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News

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Where dark skies meet your eyes: Adirondack Sky Fest this weekend

Dan McClelland

by Ian Roantree

In its vastness and beauty, much like the cosmos, the Adirondacks provides some of the darkest skies on this side of the Mississippi River. Our small communities, rolling mountains and immense forests offers us a nearly untapped wilderness in our backyards and our dark skies put us in a front-row seat to view another wilderness; the one above.

Those Adirondack dark skies and the mysteries and magnificence of the wilderness above are being celebrated at the first annual Adirondack Sky Festival on Sunday, July 21. Hosted by the Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory (ASCO), still known to some as its former name, the Adirondack Public Observatory.

In partnership with the Tupper Lake community the Wild Center, Tupper Arts, I Love NY and Stewart’s Shops, this festival will take the astro-curious, sky enthusiasts, amateur and professional astronomers throughout Tupper Lake to its variety of events.

From the Wild Center’s Flammer Theater and the Tupper Lake High School, to the observatory at 178 Big Wolf Road, these events will embark you on a trip of wonder, learning and awe from the early afternoon into the night when those dark skies reveal themselves..

Star gazing will start at 1 p.m. in broad daylight at the ASCO when officials roll back the observatory roof to begin the activities planned.

With specialized telescopes, guests will get a different view of our closest star than we might be used to—through squinted eyes or with hand over brow (for the sake of your sight don’t look with your naked eye balls!). The ASCO’s powerful solar telescopes will safely reveal up-close views of the sun spots and solar flares that are being cooked up roughly 93 million miles away.

Through to 5 p.m., the ASCO will also be the site of many hands-on activities including telescope demonstrations, binocular training, crafts and a scavenger hunt.

Meanwhile, at 25 Chaney Road, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., the high school gymnasium will be set up not for the viewing of Tupper Lake varsity sports stars but instead the viewing of the stars of our night sky through the planetarium shows led by experimental projection artist and filmmaker, Bruce McClure. In a Sky Lab inflatable planetarium, standing 12 feet tall and rigged with a cosmic projector McClure will bring an engaging and immersive experience to anyone who enters this jet-black igloo-like dome.

Other early-afternoon events include The International Dark Sky Association’s 1:30 p.m. lecture, Light Pollution and Impacts on Wildlife in the Wild Center’s Flammer Theater, presented by Andy Anderson.

At 3:30 p.m., at the Flammer Theater, former NASA optical designer, Al Nagler presents: Helping Apollo 11 Astronauts Get to the Moon: Work on Simulators.

And finally at the Wild Center, Gib Brown, former meteorologist at WPTZ and college professor is presenting Science on a Sphere.

At 7:30 p.m., in the high school auditorium, Jeff Miller and David Fadden present Star Stories of the Haudenosaunee, Greek and Roman Traditions.

The constellations we see in our night skies today, like the zodiac constellations and Ursa Major and Minor (the dippers), are rooted in Greek and Roman mythologies. “Every culture from the beginning of time has their own set of constellations,” said ASCO vice-president, Seth McGowan. “We’re very Greco-Roman oriented but the truth is, the Native Americans have their own traditions, legends and views of the night sky.”

From 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., at the Flander’s Park bandshell, local cover-band, Night School with take you into the night with pop and rock hits best to be enjoyed under a star-filled sky.

After the music, everyone is invited back to the ASCO to continue the stargazing, either on your back with just your eyes, or with the many professional telescopes the observatory has to offer.

“This is a big event,” said Seth McGowan. Our purpose is to continue our education and programming. That’s what the day is all about.”

Half pipes, other pieces moved temporarily in park

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The main pieces of the Matthew Wilson Memorial Skatepark were moved into the village park tennis court complex in recent weeks on a temporary basis by the village electric and department of public works crews.

The skateboard park was created about 15 years ago by a committee spearheaded by then Mayor Mickey Desmarais and Dan McClelland and nearly $25,000 was raised to buy equipment for a large asphalt pad the village paved adjacent to the recently rebuilt restroom building.

In order for the Tupper Lake Youth Baseball and Softball Association and the Rotary Club to build the new Little League-sized field that was dedicated Saturday (see related story this week), the skateboard park pieces were moved last summer to behind the restroom building.

