.

The films were limited to a minute, 30 seconds in length, according to the student. Films in the open category were unlimited in length, she added.

“As this was our very first time, we were pretty proud” of the entry and crowd numbers, explained Ms. Cross, her teacher.

“We had 19 in the open category.”

Grace explained the main judge of the films was an area film-maker, Evan Williams of Wilmington. He also shared a sample of his recent works.

There were volunteers from AdkAction, the non-profit organization that helped the student organizers host the show, and who were also judges. Among them was Superintendent of Schools Seth McGowan, a member of the organization's board.

The winners of each film category received $100 prizes.

There was also a $400 prize for the top film in the open category.

Cassandra Sipler of Tupper Lake, for her film on the life and photographs of photographer Kathleen Bigrow, won the first prize in the documentary class.

Tupper Arts is planning to screen Cassandra's piece several times this summer.

Ms. Cross said at the show the top three films in each of the seven categories were shown that evening to the audience.

There was much enthusiasm about the films in the “Made in the Adirondacks” category, where each film had to show “the essence of life we enjoy here” in the Adirondacks, according to the film club advisor.

Foreign exchange students at Newcomb School District made a very moving film about teen suicide, which some viewers found hard to watch.

The Newcomb school district, with its very low student enrollment each year, typically hosts many foreign exchange students. Of this year's eleven, seven participated in the film festival, according to Grace.

Ms. Cross said before the film festival, the student film-makers took part in two professional development sessions hosted by AdkAction where local teens and their teachers got to work with other students and faculty from other districts around the region.

“We all got to collaborate before we submitted our films” to the festival, she explained.

Most of the student film-makers were high school age, but there a couple of middle school-age students who honored from Wells, N.Y.

The organizers of the festival, according to Grace, hired a technical director from Plattsburgh to run the lights and the sounds and to synchronize the showing of the films.

The consultant was unable to attend at the last minute and student Molly Sullivan had to learn the job in 20 minutes and fill in, Grace said. “She did an amazing job, but it was scary!”

“Very scary,” Ms. Cross agreed.

Molly has the job already for next year, Grace announced.

Planning has already started for next year.

“Mr. McGowan and I will be meeting with several of our partners in August. Because we sold out and filled all seats, we may move it to Paul Smith's College next year” to accommodate a bigger crowd, the teacher told the Rotarians.

The show was open to the public and was free of charge.

“We had calls the week of the event from people wanting to come but we had to tell them we were all sold out,” Grace noted.

The two thought there may be an admission charged in the future, given the fact that people are charged when they go to the movies.

Any future charge may include the price of food served there, for which there was a charge this first time.

“Are there some really budding film-makers among us?” one lunch guest asked.

“A film festival like this is very beneficial for people- both those who want to take film very seriously and for those who just want to mess around with it,” Grace told the service club members.

She said they witnessed “a broad spectrum of talent” among the student participants.

“For me, the animation category,” saw some unpredicted judging, said Ms. Cross. She said Tupper Lake's Molly Sullivan is an old-style animator who draws individual frames like they do at Disney and puts her works together frame by frame. “She's amazing and learned this all on her own...super talented. I thought there's no way she won't win first place”

Unfortunately, Molly didn't even finish in the top three.

The film judged first was a compilation of photographs.

The teacher and student felt that in festivals like this viewers take the message of the film more seriously than the quality of the film or the technique.

“Another surprise for us, when we were promoting it, the tri-lakes area schools didn't submit,” the film advisor noted. “We were begging them,” Grace added.

Schools that did participate were Tupper Lake, Long Lake, Newcomb, Wells, Westport, West Canada near Utica and Salmon River.

“One reason we wanted to get Saranac Lake and Lake Placid to join was that it would generate a lot of local press,” Miss Mitchell explained.

Ms. Cross said she was recently contacted by a person from Cornell University who is running a ten-day camp for student film-makers this summer, so word has spread about the success of their recent event.

The high school building boasts a film studio in the Fred. C. Baker wing, which is a rare thing for a high school, Seth McGowan noted.

He said he would like to see greater advantage taken of that place. “We've had kids graduate from Tupper Lake without any experience in film or animation and go to compete with kids who have gone to college with these sorts of capabilities. Film and the visual arts are an important part of human expression...and it's a valid part of what schools should offer!”

Bike Rodeo a huge sucess

Dan McClelland

Altercation leads to stabbing at new market

Dan McClelland

Doubleneck Gardensjpg.jpg

by Phyllis Larabie

Early Sunday morning, June 2, at approximately 12:30a.m. the New York State Police in Tupper Lake and the Tupper Lake Police Department responded to a report of a knife assault occurring at the new Doubleneck Gardens, Market and Bakery, located at 2594 State Route 3. Troopers were on the scene and yellow tape surrounded the commercial premises, formerly The Market Place, from the early morning hours Sunday well into Sunday evening while New York State police investigated the incident. Village police officers were also present some of that time. According to New York State Police Officer Jennifer Fleishman, Kimberly L. Watson, 34, of Long Lake, initially reported that she and her boy friend Phillip Mosher were assaulted by unknown assailants inside the building of their business. Ms. Watson then drove to the Tupper Lake Police Station on Santa Clara Avenue to alert the police of the assault and that her boyfriend had been stabbed and was still at the business. The pair was transported to the Adirondack Medical Center, in Saranac Lake for treatment by the Tupper Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad. Mr. Mosher was treated for multiple stab wounds to the back and chest. According to Matthew Scollin, director of communications at Adirondack Health, “Mr. Mosher is listed in stable condition.” Ms. Watson was treated and released for contusions to her face and legs.” State police officials stated they came to the conclusion that Ms. Watson and Mr. Mosher had been fighting and Ms. Watson stabbed her boyfriend in the back and chest. Both were arrested. Mr. Mosher was charged with Assault 3rd degree. Ms. Watson was charged with Assault 2nd degree, Criminal Possession of a Weapon 4th degree, and Falsely Reporting an Incident 3rd degree. Mr. Mosher was issued an appearance ticket to appear in the Town of Tupper Lake Court on June 6, 2019, at 5 p.m. Ms. Watson was arraigned at the Town of Tupper Lake Court where she was remanded to the Franklin County Jail in lieu of $2,500 cash bail, or $5,000 bond. An order of protection was issued. Police tape also surrounded Kimberly Watson's car that she had driven down to the police station on Santa Clara Ave. The long-time farm market and bakery had just recently been opened by the couple. The business below Sunmount hill had been closed since last fall after Kelly and Jim Facteau opened their mobile food concession at the Raquette River Brewery. In recent years the Facteaus did extensive renovations there and ran the business as a restaurant and deli and base for their catering business. Ms. Watson told the Free Press recently that she and Phillip planned to return it to its roots here as a farm and garden market, plus add a bakery. In recent weeks they have been selling potted and hanging plants, including flowers and vegetables.

