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Saturday,Ê December 3, 2016


In SPORTS | pg. 14


North Country all stars named

In THE CITY | pg. 5

Officials hash out budget

in Northern Soccer Leagues Division I, II

Department heads request more staff


In NEWS | pg. 3

Students lobby against layoffs

CCC makes potential layoffs of two professors

Beekmantown residents to see tax increase for next year

Town to stop receiving county sales tax, raise taxes and make budget cuts to offset revenue losses By Teah Dowling

BEEKMANTOWN — Town officials approved the 2017 budget last month. The spending plan sees significant levy increases due to the decline of countywide sales tax revenue. The $2.8 million spending plan includes a tax hike of $4.03 up to $13.65 per $1,000 in assessed value, an increase of about 30 percent. The general tax rate increased by $2.26 after being $0 for

SantaÕ s GoldenÊ Elves

Local senior citizens hold holiday ‘gift-a-thon’ to collect toys for Clinton County youth

PLATTSBURGH — With just over three weeks to go until Christmas time, Santa’s elves were hard at work last week. On Nov. 12, members of the Lakeview Towers Nutrition Program for the Elderly assumed their roles as “Santa’s Golden Elizabeth Elves,” holding a Christmas “gift-a-thon” Izzo to benefit local children. Writer The Golden Elves started collecting items in June to donate to Clinton County kids. “They ended up filling five and a half totes of gloves, mittens, hats, scarves, crayons, coloring books, activity books, educational flash cards and more,” said Shelley Parker, director of Lakeview Towers. “I couldn’t stop them, they started collecting items on their own and every Monday, I would come into my office and I would find bags and bags of items for the children.” Parker says that in total, the group ended up wrapping a total of 106 boxes. “With a blink of an eye, they had filled the totes. I am so >> See Golden Elves | pg. 13



several years. Highway taxes also jumped up by $1.62 to $3.10. Residents who live within the Route 9 water district won’t see a change in taxes. But the southeast water district will see an increase of 15 cents up to $2.64. Fire protection and fire district rates remained the same at 55 cents each. All rate increases, except for the water district, were due to the loss in county sales tax revenue, said Budget Officer Bill Van Stockum. Clinton County retains 65 percent of this revenue, while the remaining is split between municipalities through a revenue payment or county taxes. Beekmantown opted out receiving additional revenue due to the town losing funds each year. >> See Beekmantown Budget | pg. 11

Beekmantown residents will see a tax increase to offset revenue losses. Next year’s budget was approved unanimously by the town board last month. Photo by Teah Dowling

Habitat for Humanity seeking families for newly built homes Goal for Champlain Valley chapter is to build at least one new house per year By Teah Dowling

PERU — Champlain Valley Habitat for Humanity is in the midst of looking for new families to reside in their newly constructed houses in Chazy and Keeseville. Volunteers are putting the finishing touches on the two homes now. The only problem, Co-President Janet McFetridge said, is finding people to live in them. “If we can’t find a family, there’s no point in building a house,” she said. “The sale of a home goes toward constructing a new one.” The Peru-based nonprofit based is a chapter of the global housing Christian organization dedicated to building and selling homes to families with limited incomes. Three homes on Wallace Hill in Plattsburgh one in Rouses Point are completed with inhabitants. While the houses in Chazy and Keeseville are near completion, new ones are currently in the works in Dannemora and Plattsburgh. Co-President Harriet Burrell said the goal is to build at least one house every year. A lack of volunteers causes construction to last two years. Waiting for a successful applicant could tack on an additional

Several volunteers have been working on the house in Chazy for the past year. The home is close to completion and is looking for a new family. Photo provided

year, said McFetridge. Through the organization, income-eligible families can purchase a home with a minimum down payment and low interest loan. “The process to get to that point is long,” Burrell said. “It’s daunting.” In order to qualify, interested applicants must fall within the income guidelines based on the number of people in their >> See Habitat for Humanity | pg. 13

2 | December 3, 2016 • The ‘Burgh Sun

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Clinton County reveals 2017 recommended budget Drop in sales tax causes loss in revenues for some municipalities, rise in taxes for others By Teah Dowling

PLATTSBURGH — The Clinton County Legislature revealed last week details on the 2017 recommended budget. Total appropriations clock in at around $164.9 million and total revenues came in at $136.1 — both seeing an increase of approximately $2 million. Next year, the county, along with all county municipalities, will see a change with either their revenues or county tax rate due to the loss in sales tax revenue. County Treasurer Kimberly Davis said she anticipates sales tax revenue to be at $51.6 million for the next year — a decrease of about $800,000 over this year. Clinton County, which receives 65 percent of the income, will face a $590,000 cut. The amount divided up between the municipalities will decrease by $210,000. Towns, villages and the city of Plattsburgh have the option of accepting this income in two ways: Cash payments will affect revenues, or credit payments, which will affect county tax rates. The towns of Champlain and Plattsburgh and the villages of Rouses Point, Champlain and Dannemora receive cash payments, so their revenue generated by county sales tax will decrease, according to the recommended budget. County Administrator and Budget Officer Mike Zurlo said he didn’t have the amount loss for each municipality since the anticipated amount of revenues listed in last year’s budget came up short, leaving no correct numbers to be looked back on. The plus, however, is that the residents of those municipalities will see decrease in their taxes by 1 cent down to $5.96 per $1,000 in assessed value. The towns of Altona, Ausable, Black Brook, Chazy,

BUY IT! SELL IT! FIND IT! 518-873-6368 Ext. 201 “We’re more than a newspaper, we’re a community service.”

Dannemora, Ellenburg, Mooers, Peru, Saranac and Schuyler Falls receive their sales tax revenue in credit – reducing the almost $6 rate down to almost $3. Since sales tax credit is down, their county tax rates will increase by 6 to 8 cents to offset the difference. The town of Clinton doesn’t not have a county tax rate due to returning windmill revenue to offset all of its county tax levy. The town of Beekmantown is yet to be figured since they just switched over from cash to credit payment last month. The city of Plattsburgh, who receives their sales tax based on population instead of property value, will see a decrease of over 10 cents. All these figures, Zurlo said, are subject to change. CHEAPER GAS PRICES Sales tax revenue has been rapidly dwindling over the past few years primarily to cheaper gas prices. Instead of taxing by the gallon, the county taxes by the dollar, meaning when gas prices go down, so does revenue. “History has shown that the gas prices tend to fluctuate,” Zurlo said. “It’ has traditionally turned around.” MAKING UP THE LOSS To offset the loss of sales tax revenue, the county put forth $600,000 from the $3 million tax stabilization reserve — leaving revenues up by almost $2 million at $136.1 million. About $1 million of that additional revenue comes from the tobacco reserve. Another $500,000 was generated through the Native American Gaming Compact. The remaining funding comes from CV-TEC’s first of 10 planned annual payments to transfer property from the former Clinton County Airport and an increase of highway CHIPS funding. OTHER BUDGET DETAILS The $2 million increase in spending is primarily attributed