Village officials last year exacted a promise from project organizers that they would help re-situate the skateboard park once the baseball field was done.

On the day of the move the village crews used a large boomed vehicle to lift the half-pipes over the eight foot high fence and onto one side of the twin-courts. Trustees Ron LaScala and Clint Hollingsworth were there supervising the operation.

The two trustees are currently looking at how and where the new skateboard will be built.

Pointing to the area behind the restrooms and beside the park's basketball courts, Mr. Hollingsworth said any new pad for the skaters should be “roughly 60 feet by 90 feet.”

He said it will likely be bigger than the size of the single tennis court where the half-pipes were placed that morning.

Trustee LaScala discussed that morning a little of the village board's collective thinking with respect to the skatepark.

“Haji (Trustee David Maroun), Clint and I came down here a few days ago to try to figure out how we were going to replace it.”

Initially selected was the grassy area beside the basketball courts. “We want to get the kids off Park Street and off the high school grounds. They like to skate at night...and with the lights right here, it satisfies them!”

He said he has made it a point in recent weeks to stop and buttonhole young skaters for their ideas.

“We don't have a lot of tennis players here right now,” he said, explaining the decision to temporarily use the space for the skaters.

He said he would actually like to see the park situated permanently on the tennis complex, with an eye to building new courts somewhere else the park.

For now, however, a fence could be erected to separate the one court from the other one, with the skaters using one court, he speculated.

That idea, he said, does enjoy the support of some of the members of the village board.

The surface of the two courts is now pitted and bumpy, which makes it fine for boarders, but not tennis play. Grass is growing in some cracks. The imperfections which currently exist there, “make it just like the street where many boarders like to ride now,” Mr. LaScala commented.

The side where the pieces were placed is the worst of the two sides, the trustee noted.

He said that even if the two courts are kept for tennis, a major resurfacing is needed soon.

The reason the trustee likes the tennis court area for the skaters is that it is clearly visible from Demars Blvd. should there be an accident or mischief.

“I would really like the board to consider taking this half for our new park as opposed to spending all that money building a new place over there,” he said pointing to the grassy undeveloped section.

“We could put our money into a new tennis court or courts, and kill two birds with one stone!”

“There are cheaper solutions to all our problems and this is one,” he said of his idea.

He and Mr. Hollingsworth admitted they have also been thinking about parking as these new althletic venues open in the park and the need for more of it.

The space currently envisioned for the new skate park might be better used for parking for all those parents who will be at the Little League field watching their children compete, Mr. LaScala thought.

Both leaders figured too some of the village's current waterfront revitalization grant monies could be used to resurface the one tennis court and erect a fence between the two spaces.

They said that if local pressure builds to add another tennis court that can be done in the future too.

“We need feedback,” encouraged Mr. Hollingsworth.

They gave their colleague, David Maroun, credit for the idea of moving the skatepark inside the tennis courts for now, if not forever.

Mr. Hollingsworth added the one side of the tennis court area has plenty of room for more pieces of equipment.

Lions bandshell to be dedicated Tuesday; opening performance July 3

Dan McClelland

The Village of Tupper Lake will formally open its new bandshell in Flanders Park with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 2. All are welcome to attend.

The Tupper Lake Bandshell was designed by architect Andrew Chary and constructed with funding from the New York State Department of State under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund, donations of over $40,000 raised by the Tupper Lake Lions Club and Tupper Lake residents and friends, and generous donations of labor and equipment by local contractors and Lions Club members.

Lion Tom LaMere and Trustee Clint Hollingsworth directed the construction of the new facility, working with local volunteers and a village committee comprised of Mayor Paul Maroun, Village Clerk Mary Casagrain, Trustee Ron LaScala, Lions Club President Dan McClelland, ROOST's Michele Clement, Community Development Director Melissa McManus and others.

At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3, Tupper Lake will celebrate the opening of the new bandshell and the Fourth of July with the first concert of the 2019 Tupper Arts Summer Sunset Series.

The opening concert will feature Tupper Lake's newest band, Night School, featuring a mix of the Ben and Jay band and Abbott Hayes from a decade ago. Performing popular tunes of the seventies, eighties and current will be the McClelland brothers, Andrew and Ben, their cousin Ian Roantree, Jay Martin and Micah Tyo.