Tim LaBarge promoted to Two-Star General

Dan McClelland

New York Air National Guard Major General Timothy LaBarge, the commander of the New York Air National Guard and a Tupper Lake resident, receives his second star from his daughter Emily (left) and his wife Petra, during promotion ceremonies held on June 1, 2019 at New York National Guard Headquarters in Latham, N.Y. LaBarge and Major General Thomas Owens, Air National Guard Assistant to the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, were promoted to Major General rank in a dual ceremony by Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Ben German)

New York Air National Guard Major General Timothy LaBarge, the commander of the New York Air National Guard and a Tupper Lake resident, receives his second star from his daughter Emily (left) and his wife Petra, during promotion ceremonies held on June 1, 2019 at New York National Guard Headquarters in Latham, N.Y. LaBarge and Major General Thomas Owens, Air National Guard Assistant to the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, were promoted to Major General rank in a dual ceremony by Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Ben German)

Tupper Lake resident Timothy LaBarge, a member of the Air Force and the New York Air National Guard since 1983, was promoted to Major General (two-star) during a June 1 ceremony at New York National Guard headquarters in Latham, N.Y.

Major General LaBarge, who has served as the commander of the 5,800- member New York Air National Guard since 2018, was promoted by Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York.

The New York Air National Guard is the largest Air National Guard in the country with five flying wings operating 42 aircraft and the Eastern Air Defense Sector which is responsible for the air defense of the United States east of the Mississippi.

The ceremony included the promotion of both LaBarge and Tom Owens, currently serving as the Air National Guard assistant to the commander of the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command.

"I can't say enough about working with both Tom and Tim," Shields said before inviting the families of both general officers to present the new stars.

"With the number of two-star general officers with ties to New York, we now have a small fire team of senior leaders if we need them," Shields joked.

LaBarge also serves as the assistant adjutant general for air for the New York National Guard. LaBarge is the primary advisor to Maj. Gen. Shields on all Air National Guard matters.

"I get to work with Tim every day," Shields said. "It's been a great relationship. I rely on him a lot and I couldn't ask for a better partner in leading our New York National Guard."

"Sir, thank you, and while I work for you, I know that I work directly for the men and women who serve in our New York Army National Guard, Air National Guard, New York Guard and New York Naval Militia," LaBarge said.

"My career, and this promotion, is the end result of the foresight of key Air Guard leaders back in 2002, selecting key officers from across the state for command positions," LaBarge said. "It was the source code for generating today's wing commanders and senior leaders across the New York Air National Guard, and it has done a terrific job of it."

“Our goal now is to inspire and groom our next set of leaders, and the next set after that," he said. "Our job now is to man, train and equip this New York National Guard for whatever comes next."

Tim graduated from Tupper Lake High School and from St. Lawrence University in Canton in 1983 and received his Air Force Commission from the Officer Training School in 1984. He served eight years in the active Air Force and joined the New York Air National Guard in 1991.

He has served in a number of leadership positions, to include command of the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia from 2010 to 2012 and command of the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh from 2012 to 2016.

LaBarge was promoted to Brigadier General in 2016.

He served as Chief of Staff of the New York Air National Guard from 2016 to 2018 and as Director of Joint Staff for the New York National Guard in 2018 before assuming his current role.

He served at United States Air Force Headquarters from 2006 to 2007 as a staff officer in the Air Force Directorate of Total Force Integration.

LaBarge is a command pilot with over 5,800 hours in the T-37, T-38, C-5, C-130, and LC-130 and C-17 aircraft.

He has flown combat missions and combat support missions in support of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He has also flow mission in Antarctic in support of the National Science Foundation.

LaBarge is a graduate of the Air Force Squadron Officers School, Air Force Command and General Staff School, the Air War College, the Joint Forces Staff College and received a Master of Arts in Military Studies/Strategic Leadership from the American Military University.

LaBarge's awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Combat Readiness Medal the National Defense Service Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal , the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal , the Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon, the Antarctic Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kuwait Liberation Medal Government of Kuwait.

Tim and his wife Petra live in Tupper Lake and have two daughters Lyndsay and Emily, a grand-daughter Tayler and a grandson TJ.

A number of friends and family members attended the impressive ceremony. Among those were his parents, Bob and Sue LaBarge of this village, daughters Lyndsay and Emily, son in law Jake, his uncle, Jim Frenette, Tupper Lakers Dr. William Maroun, Tom and Barbara McCarthy, Mayor and County Legislator Paul Maroun and Joe Kahn.

Quite a “Party on Park”

Dan McClelland

Saturday's “Party on Park,” while abbreviated by rain, drew hundreds of people to the uptown business district to help celebrate the arrival of five new business there, several of which marked their grand openings that day.

The five new places were Spruce and Hemlock, the Adirondack Store and Birch Boys, The Row, Stacked Graphics and Well Dressed Food's new “Libations” bar.

The promotion was spearheaded by Garrett Kopp, one of the Birch Boys.

The street was closed off and the event opened at 1p.m. but the rain arrived shortly after 2:30 p.m., putting a damper on the outdoor activities and the sales at the outdoor vendors on the one block length of Park Street. The rain, however, had an unexpected benefit for the new businesses. It moved visitors and locals indoors to the new shops at mid-afternoon and many stayed for quite some time to explore all the new retail goods for sale. The Park Street businesses reported unbelievable crowds and brisk sales as a result.

According to comments that day, too, people were impressed with all they saw in these brand new retail outlets.

These photos show some of the on-street activity in the early afternoon (clockwise from top left): Wild Center staffer Shannon Surdyk spins cotton candy from the center's locally-drawn maple syrup supply; Cabin Fever's Anne Hoag worked out of her vintage trailer, selling among other things tie-dyed roses (some of her flowers are now sold inside Spruce and Hemlock); Broyce Guerette, who with his wife Allison bought Childwold's popular Leather Artisan shop over the winter from Tom and Donna Amoroso, shows off some of their new purses and handbags (also sold now at Spruce and Hemlock); and Nicole Jessie, a hard-working lass who spent her college years working in businesses all over Tupper Lake, was manning the taps at the popular Raquette River Brewing booth. Below youngsters enjoy fishing in front of the State Theater. (Dan McClelland photos)

Tupper Lake, Long Lake school voters approve budgest, propositions

Dan McClelland

Tupper Lake Central School District voters approved in overwhelming fashion the district's $19.43 million spending plan that was put before them when they went to the polls last Tuesday.

The new budget, which will see a spending increase by 3.81%, was approved 324 to 55. A total of 380 votes were cast and 85% of those voted “yes.”

