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News

Filtering by Category: News

Records retention project underway

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The village board took the first step last week in beginning what could be a major records retention project that will secure important documents in perpetuity. The village and town leaders are working collectively on the project, which will be largely grant funded.

At Wednesday's monthly meeting the board voted unanimously to engage the firm of K. Sickler Murphy, conditional on grant funding in upcoming months.

The firm will be charged with reviewing all village and town old records, and making recommendations to both boards on what should be kept and what should be discarded.

The firm was one of two companies that responded to recent bid offerings and its charge was the lowest.

The second part of the retention project will involved a much larger government grant which will provide the necessary funds for a firm to scan and preserve all documents that the both governments want to retain.


State funds coming for energy storage facilities

Dan McClelland

There is expected to be state funding ahead for the development of energy storage facilities like the one the Tupper Lake Electric Department and others have been studying this past year.

At February's village board meeting Electric Superintendent Marc Staves said there has been an announcement from the Governor's office and from the New York State Energy Research Authority that money will be made available for these energy storage facilities to be built.

“If we find out through our study that a facility would be worth it to us, there'll be money to get it implemented,” he told the village leaders that evening.

Last year Mr. Staves and his counterpart from the Lake Placid Municipal Electric Department, Kimball Daby, began discussions with the Adirondack North Country Association's Nancy Bernstein and Professor Tom Ortmeyer of Clarkson to begin preparations to launch a feasibility study of energy storage in the two municipal electric systems.

The study is seen by the four proponents as the first step in determining whether storing power during low-use times of the day in the course of a year can shave peak demand periods and loads in times of high electrical consumption like winter.

In both municipally-owned electric systems, when heating and other costs in winter exceed their hydro-power allocations, the departments are required to buy more expensive coal- and nuclear-generated powers. The systems and their ratepayers pay the price for the expensive power. Tupper Lake receives bout 19 megawatts of hydro-generated electricity, which runs about four cents per kilowatt hour, before it has to buy the more expensive varieties which can run 14 cents per kw. In Lake Placid, the hydro-allocation is about 29 megawatts per month.

At a meeting of the four last year Mr. Staves speculated that storing electricity with large batteries could be “a no wires” solution to staying under the 19-megawatt mark and thereby reduce costs here.

Professor Ortmeyer of Clarkson's electric engineering department is something of a battery expert. Another battery expert who recently joined the college's faculty is expected to help with the project.

He said that “battery technology” is advancing rapidly and the costs of acquiring the large units are coming down.

Ms. Bernstein, who is ANCA's energy specialist, said these large batteries now come encased in large shipping containers for placement next to substations, like the village's on McLaughlin Ave.

Kimball Daby is aware of at least one electric facility in the region which successfully employs batteries to keep its costs down. Solar power is also used there to help charge the two megawatt systems of batteries.

One of the things the study will look at for the two communities is the feasibility of installing solar fields on “Brownfield sites” or polluted tracts in each town, which can't be used for much else, Mr. Staves told the Free Press this week.

In many places the electricity stored in large batteries is used to cut power needed from the grid during day-light hours when system-wide consumption is typically higher and then the batteries are re-charged overnight when energy consumption in a system is usually lower.

How much can new batteries on the market store?

“That's the purpose of the study,” noted the professor in an earlier interview. He also said the study would, among other things, determine the years of payback on the purchase of any giant batteries.

NYSEDRA's reviewed the study group's preliminary information in a submittal in February, 2018 and invited it to complete and submit a feasibility study by late June, which it did.

“There's a lot of interest in New York State in promoting energy storage,” according to Ms. Bernstein.

The local group received “the go ahead” late last year and “the kick off meeting” occurred last week, Mr. Staves said this week.

The work ahead now is for the two municipal electric departments to furnish its billing and use data to Professor Ortmeyer and perhaps one of his engineering students who will be formulating the data and plugging it into various formulas.

Mr. Staves said there will be various energy-saving options explored in Prof. Ortmeyer's computations in the months ahead.

“If the study finds its feasible” and practical to use batteries to shave peaks of usage and save the system and its customers money then the village board will make the decision to install the battery system, he explained.

The forthcoming funding he spoke of a the February 20 meeting would help the village system buy and install the large batteries.

The new study should also show that if battery storage works well here, it should work in other electric systems, according to the professor.

At the first meeting here last year Mr. Staves said Tupper Lake derives 80% of its electricity from “green sources.” Any new battery storage system would increase that percentage.

The cost of the new study which just began will likely run about $75,000 and 25% of that will come from Clarkson to advance its knowledge and curriculum about high voltage electric systems, Professor Ortmeyer said in the interview last year.



