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Filtering by Category: Featured

Planners approve Spruce and Hemlock, Stacked Graphics relocation to 115 Park

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Andrew McClelland, at the recent town board meeting, discusses his plans for the new building.

Andrew McClelland, at the recent town board meeting, discusses his plans for the new building.

The town and village planning board last month unanimously approved a new joint retail and service business venture at 115 Park Street that is one of several new arrivals in the uptown business district that is expected to breath new life in the place.

Only volunteer Scott Snyder was absent from the seven-member board's deliberations that evening and there was only one thing on the agenda.

Representing the business owners again that evening was Andrew McClelland, who with his wife, Faith and brother-in-law Pat Bedore formed the new limited liability corporation Chum House, LLC, which purchased the former Newberry building from Joy and Vin Moody last fall.

Faith and Andrew's Spruce and Hemlock, which they started about four years ago at 52 Lake Street, will occupy the left hand side of the large two story building. In past weeks both sides of the building have been extensively rewired, with the addition of a third service entrance.

Half of the left hand side of the building had the original hardwood flooring. Brandon Moeller of BTM Flooring resanded that half and restained it a dark mahogany stain to match new hardwood flooring he will install in the back half of the large front room, which in recent years was the fitness center.

Beyond that 2,700 square foot space, there is another 700 square foot room, where the new owners hope in several years to add a mini-cafe and bakery.

The decorative tin ceiling has been scraped and repainted and all of the chandeliers replaced. There will be new wall sconces every 12 feet or so.

More insulation was added to the 12 foot high interior walls on the perimeter of the entire building.

On the Spruce and Hemlock side, new drywall was installed by Pete Desmarais and his son earlier this winter.

On the right hand side of the building next to One Group, many of the acoustic suspended ceiling tiles were replaced and more ceiling insulation was added by Andrew and Pat.

New drywall was also applied to all interior walls, after they were firred out to permit the addition of more insulation by the owners.

The Stacked Graphics partners will do their screen printing, embroidery and sign-making from the 2,000 square foot first floor, and expect to eventually expand production in the 4,000 square foot basement, which was high enough to use for retail sales when Newberry's was there the 1940s through 1970s.

On the second floor of the building is one occupied 1,200 square foot apartment.

The front apartment was gutted by previous owners, but boasts the large double-hung windows on the front of the building which offer a complete overview of the business district.

The building owners hope to renovate that large three-bedroom apartment in the next year or so.

A preliminary meeting by the board a month or so which began the special use permit process drew no comments from the general public in the days since, Planner Paul O'Leary reported to his board that evening.

Free Press Publisher Dan McClelland noted that in an editorial several weeks he praised the coming changes, including this new joint venture, to the Park St. business district and asked if that piece could be included in the minutes of the meeting. His request was granted.

Village Code Enforcement Officer Peter Edwards, who attends all planning board meetings on behalf of the village, said it was good to see new “young owners taking these buildings” and putting them back in local service.

He said Mr. and Mrs. McClelland and Mr. Bedore have a grant dream and are “doing this right, taking these building which have been let go or neglected in recent years.

He said it is apparent to many that many buildings are undergoing restorations “and it's good to see that.”

Mr. Edwards said the owners of the two businesses going in there have “great business plans.”

With that the public hearing was closed by Chairman Shawn Stuart and the regular part of the meeting was opened.

Volunteer Jim Merrihew began the discussion. Last month he had asked the owners to provide for that night's meeting a front view of the building, along with the signs planned there.

Mr. McClelland provided the board with those color renderings, showing the existing facade, which was redone in rough cedar and cedar shake overhang in recent years.

He said their drawings of the new signs that evening would be close in nature to the actual once they will construct in their sign shop once winter breaks.

The Stacked Graphics sign will be made of cedar with raised letter in a metal frame, he told the planners.

The Spruce and Hemlock sign next door will be a custom-cut shape, sporting the business' logo. Both signs, he said, would be above the respective doorways and be about 10 feet long and three feet high.

The Stacked Graphics sign will look like old wood, whereas the Spruce and Hemlock sign will be brighter and cleaner, he told them.

“We were going to make them look similar, but then we didn't want people to confuse the two, as they separate businesses.”

The lighting of the signs and the storefront will be overhead sconces- gooseneck in appearance and shedding the light downward, in keeping with the community's dark skies lighting requirements.

He said the lights will be similar in design to those at Well Dressed Food down the street.

The door on the Stacked Graphics side of the building will lead into the company's front office, where their clients can place orders or pick up shipments.

Behind the two storefront windows, they plan to hang curtains to block the public's view of their printing and embroidery operations in the back.

“We want to keep it so if you look in from the street or the highway, you won't see all of our machines.”

The partners, with the help of a machine from Kentile Excavating, moved those large and heavy production machines from the Free Press rooms to their new quarters in the past two weeks. The machines have been serviced by company representatives in the past week and are now in full operation at 115 Park Street.

He said the front windows will be decorated in keeping with the changing seasons. Andrew thought his wife would lend her decorating talent to that effort and perhaps even use some of the space to promote her wares next door.

“We're not opposed to possibly renting that storefront area some day,” as we move some of our operations to the basement area.

That depends too on insulating and putting more heat in the underground quarters, he added.

That would free up space in the front of the building on the main floor, according to the entrepreneur.

“At the moment, however, we need all that main floor space until we can take over some of that basement area.”

This summer the building owners will be replacing the flat roofs on the two-part building with modern roofing materials and pointing up some of the exterior masonry brick which needs work.

The partners will also looking at quotes this year to install a cornice around the top of the building, similar to the work done around the top of the former Ginsberg's building this fall, Mr. McClelland noted.

“We want to preserve the building and part of that involves stopping water from getting behind the brick facade.”

The planning board members had nothing but positive comments to share with Andrew that evening.

Volunteer Doug Bencze, for example, called it “a good project.”

Jan Yaworski wondered when the businesses would be open and was told they are currently printing now at the new Stacked Graphics location.

Once the new floor at Stacked Graphics is done early this month, Faith will begin moving in her inventory and new displays in time for a late-April or May 1 opening there, Andrew said.

“I'm glad we have another storefront that will provide two new businesses,” said Dave St. Onge. “That's great for the community and our main street!”

Of the three business people, he said it was good to see these young entrepreneurs in Tupper Lake.

Tom Maroun and Chairman Stuart both called them “good projects” that will be good for the community.

“It will be great to see the greater foot traffic” in the uptown business district that Spruce and Hemlock is bound to create, Mr. Stuart added.

Andrew said his wife is excited to see how much their new location will boost sales at her already popular business. He admitted it was always a challenge to direct people to their former location on Lake Street.

Mr. St. Onge said the visitors who come to Park Street to dine may also become the patrons of the new stores coming to the business district.

“Right now when we are in there working, even in the off-season, we see people wandering about, looking in store windows,” Mr. McClelland told the planners. “After they eat, there's not much else for them to do right now and so they leave.”

He said the arrival of The Adirondack Store, Birch Boys and The Row will be good for everyone in retailing on Park Street.

The planners wished Mr. McClelland and his partners good luck on their new ventures.

'Footloose' will cut loose at Tupper Lake Middle/High School on March 8, 9, and 10

Dan McClelland

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As Ecclesiastes states, there is a time to dance, and that time will be this weekend as the Red & Black Players present Footloose: The Musical at the Tupper Lake Middle/High School auditorium March 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. and March 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door.