to the Plattsburgh International Airport’s infrastructure updates. Several departments were the subject of cuts: The Social Services Department went down $446,110 due to the shifting of personnel and cuts in several programs. Zurlo said this is due to the state gradually taking over Medicaid administration. Six full-time positions, which are already vacant, will not be filled. The county plans on utilizing $2 million of its $12 million fund balance, leaving $28,767,508 to be raised by taxes. Medicaid accounts for 58 percent of the tax levy, although the amount is $22,864 lower than last year. The county managed to stay below the .68 percent tax cap by 1.5 percent. A public hearing is set for Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in the legislative chambers. The legislature plans to vote on the budget Dec. 14. For more information or to view a copy of the budget, visit

The Clinton County Legislature released details of the 2017 budget last month. The legislature plans to vote on the budget Dec. 14 after holding a public hearing Dec. 7. Photo by Teah Dowling

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The ‘Burgh Sun • December 3, 2016 | 3

Students lobby against CCC layoffs

Board of Trustees make announcement of potential layoffs to Clinton Community College staff By Teah Dowling

PLATTSBURGH — Nearly a dozen Clinton Community College students, many fighting back tears, attended the county legislature meeting last week and asked the board to spare a pair of professors their jobs. “They’re well-loved professors,” said student Marvin Shaw. “I am shocked and dismayed by the board’s decision.” Clinton Community College’s Board of Trustees announced the potential lay off of the two professors, Sami Jeskanen and Gina Lindsey, last month. “The board... authorized the college administration to notify two faculty members that they were identified for retrenchment, or potential layoff,” CCC announced in a news release. The board also authorized the continued review of current programs and staffing to “maximize opportunities to help the people of our region meet the challenges of a global society by best allocating resources through planning.” “Next year’s budget planning is ongoing and we hoped to avoid any unnecessary layoffs,” said CCC Board Chairman David Favro in statement. “However, we had to make this tough call to issue retrenchment notices.” CCC Officer-In-Charge and Vice President of Administration and Finance Lisa Shovan said via email the decision was made based on course enrollment and contractual provisions, including seniority. “It is never easy to tell anyone that their job may be eliminated,” she said in a statement. “While difficult, these actions will help us build toward a better future for our students.” More layoffs are possible. The Board has until Dec. 31 to authorize any further faculty retrenchment notices which might be needed. ‘BIG AFFECT’ For over 10 years, Lindsey has been teaching in the humanities department as a communications professor. Jeskanan, an assistant professor, has taught a variety of subjects, such as

history, political science and geography, since 2008. Allison Molborn said she suffers from depression and finds it difficult to leave bed some days, except for Tuesdays and Thursdays when she goes to Jeskanan’s class. “When I have classes with Sami,” she said, “my days are better.” Several students made similar speeches, highlighting their positive experiences with both professors. Each one asked the legislature to help to curb the layoffs. Clinton County Area 9 Legislator Christopher Rosenquest, who serves as a liaison for the college, said the decision is out of the county’s hands. Eliminating the two positions, Rosenquest said, would help the college balance its budget, which is currently down due to declining enrollment. Shovan said through this termination, about $165,000 would be saved. The notice of the lay off, she said, must be given by Jan. 1. “There is always a chance for recall should the operating plan, forecasted enrollment, revenues and expenditures change,” she said. INCREASING ENROLLMENT Enrollment is projected to decline by 8.3 percent this year, mirroring trends for community colleges across the state. CCC projects 1,012 full-time students for the 2016-17 term, compared to the year before when 1,103 enrolled. To combat the decrease, CCC plans to reduce its net operating expenditures, increase student tuition and possibly lay off more faculty. Student Windsor Burkland said there are other ways to increase enrollment besides eliminating teaching positions, such as getting more students present at the open houses. “There has to be another way,” student Jessica Rigby said. “There has to be another option.” SEVERAL IMPROVEMENTS CCC has taken on several big projects to get more students on campus. One is the construction of the Advanced Manufacturing Institute. The $12.7 million facility, which is funded by the SUNY 2020 Challenge grant, will provide educational programs and

training in the fields of transportation, aerospace and manufacturing. Around the same time, the community college hopes to begin exterior renovations on the main building. The $12 million capital project, covered by Clinton County and SUNY, would make the facility more energy efficient and appealing. What’s more appealing to the eyes of students are the teachers who instruct them, said the CCC representatives. “Clinton Community College is an outstanding institutions thanks to the academics,” said CCC Faculty Association President Joanna Jackson. “You shouldn’t remove the things that make us great. “The faculty make us great.”

Clinton Community College students lobbied into the Clinton County Legislature meeting last month to fight for two teaching positions.

Pictured below: Gina Lindsey and Sami Jeskanen Photos provided

Photo by Teah Dowling

4 | December 3, 2016 • The ‘Burgh Sun

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Library to explore ‘makerspace’ concept

Plans for Plattsburgh Public Library to open DIY creation room announced Elizabeth Izzo

PLATTSBURGH — Aspiring inventors rejoice. Over the next three years, the Plattsburgh Public Library will explore the possibility of opening a “makerspace.” Makerspaces, according to the Open Education Database (OED), are “DIY spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn.” More specifically, they are often community spaces with shared access to 3D printers, software, electronics, craft supplies, tools and more.

The plan was announced by library director Anne de la Chappelle before the city council last Thursday. The makerspace concept will be kickstarted next year, said Chappelle, in conjunction with work on a new interactive mural outside of the library. The mural will bring together students from Adirondack P-TECH and other local groups to create a nature-themed moving art piece. To realize this vision, the student organizations would need space to make the structure of the mural. The library is hoping to provide that space. “We’ll get a 3D printer to accommodate maybe making the leaves for the tree or something,” said Chappelle. REPURPOSING SPACE

A massive clean-up effort is currently underway, according to Chappelle, with staff cleaning out a room in the library where the board thinks a makerspace could fit. “It’s just a big junk room,” said Chappelle of the space, which she says is as big as their auditorium. “It’s just… magazines and junk.” The library’s effort to transform this space has been ongoing, with the library attempting to fund the project through “small grants.” Chappelle said that a makerspace and connecting with local groups is one step the library could take to “address community needs.” “That’s where the library can become more relevant as we move forward.”