School district continues SRO discussions

Dan McClelland

SRO public hearing_01.JPG

by Ian Roantree

School officials, headed by district Superintendent Seth McGowan, hosted a public information session on Wednesday, February 27 at the Tupper Lake High School library to further the dialogue between the Tupper Lake Central School District (TLCSD) and the Tupper Lake community on the matters of the district introducing School Resource Officers (SROs) into Tupper Lake schools.

The TLCSD began entertaining the idea of an SRO as far back as September last year at the monthly Board of Education meeting. But for many, including Superintendent McGowan, it goes much further back than September.

“America was woken up in ‘99 with Columbine. That was a wake-up call,” McGowan said. “Then there were other incidents like Parkland, but it was the one at Sandy Hook that made it clear that this is a matter of life and death. It’s just as likely to happen here than anywhere else.”

When threats were made over Facebook from a former Sunmount resident resulting in national headlines, state-wide manhunts and the TLCSD closing its doors to staff and students, it was made clear to the entire community that such an event could happen in Tupper Lake.

Over the past several months, the TLCSD has been implementing new components and protocols to their safety plan, and an SRO is only a piece of a much larger picture.

The tactical drill that New York State Police and other local police agencies conducted in the hallways of the Tupper Lake High School back in November helped the district discover many holes in their system. It also allowed those holes to be quickly filled in.

“In part, that was an upsetting day, but it was also a revealing day,” McGowan said.

The district’s safety plan, now adapted to the findings of the tactical drill, has become a model plan, one that Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill calls “amongst the best he’s seen.”

The district is required to submit a safety plan to the state every year and it’s the help of local law enforcement, fire rescue, and first responders that allows our educators to meticulously go through their plans and look for problems and holes that need to be addressed and filled.

McGowan attributes our district’s great safety plan to the outstanding relationship that the district maintains with local law enforcement. “Not every district is welcoming of the local police departments, or state police in their school,” said McGowan, who is the exact opposite. “I’m glad we have that relationship. It’s made the conversations with Chief Eric Proulx very easy.”

Along with an adapting safety plan, the district is also addressing physical “holes” in their system. The district has submitted a small capital project to fix problems like some doors in the school not locking or latching properly which will be carried out over the next 12 months.

The district is also looking towards implementing a new entry system at both campuses to create a more secure environment for visitors who enter the schools which, although costly and complicated, is on the district’s radar for down-the-road capital projects.

At this point, the next steps that the district is taking is entering the phase of drafting contracts and considering all of the possibilities for an SRO.

The job description for an SRO varies and exists on a spectrum that can be split-up into three bands—according to McGowan.

On one end of the spectrum, there’s the armed-guard—a position that already exists in Franklin County. This guard is identified as law enforcement and their sole purpose is security.

On the opposite end of the spectrum there’s an unarmed safety education person who works with students, teachers and administration on educational program relating to safety.

Then in the middle, the role that this district is eyeing the most is someone who fits roughly in-between a security guard and a school counselor.

“We’re currently talking about someone in the high school and elementary school full time...who builds relationships with the kids from a very young age,” said McGowan. “We’re in an era of ‘see something, say something’ and kids aren’t likely to say something to somebody they’re not comfortable with.”

This SRO would not only be a trusted figure inside the schools, but also a trusted member of our community and it’s the aspect of relationship building that McGowan believes to be the key.

The district is still unsure where such a figure would come from, whether he or she is contracted through our local police or contracted through an outside agency.

McGowan and Chief Proulx are still having that conversation of figuring out what would work best. If this SRO were to be contracted through local police, he or she would be assigned to that campus building and that’s where they’d stay.

“If there was a bank robbery and Chief Proulx was short on responders, it’s understood that our two ‘officers’ would not be touched,” McGowan explained.

If the SROs were on vacation, sick, or attending to a family emergency, the positions would be backfilled from the local police department somehow, or through the agency in which they’re hired through.

“It’s not a done deal by any stretch...this SRO is one piece to a much bigger fix to our safety,” said McGowan.

The district will continue to work with the Village of Tupper Lake, local law enforcement and the community before making any concrete decisions, and will be taking feedback from the community through Facebook.

Tupper Lake Health Center and Mercy Living Center on lockdown Wednesday

Dan McClelland

The Adirondack Health Center and Mercy Living Center, both located in Tupper Lake, were on lockdown on Wednesday, February 20.

A press release from Adirondack Health stated an individual had made threatening comments on Tuesday, February 19 in the presence of an Adirondack Health employee. Adirondack Health then contacted the Tupper Lake Police Department to alert them of the threat.

