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Filtering by Category: Featured

New substance abuse and recovery center to open here

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland


The village and town planning board hosted a public hearing on September 25 on the creation of a substance abuse outreach and recovery center, proposed for 64 Demars Blvd.

The building was at one time the headquarters of the LaValley and Woulf oil business and has housed various bars and other businesses in the decades since.

Planner Paul O’Leary said a public notice about the new facility published in the Free Press last month generated a call from an adjoining property owner who wanted to know what the project is all about. He said once he explained it to the caller, they were fine with it and had no issues.

The meeting was chaired by planning board member Jim Merrihew in the absence of Chairman Shawn Stuart, who was on vacation.

Lee River,s executive director of the applicant, Community Connections of Franklin County, briefed the planners on the project. Accompanying Lee was Suzanne LaVigne, the county’s community services director.

He said last fall a community focus group was formed in Tupper Lake to explore drug and alcohol abuse and how to help people who suffer from them. The primary purposes of the group is to get people connected to public services and to have a place for them when they are experiencing episodes, he noted.

“We will be also working with parents,” whose child may have an abuse problem, and helping them connect with available services to help their child.

“They can stop and talk with one of our staff and they will help them get connected to services.”

He said parents often experience great stress when their children are in trouble and having someone able to walk them through the various steps to recovery and the services available to help can lift some of that burden.

Various services are available to people here. “We can help them find housing, for example,” Mr. Rivers told the planners. Sometimes the new center and its sponsoring agencies can help provide financial help to pay the rent the first month or so.

“We also want to make sure they are not hungry, have access to food, to help transport people to services,” he gave as other examples of assistance.

“The recovery aspect is actually a coffee house, where they can come and help each other.” There will also be professional recovery advocates to assist substance abusers.

“We will be open seven days a week, 9a.m. to 5p.m.” He explained people often need services on the weekends, thus the seven-day a week operation. “They now will have some place to go” every day of the week.

“That’s an overview of what we intend to do to help people here. I could spend an hour explaining all we hope to do.”

With no comment from the public, the hearing was closed.

In the regular part of the monthly meeting board member Tom Maroun said he thought the new center was a good thing for the community. Doug Bencze called it “an asset.”

Jan Yaworski said she appreciated what the agency was doing to help folks in trouble here.

Jim Merrihew wondered about after-hours services, should someone need help late at night or early in the morning.

At pager service will be available to connect people to St. Joe’s Rehab Center and its staff, Mr. Rivers noted.

He said he and his staff are currently working with the village code officer to make building improvements. In addition to interior renovations, there will also be exterior siding improvements as well. The building has been freshly stained.

The project was unanimously approved by the planners.

Plein Air Festival coming to Tupper next week

Dan McClelland

Plein Air Fest copy.jpg

by Dan McClelland

Tupper Arts on Park Street will present its first ever Plein Air Festival, which is expected to bring the attention of talented artists around the region to the beauty of Tupper Lake.

The festival, which will also include a special preview party and an art show and sale, runs from October 8 to 13.

The event will be co-hosted by ADK Action, which reached out to local arts organizers to bring what is hoped will be a new tradition to Tupper Lake. The area group has helped put the new event together with the Tupper Arts volunteers.

ADK Action actively supports the hugely successful Saranac Lake Plein Air and two years ago initiated Keeseville Plein Air, which has played a key role in the revitalization of the community. It is a not for profit, non-partisan federally tax exempt organization that creates projects that address unmet needs, promotes vibrant communities and help preserve the character of the Adirondacks.

Artists coming here next week will have the opportunity to capture inspiring vistas and landmarks that have long defined our iconic town. Some of the many scenic places the artists will visit include the serpentive bends of the Raquette River, the Oxbow and its many marshes, Bog River Falls, the community's many mountains, ponds and lakes as well as statuesque landmarks like the historic Beth Joseph Synagogue, the Wild Center, the Tupper Lake Golf Course and its stunning vistas and the former Oval Wood Dish factory.

From October 8 to 11 artists will tour the community and erect their canvasses at various vistas which make this community unique. Residents will see these artists all over town and along state highways, putting artistic images on canvas.

On Friday, October 11 there will be a special preview party at the Tupper Arts Center from 6p.m. to 9p.m. where the public will get a first look at what all these artists have produced that week. There'll be an opportunity to buy some of these new and original pieces. Wine and cheese will be served. Well known Adirondack artist Gary Casagrain, who has a gallery on Park St. here, will jury the paintings and a $1,000 in prize money donated by ADK Action will be awarded to the best artists.

There will be a small donation taken at the door that evening to cover costs.

On Saturday, October 12 and Sunday, October 13 Tupper Arts Center will host a show and sale of all the artistic pieces created at the festival. Paintings and other art work will be for sale. The show is free and open to the public. On that Saturday the arts center will be open from 10a.m. to 6p.m. and the next day from 10:30 a.m. to 3p.m.

Winged Eagles collecting bottles to fund Washington trip

Dan McClelland

Winged Eagles Bottles copy.jpg

Members of the winged Eagles are collecting bottles and cans for Franklin county kids to be able to go on the "Wonders of Washington” trip in 2020 and 2022. This is a 4-day trip to our nation's capital-Washington which some kids and adults may never otherwise see.

It will include tours of many national museums, the Capital building and a walking tour of several monuments. This will be guided by a professional tour guide to provide insight and engagement around our nation's history.

The youth will be housed at the National 4-H Conference Center and able to see what other programs are doing around the nation!

The educational tour includes a trip to the U.S. Capitol and a meeting with elected officials from your state. Tours of the Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, or Washington National Cathedral. A visit and chance to explore the Smithsonian Institution Museums. Seasonal cultural activities including concerts at The Kennedy Center and dinner theater shows and Discover the City at night and visit the Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lincoln, Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Memorials.

White House photo stop and World War II Memorial Capitol Hill groups make their own appointments with Congressional Offices-Union Station Supreme Court Library of Congress National Archives, Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington national cemetery, Smithsonian and holocaust museum and on way home National Zoo, National Cathedral and the Ford Theater also some down town to shop, eat and socialize. This is an opportunity for members to learn about the capital hands on, an experience they can bring back to the classroom.

The trip is expensive and costs $850 per member, starting at the age of 13. Because of the high expense we do lots of fundraising as to not put the burden on the families, thus why we start by collecting bottle deposit money. Feel free to drop off bottles and cans to Lauri Dukette and Nicole Partenio as the club is saving now and an account started specifically for these trips. Any and all donations are appreciated.