P’burgh Library to open in-house cafe Library director announces plans for coffee bar Elizabeth Izzo

PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh Public Library will open an in-house coffee bar next year. A space for the coffee bar would likely be carved out of the computer room, library director Anne de la Chappelle told city councilors on Thursday. The cost to build the space will be around $15,000, said Chappelle, with the money coming from funds that the library has “squirrelled away over the years, through all these capital campaigns and projects.” The coffee bar would not be run by the library, however. The library will lease the space to an outside vendor, according to Chappelle. “There would be a lease with all the insurance requirements,” she said, with the lease requiring a “set term and a payment amount.”

All of the vendor’s prep would be done off-site, Chappelle said, with the vendor working independently with the Department of Health. Plans to put a coffee bar in the library date back to as early as 2004. ‘SELF-SUSTAINING’ ENTITY

The library board has hopes that the coffee bar will be selfsustaining, according to Chappelle. Councilor Mike Kelly (Ward 2) suggested that the library explore the idea of replicating a project approved by the council two weeks ago, which involved the Plattsburgh Police Department leasing space atop its building to Verizon for an antenna. Because the department will lease rooftop space to Verizon for a monthly fee, the space is now taxable property, creating new revenue for the city. Kelly asked if the coffee bar may be made taxable in a similar fashion. “It’s could be that a for-profit entity moving into the library could create the same thing,” said Kelly.

The vendor could also be subject to real estate taxes, he said. Of the coffee bar, which now has full support from the library board: “It’s something new,” Chappelle said. The coffee bar is just one of the many changes the board will work toward implementing in the next three years, according to Chappelle, with plans for an interactive mural and DIY “makerspace” also on tap for the municipal library.

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The ‘Burgh Sun • December 3, 2016 | 5

City departments: more staff needed Public works, Fire Department request more staff By Elizabeth Izzo

PLATTSBURGH — The city continued to hash out the details of its 2017 budget last Thursday. The city council has asked department heads to present a three-year-plan alongside their traditional budget reports and wish lists. Public works, the Plattsburgh Fire Department and the Plattsburgh Public Library delivered their reports last week. FIRE DEPARTMENT The fire department is hoping to expand staff and services within the next several years, said Fire Chief Scott Lawliss. Among the items on the department’s wish list was $90,000 for a second ambulance, which would cut down overtime and allow for eight people to be available instead of six. Lawliss also requested an additional managerial position to help with training, which Lawliss estimates would cost over $85,000 per year plus benefits. Lawliss said a second ambulance would expedite response time for all services, including fire, EMS, HAZMAT, weapons of mass destruction, confined spaces, trench rescue and swift water. The $90,000 ambulance, he said, would be budget neutral because revenue would eventually pay for the new unit. The chief said past attempts to secure a second unit have been unsuccessful, and he temporarily stripped out his request because he said he would not ask taxpayers for money for a service they were not yet providing. “We’ve got to work on negotiating that,” he said.

Lawmakers indicated they were receptive to the request. “I think there has to come a point in time when the fire department gets some managerial help. They’ve been neglected for 10 years now,” Councilor Paul O’Connell (Ward 4) said. “Something needs to happen.” “I push to get some sort of managerial help in the fire department, no matter what the cost may be,” O’Connell said, referring to negotiations as “beating a dead horse.” “If we look back, it wasn’t happening before my term. In fact, they didn’t even have a chief. The last three years, there’s really only one managerial position.” Though O’Connell will be leaving in a few weeks, with Councilman-elect Peter Ensel taking his place, O’Connell expressed cautious optimism. “Maybe that can change.” PUBLIC WORKS Mike Bessette, assistant superintendent of public works, said staffing is a chief concern. “We’d like to see our staffing numbers remain where they’re at,” he said. Retention of employees has been an issue for public works, Bessette told the council, mentioning that three workers would be leaving. “We lost a lot of people through retirement,” Michael Brodi, superintendent of public works, told the Sun. Bessette requested several new maintenance and heavy equipment operation positions, in keeping with the council-mandated wish list. In total, the department is ideally hoping for eight new positions, in addition to fill-

ing the four that are currently open. Staffing, now at 43 (including the vacancies), has only increased by one since 2001, he said. Adding more positions would enable the department to reorganize, allowing qualified workers to move up in ranks and more to be hired, according to Bessette. “The task we have currently is trying to attract qualified personnel to move up the chain when we have to start at such a low level,” Bessette said. “Our people come in as laborers,” he said. It’s generally three months to three years before employees are able to move up, he said. The department would like to hire two people who specialize in building maintenance. “There’s a lot of things that we’re often asked that are beyond the skills of our maintenance workers,” said Bessette. PLATTSBURGH PUBLIC LIBRARY The Plattsburgh Public Library requested $751,458, keeping levels flat over last year.

6 | December 3, 2016 • The ‘Burgh Sun



Behind the Pressline

And so it continues

OurÊ goalÊ atÊ SunÊ CommunityÊ NewsÊ isÊ toÊ publishÊ accurate,Ê usefulÊ andÊ timelyÊ informationÊ inÊ ourÊ newspapers,Ê newsÊ products,Ê shoppingÊ guides,Ê vacationÊ guides,Ê andÊ otherÊ specialtyÊ publicationsÊ forÊ theÊ benefit of our readers and advertisers. WeÊ valueÊ yourÊ commentsÊ andÊ suggestionsÊ concerningÊ allÊ aspectsÊ of Ê thisÊ publication.

Dan Alexander


“2016 was never expected to go the way it has, but I’ve got a feeling that trend will make for a nail biter come this fall. We may be about to witness the greatest drama American politics has ever seen.” I closed my April 23 column with the statement above, after suggesting a possible Trump-Sanders third party ticket should both lose their party’s nomination. Not only did I get heckled in emails from those proclaiming that the two would never combine forces, but I was also told in no uncertain terms that neither would survive their primaries. You’ve got to admit this was a very unusual election that has shaken the well established system to its core and continues to do so as President-elect Trump puts his cabinet in place, which has taken the same course as his candidacy, meaning the surprises just keep on coming. Perhaps by the time you read this he may have even nominated Mitt Romney for Secretary of State over his staunch supporter, Mayor Rudy Giuliani. If President-elect Trump has proven anything other than the fact that he is not your normal political candidate, he has certainly not been showing the vindictive side many feared would become his primary approach to governing. No Republican was more opposed to his candidacy than Mitt Romney. It’s almost unimaginable that he would even entertain a sit down with Mr. Romney, let alone give him any consideration for such a prominent position in his administration. Even more unimaginable is that Romney would consider a meeting, let alone consider a role that would tie him to Trump, a man he felt was morally unsuited for the office. While the national media scrambles about in a state of shock over the election results and tries its best to degrade the new President-elect before he even gets started, it appears the most predictable step is that President-elect Trump is planning to organize his administration like a wellrun business. Instead of appointing political hacks and cronies, Trump just may have another surprise for the pundits by putting the best people possible in roles where they will be held accountable for their success or failure. In my column of Sept. 26 >> See ALEXANDER | pg. 7