The school tax levy (what taxpayers pay) in the new budget is $8.1 million, up from the current figure of $7.9 million. The increase was 2.1% which fell below the 2% state tax cap, when permissible exemptions districts enjoy were factored in.

Public school enrollment this coming year is expected to be down only three students from this year's enrollment of 726, indicating a flattening trend.

Last week's school voting saw a second proposition on the ballot to permit the district this coming year to purchase two new school busses, as part of its five-year replacement plan adopted a number of years ago. The question also included the purchase of a second zamboni ice-cleaning machine for the civic center. The package totaled $350,000 but the district will see $121,000 from the state in transportation aid in coming years. The measure also passed by a huge margin, 309 to 70, or with an 82% favorable rating.

David Dewyea, a veteran member of the board and who was running unopposed this year, was re-elected to another three-year term with the endorsement of 348 voters.

Long Lake voters okayed a $3.5 million capital construction project to make repairs to school buildings. The vote count there was 120 in the affirmative while 97 voters opposed it.

A new $4.18 million school budget was approved like most North Country budget votes last Tuesday. The budget vote was 153 to 63. Spending in the new financial plan is up by $117,768 over the current budget. Long Lake's tax levy for this coming school year is $2.91 million- up 2.42% or $69,000. The district's tax cap, with exemptions, this year was 2.45%.

Replacing Fred Short on the school board this year will be Joan Paula who garnered 125 votes. Unsuccessful in the race was Jodi Luxford with 79 votes.

There were single write-in votes cast Tuesday for Timothy Touchette, John Adams, Gary Baker and Tony Clark.

Bike Rodeo coming June 8

Dan McClelland

Village leaders encouraged parents in the community to bring their children to the annual Tupper Lake Police Department's “Bike Rodeo.”

The event, under the chairmanship again of Officer Mike Vaillancourt with help this year again from Officer Heather Kennedy, will again be staged at the Paul A. Maroun Emergency Service Building on Saturday, June 8 from 10a.m. to 2p.m.. Before the station was built four years ago the event was staged for years at the lower parking lot of L.P. Quinn Elementary School.

Thousands of dollars in prizes, helmets and great food go to the young riders and their families each year.

“It's always a great event for kids, their parents and families,” asserted Mayor Paul Maroun. “It was a big success last year and I expect it to be a greater success this year!”

A full story on all the event will be carried in next week's issue.

The mayor also took the opportunity that evening to plug the upcoming J.D. Golf Tournament on Saturday, June 1 at the Tupper Lake golf course which benefits the hometown department's K-9 unit, directed by Sgt. Jordan Nason.

“We have law enforcement officers coming from all over the county and from sections of Troop B state police and it should be a great event.”

Community gathers to remember the fallen

Dan McClelland

by Ian Roantree

After the end of the American Civil War, a conflict that saw more casualties than any other that the United States has been involved in since, American communities began holding tributes during this time of year to honor those who had fallen in result of that four year-long war.

Despite the sides that those men fought on and the banners and flags they flew, each life that was lost was an American one.

Originally observed as Decoration Day, by 1971 it evolved to Memorial Day and was officially recognized as a federal holiday to honor and commemoration of those who sacrificed their lives in service with the United States Armed Forces.

In the late morning of Monday, May 27, in continuance of a long-time tradition, the Tupper Lake community congregated at the Tupper Lake War Memorial to take witness to the annual Memorial Day ceremony that was hosted by the VFW Post 3120.

While onlookers watched from the street, veterans and former service men and women flanked the memorial while community members and organizations patiently awaited to place their wreaths at the foot of the memorial and to pay their respects to those who have fallen.

The Master of Ceremonies that morning was Tracy Luton, commander of VFW Post #3120, who opened the ceremonies and introduced the speakers who made their remarks.

In usual tradition, Rev. Rick Wilburn led the opening prayer. As hats were removed and heads lowered he said, “As we approach Memorial Day, may we honor and remember those who died that we might live in freedom. We remember our departed loved ones gone on before. Those who we honor will be in our lives forever.”

The Tupper Lake Band proceeded to play The Star Spangled Banner, followed by the crowd’s saying of the Pledge of Allegiance, led by members of Boy Scout Troop 23.

The guest speaker of the ceremony wasn’t a veteran or service member as typical of such an event. “Usually we have a veteran come up and speak for us, but this year we decided to have an elected official,” explained Commander Luton.

“We wanted to get a different perspective and somebody that has been here her entire life. She’s someone who served on the town board, someone who has worked here in the village and has served and volunteered in this community.”

“I would like to thank the VFW and Commander Tracy Luton for bestowing this incredible honor upon me on this Memorial Day,” began Supervisor Patti Littlefield. “It was without reservation that I accepted the invitation to make comments here today.

“I’d like to thank you all for joining us; to stand in front of this monument in recognition and honor of all our loved ones who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to this nation is very moving.”

One of the most compelling thing about Memorial Day, Supervisor Littlefield pointed out, is that nearly each and every person at that service knows someone, whether it be a family member or a friend, who is serving at this very moment, or who has served in the past.

“I would like to recognize all those servicemen and women among us who have served or are currently serving in all of the branches of our military, as well as any of you here who may have lost a loved one in service.

“We are humbled by your sacrifices as we know they are great. We commend the demonstrations of courage and strength that you have no doubt shown throughout the most difficult of times.

“We must remember that Memorial Day is the day that we remember our heroes who have gone to combat and have not returned and the ones who have died here at home. We are forever thankful for what they have done.

“So much pride is felt by many families right here in Tupper Lake, let alone the county. Memorial Day is a day to remember our own fallen and those who served with them and to say thank you.

“Over a million men and women have died in wartime throughout the span of our nation’s history. This, of course, does not even begin to take into account those who were wounded or went missing. That number is closer to three million.

“Those number should truly humble us, as they represent people—individuals who were brothers, husbands, mothers, sister and friends. These were people woven into the fabric of communities across the nation and here in Tupper Lake. They were loved, they were mourned and they are missed.

“As a fifth generation Tupper Laker, I realize more every year just how beautiful it is here and how we who live and work here year after year do tend to take it all for granted.

“John M. Sparks, the man who instilled in me a sense of community and country, a man who passed away nearly 41 years ago was a Marine, a Staff Sergeant in Korea. His eldest son, my brother, William J. Sparks is a Navy veteran who served during the Middle East conflict. They were some of the lucky ones who came home.

“There are many of you who can relate to your family members and friends who were also so lucky. I hope and pray for all of you who have loved ones in the military today that they too are the lucky ones who come home safely.