First day of school

Dan McClelland

Local children returned to school at L.P. Quinn Elementary with wide eyes and varied expressions shortly after 8a.m. Thursday. Clockwise from top left were Erin Collins, a quartet of tiny gals- (from left) Kayleigh Clement, Heather and Eliza Bujold and Emilie Schuller, Sophia Callaghan and Aubrey Beaulieu, and Gavin Brown and Charlie Kavanagh. They were greeted at the door by school officials and by several village police officers, who wished them all well on their year of studies ahead. (McClelland photos)

First TLYBSA dug-out erected Saturday

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

While their leader Trustee David Maroun was directing the semi-pro baseball team name vote Saturday near the grandstand in the park, the rest of his Empire League committee here were building the first dug-out several hundred feet away at the new Little League field. The new field was a year-long project by the Tupper Lake Youth Baseball and Softball Association, with big help from the Tupper Lake Rotary Club.

“What our committee did today is even more important than the name vote,” said Jed Dukett as the committee members walked the Free Press scribe over to the Little League field to show off the new dug-out.

It's a dug-out in name only as the new shelter sits above ground just behind the left hand side fence of the field's new backstop.

In recent weeks too, the committee oversaw the actual excavation of sand in the big field's dug-outs, which were filled in by the village for safety reasons years ago.

Beginning first thing Saturday, before any of the voters arrived, the six of so volunteers erected a new three-sided building on a deck that had been constructed earlier by volunteers.

The walls and roof were framed and decked with sheathing and texture 1-ll. Asphalt shingles will be installed on the roof to keep the rain off the young players.

The open front will give the team and coaches in it a wide view of all field action.

Contractor Jay Skiff, a committee member, directed the work Saturday. Another local builder, Mark Davies, also helped run Saturday's volunteer crew.

“Mark deserves a big shout-out for all his help today,” said Jay Skiff.

The wooden materials used in Saturday's construction came from a gift to the field project from Tupper Lake Supply Co. A second dug-out which will mirror the first one and will sit opposite it behind the backstop fence on the right side, will be the gift of the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

The first dug-out will be eventually dedicated to two big sports fans here: Ralph “Pinhead” Russell and Lawrence “Bummer” Brown.

The plan for the new baseball field is to keep extending the deck about the back of the backstop . Situated on it will be new bleachers, an announcer's booth, more seating and finally the second dug out.

The next building to be erected, according to Mr. Jay, will likely be the announcer's booth, directly behind the backstop. That is the gift to the baseball project of Carol and Jeff Denit.

The style of the new seating areas Jay described as “grandstand seating” with step widths about three feet and wide enough to accommodate lawn chairs, much like seats in the main grandstand.

Tupper Lake's main municipal ball field and its landmark grandstand was built here as a Civilian Conservation Corp. project during the Great Depression.

“The same type of seating will be cloned behind the right side of the backstop,” Mr. Skiff explained.

For now the new dug out will be painted but it will eventually be sided with brainstorm siding, as funds materialize, he added.

“We're hoping to give it a stadium-look,” said Jed Dukett.

When all the seating is in place there will be seating for over 200 people, the committee members suspect.

The new seating structures are being designed in such a way that roofs could be added later that would tie into the two dug-out buildings and the announcer's booth, Jay Skiff told the Free Press Saturday.

“We're going to be building it so we can keep making improvements over the years,” he added.

Also planned near the field is a court yard with picnic tables.

Spectators can also stand by the lower, outer fences on both sides, as they have been doing at the games there in August.

Tupper Lake Rescue & Emergency Squad turns 50 this Sunday

Dan McClelland


by Phyllis Larabie

On Sunday, September 1 the Tupper Lake Rescue & Emergency Squad will celebrate its 50th year in Tupper Lake. The officers and members will be holding an open house and family fun day. Everyone in the community is invited to 169 Main Street, from 11a.m. to 4p.m. There will be touch a truck including rescue, fire, police vehicles, Franklin County Stop DWI's Drunk Driving Simulator, Franklin County Sheriff's Department'a Child ID's, a bounce house, face painting, food, cotton candy, music and fun. It's all free and open to everyone.

Looking back in the popular history book Mostly Spruce and Hemlock, and searching through the back issues of the Tupper Lake Free Press and Herald in the late 1960s Tupper Lake was faced with a grave doctor shortage and was not able to maintain around the clock medical services at the then Mercy General Hospital. There was a growing need to expand the ambulance service due to the doctor-shortages.

Marcel Richer at the time provided the community ambulance service by transporting sick and accident victims to the Saranac Lake Hospital over 20 miles away. An average rescue call takes volunteers away from their families and jobs for just over two hours.

Ann LaVoy, the historian for the volunteer ambulance and emergency reported to Louis J. Simmons, author of Mostly Spruce and Hemlock that the new ambulance service was the dream of Robert Mensink, a business teacher at the local high school.

Mr. Mensink had some experience in a volunteer group before coming to Tupper Lake. David Wood and Robert went to Marcel with their idea of forming the new ambulance service. The three joined forces in organizing and getting the Tupper Lake Volunteer Ambulance and Emergency Squad service up and running. They enlisted the help of leading citizens like Harold J. Nichols, Paul Meader, Floyd Carmichael, Charles Bosman, John Stock, Charles F. Murray, Dan Dattola, Charles Dunning and Bernard Chartier and got the program off the ground.

At the first meeting of the Tupper Lake Volunteer Rescue, the volunteers heard from Marcel Richer who was the local funeral director and ambulance operator, was in favor of the volunteer ambulance organization. He stated that now was the time to start such an organization and not at the time that he would be forced to give it up. He explained the difficulty in obtaining qualified persons to assist him and if he became ill or retired the people in the community would need a new service.

On May 13, 1969 Tupper Lake held its first first aid course. It was under the direction of Charles Bosman and the training director for the newly formed Tupper Lake Volunteer Rescue and Ambulance. It was open to everyone interested in learning first aid useful in family life. It was also organized in the hope of getting people involved with the new ambulance service.

The course was taught by Charles Bosman, Bob Mensink, William Frenette and Vincent Lopardo.

Mr. Dattola so believed in the need of the ambulance service that he personally signed a note at the Tupper Lake National Bank to helped to buy and equip the first ambulance and started the first fund drive. He asked the local businesses for $100 and collected over $9,000. A Big Wolf Lake camp owner donated an impressive $4,000 alone.

In 1973 the members of the rescue squad presented Dan Dattola with a plaque for his major role in spearheading the first fundraiser which made the ambulance service a reality.

In August, 1969 a contractual agreement was entered into with the Village of Tupper Lake to house the ambulance and equipment in the Lake Street Garage and to cover heat, electricity, maintenance and gas for the vehicle. The ambulance was delivered on August 9. A contract was also entered into with the Town of Altamont which provided radio equipment including a base station at Mercy General Hospital and mobile unit in the ambulance.

On August 14, 1969 the first board members were elected. Robert Mensink was elected captain; Hubert Parent, co-captain; Charles Dunning, treasurer; Hubert Felio, secretary; and eight team leaders, Roland Richer, Dan Hinkson, Charles Bosman, John Stock, Richard DeForest, Vincent Lopardo, Tom Fortune and William C Johnson, Jr.