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Overtime law would have hurt small biz, young workers


ing dong, the overtime extension law is dead — at least temporarily. A federal judge in Texas last week issued an injunction against a federal directive to expand the number of workers eligible for time-and-a-half overtime pay. The ruling by Amos L. Mazzant III, of the Eastern District of Texas, sweeps away a cloud of uncertainty and gloom that has settled over the business and creative communities for much of the year. Under the regulations proposed by the Labor Department in May, the eligibility requirements for workers eligible for overtime pay were scheduled to double by Dec. 1, from $23,660 to $47,476 per year. Some 4.2 million workers were to be affected by the directive. Like the minimum wage, the proposal is noble in its sentiments, but fails miserably in its execution. The reasons are simple: Small businesses simply cannot afford such a drastic shift in payroll expenses. Secondly, the directive would have wreaked havoc on the fields that rely on brutal hours to break into competitive fields, including the media, teaching, political and nonprofit professions.

Moving those staffers to an hourly wage to accommodate the shift would do nothing but reduce productivity and discourage distinguishing oneself through hard work. Such a shift in workplace culture is unfair to employers and employees alike, both of whom have historically enjoyed a mutual understanding. Work hard, and you will move up the ladder by virtue of your talents. These are not miserable wretches toiling for hours without pay, but rather ambitious young people who are pursuing the American Dream. While this country was also built on equality, it was also built on hard work. We first sounded off against this policy in July, calling it a “grievous government overreach.” The courts agreed that the Obama administration exceeded its authority. We feel the same way now, and hope the injunction holds, and this new assault on business not be allowed to take root. The only injustice here was not toward workers, but rather free enterprise. The Sun Community News Editorial Board is comprised of Dan Alexander, John Gereau and Pete DeMola. We want to hear from you. Drop us a line on our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter, to share your thoughts.


WillsboroÊ CentralÊ SchoolÊ Ô literallyÊ swimmingÊ inÊ moneyÕÊ To the Editor: How discouraging that Willsboro Central School District isn’t interested in looking into merging with E’town and Westport. We’re just too darn Willsboro proud, apparently! Let’s look at this, though, from the perspective of a taxpayer in the district. We have an $8.3 million per year budget for 265 students (which may or may not reflect the 25 students whose parents pay to send their child out of WCS District.) Don’t worry, lakefront property owners, that’s only $31,000 per year, per student. At that price, you’d expect WCS to be a PhD factory, yet, our last PhD was graduated in 1993. What a terrific little local employment club replete, with enough kitchen staff to run the Old Dock House on a busy Saturday night. Replete with fewer teachers than teacher’s aides. It is alleged that the Study Hall Monitor, the permanent substitute teacher, and WCS’s full-time attorney all have their own teacher’s aide, for crying out loud. If you’re paying school taxes, unlike half the WCS student’s parents who don’t even contribute financially to the district, you should be insulted that WCS is the 82nd highest per student per year cost in New York State. Unimaginable. If one didn’t know better, one might think WCS operates under a surplus and banks extra money for “rainy days” if/when needed in the future ... oh wait, that’s actually what they do with our valuable tax dollars. Literally swimming in money. Tens of thousands of dollars to go, after one of the best teachers in the building who was accused of wilting precious little flowers by daring to raise her voice in class, but not enough in the budget to hire a private investigator for two hours of their time to expose those who flagrantly disregard the rules by living outside the district and bring their children to WCS every morning — meanwhile using threats, coercion, and family connections so that all concerned parties will keep hushed. (I was told by the Queen Bee herself through a school official that if I choose to keep pushing this issue, I’d “better watch my anus.” (Promises, promises.)

So, let’s be clear: all you need is a false instrument saying you pay rent in the district and a wink and thumbs up from the school board in order to bring your out of district child to WCS. Rules be damned. Why have them in the first place? It might not be clear to all why Willsboro isn’t involved with merger talks, so, please allow me to show you how our local emperor wears no clothes: several of the local girls and a couple local guys will certainly lose their position and magic carpet ride benefits and retirements packages once Willsboro is forced by New York State to merge. Which will happen eventually. Until then, just keep quiet and get out your checkbooks. Let’s top the letter off by using this opportunity to point out that many of the teachers and staff at WCS push methamphetamines upon unwilling parents. BIG TIME. They call it medicine, but it’s methamphetamines; chemically indistinguishable from what your local meth dealer sells. Once a teacher gets it in their non-medically trained minds that a child has a specific and fictitious disorder, they have an entire program in place along with an alleged methamphetamines pushing school psychologist to strong arm young and impressionable parents into believing that their child was born with a methamphetamines deficiency. They say that they’re not allowed to suggest medical intervention or medicines — they say this until they’re blue in the face — but then, how on earth is it possible that there is alleged to be a class in WCS whereby the average number of kids who speak openly about “being on medicine” is more than five times the national average? Maybe we should have a closer look at community standards, too much time with video games and devices, the local culture of binge drinking cruddy canned beer, and amounts of alcohol sales tax collected locally to better understand why so many kids aren’t acting right in class? Am I the only one who drives by the local Drug Free School Zone and gets angry about the thought of buzzed out zombie children (as young as five) walking around zapped to the gills on methamphetamines for the convenience of the teachers? Willsboro Pride... yeah, right. Not since the 1990’s or before. My sincere apologies to the good ones who grace those halls and the ones who don’t push meth. Shame on the ones that do! Andy MacDougal Essex

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Ô WeÊ mustÊ doÊ betterÊ asÊ aÊ countryÕÊ To the Editor: Protests are disrupting the country and even now the simplest mention of President-Elect Trump’s name will send half of the country into disarray. Protests have rocked the country since the close election, and after all the drama and mudslinging, I just want everything to calm down so we can relax. I was with her, and she lost. Although I do not necessarily agree with President-Elect Trump, I can accept that he won. With problems, such as Standing Rock and Syria, we need to overcome our differences as a country and come together to, as President-Elect Trump says, “Make America Great Again.” Some of our candidates lost, some of our candidates won, and now, as a country, we must deal with the fallout. One thing is for sure though — we cannot afford another four or eight years of racial tension and anger. We must do better as a country. We must stay strong, unified and have faith in America’s ability to endure. Reanna Martin Moriah