After Night School, George and Liz Cordes, combined with an assortment of talented family members and friends, will treat the Tupper Lake audience to a medley of Americana and patriotic pieces to welcome in the annual Independence Day holiday. Beginning about 7p.m. the musical tribute will precede the annual fireworks in the park at dusk, presented by the chamber of commerce through support from the village and town boards.

The full Summer Sunset Series program of events to be held at the new Tupper Lake Bandshell can be viewed at www.tupperarts.org.

Organized by Tupper Arts the series has been substantially underwritten by the Village of Tupper Lake.

Admission to every performance is free, but donations are most welcome to help Tupper Arts bring more entertainment to town this year.

The Wild Center celebrates the arrival of two new North American River otters on June 22

Dan McClelland

The Wild Center family is expanding this summer with the arrival of two male North American river otters. The pair make their debut in Otter Falls on Saturday, June 22 from 10am to 5pm, which also marks The Wild Center's inaugural You Otter Run/Walk 5K benefitting the Center's Betsy Lowe Fund for Adirondack Education.

The pair began their journey to The Wild Center in Ohio where they were trapped as nuisance animals. Crayfish farmers in Ohio often trap North American river otters as their diet subsists of crayfish, as well as snakes, frogs and fish. These trapped river otters are often slated to be killed and used for fur, or in some cases, relocated to areas without enough food to survive. The Wild Center's Animal Care staff was made aware of their situation and jumped at the opportunity to rescue the pair. The otters join the Center's three other otters: Louie, Scarlett, and Squirt.

Currently unnamed, the otters will be welcomed by a group of youths from Akwesasne as they learn about the mammals, then discover suitable names in the Kaniehkehaka language. The naming project works to keep the spirit alive of the lasting Ways of Knowing partnership between The Wild Center and the Haudenosaunee community.

Tupper Lake, Long Lake school voters approve budgest, propositions

Dan McClelland

Tupper Lake Central School District voters approved in overwhelming fashion the district's $19.43 million spending plan that was put before them when they went to the polls last Tuesday.

The new budget, which will see a spending increase by 3.81%, was approved 324 to 55. A total of 380 votes were cast and 85% of those voted “yes.”

The school tax levy (what taxpayers pay) in the new budget is $8.1 million, up from the current figure of $7.9 million. The increase was 2.1% which fell below the 2% state tax cap, when permissible exemptions districts enjoy were factored in.

Public school enrollment this coming year is expected to be down only three students from this year's enrollment of 726, indicating a flattening trend.

Last week's school voting saw a second proposition on the ballot to permit the district this coming year to purchase two new school busses, as part of its five-year replacement plan adopted a number of years ago. The question also included the purchase of a second zamboni ice-cleaning machine for the civic center. The package totaled $350,000 but the district will see $121,000 from the state in transportation aid in coming years. The measure also passed by a huge margin, 309 to 70, or with an 82% favorable rating.

David Dewyea, a veteran member of the board and who was running unopposed this year, was re-elected to another three-year term with the endorsement of 348 voters.

Long Lake voters okayed a $3.5 million capital construction project to make repairs to school buildings. The vote count there was 120 in the affirmative while 97 voters opposed it.

A new $4.18 million school budget was approved like most North Country budget votes last Tuesday. The budget vote was 153 to 63. Spending in the new financial plan is up by $117,768 over the current budget. Long Lake's tax levy for this coming school year is $2.91 million- up 2.42% or $69,000. The district's tax cap, with exemptions, this year was 2.45%.

Replacing Fred Short on the school board this year will be Joan Paula who garnered 125 votes. Unsuccessful in the race was Jodi Luxford with 79 votes.

There were single write-in votes cast Tuesday for Timothy Touchette, John Adams, Gary Baker and Tony Clark.

Bike Rodeo coming June 8

Dan McClelland

Village leaders encouraged parents in the community to bring their children to the annual Tupper Lake Police Department's “Bike Rodeo.”