On September 1, 1969 the Volunteer Ambulance Squad handled its first call. The equipment consisted of a 1962 Cadillac and a 1963 Ford panel truck that was donated by Somers Garage. Besides answering hundreds of calls for sick and injured the ambulance service started stand-by service for special events such as Fourth of July and school sporting events. The volunteers held disaster drills and accident drills for training purposes.

The first Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course was given in 1970. With no trainings available in Tupper Lake, volunteers had to travel to Saranac Lake and Lake Placid twice a week for four months to receive the required training needed under state law. EMTs are required to refresh their certificate every three years.

All members of the rescue had to complete Red Cross training and some had completed one of three Emergency Medical Technician courses (EMT). They held first aid courses for the police, schools, village employees and anyone who was interested in learning.

In 1971 the Tupper Lake Central School donated a one-acre lot on High Street to the rescue squad. In just one day the walls went up with the volunteered help of local masons. The cost of the completed building came in under $20,000. By this time the ambulance service consisted of a 1974 Medicruiser, 1971 Hi-Rise ambulance and a 1966 pick-up which members transformed to a crash truck that was equipped with a generator, Port-A-Power unit, other things need for night time rescues. They were all equipped with oxygen and two-way radios.

With the help of so many volunteers and the cooperation of local businesses making the many materials needed at cost the construction of the building and equipment was paid for by the rescue squad without any taxpayer support. The members relied on memorial donations from the community and fundraising.

The squad covered calls from half way to Long Lake, to Piercefield, Childwold and Conifer areas as well as the entire Tupper Lake area. This is still true today. The rescue also covers back up calls when needed to assist Long Lake or Saranac Lake Rescue squads in the event of major car accidents or an over abundance of emergency calls.

On May 9, 1999 the present rescue building located at 49 High Street was dedicated to Ann LaVoy and a plaque was mounted to the outside of the building. Ann was a charter member of the squad. She served on the squad for 30 years. Ann was an EMT-Critical Care Tech, Red Cross instructor, served as a secretary, rescue historian, day supervisor, Team 8 Captain, and chief.

On April 21, 1982 she was elected the first woman chief of the squad. Up to 1982, she was the first woman chief in the entire upstate area. Ann passed away on January 15, 1999. The board and members agreed that the plaque will be taken down and the new building will be dedicated in Ann memory in the near future.

In May of 1999 the Town of Altamont took the initiative to help with the shortage of trained rescue personnel by offering to pay half of the estimated annual salary of an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). They also provided that person's health insurance. The Town of Altamont did this for only a few years. The rescue began billing for their services to cover costs of the trucks, equipment, gas and to cover the cost of having EMT's on 24/7.

Ben Morin was the squad's first paid staff member who was hired, because volunteers were having trouble covering the schedule with Critical Care Techs. Ben covered most of the weekday daytime slots for Advance Life Support and did a night shift or two for many years. Once the squad officers started billing the income eventually allowed the rescue to improve. It was able to purchase the rolling stock and equipment without struggling so hard. The Town of Altamont was able to stop assisting with the funds to pay the paid staff.

The squad now functions on the money from billing the insurance companies and on the memorial/thank you donations from family and friends of those who have been transported and served by the squad.

The agency now has contracts with Piercefield, Town of Tupper Lake, Santa Clara, and Harrietstown to cover their territory which is covered under each town's taxes.

The events of September 11, 2001 will be forever embedded in the minds of everyone, from the families of those affected by the planes hitting the Twin Towers, the plane that crashed into the Pentagon and in the Pennsylvania field, to all the emergency personnel who responded to the aid of those in need.

Don Jaquish, deputy coordinator of Essex County Emergency Services at the time led a team of rescue volunteers into lower Manhattan. Also, 36 EMT's, and six rescue trucks from agencies in the Franklin County area went to help with the rescue efforts at ground zero. Volunteers from our local rescue squad traveled to assist, although they did not actually get the opportunity to assist in any of the rescue efforts, it is an experience that will stay with them. A few of those who had this opportunity were Brian Dukett, Danielle Amell, Rod Bashant, Shawn Larabie and Ben Morin.

Bob Collier started volunteering with the squad around 1976. He remembers being horns-waggled into it by Tom Walsh. He got into the his first EMT course that was taught by Vince Lopardo at the community room at the Ivy Terrace here in Tupper Lake. Bob was chief for a few years, and sat on the board for several years.

About 1983 he took the second critical care tech (CCT) class that was held at NCCC. Bob was also a county delegate to the Mountain Lakes Regional EMS Council for many years, stepping down about 1998. He became an EMT instructor in the mid- 80's and taught EMT and then CCT courses here in Tupper Lake and in Saranac Lake for a number of years.

He also did a First Responder Course in Newcomb. He later went on to paramedic school at Hudson Valley Community college around 1993 with the objective of getting a job with North Country Life Flight. He was hired for North Country Life Flight in mid-1995.

Around 2000 he changed jobs to become a full-time paid medic for Tupper Lake Volunteer Ambulance and Emergency. Ben Morin and Bob covered pretty much all the schedule. Bob was a valued member of the squad and retired in October, 2013. He took some time off, but when the squad needed some shifts filled in Bob volunteered. Bob enjoyed his time on the squad. He once stated, "I was always gratified when I could get a very sick patient to smile or laugh during our journey to Saranac Lake.” He recalls never wanting to or never did have to assist a child birth in the ambulance, he remembers having a few close calls but no cigars. He was always glad to see folks stand up to help cover the schedule whether as volunteers or staff. He frequently told folks, "there's no such thing as 'just a driver'".

The squad at one point had a crash truck. The first one was a mechanic's truck donated by the Draper Corporation. Initially it was equipped with fairly primitive hand tools but later with the Jaws of Life power tools. The squad had trouble getting the trainings and staffing for this, so they gave it up, when the fire department members here decided they would take over that responsibility.

On February 28, 1991, was a tragic day for the Black family. It was the third for the family since 1951 when Aloney Black, 30 and Stephen Black, 21, cousins died as a result of their vehicle going through the ice in the channel between Raquette Pond and the Big Tupper. An air boat had to be flown in from Warrensburg, and divers had to be brought from Plattsburgh. Mike Chartier and Guy Hurteau were certified ice divers but the state police wouldn't allow them onto the ice during the incident because they weren't part of an agency. The two realized there was a need for a dive/ice rescue. Mike and Guy and fellow diver Tommy Snye, first approached the fire department who turned them away. They then approached the squad whose leaders said, "ok, we'll start a team for ice rescue".

Ice rescue is different than a “dive team.” Bob went to an ice rescue in Westport shortly after the Black incident. It was after that he wrote the first ice rescue protocols and got a grant from Senator Ron Stafford to buy the squad's first equipment in that field. The dive team was organized and put into motion in 1994.