TrumpÊ supportersÊ Ô gettingÊ exactlyÊ whatÊ theyÊ wantedÕ To the Editor: Trump supporters are getting exactly what they wanted! Trump said he would go after the bankers and big cats from Wall Street, and he has. Most of his close appointments are billionaires who run banks and Wall Street. He said he would build a wall across Mexico and now he feels it is not needed, as it would cost too much. His promise to lower taxes on the middle class is partly true but the top one percent will get a 13 percent cut while the most the middle class can expect is 2 percent if they are lucky. Actually, when one figures the loss standard deduction most of those in the middle class will pay more in taxes! There is also the matter of putting Hillary Clinton in jail! Now it seems the reality is, not only is he forgetting this promise, but he couldn’t do anything in the first place. There is no basis in law to charge Hillary with any crimes and the whole thing was a lie. Trump vowed to do away with the Department of Education on a Federal level but he recently put a billionaire friend in as the head of the Education Department. Speaking of vows, he touted “repeal and replace Obama Care,” but now he wants to keep most of the Affordable Care Act he said he would repeal. Surrounding himself with billionaires and putting them in high positions is contrary to what he said he would do to supporters. His claim at making government smaller seems to be put under the table as he finds more palaces for these very rich people he vowed to topple. Those belonging to unions who voted for Trump can be sure his colleagues in Congress will do their level best to put unions away for good. Workers can look forward to a government Department of Labor geared to protect their employers. Trump’s promise to keep jobs in America was a great way to get votes, but his record of buying foreign goods and having his brand manufactured in foreign countries shows differently. In point of fact his tax cuts to large companies will only benefit those companies. The money saved will go to his billionaire friends in the form of higher dividends on their stocks! Yes, Trump has fulfilled all his campaign promises and he hasn’t even been seated in office. I thank God everything mentioned here won’t be a bother to me. First, I happen to be in the 1 percent, so my taxes will be cut substantially! Second, I own several dividend paying stocks and other money producing options. Third, I don’t have any children of school age and I am retired living the good life with a home in Florida and a summer place in the Adirondacks. Fourth, I didn’t vote for Mr. Trump and I will receive all the benefits that will come from his presidency. What a Country, what a life! God Bless America and to those who were duped into voting for Trump I thank you! Gary Philip Guido, Ticonderoga

WillÊ weÊ reallyÊ beÊ betterÊ off ? To the Editor: We will now have a Republican President, House, and Senate. Will the economic life of our middle class improve? Many voters believed it would, especially with the selection of Donald Trump. A word of caution about great expectations. My Dad voted Republican his entire life. However, trickle down economics never made it to him or most of the families I grew up with. Like many other North Country men he worked two jobs; and my mother also worked, unusual for the 1950s and 1960s. Dad still found time to serve in the Rouses Point Volunteer Fire Department for 50 years. We got by: food, car, house, hunting, fishing, boy toys and good family gatherings, but nothing to spare. I went to college on aid, assistance jobs, and summer janitor work. We survived the way most do up here, we worked hard. So will it change when the new administration gives massive tax cuts to the rich? The rich will dump most of the extra money into the market; so if you are not invested there, you probably are not going to benefit. And if NAFTA is curtailed, the beneficial investments of our Canadian friends will dry up. I hope I am wrong, because so many are depending on their fortunes improving under Trump. Many white people voted for him because of hope for a better life, not because of racism or bigotry. Of corse there are white supremacists who voted for hate, but hopefully they are the exception. If you read my earlier letters, you know I believe Mr Trump is a danger to our national security, and an immoral person. However, many of my fellow voters believe he offers hope! For the sake of our country, I pray they are right. God Bless America! Joseph D. Dumoulin Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, Retired Jay

The ‘Burgh Sun • December 3, 2016 | 7

Ô PartisanÊ witchÊ huntÕ Ê moreÊ importantÊ Ô thanÊ servingÊ AmericanÊ peopleÕ To the Editor: Embassy attacks during the presidencies of Republicans George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan:


Wisdom the GOP ignores at its peril Tom Purcell

DURING BUSH ADMINISTRATION • 13 embassy attacks • 66 deaths • 3 American diplomats killed • 22 embassy employees killed Number of investigations: 0



DURING REAGAN ADMINISTRATION • 10 embassy attacks • 318 deaths • 1 US ambassador killed • 18 CIA officers • 254 marines Number of investigations: 1 DURING CURRENT ADMINISTRATION • 2 embassy attacks • 4 American deaths Number of investigations: 13 Cost to taxpayers for partisan witch hunt: $14 million. This is what Republicans think is more important than serving the American people. Joe DeMarco Jay

HelpÊ spreadÊ Ô lightÊ of Ê ChristmasÕ Ê inÊ December To the Editor: Christmas is a special, exciting time of year where families get together and have fun. Serving others and giving of their time and talents can help spread the spirit of Christmas to your family and others. Some of the best joyful memories are made by simple acts of service, such as caroling or bringing cookies to a friend. This December, we invite everyone to join us in spreading the light of Christmas to the world starting on Dec. 1, a worldwide day of service. Choose anyone and any way to serve. To help you, suggestions and an advent calendar can be found on, along with an inspiring video on how we can spread light like Christ did. #LighttheWorld. We know and hope that by taking time to reach out and help others, this Christmas season will become a very joyful one for all those involved! Elder Bade and Elder Randall Middlebury, Vt.

SnopesÊ showsÊ noÊ riotersÊ afterÊ election To the Editor: We’ve got someone wanting to call out the National Guard to quell rioting protesters (and of course President Obama is a twerp for not doing so!) When I read something like this, I immediately think: this is really bad, very bad. So, I immediately turn on the TV to see. Guess what? There are no rioting protesters. I know what follows a statement like that. You can’t trust the regular media. Trump says they are part of the conspiracy! So, I go to Now, if you don’t trust Snopes, you are a knucklehead. It has won awards for its non-partisanship. I find out that someone has taken a picture of a riot in Greece in 2012, to show? This kind of thing is evil. The person doing it is whatever, but the act is evil. It makes for a very, very bad day! Don Austin Elizabethtown