The event, under the chairmanship again of Officer Mike Vaillancourt with help this year again from Officer Heather Kennedy, will again be staged at the Paul A. Maroun Emergency Service Building on Saturday, June 8 from 10a.m. to 2p.m.. Before the station was built four years ago the event was staged for years at the lower parking lot of L.P. Quinn Elementary School.

Thousands of dollars in prizes, helmets and great food go to the young riders and their families each year.

“It's always a great event for kids, their parents and families,” asserted Mayor Paul Maroun. “It was a big success last year and I expect it to be a greater success this year!”

A full story on all the event will be carried in next week's issue.

The mayor also took the opportunity that evening to plug the upcoming J.D. Golf Tournament on Saturday, June 1 at the Tupper Lake golf course which benefits the hometown department's K-9 unit, directed by Sgt. Jordan Nason.

“We have law enforcement officers coming from all over the county and from sections of Troop B state police and it should be a great event.”


Both school district propositions pass by large margins

Dan McClelland

Tupper Lake Central School District voters approved in overwhelming fashion the district's $19.43 million spending plan that was put before them when they went to the polls yesterday.

The new budget, which will see a spending increase by 3.81%, was approved 324 to 55. A total of 380 votes were cast and 85% of those voted “yes.”

The school tax levy (what taxpayers pay) in the new budget is $8.1 million, up from the current figure of $7.9 million. The increase was 2.1% which fell below the 2% state tax cap, when permissible exemptions districts enjoy were factored in.

Public school enrollment this coming year is expected to be down only three students from this year's enrollment of 726, indicating a flattening trend.

Yesterday saw a second proposition on the ballot to permit the district this coming year to purchase two new school busses, as part of its five-year replacement plan adopted a number of years ago. The question also included the purchase of a second zamboni ice-cleaning machine for the civic center. The package totaled $350,000 but the district will see $121,000 from the state in transportation aid in coming years. The measure also passed by a huge margin, 309 to 70, or with an 82% favorable rating.

David Dewyea, a veteran member of the board and who was running unopposed this year, was re-elected to another three-year term with the endorsement of 348 voters.

Multiple agencies respond to sinking vessel

Dan McClelland

On Wednesday, May 1 at approximately 7:05p.m. Dave Francisco, a resident on Emma Street, looking out over the lake from his window said, “he was in the right spot, at the right time.” He saw a boat leaving shore, watched it flip and quickly called 911 and notified them of a sinking vessel with one occupant on the northwest portion of Raquette Pond.

New York State Police, DEC, Tupper Lake Police and Tupper Lake Rescue Squad responded to multiple locations including the Moody Bridge, Municipal Park, Water Street and Underwood Bridge in search of the sinking vessel.

The boater, Lee Roussel, 46, of Tupper Lake, was located close to the northern shore.

A member of the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad was able to use a private watercraft to make contact with and remove Mr. Roussel from the water. Mr. Roussel was found clinging to the floating gas tank of his boat and was not wearing a personal floatation device. He was then taken to the Tupper Lake Municipal Park Boat Launch and transferred to the awaiting ambulance.

The Tupper Lake Rescue Squad then transported Mr. Roussel to Adirondack Health in Saranac Lake for the onset of hypothermia.

His boat sank in the shallow water near where it was found.


Old parade route, new spark coming for 2019 Woodsmen's Days parade

Dan McClelland

With the major reconstruction of the uptown business district by New York State behind us, the Tupper Lake Woodsmen's Days organizers of the large kick-off parade decided this year to switch back to the old route.

For years the parade participants assembled on upper Park Street and some of the side streets there and then proceeded down Park through the business district, rounding the corners on Wawbeek and Lake and moving down Lake Street to the Tupper Lake Municipal Park outer area. With Park Street torn up in recent years, the Demars Blvd. Route was used the past three years.

-And to make the parade bigger and more vibrant than Tupper Lake and its many visitors have seen in years, Andrew McClelland and Pat Bedore of Stacked Graphics and Faith McClelland of Spruce and Hemlock have teamed up this year with Parade Coordinator Amanda Lizotte.

The young entrepreneurs who relocated to the heart of the uptown business district this winter are inviting their commercial and retail neighbors to join them in decorating their storefronts and business fronts in a lumberjack theme with plenty of red and black check plaid.