The volunteers are prepared and trained to respond to water-related emergencies including potential drowning victims, recovery of victims or objects. The team over the years has been involved in both open water and ice rescues. They were willing to respond to aid victims human or pets who have gone through the ice. The team is made up of different people with different skills. There are certified ice divers and some are certified regular divers. The team also has other members who are standby safety personnel to assist on the boat. The dive team's rolling stock is now made up of one rescue boat, one pontoon boat and the Dive 5 truck which carries all the equipment for the divers and gives the divers a warm and safe place to change into their gear.

In April 2002 the Tupper Lake Moose Lodge #640 made a donation of $500 to the dive team to purchase a new camera. The donation made it possible to purchase a new state of the art underwater camera. The camera attaches to the bottom of the boat, transmits underwater photos to a black and white screen. The camera includes a light, it records videos so they can be viewed later for analysis.

The dive team helps with the Tin Man that has taken place here in Tupper Lake for over 30 years now. Traditionally the team members put out all the buoys for the Tin Man as well as having a boat with divers, EMTs, and safety personnel, in the water during the swimming portion of the event. The team has also helped with the Lake Placid Iron Man event. The members have also been on stand by during the local fishing derby event that is held every February. If needed the divers are dispatched under mutual aid to Saranac Lake, Long Lake.

About 2012 the squad officers hired Jordan Favro, with the impending retirement of Bob Collier.

Jordan is a paramedic and lives in Lake Placid. He is also a firefighter and is an assistant chief in Lake Placid. Jordan handles all of the daily functions of the squad, from billing to ordering supplies, as well as covering rescue calls.

In 2016 the squad decided to hire a paid driver due to the shortage of drivers during the hours of 6 a.m. and 6p.m. Monday through Friday when most of the volunteers are at work.

In November 2016 the squad's board of directors applied for a special permit to establish its new headquarters at 169 Main Street, the former Bartel Motors. With the new rigs the squad had outgrown its previous location of 49 High Street.

At the November 2016 planning board meeting the permit was approved and the squad members moved forward with renovations to bring the Bartel building up to code for the ambulance. The upstairs of the building was converted to living quarters for the paid techs, while the bays were brought up to meet operational needs. A security system also had to be installed.

Chief Wayne LaPierre said he hopes that the state Department of Transportation will soon install a caution light that can be switched on as the ambulance leaves the bay to alert on coming traffic that the rescue will be entering the roadway.

On March 1, 2017 the Tupper Lake Rescue will officially move into its new location at 169 Main Street.

In 2018 the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad purchased a brand new 2019 PL Custom medallion series vehicle with a “medic in mind” interior layout and mounted on a 2019 Ford E450 chassis. On August 2, 2019 the brand new ambulance took its first call.

The squad currently has five rigs, Dive 5 is a 2000, Rescue 569 is the newest rig is a 2016; Rescue 767 is a 2006, is used for the dive team, The squad is made up of approximately 40 members. It currently has five volunteer EMT's, one paid driver, eight paid employees that travel from Canton, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Massena and Malone.

If anyone would like to make a donation to this very worthy cause, checks should be mailed to the Tupper Lake Volunteer Ambulance and Emergency Squad at PO Box 901, Tupper Lake, NY 12986. All donations are greatly appreciated and will be used to help with the cost of acquiring supplies and new equipment. The squad is also always in need of volunteers. If anyone is interested in becoming a volunteer, they can contact any member of the rescue or stop at the station and pick up an application.

The squad members appreciate the ongoing support from the residents of this and neighboring communities.

Chris Gilman hits Scouts milestone

Dan McClelland

Eagle Scout Chris Gilman at his Eagle Court of Honor (photo provided).

Eagle Scout Chris Gilman at his Eagle Court of Honor (photo provided).

by Ian Roantree

Since its inception in the early twentieth century, the Boy Scouts of America have seen more than two million boy scouts earn the Eagle Scout rank, the highest advancement rank in boy scouting.

Tupper Lake’s own, Christopher Gilman, son of Dori and Tom Gilman, has joined the more than two million Eagle Scouts, just in time before he makes his next big step of leaving home, and heading off to college.

The young Gilman joined Boy Scouts in the spring of 2012. By the fall of that year, he had earned his Scout and Tenderfoot ranks, which marked the beginning of his journey to eagle scout. Throughout his Scout career, he would continue to move through the ranks and earn merit badges. As a cub, Chris became a Webelos Scout and earned the Arrow of Light award, the highest rank and award of Cub Scouting.

By June 24 of this year, Chris finally earned his Eagle Scout rank and an Eagle Scout ceremony was held for Chris on August 3 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

Chris is the fourth local scout to become an Eagle Scout in the past year.

To become an Eagle Scout, a scout must earn a number of merit badges, demonstrate Scout spirit, service and leadership. The merit badges required include camping, citizenship and community, citizenship in the nation, citizenship in the world, communication, cooking, emergency preparedness, environmental science, family life, first aid, swimming, personal management and personal fitness.

Chris also explored other activities and earned merit badges that aren’t required for the Eagle Scout rank which include archery, aviation, canoeing, kayaking, leatherwork, motor boating, rifle, space exploration and wood carving.

“The thing with the Merit Badge is that it gives the scout a chance to sample different things,” said Eagle Scout, Troop 23 Scout Master and Chris’ father, Tom Gilman. “Maybe a scout would say, ‘I want to do that for a career or just a hobby.’ It gives them a broad exposure.”

Earning merit badges prepares a scout for and arms them with survival skills as well with skills and knowledge for everyday life. For example, for the personal management merit badge, a merit badge counselor takes a scout to the bank to learn about investments, and loans and interest.

There’s the citizenship badges where a scout must attend town meetings and talk about things that are effecting the community or the nation. It may seem like homework for some scouts, but down the line, it’s much more than that.

Aside from the merit badges required to earn the Eagle Scout rank, a scout must complete an Eagle Service Project, a project where the scout must, in some way, give back to the community.

Chris’ project was the preservation and beatification of the Junction Pass Trail. In a project that took over 90 hours, Chris set out to treat all of the wooden structures throughout the trail. Chris treated all of the bridges, benches, railings, fences and posts, preserving and maintaining them.

To add the cherry on top of his Eagle Scout project, Chris had nine wooden flower boxes built and had flowers donated to be planted in the boxes and placed at every entrance to the trail.

This project required advanced planning, acquiring materials, which were donated by local businesses and manpower for completion.

“His mom and I are so proud of Chris,” said Tom Gilman, who became an Eagle Scout 33 years before his son. “He accomplished something that he set out to do.”

Throughout Chris’ middle and high school career, he participated in a many extracurriculars, including modified cross country, the Saranac Lake Nordic Ski Team, modified baseball, varsity baseball, where he earned the All Academic Award and the Super Utility Player Award. He played varsity football in grades 11 and 12 and was awarded the Lawrence Fuller Memorial Award, the Phil Datola Memorial Award, the All Academic Award, and was considered a Scholar Athlete. Chris also played Varsity Basketball and was in the school ski club.