One of the most explosive movie musicals bursts onto the live stage with exhilarating results. When Ren and his mother move from Chicago to a small farming town, Ren is prepared for the inevitable adjustment period at his new high school. What he isn't prepared for are the rigorous local edicts, including a ban on dancing instituted by the local preacher, determined to exercise the control over the town's youth that he cannot command in his own home. When the reverend's rebellious daughter sets her sights on Ren, her roughneck boyfriend tries to sabotage Ren's reputation, with many of the locals eager to believe the worst about the new kid. The heartfelt story that emerges is of a father longing for the son he lost and of a young man aching for the father who walked out on him. To the rockin' rhythm of its Oscar- and Tony-nominated top-40 score (the soundtrack album reached number one on the Billboard charts) and augmented with dynamic new songs for the stage musical, Footloose: The Musical celebrates the wisdom of listening to young people, guiding them with a warm heart and an open mind.


The music is by Tom Snow, with lyrics by Dean Pitchford and stage adaptation by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie. Based on the original screenplay by Dean Pitchford, with additional music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins, and Jim Steinman, Footloose: The Musical is presented through special arrangement with R&H Theatricals. Stage director George Cordes and music director Elizabeth Cordes have again been joined by choreographer Emily Brown, along with lighting director David Naone and assistant director/stage manager Danielle LaMere.

The cast includes Noah Cordes as Ren, with Sophia Martin as Ariel, Stephanie Fortune as her friend, Rusty, and Bryce Davison as Willard. Leading the "adults" of the cast are Jonathan McCulloch as Reverend Shaw, Saide Johnson as his wife, Vi, and Alyssah Martinez as Ren's mom, Ethel. Other cast includes Shae Arsenault, Cody Auclair, Karen Bujold, Jayce Clement, Garrett Dewyea, Olivia Ellis, Caitlyn Fleming, Raegan Fritts, Jessica Mitchell, Meika Nadeau, Lowden Pratt, Emily Roberts, Lily St. Onge, Nolan Savage, Emily Sipler, Emileigh Smith, and Jenna Switzer.

Stage crew for Guys and Dolls will be Patricia Bankich (assistant stage manager), Ben Jones, Kiana Nadeau, Genna Carmichael, Danielle Delair, Lexi Goodwin, Molly Sullivan, and Zachary Smith. Lighting crew are Matthew Whitmore, Kassandra Sipler, and Johnathan Jauron.

There will be a bake sale and flowers for sale during all three performances.

With Footloose: The Musical, the Red & Black Players celebrate their thirteenth anniversary of bringing musical theatre to Tupper Lake. Previous shows include last year's Guys and Dolls, along with Godspell, Anything Goes, Hello, Dolly!, All Night Strut: A Jumpin', Jivin', Jam!, Bye, Bye Birdie, The Boy Friend, Seussical: The Musical, Annie, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, and Back to the 80s: The Totally Awesome Musical.

Brewski draws hundreds to popular ski course

Dan McClelland

The Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce hit a home run for the promotion of the town's Tupper Lake Cross-Country trail network at the golf course Saturday, by introducing hundreds of nordic skiers and snowshoers from around the region to our popular skiing place.

For many the day of introduction was the chamber's fifth annual Brewski, which was an unrivaled success, drawing a record number of 476 participants.

-And what better way to enjoy the great outdoors and promote the fun that can be enjoyed on the newly named James C. Frenette Recreational Trails than with samples of the Adirondack region's best craft beer sprinkled along the way.

For the staging of the Brewski, and its sister event, the Tupper Lake Lions Club Fire and Ice golf tournament the conditions and weather were perfect- a calm and relatively balmy winter day with long periods of sunshine. That's rare in these parts, it seems, and particularly this unusual winter.

The last two years saw no saw and high winds at least once.

The Tupper Lake trail volunteers, directed by John Gillis, had the main 12 foot wide Brewski trail through the woods in immaculate shape- groomed and packed flat with a set of deep ski tracks. It made travel easy for skiers, snowshoe folks and walkers.

The groomers also packed the fairways on the Lions five-hole course, making it easier to walk and hit the tennis ball.

Along the trail through the woods along the various fairways were eight local and regional brewers, who included our own Big Tupper Brewing and Raquette River Brewing, plus some other regional notables: Lake Placid Pub and Brewery, Big Slide Brewery and Public House, Blue Line Brewery, Oval Craft Brewing, Valcour Brewing and Great Adirondack Brewing.

Their products were as diversified as they were delicious, although we were careful not to overindulge during our adventure around the course. Participants were given tiny souvenir plastic glasses to carry in their pockets.

For $10 a head per adult with kids under 12 years free, it was a deal!

This year the chamber brought back Hayley McCottery, who was events coordinator last year, to run the Brewski and she was blown away by its success.

Hayley had a feeling it was going to be big, given the traffic to the chamber's web site in recent months, but drawing nearly 500 participants was beyond her imagination.

“It was absolutely incredible,” she told the Free Press Monday.

The place was so busy the entire golf course parking lots were full and cars lined the Big Tupper Road from above the driving range where the snow golf competition occurred to across from the late Sam Parmelee's house and down into the Tamarac subdivision. The place was jammed with people and vehicles.

After the event the chamber web site was overflowing with kudos from visiting and local participants- heaping high praise on the event's organization, the wonderful weather and the excellent trails.

“Oh, my gosh,” a humbled Hayley said of the robust praise.

Hayley this week credited the Tupper Lake Lions Club and the local trail grooming volunteers, who she met weekly with this winter in preparation for the big dual-event weekend with Saturday's successful end result.

The grooming volunteers not only had the trails in perfect shape but on Saturday they put trailers on their snowmobiles and ATVs and moved the beer vendors supplies to their sites along the trail.

“John and his crew were wonderful,” the organizer said.

She also said the Lions too were a joy to work with. She met with its Fire and Ice committee each Tuesday in recent months at Tom's Lamere's shop to plan the golf part of the event.

Next year Hayley plans to hopefully draw more local businesses into actually participating in the joint event.

Many local businesses, as usual, did support both events again this year with sponsorships, judging by the many business signs erected at the Brewski start and around the Lions cook shack.

Key sponsors of the Brewski were Belleville and Associates and High Peaks Cyclery.

The Lake Placid-based sports company again brought ski equipment and snowshoes for participants without them to use for free. The business also made loan of a dozen or so of the new fat tire bikes, which a number of participants were delighted to use. These go great on packed trails, judging by those we watched “bomb” around.

There were no alcohol-related driving mishaps, thanks in large part to the participation of the volunteers of Tupper's popular Mac's Safe Ride.

The Lions Fire and Ice drew ten teams of snow golfers, the most ever in its 9-year history. The event was co-sponsored in its early years by both the Lions and Rotarians, but three years ago when it was moved off the windy shores of Raquette Pond at the municipal park, the Lions went it alone.

For the past two winters, however, there's been no appreciable snow cover. For the organizers the third year was the charm.

Adequate snow cover also permitted the chamber to move its event back into the woods where it was designed to be, as opposed to the along the open fairways of the golf event.

The top team Saturday was one led by Lion Paul LaMere and including Matt Patnode and Shaleen Wood. They finished the five-hole play with a 19. The team may have had a handicap as the lion designed this year's course, which included a tricky venture into the woods to find hole No. 2.

Second best team of the day was Team Lewis with a 20. Cindy and Bob went it alone without a third, and bested eight of the teams. The Free Press Publisher was supposed to be their third but he didn't make it back in time off the beer trail.

Incidentally the second place golfers also did the Brewski route, such skiers they are.

The biggest winner, however, at the Lions event was Dick Beauchamp, who was the holder of the winning 50-50 raffle. His prize: an impressive $2,450. Those active Lions ticket sellers in past weeks easily topped last year's biggest prize of $2,000.

There was a second Lions raffle that was combined at the after-event party at Lakeview Lanes with a similar one the chamber was running.