“May all of our fallen rest peacefully. May all of us find peace and understanding in their sacrifice and that the America that they so loved and protected and gave their life for is forever worthy...we will never forget you.

After Supervisor Littlefield’s speech, the Tupper Lake Band performed a service medley of Ballad of the Green Berets and Marches of the Armed Forces.

After the vibrant musical numbers the ceremonial laying of the wreaths took place. Wreaths were laid by Girl Scouts of the North Country New York, Tupper Lake Service Unit, 454 represented by Cadette Troops 4170 and 4123, Knights of Columbus Council 2177, Sunmount and DDSO, the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department, the Tupper Lake Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, the Village of Tupper Lake, the Town of Tupper Lake, American Legion Post 220, Tupper Lake Honor Guard, Adirondack Leatherneck 1268 Marine Corps. League, Amvets Post 710, Amvets Ladies Auxiliary, VFW Post 3120 and Woodmen Lodge.

The laying of the wreaths was followed by the Honor Guard’s three-round rifle volley, led by Honor Guard Commander Mike Larabie.

After the rifle volley, Tupper Lake high school student and trumpeter, Shannon Soucy, performed the ceremonial solo-trumpet piece, Taps.

The band then followed with another Memorial Day standard, Stars Over America.

The closing prayer and remarks to end the ceremony were said by Jim Ellis.

He said, “very soon we will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of D-Day: June 6, 1944. On that day, young Americans, Canadians and British stormed ashore. The hottest sector was in the U.S. sector at Omaha Beach.

“Six thousand young men were given their service and their lives at the end of that day. Let us always remember that. Let us remember that our country has existed for over 200 years and it’s because of the sacrifice of people like them. Over one and a quarter million of whom gave their lives on the battlefield and as pointed out by our speaker, about three million total who may have been shortened in their lives because of the wounds they received and the missing in action.

“This never would have happened if our land had not been blessed by God, the Father Almighty and the Holy Spirit. We pray in the name of Jesus the Lord that it continues and that our young people present here today, will remember not so much the fact that we have thinning hair, gray locks, our steps a little uncertain. But for all of us here, I’m sure that I say, we love our friends who have given their lives, many of whom we knew.”

Both school district propositions pass by large margins

Dan McClelland

Tupper Lake Central School District voters approved in overwhelming fashion the district's $19.43 million spending plan that was put before them when they went to the polls yesterday.

The new budget, which will see a spending increase by 3.81%, was approved 324 to 55. A total of 380 votes were cast and 85% of those voted “yes.”

The school tax levy (what taxpayers pay) in the new budget is $8.1 million, up from the current figure of $7.9 million. The increase was 2.1% which fell below the 2% state tax cap, when permissible exemptions districts enjoy were factored in.

Public school enrollment this coming year is expected to be down only three students from this year's enrollment of 726, indicating a flattening trend.

Yesterday saw a second proposition on the ballot to permit the district this coming year to purchase two new school busses, as part of its five-year replacement plan adopted a number of years ago. The question also included the purchase of a second zamboni ice-cleaning machine for the civic center. The package totaled $350,000 but the district will see $121,000 from the state in transportation aid in coming years. The measure also passed by a huge margin, 309 to 70, or with an 82% favorable rating.

David Dewyea, a veteran member of the board and who was running unopposed this year, was re-elected to another three-year term with the endorsement of 348 voters.

Tupper Lakers come out strong to remember Jamie, recognize dangers of domestic violence

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Tupper Lakers again came out strong Saturday for the second year to remember the tragic loss of Jamie Rose Martin and to recognize the dangers of domestic violence. Nearly 180 walkers and joggers took part in the second annual five kilometer “Power Walk,” sponsored by the Family and Friends of Jamie Rose Martin, which began and ended for the first time at the new Tupper Lake Christian Center.

About 50 walkers pre-registered and 110 signed up that morning. Many children and dogs accompanied the participants.

The theme of the domestic violence awareness event was “Break the Silence...Stop the Violence.”

The second annual event netted just under $10,000 to help the local group further the fight against domestic violence.

Amanda Amell, this year's coordinator of the event and her team of over 20 volunteers, produced a well-organized event and the weather was perfect for it, with clear but overcast skies and the mercury hovering in the low fifties.

Ms. Amell told the Free Press that morning the committee hopes to make this an annual event, in honor of their friend Jamie, who was murdered by her boy friend at her home two years ago this month.

“Some year we may switch it up and do a different event, but we'll certainly organize something” in honor of Jamie, she added.

This year's walk followed the popular Michelle Farkas Dewyea Turkey Trot route each Thanksgiving through the Junction neighborhoods and around Little Wolf Lake.

Along the way the committee posted about 16 signs, educating participants and the passing general public on some of the dramatic statistics associated with the growing national problem.

For example, Amanda said, one sign read: “Domestic violence is one partner in an intimate relationship of abusing the other.”

Domestic violence is unisexual in nature, she added.

As people pass the signs we hope they will be mindful of domestic violence and what happened to Jamie, Amanda said that morning after the participants left the staging area.

The first few steps for everyone was across the Little Wolf Creek bridge which was decorated with ribbons and blue balloons, fashioned by high school students and inflated that morning by Amanda's mother, Louise.

Before the event began Jamie's mother, Diane, read the following statement, fighting back tears at times.

“Each and every one of you is making a difference by joining us today. We are all taking a stand against relationship violence and abuse. We are ensuring that Jamie’s loss is not forgotten in our community by continuing to spread awareness, messages of hope, and education.

“It has been just over two years since my family was robbed of our joy-filled, Jamie. That’s 720 days, 8,640 minutes. Seconds that are too many to count. Our pain is real and always present.

“But…the community of Tupper Lake is on the verge of greatness. You see, through our efforts and with your help, we have begun training our neighbors in the Mentors in Violence Prevention program. We have provided scholarships to young women who are determined to carry on Jamie’s legacy. We are connected to and providing additional support to agencies in Northern New York that provide crisis relief and help to people trying to escape violent relationships. We are continuing to work with lawmakers to establish more protections for those who are abused. We are writing to legislators in hopes of bringing more financial support to upstate New York, a forgotten region at budget time when it comes to social programs like mental health and domestic violence prevention.

“My family and me thank you all for joining us in our fight to better our communities and recognizing that although our beloved Jamie is not here on Earth with us, her spirit lives on and continues to bring wellness to all. We know that she is with us today and every day. Thank you again for coming and supporting us. Also thank you to the Family and Friends of Jamie Rose Martin and the community for the countless hours all of you have put in in order for this event to take place today.”

The participants finished back at the Christian Center, where the raffle winners and the first place finishers were honored.