Having graduated from Tupper Lake High School this spring, Chris’ next steps are to SUNY Canton where he will work towards a bachelor of science in cyber security.

ADK Concierge: New business started to help summer, seasonal resident

Dan McClelland


There's a new business in town designed to care for all the needs of seasonal residents and summer visitors.

ADK Concierge, owned by Mike Vaillancourt and Barbara Denis, grew out of Mike's Sootbusters and Treebusters businesses which have many clients in the greater Tupper Lake area, many of them seasonal residents.

“Many of the summer folks told me there are no professional cleaning companies in the area which are insured,” he told the Free Press recently.

“That's why we started it, because there was a need for it!”

The new company began about six months ago with a “soft” un-advertised start to learn as they grew, he noted.

Already the new company has about 25 clients.

This is the message to prospective clients found on the company's business card: “We know your time is a valuable commodity and ADK Concierge wants you to enjoy your time in the Adirondacks with your family and friends. Let us take care of your cleaning, shopping and everything in between with our housekeeping and concierge services.”

“We cater to only second home families right now,” he noted.

Mike explained the company does for the arriving summer people “anything they need.”

“Our primary role is cleaning and we do it in a very green way,” using only environmentally friendly and natural products.

He said a client may e-mail them before their arrival that they will be coming up on Friday, say, and when they arrive they'd like there to be food products like milk, butter, etc. in their fridge.

“So we stock their fridges, stock their cupboards...whatever they need!”

“We run around before they arrive and do their errands. That way, everything is in place, especially if they arrive late at night.”

“That way they can enjoy their time in camp from the start and not have to go out and run errands first.”

The firm employs one full-time person, Catherine Lohr, and seven part-time employees. The part-time staff work as needed.

Both the owners direct the cleaning staff. Sometimes they have crews at multiple sites.

“We are fully insured and we pay our employees between $18 and $20 per hour.” Whereas many local cleaners operate “off the books,” he said their company carries liability and worker's compensation insurances so all clients are protected.

“Second home people don't mind spending the extra money because it's important to them to protect their assets.”

The company has purchased vehicles to carry the employees to their job sites and uniforms for them to wear, so they don't damage their own clothes.

The area of service of the new company is a radius of about 50 miles from Tupper Lake. “We have a lot of clients in the Cranberry Lake and Star Lake areas.”

“We haven't really tapped the Lake Placid area yet.”

Concierge businesses are new to the area, he figures. “Before we first launched our web site,, the first hits for cleaning services we got were laundromats and my firm, Sootbusters.”

“Our clients are enthusiastic about what we are doing and what we offer.”

He said he does not feel he has taken anything away from the conventional cleaners here as they never offered these extra services or carried the proper insurances.

Asked about special requests so far, he said some of the people they serve have asked for flowers upon arrival, if it's a birthday or anniversary they are celebrating.

“Sometimes people will mail a card up in advance for us to place with the flowers or gifts.”

Most times the company leaves small chocolates and other treats to greet the arriving guests.

“We're trying to make people happy when they visit here!”

The firm can reached by calling 518 739-1717.

“Play ball” will be cry from the park next summer when semi-pro River Pigs take the field

Dan McClelland


by Dan McClelland

Tupper Lake baseball fans could be enjoying semi-pro baseball action at the village park ball field as early as next summer, if a league owner from Florida and the village leaders can pull it off. -And the chances right now look very good for it!

This past week village leaders met with Eddie Gonzalez, president of New York's Empire League, several times to work out a plan to bring a semi-pro team here.

The new team will be called the Tupper Lake River Pigs, a name Mr. Gonzalez discovered when he was researching Tupper Lake and its early logging history. A river pig was what they often called the river drivers who moved logs from forests to the mills here.

Some figured the name Timberjax, the local team in an earlier semi-pro league in the North Country, could have been resurrected, but that name is apparently trade-marked.

Tupper Lake was also home to a semi-pro team in the 1930s.

The prospect of a semi-pro team coming here came at the urging of Trustee David “Haji” Maroun, a former softball pitcher here, who has been attending the games of the Surge of Saranac Lake with his son, Carson, this season. Haji and his son kept urging Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Radibeau, who was responsible for bringing the Surge to Saranac Lake, to get a team for Tupper.

The Saranac Lake mayor put Tupper Lake leaders and Mr. Gonzalez together for meetings last week.

On Wednesday Mayor Paul Maroun and Trustees Ron LaScala and David Maroun and former softball league chief Rick Skiff met with Mr. Gonzalez and Mayor Rabideau in Saranac Lake at the Hotel Saranac. The next night some of them met the league owner at the ball field to show him their enthusiasm for the deal.

A week ago last Thursday Trustee Maroun showed Mr. Gonzalez the Tupper athletic field and he was very impressed with the condition of the place, and particularly the modern lights which were updated by the village several years ago and which will permit night games next summer.

The lights may have to be adjusted to account for the larger playing surface.

On the second visit to the field last Thursday, Mr. Gonzalez was accompanied by his wife and small children, who included his son who came suited up and ready to hit a few with his dad in the new park.

That evening he was greeted by about a half dozen of the biggest baseball fans in Tupper Lake, who included Jay and Rick Skiff, Jed Dukett, Trustee Maroun, Royce Cole, Carson Maroun and Trustee Ron LaScala. Most of those men will form the board to oversee the redevelopment of the park ball field and improvements eyed, under the chairmanship of Trustee Haji Maroun.

“We'll be working for Ed but we won't get paid,” the trustee said of the volunteer commitment.

The owner of Tupper Lake's new River Pigs is likely to be Matt Joyce, center fielder of the Atlanta Braves, who is reportedly an investor in Mr. Gonzalez's league.

Trustee Maroun is very excited by the prospects of semi-pro ball coming to our park. Haji is a lifelong baseball fan.

The semi pro players, who are often mostly college players, receive a small salary to play in the league against The Surge, the Plattsburgh Thunderbirds, the New York Bucks from north of Plattsburgh and three other teams, including two teams from Puerto Rico and one from New Hampshire.

But mostly it gives them exposure to scouts searching for talent for the majors.

There are apparently another six teams in another division Mr. Gonzalez has in the southern states.

Mr. Maroun said his board will be soliciting support from businesses and others in the community to help cover team expenses.

He said there will be a $5 admission charge for all 26 games next July and August, but youngsters 16 years and below will be admitted free.

He said these teams in Mr. Gonzalez's league are very kid-oriented, staging special events and activities at games to promote the sport and children's passion for it.

“Eddie guaranteed me the league's all-star game will be played in Tupper Lake next year.”

The league play will replace the softball leagues which re-emerged in recent years but again disappeared this year.

There will be a provision that some of the softball league's annual weekend tournaments can still be played there, as in the past.

Very few changes will need to be made to the field, as it currently stands. The four foot high softball fence will be removed. The 90-foot long baselines will remain.

Mr. Maroun said they have plans to “sod” the infield area, which is currently covered in clay.