Some of the key Lions who made the Fire and Ice a success this year were course marshall Tom LaMere, who often counseled the golfers at the start, raffle master Stuart Nichols, course designer Paul LaMere and the cook shack crew- Chris Zaidan, Rob Drayse, Joe Salamy and Danielle Gagnier. Working diligently in the warm pro shop, opposite Sue Fitzpatrick and Hayley, at times, were Lions Mary and Gerry Sojda, Bob and Sioux Collier and Debbie Moody. Great sellers and promoters, all!

Hayley said this week she can't wait for next year. Neither can all those who took part in this year's big February day at the golf course.

Kudos to all who helped make the dual-event day the grand success it was!

-Dan McClelland

Tupper Lake teen to travel to Houston, Texas for brain operation

Dan McClelland

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On March 4, 2019 16 year old Kaylee Rabideau, along with her mother Jessica Stevens and step father Josh Stevens will board a plane and head to Houston Texas for the second time. This will be the trip where Kaylee will undergo a craniotomy and complete resection and removal of a pineal region cyst/tumor and a possible resection and removal or treatment of a second tumor behind her right eye.

How did she get to this point you may ask? Here is a little backstory.

In 2007 at the age of five years old, Kaylee started experiencing headaches. She was referred to UVM in Burlington, Vermont to the Neurologist. At that time they suspected it could possibly be her vision so an eye exam was made and glasses were given.

The headaches continued through her childhood and into her teenage years. By the age of 14, the headaches had become debilitating and were now coming with stroke-like symptoms (face drooping, slurring words, etc.)

Her parents were terrified. The pain had gotten so severe she would sometimes scream from the bathroom because she couldn’t get off of the floor or out of the shower. She was passing out, her legs would give way from underneath her, she was dizzy, experiencing extreme visual changes, sometimes losing her vision completely for brief moments, sleeping 18 hours a day or sometimes not at all, ringing in her ears, and suffering from constant head pressure. She just could not function through her daily life.

A call was made to her pediatrician who got her right in for an appointment. She was referred to UVM pediatric neurology who also got her in for an appointment right away. During this appointment, the neurologist noticed she had ptosis (dropping eye) weakened reflexes on one side and nystagmus (involuntary movements of the eye). Her thoughts at that time were that she was having some sort of seizures so an MRI and EEG were ordered.

On July 14, 2016 an MRI was done. On July 15 the phone rang. The caller ID on her mothers cell phone indicated the call was from Burlington. She took a deep breath and answered the call. It was the neurologist from UVM explaining that she believed she now knew what the cause of Kaylee's symptoms was. Her mother quickly tried to mentally prepare herself for what she was about to say.

Her next statement was that Kaylee had a sizable cyst of the pineal region measuring 15x14x11mm and she would now need to see a neurosurgeon. She also explained that the cyst is deep within her brain and is causing mass effect on the tectum.

The quadrigeminal plate, also known as the tectal plate or tectum, is the portion of the midbrain tectum upon which the superior and inferior colliculi sit. The tectum is the dorsal portion of the midbrain (brainstem) and is derived in embryonic development from the alar plate of the neural tube. Masses in the region of the tectum can cause obstruction of the cerebral aqueduct resulting in obstructive hydrocephalus). Her mother was devastated and could do nothing but sit in her car and sob, but for her daughter, she needed to be strong, as strong as she was.

When they saw the neurosurgeon, she explained that typically these cysts don't cause symptoms unless they are in fact causing hydrocephalus (too much fluid in the brain).

Through much of her own research, her mother had come to learn that this is in fact not correct, they can cause debilitating symptoms, especially at larger sizes but symptoms don’t always correlate with size. She also has learned that the reason this is thought to be the case is because not much about this is taught in medical school and what is taught is old knowledge. There they were, back at square one.

They continued to frequently travel to Vermont where Kaylee and her mother would explain her symptoms were worsening every time. She would then be given another medication to try. This would make number nine.

At one of their appointments before giving up and thinking no one would be able to help her, they explained that Kaylee was now sleeping 18 hours a day, missing school and they were now were dealing with a CPS hotline for educational neglect because of it. The response they were given was that it sounded like Kaylee was depressed and we should start her on medication for depression.

Her mother thought she probably is a little depressed. She couldn’t function and had little quality of life most days. Again, a call to her pediatrician was made from the parking garage explaining what had just happened. He assured her he would help in any way he could. To start he would try a medication to treat her pain and control the headaches as well as referring her to a neurosurgeon at Albany Med.

Once at the appointment in Albany, the Neurosurgeon explained that yes, although sometimes these cysts do not cause symptoms, they certainly can. He described it as basically a foreign body in your brain. Unfortunately, treatment would only be done in the case of hydrocephalus. Back at square one again.

They continued to try and treat her pain and other symptoms with no luck. Finally, her symptoms had gotten so bad that she was losing vision, optic nerves and disks are now tilted, the pain was excruciating, she was struggling with memory and speech problems, the headaches were there every day, and still all the other previous symptoms as well. This brought her back to the pediatrician who requested a new MRI be done.

In the meantime through this whole process, her mother Jessica had already been doing as much research as she could on her condition, reading case study after case study, medical documents, and anything else she could find. She came across the blog of a young lady who also suffered as Kaylee does. She stayed up most of the night reading the entire blog. It was like Kaylee had written it.

Through her blog, she mentioned a surgeon and a Facebook support group. Jessica immediately went and found that group. She started reading the stories of others, like Kaylee, who were living the same nightmare. She saw the same surgeon mentioned in the blog and who was also mentioned in this group many, many times, Dr. Kim.

She learned that he was one of a handful surgeons in the US currently who treat these types of cysts/tumors. She finally decided it was time to reach out.

After speaking with his office they were instructed to send all of her medical records and scans for him to review. From there he would determine whether he would see her or not. On October 31 the call came that he would in fact like to schedule an appointment to see her. The first sigh of relief for her and her family. Someone who may be able to help her, because as much her family wanted to do more for her, there was nothing she could do other than what she was already doing. Kaylee was scheduled for December 11. They just knew they were headed in the right direction. This is what he does, this is one of his areas of expertise. He is the director of the Neuroscience Institute.

A new MRI was completed on Friday, November 23. They anxiously waited for those results.

On Monday, November 26, an email from her patient portal was received that a new test result had been posted. Jessica logged in and with Kaylee, she began to read.

Her cyst was now 17x17x15mm, and she now had brain lesions in two parts of her brain. Again, devastation.

Jessica couldn’t help but cry, reach out to anyone who would listen and ask for prayers. Kaylee had a short cry with her sister and then they sat down and watched a Christmas movie together. Jessica remembers thinking, “wow what a strong child I have.”

It felt like December 11 couldn’t get here fast enough.

On December 10, Kaylee, her mother and step father Josh boarded a plane and off to Houston they went.

On December 11 it was finally time to see Dr. Kim, the surgeon they had read so much about.

They felt as though they were waiting to meet a movie star.

First, they saw his colleague Dr. Hsu. They went over every little detail about symptoms, medications she has tried and any tests she had done. He briefly left the room and returned with Dr. Kim, who shook their hands and sat down.

He gave an entire rundown of everything they had discussed with Dr. Hsu. He asked many questions including if when watching the webinar, she thought it was describing her perfectly and they all responded, “yes!”

He then went on to say that he absolutely believed it’s causing her symptoms as it is large and recommended surgery. He also told them after looking at her scans that he believed she may have a tumor behind her right eye, a cavernous sinus menginoma. Jessica grabbed Josh’s hand and tried to hold back the tears.

Before our appointment ended he explained she will need a lumbar puncture which she could go back home rather than doing it there and having to travel back home right after as we were flying home the next day.

She will also have another MRI to confirm or rule out the tumor behind her eye when they return for surgery. They left his office feeling good, yet emotional, and relieved but nervous. It's a lot for them and for her, although she is holding strong.

