by Dan McClelland
As the eleven and twelve year olds on Tupper Lake's Little League team anxiously peered out though the fence onto their new diamond in the municipal park awaiting the start of play, the leaders of the Tupper Lake Youth Softball and Baseball Association welcomed the crowd of supporters and local officials in preparation for the Saturday's ribbon-cutting.
Association president Dan Brown, welcoming the crowd of about 100 at 9a.m. that morning, explained that the new Little League-sized field adjacent to the Little Logger Playground comes on the heels of many great projects here this past decade.
He listed the Wild Walk, the adjacent playground, the Lions bandshell and various other community projects “but this one takes the cake as far as contributions from everyone in our community. We've had numerous fundraisers at Raquette River Brewing, several at Big Tupper Brewing, many contributions from local foundations and organizations- raising a sum of over $100,000. So it has been quite the effort by the community!”
He added Tupper Lake really came through for its kids.
He endeavored to list major contributors to the project which included the Tupper Lake Fire Department volunteers for their donation of $2,500, the two local breweries, the local VFW post for hosting the annual fundraising dinners which raised over $15,000 in total, the local Lions Club, the town board, Angie Snye, Supervisor Patti Littlefield, AS Services of Plattsburgh for the architectural plans and the work preparing for the Adirondack Park Agency permits, in conjunction with Village Clerk Mary Casagrain, Kentile Excavating, Skiff Construction, Mayor Paul Maroun and our village board, which he said was great working with their group on deciding on a final site for the athletic field.
The site search began on Washington St. park, moved to a place adjacent to the Palmer Gazebo to its final site next to the playground, Mr. Brown told the supporters and well-wishers.
He listed too the help of ROOST's Michelle Clement, village superintendents Mark Robillard and Marc Staves and their crews.
A loud shout out he gave to Bob DeGrace and the village department of public works crew, who included Mark Exware, Brian Kennedy, Glen Bencze and others “putting in extra hours” early mornings and evenings with village machinery.
Big financial support for our project, he said, came from the Adirondack Foundation with its gift of over $5,000, the ADK for Kids, Cloud Splitter Foundation, Shaheen's Supermarket, LeRoy's Auto, Spruce and Hemlock, Tupper Lake Supply and Rick Dattola, ARISE, Russ Cronin for his accounting help, Jeremiah Hayes and the Infant Jesus of Prague Fund and Ellen Maroun and the Aseel Legacy Fund.
Mr. Brown, high school athletic director, recognized some of his board members that morning: Maynard Peroza, “who from the start took every advantage he could to get the cause rolling, as our secretary and keeping us all on track,” Josh Trembley “working with our funds and making sure it was always where it should be and that we weren't bouncing checks,” Jed Dukett, who took “a lead on our irrigation system installed last year with Will Howard, Cory Kenniston “putting on a big final drive at the end getting the dirt on the field, building the mounds, getting the fencing up,” and Jay Skiff, “who from the start worked closely with Kentile Excavation” on all the site work and with Tupper Lake Supply on other details.
“Right from the start when we began working with the Rotary Club members about five years ago, they've been a great partner, with a lot of experience on other community projects and with their help the project came to fruition.”
Dan said for the board members one of the biggest thank yous is due their wives who suffered through their absences. “A lot of those times we were down here crawling in the dirt, leaving our homes early and coming back late.” He said when they said they be gone two hours the wives soon learned that would be actually four hours.
“There was a lot of time and sweat equity that went into this project!”
“To the kids of the community we want you to know this project is for you!” he told the youngsters gathered behind the backstop and side fencing. “-And it was a lot of fun for us to do!”
Also at the ceremony was a team from Saranac Lake waiting to play against Tupper Lake the first game on the new field.
To the local kids and young teens he said they wanted them to know that the community is behind them “and we do these things for you. You are the future of Tupper Lake!”
“Remember this is your field and take care of it!” he told them.
Dan also recognized Carol and Jeff Denit for their donation of $3,000 that will build the press box and to the local Knights of Columbus council for sharing many of the proceeds of its annual auction with the field-builders.
Board member Jay Skiff acknowledged the able leadership of Dan Brown. “He's been instrumental in this whole thing.” He said the project began with the two of them “leaning on a truck in the middle of a baseball game at the high school” talking about the need for a better playing field. “It was Dan's idea and here it is!”
As a delegation of project organizers and local leaders gathered in front of home plate for a ribbon-cutting, Tiny Jason Brown had the honor of helping his dad cut the red ribbon with giant scissors.. Charlie Skiff, Carter Kenniston and Lucas Dukett, three Little Leaguers, threw out the first ceremonial pitches following the ribbon-cutting.