Alexander From page 6

last year shortly after a few Republican primary debates, I suggested then that Mr. Trump might consider an alternative to insulting his Republican presidential competitors and instead ask them to consider accepting a senior role in his administration. Each and every candidate claims they want to turn this country around. Each and every one recognizes the big challenges that lie ahead, so now is the time for them to put their talents where their mouths are and put the American people ahead of their personal ambitions and do what needs to be done. Join forces as a party, come together as a team and tackle the reformation that Trump frequently refers to as “Making America Great Again!” The President-elect is famous for building outlandish things. Here’s his chance to build a real A-Team for America. Save all the money wasted on campaigning and political advertising and start planning today. God help Trump and God help us, he’s tapped into something, and it better not be just hot air. I think the next few years will be anything but the same old thing. Dan Alexander may be reached at

ow that Republicans will be running the White House, the House and the Senate, they’d better succeed in streamlining and simplifying our bloated government. Quotes from some of our greatest minds can guide them. While President Obama sought to make government cool again, many great minds have long been wary of government: “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” ---Ronald Reagan “A government big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take everything you have.” ---Barry Goldwater “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” ---- Edward Abbey Ronnie, we miss you, but your spirit guides us still. Barry, you’d roll in your grave if you saw how big our government has gotten. And Eddie, our IRS recently turned against people whose nonprofit organizations promoted the “wrong” political point of view. Being self-employed for many years, I’ve found that high income taxes and complex rules have been the bane of my existence. Republicans had better heed these quotes as they reform our tax system: “Did you ever notice that when you put the words ‘the’ and ‘IRS’ together, it spells ‘THEIRS’”? ---unknown “What at first was plunder, assumed the softer name of revenue.” ---- Thomas Paine “It would be a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their income.” ---- Ben Franklin Hey, guys, too many politicians and bureaucrats think we owe them MORE of our hard-earned dough. Tommy, you’d be shocked at the level of plunder. And Ben, the only Americans who enjoy an income tax around 10 percent these days are the ones who moved to Russia. As Republicans attempt to roll back the massive expansion of government that occurred under Obama’s presidency, here are some points to consider: “The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence, because it’s so rare.” ---- Daniel Patrick Moynihan “Government is inherently incompetent, and no matter what task it is assigned, it will do it in the most expensive and inefficient way possible.” ---- Charley Reese “Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us.” ---- Leo Tolstoy Hey, Leo, folks often forget how nasty government can be ---- particularly the millions of college-age Americans who think socialism is hip and that “the rich” should pay off the thousands they borrowed to get graduate degrees in the dining habits of sub-Saharan crossdressers. Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” a Sean McClanahan mystery novel, both available at, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Send comments to Tom at

8 | December 3, 2016 • The ‘Burgh Sun

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The ‘Burgh Sun • December 3, 2016 | 9




he holiday season is upon us, and with it an explosion of Christmas-themed everything; concerts, exhibits, dances — each appearing as swiftly as snow. As we brace ourselves for the busy business of giving and receiving — and avoiding the echoing intro to Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” at all costs — it’s easy to let the true nature of the holiday get buried somewhere underneath all the receipts and travel plans. Don’t let it. Throughout the chaos, stay engaged in what is truly important: your family, your friends and your community. Singer J.W. Jones will perform at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake on Dec. 8. Jones is “known for his high-energy, crowd-pleasing shows,” say organizers. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18. For more information, call 891-3799. The NorthWind Fine Arts gallery in Saranac Lake will open a new exhibit on Dec. 2. The exhibit, titled “Rhythms of Nature,” will feature artists Rachel Lamb and Catherine Hartung. An opening reception is slated for Dec. 2 from 5-7 p.m. For more information, visit On Dec. 7, Ti’coustics will return with a showcase featuring Lance Dolbeck, Ed Raquette and more at the Burleigh House in Ticonderoga. No cover charge is required. The show is slated for 7 p.m. Lord Electro, an improv electronica band from Albany, will perform at the Monopole in Plattsburgh on Dec. 9 at 10 p.m. No cover charge. On Dec. 10, Annie in the Water will perform at the Monopole at 10 p.m. For more information, call 563-2222 or visit Canadian blues singer-songwriter J.W. Jones will perform at the Champlain Wine Company in Plattsburgh on Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. The show, sponsored by Plattsburgh Blues and Jazz, will feature songs from Jones’ new album “High Temperature.” Tickets are $15.50. For more information, visit Traveling Paints will host a “paint & sip” event at Sushi Yoshi in Lake George on Dec. 9. Instructors will teach attendees how to paint a winter scene. Tickets are $30 and include supplies and one glass of wine. For more information, call 668-4135 or email nicole@vermontsushi. com. The second annual Downtown Plattsburgh Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting is slated for Dec. 3. The parade will follow a route from Brinkerhoff to Pine Street beginning at 6 p.m. Following the parade, a tree lighting on the Strand Theater lawn will take place. To top off the evening, the Adirondack Jazz Orchestra will perform at the Strand at 8 p.m. For more information, visit The Whallonsburg Grange will host a variety of events this month, beginning with a square dance party on Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. The dance will be lead by Gary Finney and fiddler Donnie Perkins. Admission is $8 for adults and $3 for children under 18. On Dec. 3, the Champlain Valley Film Series will screen “Indignation,” a love story set on a small, conservative college in 1951. The showing starts at 7:30 p.m., with tickets selling for $6 for adults and $3 for minors. On Dec.

The Largest Source of Community Events in the North Country

> Arts columnist

A&E A& &E


4, the Grange will show a free family matinee of “Zootopia” at 2 p.m. For more information on these and other December events, call 963-4170. The Adirondack Ballet Theater — formerly known as the Adirondack Ballet Company — will perform Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Ballet” at the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls on Dec. 10 at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. and Dec. 11 at 2:30 p.m. Local children (ages 4 to 18), Adirondack Ballet Theater alumni and guest professional dancers will perform in the ballet. Tickets are $16 per person. This year the Adirondack Ballet Theater will celebrate its 25th anniversary. To kick off its anniversary celebration, the troupe will hold a fundraising event at the Charles Wood Theater on Dec. 9 featuring photo opprotunities with the dancers, a silent auction and more. Tickets will be $15 at the door. The Westport Federated Church will host the Russian St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. The group will perform Russian choral music, from baroque to classical. Tickets are free, though a donation is requested at the door to offset the troupe’s travel expenses. Plattsburgh’s Newman Center 16mm film series will screen the 1950s film “Young Man With a Horn,” starring Kirk Douglas, on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. to mark Douglas’ 100th birthday. The showing is free, with donations welcome to defray operation costs. For more information, contact the latest events

From Sunrise to Sundown

The Adirondack Ballet Theater will perform the “Nutcracker Ballet” on Dec. 10-11 at the Charles R. Wood Theater. Photo provided

10 | December 3, 2016 • The ‘Burgh Sun

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The ‘Burgh Sun • December 3, 2016 | 11