From Jessica: “I admire this child. I am proud that after all she has had to live through she still manages to hold strong and keep her grades up in school, even through the pain she faces every day. We will need to be in Houston from March 4 until at least March 20 before she is cleared to fly home where her recovery will continue. I hope I didn’t miss anything and I hope this is not too confusing. Continue to pray. She will turn 17 on March 31 and will spend her birthday still in recovery from a brain operation. We are seeking help from anyone willing. All funds will be used strictly for any medical and travel costs outside of what we will pay or what our insurance covers. Please help if you can. This beautiful child is destined to do amazing things as the aspiring makeup artist she is and deserves a better quality of life. Some people may think I am crazy and overreacting, and to those people, I invite you to spend a day in her life, our lives for that matter to see for yourself the suffering. I also hope to raise awareness that these things do cause problems and essentially take your life away though you are still living, provide information and give support to anyone going through this. Please help us give Kaylee a life worth living. She is a daughter, sister, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, niece, great niece, and cousin and she deserves the best quality of life we together can give her! 11 years of pain is long enough. Thank you so much, from our entire family. It takes a village to raise a child.”

An all day fundraiser will be held at Raquette River Brewing, 11 Balsam St Tupper Lake on February 16, which will include Chinese auction with many raffle items, a cake walk, and a Slingshot Acoustic show from 6-9pm! $1 from each pint sold that day will be donated to Kaylee. There is also GoFundMe page set up for Kaylee and her Family. All donations will help the family with out of pocket medical expenses, and travel and lodging costs as they are also responsible for 20% of the surgery cost as well as out of network deductibles.

If you want to learn more about Kaylee's condition here is a link:

If you would like to donate to Kaylee’s GoFundMe, the link is:

Tupper Lake can now boast of three new Eagle Scouts

Dan McClelland

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Tupper Lake Boy Scout Troop 23 currently has three young men who have completed all of the requirements for the Eagle Scout rank. This is the top rank that can be achieved in Boy Scouts and is a rigorous and challenging commitment achieved by only four percent of scouts.

These new Eagle Scouts are Riley Gillis, Matthew Whitmore and Patrick Cote.

Twenty one merit badges must be completed, twelve of which are required and the remainder of which are chosen from a large list of electives. The required merit badges include such important life skills as cooking, first aid, emergency preparedness, personal fitness, and citizenship in the community, country, and world.

Each of these badges encompass many hours and sometimes even a month of work outside of the weekly scout meetings, and the boys must show independence in accomplishing the many facets of each merit badge while scheduling meetings with a merit badge counselor throughout to ensure that all requirements are met.

As boys move from the total support and group activities of Cub Scouts through the seven ranks of Boy Scouts they are expected to take more and more of a leadership role both in the Troop and in their community.

These three young men have progressed through all of the ranks and have now completed their Eagle Scout Projects and Boards of Review required to be full fledged Eagles. The projects are the culminating event for a scout and are required to enrich the community in some way but not benefit a business or an individual. Troop 23’s boys have taken their diverse activities and interests and put them to work for their community in their Eagle Scouts projects.

Matthew Whitmore chose to enrich his church, St. Thomas Episcopal, by creating parking for handicapped and less able folks and by repairing the ramp and entrance. He coordinated the materials and machinery needed to create the parking spaces while supervising a group of both adults and scouts.

He also ensured that the spaces follow ADA regulations and have proper signage.

Matthew also completed enough non-required Merit Badges to earn an Eagle Palm, which is a special award bestowed upon Eagle candidates who complete 5 additional merit badges beyond those needed for the Eagle rank. He is the first Scout in Troop 23 to earn this award.

Riley Gillis chose to enhance the Goff-Nelson Memorial Library. He repaired and upgraded the rear entrance and built a roof over the doorway to make it more weather friendly.

Riley coordinated numerous local contractors and construction workers, both adults and peers, who re-paved the entrance, removed and ground down an unsightly stump, and repaired the sidewalk to the door.

Patrick Cote chose to use his love of the outdoors and archery to upgrade the outdoor archery course at the Tupper Lake Rod and Gun Club. He organized both the adult archers and his fellow scouts in clearing some of the trail, building and installing bow racks on the course, and creating a map through GPS coordinates.

He then enlisted the assistance of a local forestry group to print the map and one of the troop's assistant scoutmasters used local wood and arrows to create a frame for it. It currently hangs in the indoor archery range.

The focus and goal of these projects is that the Scout develop successful coordination and leadership skills necessary to obtain materials, complete the work, and leave a lasting impact on the community.

Community residents may not know, but many other Eagle projects continue to be enjoyed in our community every day. For example, the large swim dock and basketball court at Little Wolf beach are the result of boys becoming Eagle Scouts. The beautiful pergola and seating in front of Mercy Living Center was done by an Eagle Scout, and the VFW proudly displays plaques in honor of those who have served our country due to an Eagle project. Even our school has benefited from these talented young men as they enhanced our Nature trail, added parking to our sports complex, and upgraded the center courtyard at LP Quinn.

The leaders of the local scout program are thankful for these talented young men and for the generous business men and women who donate their wares, their talents, and their time to Scouts and to all that our Scouts can bring to the local community, our country and our world.

John Amoriell celebrates 107th

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The last day of 2018 was the 107th time that Junction native John Amoriell celebrated his birthday.

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The lively and clear-minded centenarian enjoyed the milestone with his friends, family and care-givers at the Mercy Living Center.

“Well, I made 107,” John grinned when we stopped by his bright and nicely decorated single room in Tupper's nursing home last week.

John was born in 1911 in what he says was then called Faust, the son of Sam and Mary Maglione Amoriell, who had emigrated from Italy.

Once the young couple left their homeland, they never returned, making Tupper Lake their lifelong home. John said the family name in Italy was Amoriello. He was 24 and she was 22. The young couple lived in New York City for a couple of years, but his mother didn't like the Mafia members and other gangsters like “the Black Hand” in their neighborhood so they moved to Tupper Lake in 1907, according to John.

John was born in a four apartment tenement building on Washington Street that was later torn down.

John was named after his uncle, who also immigrated to America and who lived for a time in Tupper Lake with his brother after Mary passed.

Sam Amoriell built an attractive new house about 1918 on what is now Malerba Ave., formerly Second Ave. There were originally seven boys and one girl, but John's brother Patsy, who would have been 108 this year, died in New York City as an infant.

Showing us a photo of his parents and his siblings, John said he is the last surviving child of Sam and Mary.

Longevity runs strong in the Amoriell family, however. John's father was 89 when he died and his mother, 77. Most of his siblings lived into their eighties and nineties, according to John.

John worked for the railroad most of his life, for many years as a laborer and later as a machine operator. The job, which began in Tupper Lake, eventually took him in later years to many places with the railroad including the main line in Albany, Schenectady, Little Falls, Amsterdam, as well as Remsen, at the base of the Adirondack Railroad.

Following his many years of work in the Tupper Lake area, he later commuted by train to the other posts- generally staying there a week at a time and returning here on weekends.

From about 1964 on he worked in Selkirk, where he retired due to a back injury in 1969. He drew a monthly pension of $138 after over 30 years with the railroad.

As a machine operator, driving pay loaders and other pieces of heavy equipment, he often moved ties and rails around the rail yards and worked on various rail construction projects.

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In 1937 John married Mildred Exware and the couple had two children, Sam and Annette. John's wife of over 70 years died at the age of 91 in 2011. In 2017 they would have been married 80 years, John calculated.

He called Mildred one of the best things in his life.

When he and Mildred married few houses had electricity and fewer had indoor plumbing. “Everyone had outhouses! They were cold in the winter!” he said with a knowing grin.

When the couple was first married they lived in an apartment over Ray Mikall's IGA at the corner of Main and Cedar where their son Sam was born in 1938. “It was a nice big apartment! The rent was $17 per month.”