At approximately 11a.m. on Wednesday, the Tupper Lake Police Department notified Adirondack Health that during its investigation the police department received a call from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) that the individual in question had attempted to purchase a fire arm three days earlier.

The Tupper Lake Police recommended the facility initiate lockdown procedures at both Tupper Lake Health Center and Mercy Living Center. Adirondack Health officials proceeded with the lockdown of both facilities.

At approximately 12:50p.m. on Wednesday, the police department notified Adirondack Health that the individual in question was in custody and was transported to Adirondack Health in Saranac Lake for an evaluation.

The lockdown was subsequently lifted and both Tupper Lake Health Center and Mercy Living Center resumed their normal daily activities.

New retail, services businesses coming to former Newberry building: Spruce and Hemlock, Stacked Graphics now under one roof

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Sprucestacked+copy.jpg

The village and town planning board on January 23 took a preliminary look at plans for a major commercial block here at 115 Park Street.

The preliminary review came on the heels of a public hearing and conditional approval of a second major commercial development just down the street at 83 Park in the former Ginsberg's Department store building.

The commercial premises at 115 Park was the popular and spacious J.J. Newberry Store, which provided household wares for generations here from the 1940s through the 1970s. In recent years it was owned Joy and Vinnie Moody and housed several of Mrs. Moody's business ventures. Recently the west side was a gym and fitness center.

The building was recently purchased by the principles of Spruce and Hemlock (Faith and Andrew McClelland) and Stacked Graphics (Pat Bedore and Andrew McClelland) in a new limited liability corporation called Chum House LLC.

Mr. McClelland, representing his partners that evening, gave the planning regulators some of the details of their new commercial venture.

The western side of the building will be the new and expanded home of Spruce and Hemlock, Tupper Lake popular Adirondack-style souvenir and collectible store which has operated very successfully for the past two years at 52 Lake Street. The operation will continue to be seasonal from April to December each year.

Mr. and Mrs. McClelland are renovating the interior of the former Aseel family home at 52 Lake Street property and are now living there.

The east side of the building will be the new location of Stacked Graphics, which for the last ten years has operated at the Tupper Lake Free Press building. The silk screen printing, embroidery and sign company started by the two partners has many institutional, educational and commercial clients all across the region.

Both sides of the 100 year old building which saw a major facade upgrade about five years ago have seen considerable redecorating in recent months by the owners.

The owners will be creating 2,700 square feet of retail space at the relocated Spruce and Hemlock, a mini-cafe of sorts in the rear of the building, 6,000 square feet of production and service area on the Stacked Graphics' side (2,000 square feet on the ground level and 4,000 square feet in the very spacious basement.

There will eventually be 2,400 square feet of residential space on the second floor. An existing 1,200 square foot apartment will eventually be complemented by a second one of similar size, with six large windows looking down on the uptown business district.

Mr. McClelland said Spruce and Hemlock will occupy all of the west side of the building when the store reopens in April. “My wife Faith would eventually like to use the rear space for a small deli or bakery with perhaps a counter to serve food within the store.” He predicted a 2020 or 2021 opening for that side venture.

The young businessman said there are some “roof issues” in the rear of the building which need to be addressed in early spring.

He said the former Joy Photography side of the building will be the new home of Stacked Graphics.

While most of that half will be for production, he said he and Pat may eventually develop a small retail area in the front.

“We don't really need to be on Park Street and the only reason we are in that building with Faith is because it works financially.”

Planning board member Jim Merrihew, who was chairing the meeting in the absence of Shawn Stuart, asked him if production would start in the basement when the relocation is complete.

Andrew said most of their production will occur on the main floor, with the sign creation portion of their business relegated to the basement, which he described as very spacious.

A portion of it too will be for storage for Spruce and Hemlock inventory.

“You will have a storefront for your tee-shirts and signs in the front?” Scott Snyder asked him.

Mr. McClelland said the front area will be more of an office area for the business, rather than retail.

“We will create products for Faith who will sell them in her store. We're more of a manufacturer.”

He told Mr. Snyder, however, they are going “to feel their way” in this new location and may eventually have a small retail operation on their side of the building.

He said it may actually be something of a nuisance if tourists came into their side of the building and would be an interruption to their production. People will always be directed to Spruce and Hemlock next door.

“We wholesale for Faith in addition to the graphic arts services we provide our clients. You just can't come into Stacked Graphics and order one tee-shirt or one ball cap.”

Prompted by a question from Mr. Merrihew, he said the store windows in front of their half would be used to market Spruce and Hemlock products next door.