Beekmantown Budget << Continued from | p. 1

“It’s becoming very unreliable,” Van Stockum said. “They’re [Clinton County] short-changing sales tax checks.” This year, the town was supposed to receive $1,095,805 in sales tax revenue from the county. But the county, said Van Stockum, came up $38,000 short. County Treasurer Kimberly Davis said she anticipates sales tax revenue to be at $51,600,000 for next year — a decrease of about $800,000 — due to less tax revenue generated from cheaper gas prices. “History has shown that the gas prices tend to fluctuate,” County Administrator and Budget Officer Mike Zurlo said. “It has traditionally turned around.” Van Stockum disagreed, and said he anticipates the gap to only get worse over time. Because of this, town officials made a joint decision put that revenue toward the county tax rate. Next year, county officials anticipate the tax rate to be at $5.96 per $1,000 in assessed value, a decrease of 1 cent from last year. Due to the switch from cash to credit, County Administrator Mike Zurlo said he anticipates the town’s county tax rate to decrease by over $2. The county tax rate has not been finalized and was not figured into the town’s overall tax rate of $13.65. The town exceeded the .68 percent tax cap by $1,334,734. “We had to exceed it one way or another,” said Budget Officer Bill Van Stockum. “This was the year to do it.” VERMONT GREEN LINE As part of the Vermont Green Line pilot agreement, the town is set to receive $5,405,724 over the course of approximately 20 years. If approved by the New England Clean Energy RFP, the town will start receiving these tax payments beginning in 2018. Supervisor Dennis Relation said this allocation is based on town taxes. Relation said by raising taxes, the town would receive a bigger portion. Director of US Business Development of National Grid Joseph Rossignoli, who’s part of one of the consulting firms overseeing this project, said he’s unsure if that amount set by Clinton County Industrial Development Agency can be changed. OTHER BUDGET DETAILS Because of the loss in sales tax, projected revenues dropped significantly by $1,540,934 down to $607,548. A significant cut was made to the highway department in order to make up for this gap. To compensate, highway officials increased taxes. Total appropriations dropped by $437,984 down to $2,816,668. The town used none of its fund balance toward the budget, leaving almost $200,000 in savings. The total amount to be raised by taxes is $2,208,870. Van Stockum said he was confident that taxes will not increase next year due to the dramatic spike this year. Health insurance costs increased by almost 9 percent, a spike affecting every municipality not only in Clinton County, but throughout the state, to varying degrees. Retirement costs decreased by about $20,000. Van Stockum said the stock market crash two years ago caused the increase in last year’s budget. With the stock market getting back up to speed, money could be spared, he said. Taxes for the southeast water district increased due to paying off the bond payment previously taken out to fix the aging infrastructure. All town workers, except for council members, received a 2 percent raise. For more information or to view the budget, visit www.

On Friday, Nov. 18, the NCCS Teachers Association received a shipment of more than 1,300 books provided through a program funded by First Book, an international nonprofit which provides brand new, free and low-cost books to kids from low-income families. The NCCS Teachers Association, working in conjunction with NYSUT/AFT, offered the books free of charge to students and parents in both elementary buildings and the middle and high schools during parent-teacher conferences. Pictured: Dave Kokes, Dave Collins, Jessica Castine, Rick Hunter and Jennifer McIntyr. Photo provided

12 | December 3, 2016 • The ‘Burgh Sun

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The ‘Burgh Sun • December 3, 2016 | 13

Habitat for Humanity

Golden Elves

<< Continued from | p. 1

<< Continued from | p. 1

household. For example, one person would need to have an income between $23,000 to $27,000, while a family of eight would need to fall somewhere in the $43,000 to $52,000 range in order to qualify. A good credit score and low debt is also necessary to receive the mortgage. “We don’t want to set up a family for financial failure,” McFetridge said. “Our goal is to get them into a home and live there successfully.” Once the loan is obtained, all the members of that household over 18 years old must complete 250 hours of service with the organization within the first year of residing in the home. Building houses or assisting in the organization’s many fundraisers and programs count toward this requirement. “The need seems to be great,” Burrell said. “Now, we’re gearing up to let people know that we’re still looking.” Interested applicants can visit to apply. For more information on the organization or how to volunteer, call 518-564-4663.

proud of their accomplishments and they should be so proud of themselves,” she said. “They were so determined to make sure some of our local children had a wonderful Christmas.” According to Parker, the seniors went to stores in Plattsburgh and bought most of the toys themselves, using their own funds. The group is currently considering next year’s recipient.

Beekmantown students selected for All County Band BEEKMANTOWN — A number of Beekmantown Middle and High School students were selected to the 2017 All County Band, Chorus and Show Choir groups this year. Students selected are: Josh Burgin, Bode Curilla, Lily Denton, Phoebe Eldredge, Emily Guynup, Karli Hall, Adam Juneau, Raelin Ko, Ava Noelting, Seth Reynolds, Marissa Robart, Katie Rock, Alexandria Stone, Emilia Warren, Rocco Golden, Leo Golden, Liam Sample, Alexys Hawks, Ethan Tisdale, Sarah Tisdale, Felicity Sanger, Elizabeth Taber, Dayna Mieles, Alyssa Waters, Julia Mull, Brooke Bjelko, Brenna Fuller and Ben Delisle. The festival will take place Feb. 3-4, 2017, in Peru.

Pictured, front row: Elizabeth Iracheta, Danny White, Shelley Parker, Colleen Pace, Pearl Wheatherwax. Second row: Bonnie Sharlow, Ramona Soder,Bill Stansbury, Donna Hock, Marilyn Acker, Sonia Dame. Third row: Isabelle Spoor, Marcia Richard, Mike Nephew. Last row: Sandy Covel, Lynn Pierce, Kathleen Covel, John Edd and Julie Walters. Others involved, but not pictured are: Laura LaPorte, Pat Skelton, Beth Mousseau and Gerry Duprey. Photo provided






TICONDEROGA - Bingo, Ticonderoga fire house, 6:45 p.m. Doors 5 p.m. Every Thursday.

PLATTSBURGH - On November 21st, Dr. Curt Gervich and Essex Farm Institute members Kristen Kimball and Racey Billingham will present "Exploring the Food-WaterEnergy Relationship in ADK Farming Communities. Then on December 5th, Dr. Nancy Elwess wil present "Ancient Maya Bones Meet 21st Century Technology". Free to the public. at the Champlain Wine Company, 30 City Hall Place, Plattsburgh NY 12901. For more information, please call 518-5640064.