Sam turned 80 last month, John noted.

Two years later the couple moved across the street to another apartment- this one owned by Elmer Farmer, where Annette was born in 1939. The rent was $11 per month. Mr. Farmer used to work for the railroad, noted John.

A few years later the couple bought a small house on Washington St. which they paid $500 for. “We lived there for a little while but there were so many bed bugs it was terrible!”

The Amoriell siblings

The Amoriell siblings

John and Mildred moved down the street to the Keeler house, where they lived until about 1945, when they bought their final home in that same neighborhood on what is now known as Amoriell Ave. They paid $2,000 for it. John and Mildred lived on the street later named after them for many years and after Mildred's death John stayed there until moving to Mercy four years ago.

Before moving to Mercy, John continued to roam the Junction neighborhoods aboard his motorized wheelchair.

John didn't serve in World War II, but he says he certainly would have served. He was registered and all set to go when the war ended.

During the Great Depression, when he said it was so tough to find a job, he did anything and everything he could to support himself, including picking berries to sell. During the Depression he eventually joined the Civilian Conservation Corp., working for two years on many local and area public works projects from its staging area and barracks at Cross Clearing.

“I was getting a dollar a day, $30 a month.”

John and his son Sam had a hunting camp at Lead Pond for years, and perhaps the first one there. Sam bought the place in 1978 and it was a regular haunt for them for decades. They started tenting at first and later built a camp.

“We had a wooden raft, but no boat! We'd row it out into the pond and boy did we catch fish!”

“I loved to be there...I loved the woods.”

Although he was a hunter until the age of 91, he holds the dubious distinction of never bagging a buck. “I shot at a lot of them, hit a few, but never got a darn deer,” he shrieked with laughter. By contrast, Sam bagged a deer every year, he added.

John said he and Sam had that camp before the forest company built a road to Lead Pond. For years they walked in from the railroad tracks, which now intersects the Lead Pond Road. He remembers the four-mile walk from Tupper Lake. Their camp was about a mile in from the tracks.

As more camps came to the pond and that section of local forest in general, the hunting pressure grew and they eventually sold it.

John also had a boat and motor and with it he and Sam frequented the local lakes where he loved to fish. The biggest fish John ever caught was an eight-pound Northern.

In the winters they ice-fished on Lead Pond, where they found lots of bass and pike.

His favorite fish, he said, is pike, which he said he became very good and cleaning and deboning.

John said he attended the “Junction School,” where the Moose Lodge is situated now.

He admits not being the best student and he frequently got into schoolyard fights. He only made it to the fifth grade, when he and school officials decided parting company was the best for all concerned.

“I got kicked out when I was only 14...I was in trouble all the time!”

He remembers the school supervisor, Flossie Chevrette, as a tough administrator. “She didn't like me very much!”

As a young teenager he couldn't find any work so for a couple of years he worked “on the little farm” his father had off Washington St. , behind what is now Malerba Ave.

At 16 he went to the Oval Wood Dish Corp., piling wood in the yard. “I was getting fifteen cents an hour or $6.30 per week.”

“They raised me to 25 cents an hour and that was a big deal!”

John began his career with the Adirondack Railroad, first working as a laborer. In those early years one of his jobs was feeding coal into the furnaces of the steam engines at the time. He said he remembers when the steam locomotives were switched to electric ones in the early 1950s.

A lifelong Yankees fan, one of the team's old-timers' fan clubs routinely sends him memorabilia which decorates some of his walls in his room. He received a Yankee bobby-head statue for Christmas. Another prized possession is a replica of one of the team's championship rings.

“I'm a Yankee man! Aaron Judge is my favorite player. He made 52 home runs last season!”

The outfielder was the American League's Rookie of the Year in 2017.

One of his care-givers, Rose Gaudet, is trying to organize a trip for John to the Big Apple so he can see his team play at a game this summer.

John remembers with great fondness the family homestead that John's father built in 1917, which was the longtime home of John's sister Mary and her husband Louis Malerba on Malerba Ave.

“When my father built it there was only three of us. It is a beautiful home. My father bought the land and built the house there. There was no Washington Street or no Lafayette Street, nothing at all.”

Washington Street was only a trail which he hiked to attend school or church in the Junction. Main Street was also a dirt road at the time, he recalls.

The house was on “five or six acres of land” and for years John's father and mother ran it as a small farm- tending a handful of horses, three cows, four sheep and some chickens. There was enough pasture land to take off hay for the animals each summer with a horse and wagon. John remembers cutting the hay with a scythe as a boy.

The family always maintained a big garden. He and Mildred also maintained a garden at their place several blocks away for years. “Everyone had a big garden in those days! There were also a lot of farms in Tupper Lake early on!”

On Sundays the entire family boarded their horse and buggy and headed via trail to the Holy Name Church, he remembers.

John said he enjoyed growing up in the early years of Faust when many of the residents were Italians, who came here to work on the railroad. Many of those families eventually moved on with the decline of the railroad.

He said his mother was a great cook and made the “real Italian food,” particularly on holidays, when all the Italian families on Washington St. would “come to the Amoriells for a party.”

John never learned to speak Italian, although he could understand it. It was always spoken in the home and his mother could barely speak English.

During his first years as a laborer with the railroad, he helped demolish the New York and Ottawa line from Tupper Lake to Ottawa.

In his those years too he would often be assigned to operate the plow on the train to remove snow from the tracks in winter from Montreal through Tupper Lake to Utica. For many years he operated a rail car called the flanger which had two blades attached to it to removed snow from between the rails. The flanger car, much like a caboose and heated with a coal stove, was usually positioned in the middle of a train. The flanger cars were sidelined to rail spurs and rail yards in the non-winter months, he noted.

If the snow or other debris between the tracks was not removed, a trail could derail, he explained.

The flanger car had steam-powered controls so that the two operators could actually stop the train if there was a problem on the tracks. He often operated the flanger with Piercefield's Charlie LaVassaur.

Plowing the tracks couldn't be done at more than 30 miles per hour, and John said he would often have to use his controls to slow down the engine.

The two flanger blades- one on each side- had to be raised by the operators at switches or rail crossings, to prevent damage to them.

A snow-plowing train would often derail in heavy snow areas. The crews carried ramp-like devices with them to pull the derailed cars back on tracks, with the strength of additional engines that were deployed from yards in Utica or Lake Placid.

One day operating the flanger, the blades hit a rail crossing, breaking them “all to hell,” he said with a big grin. “We could have been killed!”

One day too from his perch in the flanger car he spotted a car broken down on a crossing and stopped the train, sparing the life of the occupant.

The plowing trips would often take the entire day, so he and others would often have to stay over at either end of the 112-mile Adirondack Railroad line- in Utica or Lake Placid.

Sometimes so much snow would build up under the plow and the cars behind it they'd have to stop train to dig it all out, he told the Free Press.

Another of John's railroad jobs was walking the tracks, looking for missing spikes. He carried a hammer and extra spikes to replace them.

At one point his job was to walk the line to Floodwood and back nine miles every day. Sometimes he flagged down and hopped the southbound No. 2 for the trip back home.

He also remembers the months he spent walking the rails daily in the Sabattis and Nehasane area. He'd often meet an old man, in ragged clothes, who turned out to be Dr. W. Seward Webb, who financed and whose crews built the Adirondack Railroad from Utica to Tupper Lake in a single year in the early 1890s. “He was an old man when I used to talk with him. We used to talk about fishing and hunting!”

He said Webb would frequently entertain prominent people from the city who loved to hunt and they would come up by train.

“The deer herds there were wicked,” he exclaimed, a product of the car loads of molasses and grain Webb would order to feed them.