The decoration trio is asking everyone on that two-block stretch of Park Street to have the decorations in place from Thursday, July 12 to Sunday, July 14 to welcome all visitors with grand and home-spun lumberjack hospitality.

The decorations don't have to be costly and elaborate...just simple and colorful like the early lumberjacks here.

“How magnificent would our business district look decked out in buffalo plaid for four days?” the three say. “We may be surprised at how many tourists stop without even knowing about our Woodsmen's Days to find out what's going on.”

The decorations may also bring local residents down to see the decorations and stop in stores they haven't been in for years, they figure.

They are calling on their commercial neighbors to start planning their decorations now, before the busy summer season begins.

The three business people say: “Let's make this the year of participation...the year of camaraderie... the year of supporting one another...the year of Tupper Lake!”

In a related matter, Mrs. Lizotte is also looking for businesses, groups and organizations of all sorts to again join the Woodsmen's Parade with their floats and marching groups to make it as good or better than any in its 40-year history. Last year's procession, under the parade coordinator's direction, boasted one of largest turn-outs of large logging industry equipment and tractor trailers in recent years.

Last week the village board approved the new parade route and the retail promotion to accompany the parade.

Tamarac water tank set to go up

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The materials to construct the new water tank above Tamarac Village in water district No. 3 were on site earlier this month, awaiting installation.

In a report to the town board February 14, supervisor Patti Littlefield, said she had attended a meeting that day with the contractor and officials from the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC), who are overseeing the project for the town.

“It was on site late last fall, but then the weather got the best” of the installers, she reminded her board.

She said the heavy equipment to erect the sections of the tank arrived on site that day.

The installers hired to construct the tank were expected to begin this past Monday, she said.

“They are allowing two weeks” to bring it to final construction. “They have to allow time for the tank to cure and then water is added to the water main there and the tank is filled.”

The process of filling the tank with chlorinated water involves a lot of back washing and cleaning and testing” before it is ready for use, she explained.

She said also at the meeting were members of the village line crew for discussions on where new utility poles would be installed to service the tank complex. The tank will be connected by antenna to the other two village tanks to coordinate the flow of water in the village system.

The pad for the new tank was poured by the contractor, North Country Contracting last fall.

The “substantial completion date” for the project is the end of May, according to the supervisor.

The contractor will have to do “a little tidying up” on the road next to the No. 3 and No. 4 fairways where the new water mains were installed last summer, she said.

“When it's all said and done the hydrants in that water district will be functioning properly. Every resident at Tamarac will have a consistent flow of water plus there's room for expansion now on the mountain.”

“If and when something happens at the ACR they can come right down the hill and draw right out of the new tank!”

Train station wins grant for lighting improvements

Dan McClelland

Next Stop! Tupper Lake, the local not for profit organization, which built and operates the Tupper Lake train station, has been notified by the Adirondack Foundation that it has won a grant of $1,843 through its Generous Act program to add a new lighting system to the dimly-lit interior of the station.

The grant application was written and filed by Dan McClelland, chairman of the train station group.

The money comes from community-minded donors to the Lake Placid-based foundation, whose investment profits are put back into the community for myriad good works. Money is also given to the Foundation by many friends of the Adirondacks to be distributed to worthwhile community projects.

“We are delighted with the help of the Adirondack Foundation. Its generous gift will go a long way to making substantial lighting improvements inside our station, and in particular to better show off the exhibits of our new tenant, the Tupper Lake Heritage Museum,” Mr. McClelland said this week.

“When we built the station ten years ago, we underestimated the amount of lighting we needed in the great room for events there,” he noted. Three chandeliers provide most of the interior lighting in that section of the station.

Last summer after problems developed with the physical condition of the town's old Pine St. firehall the Next Stop! Tupper Lake board welcomed the Tupper Lake Heritage Museum to the large room of its building. Over the winter museum volunteers have been organizing and building exhibits of Tupper Lake historical artifacts for a June re-opening.

Museum Chairwoman Kathleen Lefebvre and several of her board members and Mr. McClelland are currently working with lighting professional David Naone of Tupper Lake to purchase the best system for the money. Mr. Naone has identified three good systems and has recently briefed the museum board on those. Some of tonight's meeting of the museum board is expected to center on his recommendations.