The distances to right-center and left-center fields,with fencing modifications, will be 395 feet, according to the trustee.

Young Carson Maroun said at a recent game he and his dad attended in Saranac Lake a batter hit it out of the park on the Petrova Ave. field and over the bleachers and red building, which is over 400 feet.

“Many of these guys are major league talent. There have been some who have been called up,” his dad added.

One player from Plattsburgh was recently drafted by the New York Yankees.

Haji said Ed Gonzalez formed the league a number of years ago. “They have their annual try-outs every May in Delaware.

“You're one step away from major league play, he told the Free Press. “It's very competitive!

He said the team will stay during the season in Tupper Lake, so housing will have to be found for them. “The mayor is already working on that!”

“They interact well with the kids and routinely sponsor clinics and other activities for them. Between innings the kids are invited to come out on the field and play fun games. It's all done very quickly.”

He said every game they raffle off a bat signed by the players of both teams, as a small fundraiser.

Earlier this year the village board voted to remove the two wooden bleacher sections that flank the main grandstand. The one side will be replaced by a metal set. On the other side a platform will replace the section to accommodate handicapped fans and for lawn chair seating.

The two dug outs which were filled with sand and covered with decking will be refurbished with new roofs added.

Trustee Maroun figures the semi-pro games will attract fans from across the area. “If you want to see the kinds of crowds these teams draw take a ride to Saranac Lake to see their 1p.m. games.” He and Carson had attended a game that afternoon and the stands were full.

“For over a month I bugged Mayor Rabideau to get us a team and finally he did!”

“Eddie told us money is not the issue. The issue is trying to get these kids to the majors!”

To accommodate the new league, the Woodsmen's Association will no longer be able to use the area in front of the grandstand or anywhere inside the ball diamond for its big July event. Village officials believe there is plenty of room in the outer section of the park to accommodate their event, and have promised to do whatever is needed to help the Woodsmen's Association move it there.

Marshall Godin, an avid sports fans here who is active in youth sports, said the arrival of the semi-pro team will be “awesome for kids.” He said the sport of baseball is growing here with the start of a Babe Ruth team here this summer and a Legion team within three years. “The kids can play right here along with them,” he said of the excellent field.

Teen leagues play on infields with the same dimensions as pro teams.

The local promoters hope that food and drink concessions may return to the park eventually and there could be renovations under the grandstand to accommodate locker rooms.

Rick Skiff, who like his buddies is very excited of semi-pro ball coming here, figures the new board may also have to have a net or screen erected on the top of the grandstand roof to capture errant foul balls headed out of the stadium.

Trustee Ron LaScala figures the economic gain from this league will be dramatic. “You are talking about major events in the park all through July and August.”

The consumption of beer and other alcoholic drinks may also be permitted, village board members have indicated in the past week.

For decades here the municipal park was one of three sites in town where the open container ordinance didn't apply. That was changed during the administration of former Police Chief Ron Cole.

“How cool would it be to invite a bar or brewery here to come down and sell their wares and perhaps sponsor that evening's game,” Mr. LaScala thought.

He said Haji has been dreaming about this since they joined the village board. “We all want to dream with him!”

Eddie Gonzalez was welcomed by the Tupper delegation with warmth and excitement Thursday.

“This is beautiful, ready to place some baseball in this place? the league president told them.

Mr. Gonzalez pointed to the view out across Raquette Pond with the setting sun as proof of the wonderful site.

He said this division could eventually be expanded to eight teams.

The league organizer said bringing in a new team like the River Pigs will cause some restructuring of the division and its schedule, but said he would like to retain the two separate divisions. “But we can do this!”

Of the local baseball supporters he met at the baseball field that night, he said he felt like they were his “brothers.”

“Thank you guys for joining in and becoming part of our baseball family!”

Eddie said from the time he was a young child he knew he'd find a career in baseball. “I'm going to stay on a ball field until I die... there's no other way out of it for me!”

“Baseball was an outlet for my father when we were kids, keeping us away from bad places and dark paths.”

He said as a young man he played minor league professional baseball as a catcher and almost made The Bigs. “My partner and friend, Matt Joyce, made it and my brother played for the Angels. Together we all have a love for baseball and don't know much else.”

“My dream was major league baseball. I eventually realized that may not happen, but I knew I had to stay in this game.”

At that point he was looking at all the things he could do in the sport, and particularly coaching.

“One day I was riding in the car and I had this vision. I figured if no one was going to hire me, then I'm going to have to do this myself.”

He said he thought about forming a team, but then wondered how he was going to that. “A voice told me a short time later, it was going to be an entire league.

“All of sudden we were doing national and international showcases and camps to seek talent and to try to help them get to the pros. We started getting 200 and 300 players attending our camps and we started helping so many guys get to pro ball.”

He said he found many “hungry kids” trying to get to the pros and he found a way to help them through the league.

He said the Empire League gives its players more time to develop and grow, to help increase their chance to eventually make the pros. “This way they don't get cut, sent home and told they're no good. Instead they get a lot of positive feedback.”

He said that's how the Empire League was born. “It was all about hearing yes.”

The overall mission of the league and his personal goals are to help young players find success in the sport.

Eddie said one of his success stories was finding a way for an autistic player to make the pros.

He said that was one of his crowning moments to give a kid like that a big yes, when all he was getting from big corporations and organized baseball were no's. The player was signed right out of Plattsburgh.

Asked if he thought he was about to become a part of changing the face of summers in Tupper Lake, he said he didn't know. “All I want is to be a part of the smile of that face!”

Crossroads Hotel plans detailed; $150,000 needed to move it to finish line

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The two women who plan to “create a new vision for Park Street” with the construction of their Crossroads Hotel on vacant lots across from the Free Press office shared their dream with about 40 or so interested residents Tuesday at the Aaron Maddox Hall on Main Street.

Partners Betsy Lowe, co-founder of the Wild Center, and Nancy Howard, former co-owner of the Wawbeek Resort on Upper Saranac Lake, were accompanied by their building and design team that afternoon.

Things are in high gear on the project but a sum of $150,000 is needed to bring it to what one developer called the finish line.

Betsy took the audience back nearly 20 years ago when she and Nancy and Jon Kopp and many others here were all working on the Wild Center and were looking at locations for it around the community. She said although the former 330 Lodge and DiStefano Liquor Store properties really caught their attention as they were situated right at “the crossroads of the Adirondacks” they knew it was “way too small” a site for what was planned.

She said they knew it had strong value and so she and her partners later bought the 330 Lodge site at auction. They later purchased the liquor store parcel from the state Department of Transportation at the time it was widening the corner and had to raze the building. The DiStefano family's apartment building was later purchased from Mary DiStefano's sons.

The 330 Lodge site has been used for community parking since then with the owners' permission.