First across the finish line for the second year in a row was Tupper Lake's Hannah Klossner. Danielle Spencer was second and the husband and wife team of Sue and Sherm LaLonde shared third place. Cash prizes of $100, $50 and $25 went to the winner, respectively.

“We received a lot of great feedback from a lot of people,” Amanda noted. “Many said it was very well organized and many said they really enjoyed it.”

Besides registration some of the proceeds from the Power Walk came from the sale of tee shirts. The committee still has a number of shirts to sell, in sizes medium and large. To buy one, supporters can log onto to Family and Friends of Jamie Rose Martin Facebook page or call Amanda at (518) 354-0540.

Two major donations helping to finish Rotary/Youth Association field

Dan McClelland

Two major donations helping to finish Rotary/Youth Association field

by Dan McClelland

May 1 was a big day for the Tupper Lake Rotary Club, which has been a key fundraiser for the Tupper Lake Youth Baseball and Softball Association's new Little League field in the municipal park. That day the club received major donations of $2,500 and $3,000 which just about finishes the civic club's year long fund drive to create the new playing field.

The club had a special Wednesday night session to congratulate and recognize the donors.

In the photo above Jeff and Carol Denit present their very generous gift of $3,000 to Lydia Kriwox, incoming Rotary president (second from left) and to Jay Skiff, a member of the baseball and softball association (right). The Denits' donation will pay for the construction of the press box which will overlook the field and Raquette Pond beyond.

In the photo below, Royce Cole (center), chief of the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department, presents his firefighters' donation of $2,500 to pay for one of the two team dug-outs on the field.

The two dug-outs at the field next to the Little Logger playground and the press box will be constructed in upcoming weeks by Rotary and Youth Association volunteers as soon as the site dries up.

The extensive drainage system that was completed by Kentile Excavating and a cadre of volunteer diggers last year is performing well these days, drying up the new playing surface on what was once a very soggy place.

Baseball players here are expected to be able to use what is now the best Little League-sized field in the North Country on or about mid-June, official says. (photos provided)

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Multiple agencies respond to sinking vessel

Dan McClelland

On Wednesday, May 1 at approximately 7:05p.m. Dave Francisco, a resident on Emma Street, looking out over the lake from his window said, “he was in the right spot, at the right time.” He saw a boat leaving shore, watched it flip and quickly called 911 and notified them of a sinking vessel with one occupant on the northwest portion of Raquette Pond.

New York State Police, DEC, Tupper Lake Police and Tupper Lake Rescue Squad responded to multiple locations including the Moody Bridge, Municipal Park, Water Street and Underwood Bridge in search of the sinking vessel.

The boater, Lee Roussel, 46, of Tupper Lake, was located close to the northern shore.

A member of the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad was able to use a private watercraft to make contact with and remove Mr. Roussel from the water. Mr. Roussel was found clinging to the floating gas tank of his boat and was not wearing a personal floatation device. He was then taken to the Tupper Lake Municipal Park Boat Launch and transferred to the awaiting ambulance.

The Tupper Lake Rescue Squad then transported Mr. Roussel to Adirondack Health in Saranac Lake for the onset of hypothermia.

His boat sank in the shallow water near where it was found.

Police Officer Tom Fee honored on 40 years of service to village

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Major milestone in police work    Police Chief Eric Proulx and Mayor Paul Maroun flanked Tom Fee recently when he was presented by the village with a special award commemorating his 40 years of service to the village and its police department. (photo provided)

Major milestone in police work

Police Chief Eric Proulx and Mayor Paul Maroun flanked Tom Fee recently when he was presented by the village with a special award commemorating his 40 years of service to the village and its police department. (photo provided)

Tupper Lake's Tom Fee has been a police officer here for 40 years- a milestone few other law enforcement officers have celebrated here.

In recent weeks the village presented the oldest member of the local force with a plaque inscribed with a message of commendation for his long and dedicated service to the village and its police force.

Mr. Fee, who retired six years ago as police chief, now works as a patrolman without employment benefits, the result of which the village sees big payroll savings.

He told the Free Press last week much has changed in the business of law enforcement in his four decades on the squad. The most troubling change is the number of teenagers and adults on drugs. “They are right into the hard drugs!

The switch from marijuana and cocaine to narcotics and heroin has been both sharp and dramatic here, like in many small towns in America today.

“If you would have told me ten years ago I would be delivering Narcan on the street I would have told you that you were crazy!”

He said the scope of the drug problem in Tupper Lake is far beyond what people think it is.

Narcan (naloxone) is an anti-drug spray which is administered up the nasal passage of an over-dosing opioid or heroine drug user to resuscitate them and save their life.

It binds to opioid receptors in the brain, preventing opioids from binding there. It revives the user in two to five minutes.

The role of police officer has changed dramatically over the years here, he knows well. Today it is part law enforcement, part social work, as domestic incidents and drug-related investigations take more and more of a police officer's time and attention.

Tom joined the local force at the age of 22 after working for a short time at another police department in New Hampshire. He worked for a time with his father Creighton at his surveying business. In high school he worked as a swimming instructor and life guard at Little Wolf Beach.

Tom's brother Kevin was also a swimming instructor here and Tom also followed him into the local police force, where Kevin worked until later joining the Ogdensburg city force.

Tom's first day on the Tupper Lake force was in February, 1979.

His first chief was the late Clarence Bell and Tom was employed on a trial basis that year because the force was expanding to 12 from its traditional 10 officers because of the coming 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

Officials then thought Tupper Lake was to see a huge economic boom from the Olympics when in fact it saw none. The place was like a ghost town when none of the expected Olympic visitors and lodgers arrived.

In 1993 Tom made sergeant and in 2007 he was named chief by the village board.

He served as chief until February, 2013.

One of the best things to happen during that time- and something he pushed strongly for- was the arrival of the county emergency services office to dispatch local police calls. It began as a part-time initiative on weekends and after a strong push from Chief Fee and local leaders it was eventually embraced full-time by the county. The 911 service out of Malone saved the village the cost of paying local dispatchers and put more officers on the street more often.

When he retired from the department's top post, he left open the door he could return. “I also wanted the option I could go somewhere else and do the same thing!”

“We were in Florida and Eric (Police Chief Eric Proulx) called me to stop and see him when I got back home.”

He rejoined the force as a patrolman again shortly after their conversation.

Since then Officer Fee has worked for straight salary, and no village employment benefits, because those benefits now come from his police retirement program.

“Tom saves us $50,000 a year,” Mayor Paul Maroun recently commented.

Officer Fee is fast approaching 62 years of age and initially was told he would have to hang up his gun and badge then. He recently learned, after Chief Proulx contacted the county civil service office, he can work into the foreseeable future, which he plans to do for a time.