Mr. Naone has directed the lighting for numerous Tupper Lake High School musical and dramatic productions in the school auditorium over the years, giving generously of his time and talent. He also advised on the new lights installed in the high school auditorium, as part of the recent capital improvements this past year.

Preliminary village budget calls for spending hike of 2.79%

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

On Monday at noon the Tupper Lake Village Board presented to the public a draft of financial plan that will guide the village's operation in the fiscal year beginning June 1.

The only people in attendance were the mayor and Trustees Clint Hollingsworth, Ron LaScala and Leon LeBlanc, along with Treasurer Mary Casagrain.

The proposed budget, which must be finalized this month likely after several work sessions, forecasts total spending this coming year of $3.048 million- a figure up by $83,016 or 2.79% over the current year.

The proposed budget covers spending in only the village's general fund which covers the operations of the village staff at the Park St. headquarters, the village fire and police departments and the department of public works (street and sidewalk detail). The village electric and water/sewer departments are funded for the most part by ratepayers of those utilities and do not affect the village tax rate.

In the preliminary plan, after $100,000 in unexpended balance from the current year is rolled forward and after revenues from other than taxes of $942,131 are applied, the balance of spending that figures into the calculation of the total tax levy in the village will be $2.005 million- or up by just shy of two percent (1.976%) from the total village tax levy this year.

If the budget is adopted without substantial alteration later this month by the board, the plan would produce a total tax levy of $58 below the state's permanent 2% tax cap which for the village this coming year will be $2,005,997.

In prospect for the village's 2019-20 financial year is a total tax valuation in the village of $141,759,758 which will produce a tax rate of $14.51 per thousand assessed valuation, based on this year's spending.

The amount of assessed property to share the tax burden next year (village tax base) is up by $274,344 from $141,485,414 this year.

The proposed tax rate of $14.15 is up by 25 cents per $1,000 from the current rate of $$13.898 per $1,000 or an increase of 1.78%.

The village tax rate five years ago in 2014-15 was $13.331 per $1,000. Based on a house in the village assessed at $100,000 village taxes were $1,333 per year then. This coming year that owner of that same house with the same $100,000 assessment will pay $1,415 in total village taxes, $82 or six percent more they did five years ago.

Dog owner drops legal action against town after

Dan McClelland

Mark Dewyea late last week withdrew his small claims legal action against the Town of Tupper Lake for the balance of veterinarian bills he owed for his tiny dog's over one dozen surgeries last year. His action came after his outstanding bills were satisfied by two anonymous donors.

In August 2018 Mark's tiny terrier, Jackson Browne, was attacked in the front yard of the family's Fourth Ave. home by a German Shepherd that had escaped from a village patrol car. Village Patrolman Mike Vaillancourt and town dog control officer Wayne LaPierre had picked the dangerous dog up earlier and tried to recapture it near the Dewyea driveway after it escaped from the rear of the patrol car.

The bigger dog grabbed the tiny 12-pound dog by the neck and head and nearly killed it, resulting in about $5,000 worth of surgeries at the High Peaks Animal Hospital in Ray Brook to save it in the weeks which followed. Officer Vaillancourt shot and wounded the 130-pound attacking dog, saving the smaller dog's life.

On Thursday, March 14, the pet owner appeared before the town board to ask it to pay the $1,572 balance of the bills at the veterinary hospital, where the dog was cared for over four weeks.

He said the reason he was putting some of the blame on the town was because the dog control officer was partially responsible for “corralling” the dangerous German Shepherd into his front yard.

“If Jackson Browne had been out on the street when he was attacked that would be an entirely different thing and I wouldn't be standing before you tonight,” he told the town officials that evening.

Asking the town leaders for help, he said their insurance company, the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal, had denied the claim he made against the village and town last year. Both the village and town have the same insurance carrier. According to Mr. Dewyea, the claim was denied by the company because neither municipality carries negligence insurance.

He claimed that through the actions of their police officer and dog catcher, the village and town governments here were negligent.

In reviewing the claims openly that evening Town Supervisor Patti Littlefield revealed that the village board agreed to pay $1,572 after NYMIR denied the claim.