Nancy Howard said when the property acquisition took place she was president of the chamber of commerce and many community leaders at that time were looking ahead to what they wanted Tupper Lake to become with respect to a tourist destination. “We were thinking a lot in those days about the Tupper Lake community, those who comprise it and those who kept it ticking!”

She said she and her husband Norman over the years had employed over 100 Tupper Lake people at their Wawbeek Resort and found that their workers and the people of Tupper Lake, in general, possessed two important qualities: a natural friendliness, which was confirmed by their guests many times, and a strong work ethic.

Time and time again they were impressed with stories of employees coming in early or staying late to take care of important issues at their Wawbeek, without being asked. “Money cannot buy these traits so precious in the hospitality business!”

She said Tupper Lake is currently served with “an overnight hospitality” industry. Those lodging businesses are the reason, she said, that many community events like the Tin Man Triathlon and the Woodsmen's Days are so successful year after year.

In Tupper Lake's early years there were many large hotels which are now gone, she lamented.

“So I think you'll all agree that the time is nigh for a full-service hotel!”

She showed the crowd a postcard of the uptown business district from Jon Kopp's collection that was enlarged to poster size.

It showed that no matter which way passersby approach the site it is very visible at the Route 3 and 30 intersection, she said, holding up the poster. The site also boasts some magnificent sunsets across Raquette Pond, she added.

Betsy introduced Jacob Wright, president of Skyward Hospitality, a hotel management company, who brought along with him several of his colleagues, Andrew Milne, his chief operating officer, Tim Barnhart, chief investment officer, all of whom have been in the hotel business for many years.

Skyward Hospitality has been hired to develop the hotel project.

“Our company...our partners...the people we work with have completed over 500 hotels...mostly larger projects over $100 million.”

He said they are currently involved with the large $27 million hotel complex underway on the shores of Lake Flower in Saranac Lake, which will be about twice the size of the proposed Tupper Hotel. “Over there we've been through the hurdles of the APA” and the various entitlements, design, etc.

“Together we have a decent amount of experience getting through the process to put a hotel in the ground in this marketplace!

“One thing I wanted to clarify, because I think there are misconceptions about New York State and other things, is the timeline. Betsy and Nancy have had the property since 1999. It's a gem and has been a sparkle in their eyes for quite a long time.”

He said the project actually “started when they were awarded the grant from New York State through the North Country Economic Development Council in August, 2017. “So it's really only been 23 months.”

“During that time they have configured the land. They bought a house (on Lake St.) recently”...and the DOT was finishing up its work on the uptown redevelopment as late as 2017.

He reminded the audience that development take a long time. “If you live in Tupper Lake, you have a good how long they take,” referring to the 16 plus year process so far with the Adirondack Club and Resort.

Mr. Wright said the Hotel Saranac project in Saranac Lake took almost five years and their project on the lake “took four and one half years to get in the ground.”

He said everyone now, including New York State officials, now realize that developments in the Adirondack Park take more than two years.

Mr. Wright said the partners have “got a lot together” in the two years since 2017 when they were awarded the $2 million dollar grant on a project estimated at that time of over $10 million.

“Some have said the project has lagged, but if you really look at the time from when they could really start (in 2017) hasn't been a long period of time: 23 months.”

He said he and his associates have been working with Nancy and Betsy for about a year- refining the business plan and the size of the hotel, among other things.

There have been two major studies and market plans completed by noted firms that were commissioned by the partners, he said. Much of that information was used in Skyward Hospitality's work.

“What we wanted to do is figure out what's the right size for this marketplace and what will work financially, and what we came up with is 45 rooms.”

“In the busy time you need enough rooms to make your make enough money!”

If they had proposed a 70-room facility, the cost of building would have exceeded over $15 million plus, he told the audience. They new hotel in Saranac Lake will provide over 90 rooms and the cost is over $25 million, according to the developer.

He said the higher costs make it more difficult to finance in Tupper Lake, and not because Tupper has any issues, but because compared with Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, “the market (for rooms) has a little room to grow” in terms of a hospitality anchor.

He said Nancy's and Betsy's vision has always been: “let's put this right-sized hotel on the main corridor” that may be a catalyst or
“a cornerstone” for other growth here. “Frankly this is very realistic!”

He said his firm spent a lot of time with the partners to put together a financial and debt package that is very realistic.

Mr. Wright said in the interest of full transparency, the partners are not going to “knock it out of the park” and make millions of dollars in profits. “This truly a project for the community!”

“You can see that in the numbers and the investors have really taken that to mind!”

He added everyone involved is just interested in making reasonable returns on their investments.

Andrew Milne said the proximity to their project in Saranac Lake where over 70 people will be employed as early as this fall will be helpful for training of new employees when the Crossroads Hotel opens here.

Jacob Wright said the great thing about their company is that it is based here and “is growing its offices” in nearby Lake Placid. “But we also have nationwide expertise!”

Tim Barnhart, the firm's chief investment officer who recently relocated to the area with his family from Hawaii, said for the past ten years he has worked on large hotel projects all over the U.S. and Mexico.

“This is a somewhat different deal for us working on something somewhat smaller.”

The size of the property has been the reason for its 45-room size, he told the audience.

“We didn't want something too big for this parcel but big enough to be profitable.”

He called the proposed hotel “Goldilocks-sized” for the property.

“From our performance perspective- how we expect the hotel to perform financially and the daily rates we can charge, we have been conservative. It's not about making millions for Nancy and Betsy. It's about serving the community and being a real asset.”

“We really look for places that are very unique in America and around the world and we look for projects that need help and that can really help their communities,” he said of his firm's goals.

“I always tell the story...Betsy called about five years ago and told me she has this property in Tupper Lake where she would like to build a hotel. She asked me: 'Andy, am I crazy?'”

“I told her if it was anyone else but Betsy, I would have to say: yes.”

“To someone who built the Wild Center, you can't really say no to.”

The audience laughed.

“If she called me again today, I would certainly tell her it wasn't a crazy idea.” He said tourism has dramatically changed in the last ten years.

Tourism today is enjoying an “amazing synergy of new tourism,” not of projects being built but people wanting to get in their cars and drive someplace that is not like their place...where they can be near some downtown and walk to it. That's why this project is perfect!”

“The beauty of this project is that it's not a hotel to make's a downtown revitalization create a synergy downtown to help all businesses there,” said Mr. Barnhart.

“You already have a character in your downtown which is already being brushed up,” he said, noting the new hotel will add more to the brushing work.

He said the hotel coming to Park St. is coming at a time when New York State is investing heavily in tourism.

He added that all generations now are looking for short vacations in their states and their sections of the country.

Mr. Barnhart said a 40- to 45-room hotel, with a great restaurant that is good for both locals and visitors, “will be a gem...and that's sort of the design we've come up with!”

He said of the five hotel projects his firm is working on right now- three in the park and two downstate- “none are more well positioned than this one...right place for the right project.”

“It's going to be beautiful when it's built and going to be a great anchor for you downtown.”

Jacob Wright came back to the microphone to wrap up the presentation.