That will prove valuable for Tupper Lake as the long-time officer has a wealth of information about the community and its residents at his fingertips.

He said that many old-timers here often ask for him when they visit the station, because they have worked with him in the past and are comfortable working with him.

Tom said he likes doing the job of policeman and working with the guys on the team. “We have a good group of guys in the department right now!”

Officer Fee confided that when he goes to work every day, no matter what the shift, he looks forward to it!

As a young officer, he said, he thought his police career would end at the 25-year retirement date, but his law enforcement career and its path just keep winding on.

Old parade route, new spark coming for 2019 Woodsmen's Days parade

Dan McClelland

With the major reconstruction of the uptown business district by New York State behind us, the Tupper Lake Woodsmen's Days organizers of the large kick-off parade decided this year to switch back to the old route.

For years the parade participants assembled on upper Park Street and some of the side streets there and then proceeded down Park through the business district, rounding the corners on Wawbeek and Lake and moving down Lake Street to the Tupper Lake Municipal Park outer area. With Park Street torn up in recent years, the Demars Blvd. Route was used the past three years.

-And to make the parade bigger and more vibrant than Tupper Lake and its many visitors have seen in years, Andrew McClelland and Pat Bedore of Stacked Graphics and Faith McClelland of Spruce and Hemlock have teamed up this year with Parade Coordinator Amanda Lizotte.

The young entrepreneurs who relocated to the heart of the uptown business district this winter are inviting their commercial and retail neighbors to join them in decorating their storefronts and business fronts in a lumberjack theme with plenty of red and black check plaid.

The decoration trio is asking everyone on that two-block stretch of Park Street to have the decorations in place from Thursday, July 12 to Sunday, July 14 to welcome all visitors with grand and home-spun lumberjack hospitality.

The decorations don't have to be costly and elaborate...just simple and colorful like the early lumberjacks here.

“How magnificent would our business district look decked out in buffalo plaid for four days?” the three say. “We may be surprised at how many tourists stop without even knowing about our Woodsmen's Days to find out what's going on.”

The decorations may also bring local residents down to see the decorations and stop in stores they haven't been in for years, they figure.

They are calling on their commercial neighbors to start planning their decorations now, before the busy summer season begins.

The three business people say: “Let's make this the year of participation...the year of camaraderie... the year of supporting one another...the year of Tupper Lake!”

In a related matter, Mrs. Lizotte is also looking for businesses, groups and organizations of all sorts to again join the Woodsmen's Parade with their floats and marching groups to make it as good or better than any in its 40-year history. Last year's procession, under the parade coordinator's direction, boasted one of largest turn-outs of large logging industry equipment and tractor trailers in recent years.

Last week the village board approved the new parade route and the retail promotion to accompany the parade.

Creative spirit turns scrap materials into works of art

Dan McClelland

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By Rich Rosentreter

There’s an old saying that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Well, sometimes what was once considered to be junk heading to the dump can be turned into a creative treasure – something that lives on with function and purpose. Such is the case with the items in a new shop on the outskirts of Tupper Lake.

Jane and Joe Denis operate Jane’s Place located on state Route 3 in Piercefield where they specialize in items that have been repurposed. The shop opened in September and Jane said she is gearing up to open for the season over Memorial Day weekend.

Inside Jane’s Place one will find a plethora of items, from basic décor and display items to small furniture such as dressers and shelving to vintage doors turned into a decorative masterpiece. Although each item is unique, they have one thing in common: Each was repurposed from something that either was earmarked for the dump or simply lying around unused.

“It’s a little bit of crafts and treasures. It’s such a good feeling to know that you saved something from going to the dump - and you created something new,” Jane told the Free Press during a recent visit to the shop. She quickly pointed out a headboard that was turned into a bench. “We gave it a new life. This is really a labor of love – and we have fun doing it.”

But Jane does not do everything by herself. Her husband Joe does the building and her son Joshua, who lives in Massachusetts, works on lighting fixtures.

According to Jane, she started building the shop up slowly with inventory in June and after opening in the fall, remained open until just after Christmas. As word spread about her new shop, she started to hear positive comments.

“The initial feedback was great,” she said. “There was a lot of word of mouth, one person showed off their purchase and it seemed to blossom from there. It’s not crazy busy, which is nice because I wouldn’t want it to be that way.”

“Everything we do it’s something different, there are no two pieces exactly alike,” Joe said. “It may look somewhat the same, but there is something different about each piece.”

Getting started

The idea of opening a store began some time ago for Jane, but she traced the genesis to a sign her son constructed for her using old tools that contained what would become the store’s name: Jane’s Place.

“He created the sign and gave it to me as a gift a few Christmas’ ago. That was where the name was created, but I’ve always wanted to do this,” Jane said, adding that after retiring from working at the local bank in June, she was able to find the time to follow her dream.

The shop is more than a dream now as it is a mix of a creative spark and teamwork. Jane comes up with the idea and her husband Joe, who is also retired, builds and crafts items.

“She just tells me what she wants and it’s done, but the painting and refinishing is her responsibility,” Joe said, adding that the labor is pretty easy for him. “I’ve always done construction and stuff like that. I can make pretty much anything out of wood. I don’t know how to use a computer but I can probably make one out of wood.”

In addition to working on lighting, her son comes up to visit often and helps with the placement of the decor.

“He also has access to more (items to refurbish) in Massachusetts as far as flea markets and second-hand stuff,” Jane said. “He’s not here all the time but he plays a role.”

But creating is not new for the Piercefield couple who said they were creating canoe shelves since the early 1990s and going to craft fairs.

“I also did dolls and stuff but that kind of fizzled out. We didn’t have much time anymore to create,” Jane said, adding that as time went on, they once again began to create items for themselves. “A lot of it was us creating things for our own home. We slowly started making extra things with the potential of opening a store.”

The process

Now that Jane and Joe are in full gear, they shared how material is gathered for their shop.

Jane said she travels to sales such as flea markets and garage sales with her husband to bring back items to repurpose for the shop, and they have traveled as far as Tennessee on their mission. One of their favorite destinations is going to the Brimfield Flea Markets – one of the most popular in the Northeast – in Massachusetts. Joe said he once came home with about 40 doors for repurposing after a flea market trip.

“We do the sales together,” Jane said, adding that sometimes they see a piece and an idea is sparked or she’ll ask Joe if a certain project can be done. “And pretty much anything can be done with a particular item. Sometimes I wouldn’t see it as something, and he’ll provide an idea.”

Both said that traveling to find items is a key part of the fun – and many times they come home with a truck full of materials.

Not all the items in the store get sold. Sometimes they wind up right in Jane’s own home.