A Go Fund Me campaign generated another $325 and after the German Shepherd's owner paid a small sum and after other payments of about $625, a balance of $1,572 was left that Mr. Dewyea wanted the town to pay.

After some back and forth between Supervisor Littlefield and the pet owner over the documents re-presented to her that evening, the supervisor announced she felt it would be setting “bad precedent” for the town to pay a claim their insurance carrier refused to pay.

She listed some of the payments made on the bill by the various parties.

Mrs. Littlefield promised Mr. Dewyea to pursue the matter with Town Attorney Kirk Gagnier and get back to him at some point.

She also suggested he pursue legal action in town small claims court, which he did Wednesday, before Judge Len Young.

He told town officials on March 14 he didn't want to sue the town, but the outstanding bills left him no choice if the town didn't help him.

Because the local town court cannot hear a case against the town government, the decision where to hear it was referred to County Judge Robert Main.

The action didn't get that far, however, as a veterinarian from the High Peaks Hospital called Mark Friday and told him his bill had been satisfied by two anonymous donors.

A few minutes later Mark said he called Court Clerk Laurie Fuller and told her to rip up the paperwork against the town.

Mark said Monday he was very thankful for the gifts to clear up his bill at the animal hospital and happy he didn't have to sue the town.

Several members of the village board- including Trustees Ron LaScala and Clint Hollingsworth and Mayor Paul Maroun- were upset with their counterparts on the town board who didn't immediately help Mark Dewyea with some of the hospital bills, as they had done.

Village officials were also upset with the town supervisor for reading all the payment amounts aloud at her board meeting.

“I think the town board members should be ashamed of themselves for not making good on this small invoice that is a lot more detrimental to Mr. Dewyea than it is the town,” Trustee Hollingsworth was quoted as saying last week.

Trustee Ron LaScala said last week that good boards have to sometimes look beyond the legal question and act on the side of what's ethical and what's moral. “Sometimes it's all about doing the right thing!”

He said Monday he was pleased to see the two donors step up and help the local pet owner out of a tough situation, none of which was his fault.

Temporary water easement notices create ruckus

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The flurry of the temporary water easements sent to all village water customers early last week from Engineer Kevin Feuka's C2AE office in Canton created some discomfort for some people here.

Trustee Ron LaScala, who oversees the water and sewer departments, acknowledged that in this report to the board Wednesday.

“I'm sure you've all got some phone calls from some people who are not happy,” he told his colleagues that evening.

He encouraged unhappy customers to speak with Superintendent Mark Robillard or other village administrators who understand the legal requirement.

The temporary easements are necessary to give the village's contractor permission to enter customers' residence to install the new water meters/monitors.

The legal documents must be signed and notarized and returned to Mr. Feuka's office before any work can be scheduled.

“I can tell you as a board member that if any damage is done to someone's property during installation (of the new devices), it won't be coming out of the homeowner's pocket if it is due to the village's negligence or the contractor's negligence,” Trustee LaScala assured the community that evening.

“That's been the number one question put to me,” he said of water customers' concerns.

“People can relax” that the work won't cost them any money.

“We are being forced to install these water meters. Not a single member here wants to put them in.”

He said the requirement came from the state Department of Environmental Conservation when it came time for the agency to license the drawing of water from the new wells at Pitchfork Pond. Village leaders were apparently caught off guard by the mandate, according to their recent comments.

Mr. LaScala said it made no sense to sue the state agency to prevent the installation of the devices at the property of each water customers “because we were going to lose!”

“It's all part of what we do here...and we don't always get what we want!”

“People had some honest questions, and we've tried to answer them as honestly as we can!”

“The water department has undertaken a huge infrastructure project here” and the water meters are part of that, he explained.

Mayor Paul Maroun said he too has received calls from some “agitated” water customers.

“We're going to work with everyone.”

He said there were approximately 2,400 letters sent out. Everyone who uses municipal water in the town or village got one.

He said the easements expire in December 2020- a time frame which would give the village and its contractors time to finish the installations.

The devices will be installed just past where the water pipe enters a property in its basement. An alternative installation will be inside a well pit in the lawn, where there is not a basement in the residence.

“We are liable from the time we go in until we leave,” he said of the process.