“Many may be questioning: how real is this project?”

“The land has been acquired. It's a great site plan involving six properties.”

Mr. Wright said many developers applying for state or federal grants don't own the properties...they have only options on them.

“Betsy and Nancy own the land. They have the state grant. The feasibility studies are complete.” They are also working with a leading Syracuse legal firm.

He said they also have a solid plan to raise capital for their project and the staff to do it. There have also been “preliminary meetings” with local land use and zoning officials, he added.

Mr. Wright said the project is situated in the hamlet, a good thing with respect to APA oversight, and the parcels are currently zoned for hotel development.

“They are literally one step away from the finish line,” he said of the partners' progress.

The final step, he explained, is financial help from “angels” and local partners to prepare togo before local permitting agencies.

To a question about access to the site from Cole Taylor, who recently restored the former Woods residence on the corner of Lake and Mill, Betsy Lowe said the reason they acquired a house on Lake Street was to provide a second entrance way into the new hotel.

Asked about the importance of the reopening of the Big Tupper Ski Center, Ms. Lowe said that while it would be most welcome to their project, the studies they commissioned gave the project the green light even if that didn't happen anytime soon.

A person who said he was a consultant to the Wild Center figured the new Crossroads Hotel and the venues here in Tupper Lake will make it very desirable for destination weddings. “I prayed for something like this coming to Tupper!” He said he had been married here 20 years ago and was thankful Nancy Howard was still in business at that time to host their special day.

Betsy told the group the site had a special memory for her. Years ago when she was commuting between her camp in Long Lake and her job at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in Ray Brook she discovered she had a flat tire when she stopped at Mary DiStefano's to buy a bottle of wine on the way home. She said not only did Mary try to get someone to fix her tire, she directed traffic around her stranded car. Later when the tire was fixed, one of Mary's customers offered to follow her home.

Questioned by someone in the audience how much money they needed to get started, Jacob Wright said that was one of the reasons for that day's meeting. “To do the pre-development it's going to cost $300,000. Betsy and Nancy have raised a substantial amount of money to date. To really kick it off will require $150,000. -And frankly, and to be direct, if it doesn't happen in the next 45 days there's a real danger the project will not happen, mainly due to deadlines with New York State.

He said the purpose of the meeting was to let the community know the project “is very doable...but there's a very real chance it doesn't happen.

Both Betsy and Nancy said they welcome any and all investments and thanked the 40 or so that afternoon for coming to hear about their plans. Nancy can be reached at 518 962-2227 and Betsy at 518 523-9480.

The brave beat the heat at Saturday’s Warrior Run

Dan McClelland

by Ian Roantree

They ran up hills and down them, over fence gates and under fences. They marched through muddy trenches and uneven terrain, crawling through tubes and tires and scaled walls, some tall, others not. But despite all of the physical obstacles that came before each racer in the Warrior Run, it was the heat that put the body and minds of those runners to the test.

In all, 123 runners registered to participate in the Chamber of Commerce’s Warrior Run on Saturday, July 20, but not all 123 ran. Saturday’s heat, it would seem, had separated the boys from men, the girls from women, and the brave from the yielding when that number dropped down to 111.

This year saw the return of the Tupper Lake Warrior Run which failed to take legs last year.

“I was a little worried,” said the race’s event coordinator, Krit LaMere. “Because the Chamber didn't do the race last year I wasn't sure if we would get everyone back but I saw a lot faces I have seen in past races.”

At noon sharp the first wave of runners took off and every five minutes after another group followed. As they pushed through each obstacle, hurdle, hardship and hitch, those racers had one thing on their minds: a cold Raquette River brew that awaited them at the finish line, possibly far more appealing than the cold showers that were temporarily installed for the soon-to-be mud-covered, sweat-drenched racers.

But not every racer could dream of a cold glass of beer as they pushed through the course. Some of those warriors weren’t old enough to drink yet. “We had about a dozen kids run it this year which was really cool,” Ms. Lamere said. “We liked getting the kids interested. It brought a bunch of families able to do it together.”

Unlike in previous years, the race started and finished at Raquette River Brewing instead of up atop Big Tupper which brought the race onto the Bencze property in behind the Balsam street brewery.

For months, Doug and Sarah Bencze and their two boys, Willie and Charlie prepared for the Warrior Run, turning their expansive property into a diverse race course, exploiting its wide and open meadows to deploy man-made obstacles and the nooks and crannies for the natural ones. Without the Bencze family and their beautiful lands, this race wouldn’t have been possible.

The Bencze patriarch, Doug, ran his 5K course in 0:40:22, placing eighth overall.

“I heard from many of them that they had a great time, they really enjoyed the course and they will be back next year. A few mentioned that the course was tougher than last time which was nice because that's what we were going for.”

In the 5K race, the men’s leaders were Randy Beckwith, finishing in 0:26:59, Peter Morehouse with 0:30:37, and Rich Edwards, finishing in 0:35:42. Female leaders of the 5K were Tupper Lakers Jessica Fortune, finishing in 0:39:22, and Maureen Shaheen with 0:42:15. The third best female finisher in the 5K was Kayla Huey with a time of 0:41:15.

For the 8K race, also known as the Adventure Run, the men’s leaders were Garth Brennan, with 0:46:49, Jason Grammo with 0:49:14 and David Martin 0:55:57.

The women’s leaders were Sarah Grammo with 0:54:14, Virginia Ammons with 0:55:00. and Danielle Spencer with a time of 1:02:01.

Great thanks go out to Mark and Joe of Raquette River Brewing for allowing their establishment be taken over for the day and for their accommodating spirits. Special thanks go out to all of the sponsors too, who have continued their support year after year. They are W&B Golf Carts, Northern Diesel, Bencze Tree Service, Mitchell Stone and Products, Usher Farms, Shaheens Market, Belleville and Associates, Hyde Fuel, Twin D Auto, the Town of Tupper Lake Highway Department, T.S. LaMere Construction, Taylor Rental, Spruce and Hemlock and Northwood Cabins.

And of course, the day wouldn’t have gone as smooth as it did had all of the helpful volunteers not come out to endure the heat and deer flies. Many thanks go out to Paige Dukett, Cathy Shaheen, Rod Boushie, Liam Price, Gabe Burns, Tyler Shore, boB Collier, Reynald Grammo, Tom Gilman, Dorrie Gilman, Tom Sciacca, Bill Hutt, Aaron Price, Amy LaLonde, Emily Burns, Charlotte Price, Shane Jesse, Tim Frey, Miles Thibodeau, Crystal Boucher, Paul O’Leary, Adam Baldwin, Margaret O‘Leary, Brittany La Barge, Kelsey Summer and Brian Burns.

New youth baseball field opened Saturday

Dan McClelland

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.

Bandshell opens with large crowds and great acts

Dan McClelland

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!”

Altercation leads to stabbing at new market

Dan McClelland

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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.

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)

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.”

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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