“We just did a bedroom,” Jane said, and instead of going to the big box store, she went right down to her den of creativity at the store. “I say I’m going shopping and came to the shop to add. I took a window mirror from the store. I do that with a few items that I created, they wind up in my own home.”

As far as prices go, Jane said she tries to keep everything affordable so customers visit the store again.

“I’ve had a lot of people tell me that my pieces are great so I try to keep the prices down so the items move,” she said. “I try to put a fair price. Really, I don’t want somebody to come in one time and think that the prices are so high and they never come back.”

Ideas for projects

Although many of the ideas for products that wind up in the shop are generated by the Denis family, sometimes ideas come from the customers. Jane said if a customer asks if she could create something specific, the job becomes more challenging.

“There’s a little more pressure on when someone asks for something specific because you try to create according to their expectations instead of just being able to create it,” she said. “A special order is a little bit harder.”

Other times there is something in the store that fits right into a customer’s wants and needs and people comment on the ideas in the shop. And sometimes Jane is able to work together with the customer to fulfill their needs.

“It’s amazing how many people would say ‘I was looking for that one thing to go in a spot and I’d never have thought of that,’” Jane said. “I had a customer who said they needed a coffee bar. I pulled an old dry sink out and she said perfect. I reconfigured it and the customer was really happy.”

And the creativity is all around Jane’s Place. Some examples are: two doors that have been put together to form a very decorative entry; an old door shaped into a form of a Christmas tree; a headboard turned into a coat rack; and another old door turned into a gardening bench. There are also many small items such as signs, wooden decor and a few antique pieces.

“That piece is decorative, sealed for outdoor use and you can hang tools on it. It’s still cute but it serves a purpose too,” she said.

Jane said she tries to stay on top of the latest colors and the popular trends.

“I do what I like or think will sell. I try to keep up with what is trending, the colors that are trending. I look on Pinterest for the colors of 2019 and different things like that,” she said.

One would think Jane is happy whenever she makes a sale, but that’s not the case as she said she would actually love to keep all her creations as a part of her goes with each sale.

“It hurts. I hate to see it go I wish I had space for everything,” Jane said, as she pointed out one creation. “I love this potting shed and would be super happy if someone would take it, but if that space was empty, I would be a little sad. So we would just create something else.”

But Jane was quick to add that there is still a sense of reward.

“People take an item home and I ask them to shoot me a photo. Some of them remember and send a photo, and when I see the item being enjoyed, it’s just awesome.”

Keeping it simple

Although both Jane and Joe have plenty of time as retirees, they do not plan on having the shop take up all of their time – but the way it’s been working, they have fun spending time creating so the shop isn’t a burden. And even though the shop is full of inventory to sell and material to turn into creative products, the couple has no plans on making the space larger.

“We want to finish the porch area and get more items outside, but I don’t want to get too big, I don’t want to lose sight of what I am doing. I don’t want the pressure of getting too busy,” Jane said. “This keeps us busy enough and active, but in a fun way. If we don’t want to open we don’t. There’s a big difference between going to work and enjoying being creative.”

In the meantime, Joe said they’ll do their best to keep up with any demand.

“We just sold a clock, so I guess we’re going to have to make more clocks,” he said. “When we see things that are going to sell, we’ll try to keep up with the demand.”

Currently the pace of demand is reasonable to keep up with – and the next big date on the calendar is the opening weekend of the store, which is also the date of the Great Adirondack Garage Sale – May 25 and 26.

“We’ll probably put some stuff out for that one,” Jane said.

Until the store opens for the season, anyone who wants to check out what Jane’s Place has to offer can make an appointment. Of course any time after opening day, people are welcome to visit and just browse the creative items – and maybe get some ideas for their own projects.

“You can contact us at any time. We’re more than happy to show it off,” she said. “Just contact me. If the store’s not open, I always tell people I only live up the hill, I can just come on down.”

Contact Jane by email at or visit her Facebook page titled “Purdy Things at Jane’s Place.

New Lions bandshell almost ready for performers

Dan McClelland

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The new Lions bandshell in the village's Flanders Performance Park will soon be the place for concerts this summer. Side windows were installed before winter as was much of the landscaping. All the remains is some siding work on the rear closet in the band shell and the erection of the community's hemlock cone.

The photo below shows at left the tiers of grass seating, faced by large granite pieces cut and numbered to fit. To the right is the mosiac-style stone dance floor.

The village electric crew installed low-voltage lights atop bollards to gently light the seating areas.

Tupper Arts has finalized its season of Tuesday evening concerts, dubbed “Summer Sunset Series” and sponsored in part by village funds and donations which will be collected at each event. The first performance will be July 3, which will be a patriotic performance to kick off the fireworks in the park later that evening and the celebration the next day. Performers Ben and Jay will open for George and Liz Cordes and their band of talented area musicians who will salute the nation in music.

The Lions Club is hoping to sponsor, in cooperation with other local civic clubs and private businesses, a handful of Wednesday night concerts, featuring local and area performers. The Adirondack Singers are booked for an evening in late July. Any band or solo artist interested in performing and any group or business here interested in sponsoring a Wednesday evening presentation is asked to contact Dan McClelland.

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Tamarac water tank set to go up

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The materials to construct the new water tank above Tamarac Village in water district No. 3 were on site earlier this month, awaiting installation.

In a report to the town board February 14, supervisor Patti Littlefield, said she had attended a meeting that day with the contractor and officials from the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC), who are overseeing the project for the town.

“It was on site late last fall, but then the weather got the best” of the installers, she reminded her board.

She said the heavy equipment to erect the sections of the tank arrived on site that day.

The installers hired to construct the tank were expected to begin this past Monday, she said.

“They are allowing two weeks” to bring it to final construction. “They have to allow time for the tank to cure and then water is added to the water main there and the tank is filled.”

The process of filling the tank with chlorinated water involves a lot of back washing and cleaning and testing” before it is ready for use, she explained.

She said also at the meeting were members of the village line crew for discussions on where new utility poles would be installed to service the tank complex. The tank will be connected by antenna to the other two village tanks to coordinate the flow of water in the village system.

The pad for the new tank was poured by the contractor, North Country Contracting last fall.

The “substantial completion date” for the project is the end of May, according to the supervisor.

The contractor will have to do “a little tidying up” on the road next to the No. 3 and No. 4 fairways where the new water mains were installed last summer, she said.

“When it's all said and done the hydrants in that water district will be functioning properly. Every resident at Tamarac will have a consistent flow of water plus there's room for expansion now on the mountain.”

“If and when something happens at the ACR they can come right down the hill and draw right out of the new tank!”

Train station wins grant for lighting improvements

Dan McClelland

Next Stop! Tupper Lake, the local not for profit organization, which built and operates the Tupper Lake train station, has been notified by the Adirondack Foundation that it has won a grant of $1,843 through its Generous Act program to add a new lighting system to the dimly-lit interior of the station.