Retired water and sewer staffer Gary Drayse has been retained to supervise each installation.

“Gary's been in most of the cellars in the community and he will make sure everything is set before we leave the premises.”

“No homeowner will be liable for anything...for any of the work done!” he assured residents.

“We are going to make this as painless as possible...we will work with people around their schedules!”

The mayor said they will attempt to tackle one neighborhood at a time.

“I know there are people here who are very upset, but we are upset too. If we want to get well water from the wells where we spent a ton of money, we have to do it this way!”

Ron LaScala said the devices will be good to have in the community. “These are not meters...we are not using them to charge for the water.”

They will be used by the village “to track its water loss” through the entire system. Water loss is what the DEC is very concerned about, he noted.

He said several summers ago the village spent weeks looking for a major leak in the village system and there was plenty of overtime rate paid village employees to eventually find it. With the new monitors, he said, that will be avoided in the future.

“It will save ratepayers a lot of money, because in the future they will not have to pay to clean and chlorinate water that through a major leak would just have been wasted.”

Town lease with golf course leaders extended

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The lease between the town and the country club board of directors was extended last week for another seven years.

Aside from the time extension little was changed in the new contract.

“As you know they've had some financial troubles in recent years,” Supervisor Patti Littlefield told board members Mike Dechene and Traci Luton, the only two present that evening. “Right now, however, there's a lot of energy and excitement on the golf course board and they are all in!”

In recent years the club leaders haven't been able to make their $30,000 lease payment on the town bond that financed the renovation of the upper nine, nearly two decades ago. Instead, Mrs. Littlefield noted, they have been paying $10,000 per year on the debt.

There is about $70,000 remaining on the note.

The idea now is to have seven more years to pay $10,000 a year to satisfy the debt.

“At the end of seven years the entire debt owed to the taxpayers of Tupper Lake will be paid,” Mrs. Littlefield explained.

“It's exactly the same lease that they had, just changing the dates.”

The current lease was due to expire in 2020. The new lease will expire October 15, 2026.

Councilman Mike Dechene said the move has precedence here, when the payments were lowered from $50,000 per year to $30,000 and the lease extended a number of years ago.

The supervisor said as a town-facility, the town board is anxious to see it flourish.

At a recent meeting attended by her, Mr. Dechene and the golf course leaders it was agreed that the town would try to “partner” more with the golf course, as to the purchase of new equipment on state contract, available through the town.

The supervisor said she had recently met with Rob Foster, the equipment steward at Craig Wood golf course, who is associated with MTE-Jacobsen, a company that makes golf course equipment.

“He gave me a big spreadsheet that we want to share with the golf course board.”

“They need a fairway mower and a sidehill mower, which comes with many attachments.

Mr. Dechene said it's called a Ventrac machine which comes which comes with dual wheels on both ends. Its designed to not dig up the terrain and can be used for mowing near the greens and tees, as well as the fairways.

“It's got great stability on the sides of hills.”

The utility vehicle also comes with unique mowing decks, which can mow on both sides of a hump at the same time, he noted.

He said one of the recommendations of last summer's Friends of the Golf Course study committee was that the town should use its ability to buy on state contract to cut the prices of new golf course purchases.

“We're not going to purchase the equipment, but by purchasing their equipment through the town they can do it at state contract prices.”

That represents a big savings, he added.

He noted that previous golf course boards use to to take advantage of that town benefit, but recent boards haven't.

“It was the committee's No. 1 recommendation!”





Job fair at Tupper Lake High School

Dan McClelland

The Tupper Lake Middle/High School will be holding a Job Fair on Monday, April 29 held in the High School Library from 2-4 p.m.. If you are an employer seeking summer or full time employment and would like to reserve a table please contact Andrea Stuart at the high school, 518-359-3322 ext. 2006. Community members are welcome to attend! We would love it if you could join us!

Records retention project underway

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

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

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

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

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

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


State funds coming for energy storage facilities

Dan McClelland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much can new batteries on the market store?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



School district continues SRO discussions

Dan McClelland

SRO public hearing_01.JPG

by Ian Roantree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tupper Lake Health Center and Mercy Living Center on lockdown Wednesday

Dan McClelland

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

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

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

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

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

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