Caretakers there would occasionally take John inside the family's beautiful lodges, many of the walls of which were decorated with big game trophies.

In later years patrolling sections of track he was given a small three-wheel hand cart to use and to carry his repair tools. Before that he had to haul his tools in a bag he slung over his shoulder.

He always carried a flag to alert oncoming trains of his presence.

One of his less than favorite jobs in his early years was cleaning the platform of snow in front of the Tupper Lake station in anticipation of the No. 5 train, which left Utica before 2a.m. for arrival here about 5a.m. “The platform had to be completely cleared for the people arriving on the train! Some days there was a lot of snow!”

He also vividly remembers the ski trains full of skiers headed from the New York City and other points south to Lake Placid to ski for a week. The trains had engines on both the front and back and came full of lavish Pullman cars. “All people with big money!” he said, rubbing his fingers together.

He also remembers Tupper Lake's big rail yard with 13 tracks where the village playground now sits on Washington Street.

John also tended the rail switches out from Tupper Lake and as far out as Brandreth, where he would often have to stay in what he called “a little bunk house.”

The only thing there was a station and “a few camps in the woods.”

He remembers vividly too the day the snow plow hit several deer in the middle of tracks, because the train couldn't stop in time. “The next day we stopped and picked them up and the meat was still very good!”

As a hunter, while he may not have not been good with a rifle, he was obviously good with the plow and flanger on the train.

Happy 107th, John!

Newest member of TLPD has small town roots

Dan McClelland

by Rich Rosentreter


The Tupper Lake Village Police Department recently hired two new officers and the Free Press met with one of them, Connor Hesseltine, to introduce him to the local community.

Hesseltine grew up in the North Country in Chateaugay and embraces the outdoor lifestyle. He attended SUNY Canton graduated in May 2015 earned a bachelor degree in homeland security associates in criminal justice.

“My father and I have always been outdoorsy such as hunting and fishing. Rural areas have always been appealing to me. I’ve never wanted to move to a city or anything like that. When I got the call here, I thought to myself, that’s woods, that’s lakes, and I’ve always enjoyed both,” he said.

Following his graduation from college, Hesseltine said he was hired on a government contract conducting background investigations. He then landed a position as a corrections officer in Vermont for about a year, but didn’t really enjoy all the aspects of that job and decided to pursue a job as a police officer.

“I thought this was something I’d enjoy much more and so far I have. I decided to take the exam and Tupper Lake was the one that called me,” Hesseltine said. Once that call came, he began the police academy in June and graduated in November.

When he donned the policer uniform, it was fulfilling a desire that Hesseltine traced back to his childhood.

“It started pretty much like any little kid when you see flashing lights and the uniform with a gun and all that stuff and you think about how cool it is,” he said. “Until you get older and realize just how much they actually do and the hard part. It was something that interested me and thought I’d like to be doing.”

Hesseltine said he really became serious about making law enforcement a career path while he was a high school student in about tenth or eleventh grade.

“I knew a guy who was on the U.S. Border Patrol. I did a program and that really pretty much piqued my interest in law enforcement. I am pretty family-oriented so I wanted to stay somewhere in the area. For the border patrol I would have had to go down south so being local like this could not have worked out any better,” he said.

On the job

Now that Hesseltine is on patrol in Tupper Lake, he said he enjoys working in the community and appreciates the welcoming atmosphere he has found across the village. One of the main challenges he has faced is being the new guy in town.

“So far the challenge has been going from being a civilian when I’m walking out in public to now being in a small town and everybody knows I’m a police officer. And being new to the town, I don’t know anybody here,” he said. “Also learning all the policies and procedures and all the laws, what people can or cannot do. It’s a lot to take on in such a short amount of time.”

It has worked to his advantage that Chateaugay is similar in size to Tupper Lake. Hesseltine has been to this village as a member of the opposing team when he played basketball in high school, but said he never traveled beyond the gym and McDonald’s. Now having the opportunity to patrol the area and get familiar with the Tupper Lake community, he said he has had positive experiences.

“Everybody I’ve met has been extremely nice to me. Any issues I’ve had, people have been there. I’m renting a place, and people always say ‘Hey, if you need anything, I’m sure we can help you.’ Everybody at the department has been great. They’re all willing to lend a helping hand which is nice,” he said.

Hesseltine said he plans to remain a member of the local community now that he holds a prominent position – as does his bride-to-be.

“I don’t think I ever want to work in a big city area. Whenever I’m not working I’m either hunting or fishing or doing something on the water. To leave this area is something I would not really want to do,” he said, adding that he has an additional connection to the Tri-Lake area as his fiancee is a registered nurse and just got hired at Adirondack Health. The couple plans to wed in August 2019 and make this area their home.

“So it really could not be much better. She is really supportive and her father is a retired detective for St. Lawrence County, which is also nice. There are not many people who know what it is like being married to a police officer, so her growing up like that is nice. It’s nice having support like that at home.” Hesseltine added.

Working in a small community such as Tupper Lake is something Hesseltine said he truly enjoys and said there are many aspects of the job that he appreciates.

“I think one of the major aspects of a small community is that you get to know everybody and learn about who everybody is. On one side it is nice because you get to know who the good apples are versus who the bad apples are. It makes it easier when you are not dealing with a population of a million people,” he said adding that from a daily standpoint, getting to know the community has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of his job.

Since joining the local police department, Hesseltine said he has been invited over for dinner and other social gatherings along with getting people to offer to plow his driveway.

But there are other intangibles that Hesseltine said has taken some getting used to, such as experiencing things on the job, which is not the same as merely training practices at the academy.

“There’s definitely a big difference between the academy where people are not in your face yelling at you compared to being at a traffic stop standing on the side of the road and there are cars going by and there’s a guy in the car not from the area not being pleasant. It’s tougher,” he said. “I had to learn to hold back and just say ‘Here’s your ticket and court date.’ I had to learn to let someone vent and not worry about it. I understand they’re upset because they got a ticket.”

Hesseltine then added his message to the Tupper Lake community.

“I’m happy to be here and looking forward to being a contributing member of the community and hope to be on a good note with people in this community,” he said, adding that he really appreciates people coming up to him to greet him. “Thank you to everybody for being so welcoming.”

Look for a story on the second new officer in an upcoming issue of the Free Press.

Peewee Lumberjacks rack up big numbers again over weekend’s double header

Dan McClelland

by Ian Roantree

The Tupper Lake Peewee hockey team hosted a double header in the morning and afternoon of Saturday, December 8, taking on the Saratoga B team, and maintaining a seven-game winning streak.

Over the course of Saturday’s two games, the Lumberjacks put the puck in their opponent’s net 23 times and only let four into their own.

At 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, the Lumberjacks finished the game with a nine point deficit against Saratoga’s B team with a final score 10-1 for Tupper Lake. Mason Fowler and Karter Kenniston both scored hat tricks that morning. Logan Flagg put in two and Kyler McClain and Gavin Mitchel each scored one.

Sawyer Dewyea, Kyler McClain, Christian Moody-Bell, Gavin Mitchell and Mason Fowler all scored assists. Brayden Shannon protected the net in Saturday’s first game. Out of Saratoga’s 21 shots, Shannon saved 20!

After a short break, the boys returned to the ice at 2:15 p.m. but they didn’t plan on going easy on the Saratoga B team.

The peewee’s leading scorer, Karter Kenniston, put seven goals past Saratoga’s goal tender, maintaining his high scoring average. Logan Flagg scored two and Sawyer Dewyea, Mason Fowler, Gavin Mitchell and Kyler McClain each scored one. Kyclain assisted two goals and Sawyer Dewyea, Aiden Amell, Brayden Shannon and Phillip Lindsay each assisted goals as well.