The grant application was written and filed by Dan McClelland, chairman of the train station group.

The money comes from community-minded donors to the Lake Placid-based foundation, whose investment profits are put back into the community for myriad good works. Money is also given to the Foundation by many friends of the Adirondacks to be distributed to worthwhile community projects.

“We are delighted with the help of the Adirondack Foundation. Its generous gift will go a long way to making substantial lighting improvements inside our station, and in particular to better show off the exhibits of our new tenant, the Tupper Lake Heritage Museum,” Mr. McClelland said this week.

“When we built the station ten years ago, we underestimated the amount of lighting we needed in the great room for events there,” he noted. Three chandeliers provide most of the interior lighting in that section of the station.

Last summer after problems developed with the physical condition of the town's old Pine St. firehall the Next Stop! Tupper Lake board welcomed the Tupper Lake Heritage Museum to the large room of its building. Over the winter museum volunteers have been organizing and building exhibits of Tupper Lake historical artifacts for a June re-opening.

Museum Chairwoman Kathleen Lefebvre and several of her board members and Mr. McClelland are currently working with lighting professional David Naone of Tupper Lake to purchase the best system for the money. Mr. Naone has identified three good systems and has recently briefed the museum board on those. Some of tonight's meeting of the museum board is expected to center on his recommendations.

Mr. Naone has directed the lighting for numerous Tupper Lake High School musical and dramatic productions in the school auditorium over the years, giving generously of his time and talent. He also advised on the new lights installed in the high school auditorium, as part of the recent capital improvements this past year.

“Devoted groomers” honored with gifts from town board

Dan McClelland

Trail team members Jules Callaghan, Jim Frenette, John Gillis, and John Quinn

Trail team members Jules Callaghan, Jim Frenette, John Gillis, and John Quinn

by Dan McClelland

The men who devote many hours each year to making the town's expanding trail network at the Tupper Lake Golf Course the best it can be to ski or snowshoe on were honored Thursday by the Tupper Lake Town Board.

Councilman John Quinn, who is himself a grooming and trail maintenance volunteer on John Gillis' team, presented insulated vests that evening to John, Jim Frenette Sr., who was a pioneer trail groomer on the town's course on Mt. Morris, and Jules Callaghan. Unable to make the presentation were volunteers Eric “Shakey” Lanthier and Scott Chartier.

The new vests are the first souvenir garments here to sport the new James C. Frenette Sr. Recreational Trails logo, which was designed by the ROOST (Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism) staff. Earlier this year the town board named the trail system after Mr. Frenette.

The vests were ordered from and embroidered by Stacked Graphics.

“These are our gifts to our devoted groomers,” Supervisor Patti Littlefield said of the presentation that began Thursday's monthly meeting in the town hall basement.

She said she was delighted the pieces carried the new logo in honor of Jim Sr.

Councilman Quinn called the vests “just a small token of the town's appreciation” for all the trail-maintenance and trail-grooming work of the small band of volunteers.

John Gillis expressed his team's thanks, quoting the expression often heard from country singers that “it only takes ten years to be an overnight success.”

“We've crested!” he said, adding, this past season, in particular, was abundantly successful and the longest season to date. “We started grooming before Thanksgiving!”

The plentiful snowfall this year and the preparation to the trails to make them skiable drew hundreds of nordic skiers from across the North Country every winter weekend, it seemed.

This season over 600 individuals registered when they came to Tupper Lake to ski the course and another 500 people attended the chamber's annual Brewski, Mr. Gillis told the town officials.

He said the sliding hill, which is also groomed by his team “was wildly popular” with local kids and their parents all winter long.

A number of the trail volunteers were headed up to the course the next day to remove directional signs and attend to other end-of-season chores.

The supervisor remembered the telephone call from Mr. Gillis in 2011 after Jim Frenette, who has been grooming trails on Mt. Morris for over four decades asked him to help him out. She said John was looking for town help to maintain and expand what was already there.

“It was a whole bunch of people you talked to” to build momentum for the work you had planned, the supervisor told him.

Other core volunteers soon followed, under Mr. Gillis' leadership.

Mr. Frenette brought along a Free Press clipping that evening when Big Tupper Ski Area cut the official ribbon at the 1973 opening of the Mt. Morris network which was eventually expanded to the golf course site.

Jules Callaghan said he remembered making the sign for the new trail network.

In the off-seasons of recent years the town's trail team has also been at the center of volunteer trail-building efforts, which drew the help of many in the community. The new trails have been built in the woods, rather than in open areas, to protect them from the wind and the sun, boosting the season's longevity.

Mr. Gillis reported that evening that much of the Adirondack Park Agency permit application work has been completed for the new multi-season trail soon to be built, which in his words, will cover the entire “backside” of the course. “We're inching closer!”

Part of the trail work will involve the construction of three new bridges which will cross wetland areas, requiring the APA permit.

Much of the tree-clearing in the new trail right of way has already been completed Mr. Gillis, Mr. Lanthier and others up to where the first bridge will be built, Mr. Quinn noted. “Work has to hold off now until we get a wetland permit.”

“We're not slowing down, however,...we are going to get the trail done!”

He also reported that a feasibility study commissioned by the town through a grant program has pointed up the cost of paid labor to tackle the bridge construction to “be way high.”

He said the trail-builders will need some town funds for materials and predicted with numerous local volunteers, like the numbers which have come out at past trail-building work bees- the new trail and its bridges can be built for “a fraction of the costs” detailed in the study.

John Gillis agreed. “We put out a call and people show up. Hundreds have over the years. That's how all the trails have been done so far. I'd rather build it locally...people like the ownership... they get that community's what has propelled us!”

Councilman Quinn reported that evening that the town has filed the first piece of a grant application through the Development Authority of the North Country to the Northern Forest Council for funds to winterize the pro shop and make other changes to help make it a four-season facility. The town's first application last year was unsuccessful.

The supervisor said this is actually an application to submit an application, which is the process that must be followed. Once the town is invited to apply the second submission is a very quick process- 30 to 60 days.

A year-round pro shop building would give skiers indoor restrooms and a warming place.

He also thought a small warming hut could be erected near the relocated fire pit adjacent to Cranberry Pond. An electric line is very near that site to furnish power to it.

“These improvements are necessary to making the golf course a four-season facility!” chimed in Councilman Mike Dechene.

“Maybe even a rope tow” for the sliding hill someday? the supervisor speculated.

Mr. Quinn also commended Bill Dechene and his highway crew, who he said were invaluable in terms of helping with the trail network's equipment maintenance and transporting of the machines to area dealers for service.