He said a new wall behind the back of the store windows would screen from view their production operation. “We don't want tourists seeing our mess,” he joked.

Asked about the second floor by Mr. Snyder, he said the rear apartment is very modern and currently occupied. The large front apartment is currently gutted of interior walls, awaiting a complete overhaul.

“We'll be applying to the new Main Street grant program to fund that apartment's rejuvenation.”

Jim Merrihew asked about the space for parking in the alley that runs behind all the Park Street businesses on the north side of the block.

“There is enough room for one parking space adjacent to the existing apartment. You could perhaps fit two small cars!” Andrew told the planners.

He said Rick Donah apparently owns the east end of the alley up to “our building.” After that the ownership of the alley for another 100 feet or so is something of a mystery, he added.

A public hearing on their plan is scheduled for the planning board's February 27 meeting.

The partners were asked to furnish the planners with “visuals” of the exterior of the building, including any new signs and lights. “That's very helpful to us,” Mr. Merrihew told him.

Mr. McClelland told the planners they would furnish exterior drawings of their new business.



Maroun unhappy with some state election changes

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

County Legislator and Village Mayor Paul Maroun is not happy with the changes that begin this year in the state's new election laws.

Earlier this year Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a number of election reforms as part of his 100-day agenda. Subsequently the state legislature passed a series of bills designed to make voting easier.

Part of the reform package makes it easier for New Yorkers to request and receive an absentee ballot. It would change the constitutional requirement that those who request an absentee ballot have a qualifying reason, such as absence form the county on Election Day or an illness or disability.

Another piece of the package calls for early voting, by as much as ten days before any general election. Also in the package is the move to synchronize federal and state elections, which among other things moves up September state primaries to coincide the federal June primaries.

That change in particular upsets the local county legislator.

Candidates for office next November have to make important decisions right now, he says.

People interested in challenging an incumbent need to talk to their political party leaders right now.

Beginning this year, just one party primary will be held in June. In the past primaries for federal positions were in June and primaries for other elected posts were in September.

Traditionally prospective office-seekers didn't decide until April and didn't start carrying petitions until June, with the September primary in sight.

Now campaigning will start in the winter, making for a very long season.

“Here's why I'd don't like it,” Maroun told the Free Press last week.

“The snow birds are still all gone.”

To run for county legislator this November, for example, under the election date changes, he has to start preparing by February 26. Election materials have to be filed by a date in March, he said.

“People will now be campaigning from now to November. -And it's a pain, to be out in the snow, gathering petitions.”

The other big issue in the election changes is the ten days of voting in prospect.

“In a county of less than 50,000 people, you have to have one polling station open. You can have more, but you have to have at least one.!”

With each polling station comes the need for security, the people to staff it- every day for ten days which include Saturdays and Sundays.

“We're looking at doing one in Saranac Lake and one in Malone.”

Here's another problem, he offered.

“Until the state goes electronic books and it hasn't yet agreed on a firm to do that,” there's possible trouble. “When Paul Maroun votes early ten days before the election, if his name doesn't get transferred from the polling station book to the main book, some people may end up voting twice.

Until the entire system goes electronic, election officials will have to check all the names on the prior day books and compare them to the main book, to insure there's no duplication, he explained.

So everyday the polling clerks at the polling stations will have to transmit the names of those who voted at their stations to the main book in Malone.

Opening up the voting to the days before every election is going to cost counties money, and the Governor has promised to provide $10 million for all the counties to share. Maroun hopes the Governor delivers on that promise.

A number of other North Country politicians are also unhappy with the changes, citing the five months between Primary Day and the general election. That could mean aspiring politicians will have to spend more money on advertising to keep their name in the public's eye and election signs on lawns for five months, not two.

Bones found on Wild Center property confirmed human

Dan McClelland

by Phyllis Larabie

Back on May 17, 2018 Kentile Excavating was hauling dirt away from the Wild Center property when some bones were unearthed. The property is adjacent to the St. Alphonsus Cemetery.

On May 29, 2018, more bones were discovered on the front lawn of a nearby private residence where fill from behind the Wild Center had been dropped.

These bones which were thought to have been that of a bear have since been determined to be human. They are still out for carbon-dating, according to State Police Public Information Officer Jennifer Fleishman.

The scientific process will determine if the bones are pre- or post- 1950.

Trooper Fleishman stated, “our hope is to determine if the bones are the result of an accidental excavation of an older burial site”. She also stated, “we are also pursuing DNA (testing), but that will probably only be useful in eliminating known missing persons, not positively identifying the remains.”

Lab experts would need DNA samples from family members to identify the bones, she noted.

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 town...is 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.