The peewees will put their winning streak on the line and leave the comfort of home ice when they take to the road this weekend with games against Malone on Saturday, December 15 and Tri-Town on Sunday, December 16.

Tupper Arts Snow Ball a hit!

Dan McClelland

Tupper Arts organizers are basking in the glow this week from a very successful Snow Ball which raised thousands of dollars for the arts and cultural programs the new organization will offer children and adults here this coming year.

“We're so appreciative of how well the community supported us in our first Snow Ball,” chairwoman Louise McNally said this week.

Over 200 people purchased $50 tickets to attend the progressive event, which began at the former Ginsberg's building and moved two hours later to the Tupper Arts new gallery in the former Futterman's Furniture building.

Both pieces of the Snow Ball featured complimentary wine and beer, much of which was donated by local pubs, taverns and breweries, and hors d'oeuvres, prepared with skill by the staff at Well Dressed Food.

Both pieces of the party featured great entertainment. Jim & E, (Jim Boucher and Eric Pasternak) performed from the loft area above the giant timber staircase at the building now owned by Louise and Mike McNally and Leah and Stanley Rumbough. When the party was moved at 9p.m. across Park Street, it was Spring Street's turn to entertain the merri-makers. Band members included Ed Schaum, Josh Pratt, Leon Jessie and Val Rogers.

This was the arts organization's first try at Snow Ball, reviving it after a several year absence after ARISE used it each year for about a half a dozen years as its principle money-generator to open Big Tupper Ski Area.

“We thought our first try was great. It was the product of a lot of hard work by dozens and dozens of people who want us to be the vibrant program we will be,” said the very pleased McNally.

“Hopefully we can reinvent it again, with some exciting new twists!”

She said the event will go a long way to helping Tupper Arts offer great music, art and dance programs of many kinds to our community in the new year. In particular we will be able to offer a number of new and innovative programs for our children to enjoy.”

“Tupper Lake always comes together to support good things, and our event this weekend was no different!”

Part of this year's theme focussed on the many new developments coming to the uptown business district and the community at large.

Punctuating the event was the exciting announcement of the coming of a new Lake Placid-based long time business, the Adirondack Store, which will be teaming up with Garrett Kopp's Birch Boys business, both under the same roof.

Many volunteer hands make for joyous community Thanksgiving

Dan McClelland

For at least 25 years the celebration with good food and good cheer of Tupper Lake's annual Thanksgiving observance has been brightened by the selfless volunteers at the local Knights of Columbus and several groups like the Kiwanis Club which assist the fraternal organization each year.

Over 600 Thanksgiving meals were provided local residents, 500 of which were delivered to their homes.

Three of the youngest volunteers Thursday morning were Luka Dukett (second from left), Jenna Carmichael and Lexy Sabin. Assisting them with the packing of take-out meals were Joanne Bickford (left) and Ann Maltais (right). Below them was pie-cutter Carol Peets. Diane LeBlanc (not shown) was busy over in the corner of the K.of C. bar area, lining up all the containers for filling (at right).

Dave and Diane LeBlanc have been working to help the K.of C. members with their various projects since 1974. For years they worked alongside manager Dick Moeller, who is believed to have started the dinner.

Out in the kitchen Thursday morning were Yvon Fortier, Mike Russell, Jim Pryor, Joe Kimpflen and Tom Walsh. Hiding from the press this year was Dave LeBlanc.

Asked how long they have each volunteered in preparation of the festive meal, most didn't know. Yvon's been helping for ten years and Dave and Tom figured they've been involved from that start. Jimmy said he's been helping for at least several years. Joe figured two. Our well known Santa couldn't remember how many years he's been helping. For years, however, he and his brother Ralph were mainstays in the kitchen each Thanksgiving. Great job, all volunteers.

Tupper Lake honors heroes on Veterans Day

Dan McClelland

Veterans, service men and women and civilians of Tupper Lake came together on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to remember and honor those who have fallen and have served in the line of duty for their country.

Gathered at the Tupper Lake War Memorial, on the blocked-off Park Street, community members braved the cold to pay their respects to the men and women who braved so much more.

In traditional fashion of a Tupper Lake service, the Rev. Rick Wilburn lead the opening prayers. The master of ceremonies, local AMVET commander, Ray Bigrow, welcomed the community to the service and introduced and invited the guest speaker, Col. Steve Reandeau, to approach the podium.

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome to today’s ceremony. I’m honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to speak with you today on such an important occasion. We are here to honor our veterans and current service members, to remember the sacrifices they have made and continue to make and the courage it takes to defend our honor, duty and country.”

Reandeau then asked for a show of hands from all the veterans who were at the service that morning. “Thank you for your service,” he said to the men and women who lifted their hands at his request.

He continued, “it was a hundred years ago today, November 11, 1918 at 11 a.m. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that the allied powers signed a ceasefire agreement with Germany at Compiegne, France, bringing the war we now know as World War I to a close.

“President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day the following year on November 11, 1919, with these words: ‘To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given america to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.’

“Originally, a two-minute suspension of business at 11 a.m. was followed by celebrations including parades and public meetings. Today we honor our veterans with gatherings such as this with less fanfare but no less gratitude. In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress made the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, switching the word ‘Armistice’ in favor of ‘Veterans’. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954.

“From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

“I left Tupper Lake on November 16 1975 with the full intent on serving four years in the Air Force and getting out with experience in my chosen career field. But then something interesting happened to me and many others I was stationed with. We found a camaraderie and bond that was strong.

“The Vietnam era had ended in July of that year and many of the older Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) told us how they were shunned in their local communities, mainly in cities. They felt wanted and at home in the military and realized that they were making a difference.

“This had a great impact on me and changed my life. I wanted to be part of this.

“Most of the time when we think of veterans we think of the combat soldier and rightfully so. Many gave the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedom and many more suffered debilitating injuries and post traumatic stress disorder making life difficult, for that we owe them our everlasting gratitude.

“However, many of the gains in our foreign policy came through the humanitarian relief efforts of our veterans such as assisting in hurricane or earthquake disaster recovery. In these cases the civil engineers take the lead along with our health professionals. We provide food, clothing, clean water and medical care to those in need and put a small amount of normalcy back into these grief stricken places allowing victims of disaster to get back on their feet. The American veteran did this with pride.

“Military life is not all action and high stress environments. Many young troops do thankless but valuable jobs. We call this tooth to tail, with tooth being the combat personnel and the tail being all the support troops who make it come together. Mechanics, transportation personnel, pay clerks, administrative specialists, morale welfare and recreation specialists and numerous other career fields that go along with being prepared for war and keeping that fighting edge. All contribute greatly to the end goal of ensuring the security of our great nation. The war fighters need a place to decompress when they get inside the wire, (base camp) and they need to have peace of mind knowing that there is an infrastructure in place filled with other soldiers, sailors, marines airmen and coasties to take care of them and their families when they are in harm’s way or even when they are stationed at a remote site.

“Veterans miss many of the life events we take for granted; being present at their child’s birthday parties or graduation, missing an anniversary, or being a young troop and stationed in a foreign land away from mom and dad for the first time during the holidays.

“Our veterans give up some of the freedoms we as americans have and do it willingly with a sense of duty and honor for a grateful nation.

“As former Congressman Rand Neugebauer stated, ‘while only one day of the year is dedicated solely to honoring our veterans, Americans must never forget the sacrifices that many of our fellow countrymen have made to defend our country and protect our freedoms.’”

In the tradition of a Veterans’ Day ceremony, the Tupper Lake High School band performed a number of patriotic pieces, including a service song medley of the Ballad of the Green Berets and Marches of the Armed Forces.

Also in tradition, community members and organization laid their respective wreaths at the base of the memorial.

The Tupper Lake Honor Guard, with additional non-honor guard military personnel then performed the ceremonial three-round rifle volley. Taps was performed by 11th grade student, Shannon Soucey who is the official Honor Guard bugler.

