by Dan McClelland
The River Pigs was the clear favorite in Saturday's vote on the name for Tupper Lake's new semi pro baseball team. It was the choice of more than two-thirds of the voters.
The informal vote staged by the Empire League's local committee in the municipal park drew an amazing 646 voters- a number which dwarfs turn-outs at many multi million-dollar school budget votes and November municipal elections here.
There were two voided ballots because two voters had selected two of the names, not one. There were two write-ins.
In the voting the Mighty Hemlocks was the choice of only two voters. Rowdy Bucks received three votes. Fifteen people liked the name Tupper Timbers. River Otters garnered 16 votes. The name Axemen received 26.
The second most popular name was the River Drivers, which received 124 votes.
That left the overwhelming favorite, the River Pigs, with 456 votes.
At noon the line at the tented polling station next to the tennis courts begin to grow. Nearly 130 people voted in the first half hour. Two hours into the voting, over 250 town and village residents had cast their ballots.
Manning the voting booth all six hours were Mike Russell and his daughter Christine. They also assisted with the vote counting at 6p.m., as did Mike Delair, Jessica Cole, Dan McClelland, Jim Lanthier and Rick Reandeau.
Each voter was asked to sign in, so that the total votes would match those who came to vote, and they did.
According to Christine Russell, about 100 an hour were coming to vote in a steady stream.
During the afternoon Rick Reandeau, whose new insurance agency is New York Life, and volunteers served hot dogs and hamburgers that Rick's company donated. The charge was $2 a piece and with over 200 sold, plus donations, it netted $1,011 for field improvements in the Tupper Lake ball field where the River Pigs will play, beginning next summer.
Late in the afternoon at one point Bob Fletcher, who coaches girls softball here, arrived, yelling “River Pigs!” He said he'd been campaigning all day at Shaheen's Supermarket where he works.
The entire vote count was live-streamed on Facebook by Royce Cole and Ron LaScala.
The vote total was sent by the local committee to Empire League President Eddie Gonzalez for his approval. Even though it's obvious he'll like the results, as it was his recommendation from the start.
“He still has to make it official,” explained Trustee David “Haji” Maroun, who heads the local committee. The trustee said he knows Mr. Gonzalez will be pleased with the support from the community for his name.
Trustee Ron LaScala said the “biggest fact of the matter is that this guy obviously knows his business...he knows what's marketable. Now, everyone has had their say. So let's let this gentleman run his business and then let's get behind him and support this team.”
He said the River Pigs was overwhelmingly the community's choice for a name for the new team.
“Let's move forward in a positive way on this new venture here!”
The trustee applauded the local committee for all its hard work on field improvements to date and for offering the community a chance to vote on a name.