Before Reverend Rick Wilburn closed the ceremony with the closing prayer, the high school band performed Stars Over America, which is an arrangement of the Service songs melodies over America the Beautiful, ending with The Stars and Stripes Forever.

Later that afternoon, the Tupper Lake Honor Guard held a special Veteran’s Day service at Mercy Living Center to honor and pay respects to the veterans that live at Mercy Living Center and who were unable to attend the Veterans’ Day Ceremony at the war memorial.

Orwell's Animal Farm this weekend at TLHS

Dan McClelland

The Tupper Lake Free Press was granted the opportunity to get an early viewing of the Tupper Lake High School fall play, a stage rendition of George Orwell’s literary classic, Animal Farm, that tells the story of the Russian revolution and into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, all from the perspective of farm animals that have “seized the means of production” of the farm from their human overlords. Animal Farm will be shown on Friday, November 9 and Saturday, November 10 at 7 p.m.

Blacktopping of village streets underway

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The annual autumn blacktopping of village streets by the department of public works, in concert with the county's highway department and its paving equipment, began last Tuesday.

Town paving projects with the county apparently concluded last Monday.

On Thursday the Free Press photographer found the joint village-county crew on Woods Ave., as the photos attached show.

According to DPW Superintendent Bob DeGrace the list of street scheduled for new coats of blacktop this fall are Front, Arden Lindsey, Amell Lane, part of Cedar near Tupper Lake Supply and Maple Street.

Mr. DeGrace told village leaders that there has been a lot of demand for asphalt across the North Country this year- pushing back a number of projects for local towns and villages.

Trustee Clint Hollingsworth wondered if Church and Deer streets were on this year's list.

Village Clerk Mary Casagrain said they weren't, as new laterals to many of the homes there still have to be installed.

Mr. Hollingsworth said those streets are very bad and in need of major re-construction soon.

Trustee Ron LaScala said that once the water and sewer line work is done there next year the village might be better off hiring a private contractor to do the paving work.

“We don't have the manpower to tackle projects like that.”

“Then maybe we should contract out the work?” suggested Deputy Mayor Leon LeBlanc.

“I agree!” said Trustee LaScala.

Officials at the table that evening agreed that those two streets needed major reconstruction- including new water and sewer mains.

Trustee LaScala said a major redo like that shouldn't be tackled by the village DPW and sewer and water crews, but left to a private contractor. “Our guys should be focusing on our many smaller projects” in coming years, he argued.

“They should be maintaining our infrastructure, not building it!”

Village Clerk Mary Casagrain said “it is very expensive to contract out” to the work. She remembered when the village attempted to go that route a decade ago when it redid Water Street. The price for a private contractor to rebuild the street at that time was $750,000.

Mayor Maroun said the board could look at contracting out the work needed on those two streets, and at least get prices.

In other DPW matters that evening, Mr. DeGrace said the new pick-up truck his department ordered recently on state contract has arrived.

He received board permission to advertise for sale the old 2006 pick-up it replaces on the popular equipment sale web site, Auctions International.

Riley Gillis completes Eagle Scout project

Dan McClelland

Rob Gillis, Riley Gillis, Dominic Dattola, Lisa Gillis, Doug Bencze, Peg Mauer, Adam Boudreau and Joe Salamy

Rob Gillis, Riley Gillis, Dominic Dattola, Lisa Gillis, Doug Bencze, Peg Mauer, Adam Boudreau and Joe Salamy

Riley Gillis, son of Lisa and Rob Gillis of Tupper Lake, recently completed his Eagle Scout Service project, the last phase in his journey to becoming an Eagle Scout. Riley’s project involved enhancing the west entrance of the Goff Nelson Library’s Community Room.

Riley attended a board meeting where Peg Mauer, library manager, described struggling with snow removal at the entrance facing Raquette Pond. In addition to installing a gable roof over the entrance, Riley and his team of volunteers removed pavement that had buckled from frost and installed paver stones at the entrance. They also removed a large stump and replaced a section of cracked sidewalk leading to the entrance. Over 104 hours of service from a dozen volunteers were spent to complete the project. The multi-phase project began in October of 2017 but the early winter weather forced the construction phase to be postponed until the following summer. The finishing touches were completed in August of 2018.

Before a Scout can begin working on their service project, they must submit a detailed proposal to the district advancement committee for approval.

In an email to Riley, the chairperson stated “I like this project for several reasons. You will provide an important improvement to one of the most used public facilities. You are also facilitating the village to complete the sidewalk. When I was a Boy Scout, there was a sign in our troop meeting place. It stated: The one who gets ten to work is greater than the one who does the work of ten. You are getting ten to work. Keep it up.”

Riley would like to commend the businesses which donated materials as well as the volunteers who were instrumental in completing this project. They include: Adirondack Fireplace, Bencze Logging, Village of Tupper Lake, Kentile Excavating, Aubuchon Hardware, Tupper Lake Supply, Gillis Realty, Rob & Lisa Gillis, Peg Mauer, Tom Gilman, Rob Drasye, Mike Donah, Doug Bencze, Ken Hubbard, Paul Maroun, Bob DeGrace, Adam Boudreau, Joel Boudreau, Fred Gates, Doug Bencze, Andre Suave, Rick & Dominic Dattola, Jane and Bruce LaVoy, Joe Salamy, and Richie Moeller.

Bob DeGrace, Paul Maroun, Riley Gillis, Tom Gilman, Bruce LaVoy

Bob DeGrace, Paul Maroun, Riley Gillis, Tom Gilman, Bruce LaVoy

Landscaping work in high gear at performance park

Dan McClelland

Crews from LandPro landscaping contractors of Watertown have been on site this past week at the village performance park where the Lions bandshell is situated. In the photo at top workers tamp the dance floor area in front of the bandshell in anticipation of the laying of a mozaic of two-inch thick granite pieces. Sand and top soil was also trucked to the site by the village department of public works, for placement by the firm's workers behind the three rows of two-ton granite retaining wall pieces. Sod is expected to be placed in the terrace areas this week. Some of the LandPro technicians have also been involved with various plantings of grass-style and evergreen shrubs in and around the outdoor performing place. The village awarded the contract for landscaping to the Watertown firm, the only bidder, in recent weeks for a price of about $90,000. (McClelland photos)

Water district improvement, expansion in high gear

Dan McClelland

The North Country Contracting firm is moving steadily along with the expansion and improvements planned for town water district No. 3 at Tamarac. It's the same company that worked on the village well project at Pitchfork Pond this summer. When these photos were taken Thursday the crew was moving past tee No. 4 at the golf course and heading up the Big Tupper access road, excavating and laying pipe to the new water tank beside Sugar Loaf Mountain. In its digging the crew encountered a lot of hard pan and glacial fill, which contained some dandy-sized boulders shown in the photo below. Plans are to have the project and its new water tank substantially completed by year's end. The workers are working extended days to reach that goal, according to comments from project watchers at Jim Ellis' Burgundy Steakhouse. (McClelland photo)

District's capital building improvement project coming to close

Dan McClelland

Editor's note: this is the first in a three-part series about the conclusion of the Tupper Lake School District's current school improvement project.

The school district's $8.3 million capital improvement project which began early last summer is wrapping up these days, and so the Free Press took a morning tour of the three buildings last week with Business Manager Dan Bower to get a close-up look of some of the projects tackled.

This particular building program was submitted to the state education department about 2013 and it took nearly a year before approval came. However, due to a staff shortage there and a backlog of building projects by districts across the state the final start date didn't occur until early 2017.

Mr. Bower noted Wednesday that future projects shouldn't see comparable delays, as the education department is currently retaining more staff to process building improvement requests…

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