CHAZY – Al-Anon Family Group Meeting every Friday at Sacred Heart Church, 8 Hall Street, Chazy 7:30pm-8:30pm. For more information call 1-888-425-2666 or 518-561-0838.

PLATTSBURGH - BREASTFEEDING - LA LECHE LEAGUE Do you have questions about breastfeeding? Do you have support you can offer to others? Do you need information about returning to work and nursing? Please join us for mother-to-mother sharing. All mothers, mothers-to-be, and children are welcome. Meetings are twice monthly: the first Monday at 7 P.M and the third Friday at 10:00 A.M at the Family Connections, 194 U.S Oval, Plattsburgh. Info: 518-643-9436. PLATTSBURGH – Al-Anon Family Group Meeting every Tuesday at United Methodist Church, 127 Beekman Street, Plattsburgh Noon-1pm. For more information call 1-888-425-2666 or 518-5610838. PLATTSBURGH – ALATEEN Meeting every Thursday at United Methodist Church, 127 Beekman Street, Plattsburgh 7:30pm8:30pm. For more information call 1-888-425-2666 or 518-561-0838.

PLATTSBURGH – Al-Anon Family Group Meeting every Thursday at United Methodist Church, 127 Beekman Street, Plattsburgh 7:30pm-8:30pm. For more information call 1-888-425-2666 or 518-561-0838.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH TICONDEROGA - Essex County Lethernecks, Marine Corps League, Det 791, Ticonderoga American Legion Post. 6 p.m. Active Marines and Marine Veterans invited. First Thursday of every month.


CADYVILLE – Al-Anon Family Group Meeting every Sunday 7pm8pm, Wesleyan Church, 2083 Rt. 3, Cadyville, NY. For more information call 1-888-425-2666 or 518-561-0838.

ELIZABETHTOWN – Al-Anon Family Group Meeting every Sunday at Elizabethtown Community Hospital Board Room, 75 Park St., Elizabethtown, 4pm-5pm. For more information call 1-888-425-2666 or 518-561-0838. LAKE PLACID – Al-Anon Family Group Meeting every Monday at St. Agnes Church Basement, 169 Hillcrest Avenue, Lake Placid 8pm9pm. For more information call 1888-425-2666 or 518-561-0838. PLATTSBURGH – Al-Anon Adult Children Meeting every Monday at 7pm-8pm, United Methodist Church, 127 Beekmantown Street, Plattsbugh. For more information call 1-888-425-2666 or 518-5610838.

SARNAC LAKE – Al-Anon Family Group Meeting every Wednesday at Baldwin House, 94 Church Street, Saranac Lake 7pm-8pm. For more information call 1-888425-2666 or 518-561-0838.


PLATTSBURGH – The VFW 1466 Spellman RD. holds Special Events in their hall, they can do Weddings, Holiday Parties, Meetings as little as $225. Up to 160+ people. Call 518-563-1466 to reserve the hall.

14 | December 3, 2016 • The ‘Burgh Sun

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PlattsburghÊ areaÊ allÊ starsÊ namedÊ inÊ NorthernÊ SoccerÊ LeagueÕ sÊ DivisionÊ I,Ê II

Justin LaPorte

Alex Puchalski

Dan Piper

Luke-Jay Phillips

Sabour Tidjani

James Blaise

Division I MVP

Division I First team

Division I First team

Division I First team

Division I First team

Division I First team

Gavin Plimpton

Shayne O’Neill

Dawson Pellerin

Nate Boule

Jacob Brandmeier

Nick Wilson

Division I first team

Division I first team

Division II first team

Division II first team

Division I second team

Division I second team

Daryn Nephew

Keenan Regan

Gabe Nuzzo

LJ Nuzzo

Alex Sharon

Division I second team

Division I second team

Division I second team

Division I second team

Division II second team






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Snowmobilers mobilize at Schroon Lake Boreas hearing Access to newly-acquired state lands critical to jumpstarting local economies, say local biz, sportsmen groups at Schroon Lake hearing By Pete DeMola

SCHROON LAKE — Plaid outweighed green last week at Schroon Lake Central as the Adirondack Park Agency hosted the latest public hearing as part of the classification process for Boreas Ponds, the newly acquired parcel of state land located in the central Adirondacks. Local sporting groups, snowmobilers and business leaders said it is critical to allow as much recreational use as possible on the tract in order to accommodate aging sportsmen and to facilitate recreation that will aid the local economy. Many speakers endorsed Alternative 1, which cleaves the parcel in two, allowing a split between Wild Forest and Wilderness. Three other Adirondack Park Agency proposed alternatives offer varying divides between the Wilderness-Wild Forest split, with each adding more wilderness than the last. ‘WE SPEND MONEY’ “This area would be a great area for snowmobiles because we have no work there,” said Ray Buckholts, of the New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA). Prior to the session, which packed the gymnasium last Monday, Access the Adirondacks rolled out a list of 34 sportsmen organizations who supported their preferred alternative for the 20,543-acre parcel, purchased by the state last May. The endorsements, said the coalition, are intended as a counterweight against those offered by BeWildNY, a coalition of green groups who support more restrictive uses. Buckholts said snowmobilers are good environmental stewards who want to use existing roads to minimize environmental impact, including a proposed snowmobile connector track between Minerva and Newcomb. But other alternatives would require cutting new trails through the woods, said Adirondack Local Government Review Board President Fred Monroe. “We don’t want to destroy the environment, that’s not our thing,” said Tom Hudon, of the Crown Point-based Adirondack Trail Riders. “A lot of us are conservationists as well.” Hudon supports Alternative 1, which would allow for snowmobiling around the perimeter of Boreas Ponds to White Lily Pond and continuing on and back to the so-called Four Corners and along Gulf Brook Road. Advocates also argue connector trails — including the proposed route that would connect the Five Towns — are a critical lynchpin to a statewide snowmobile system, necessary to link southern areas to their North Country counterparts. “Everything outside the road will stay exactly how it is today,” said Dominic Jacangelo, executive director of NYSSA. The snowmobiling industry, he said, generates $868 million of economic activity annually, and one in three of those rides occur within the Blue Line. Members of the organization, which represents 230 clubs across the state, also fish, hike, hunt, canoe and kayak when they visit, Jacangelo said. “Snowmobilers bring a lot of money,” said Bonnie Best, treasurer of the Grafton Trail Blazers. “They’re good for the economy.” The Adirondack Council, a member of BeWildNY, supports limited snowmobiling via an expanded High Peaks Wilderness area, said Executive Director Willie Janeway. Under all alternatives, there are different ways of routing snowmobiles from North Hudson to Newcomb, he said. Instead of using existing roads, BeWildNY’s plan calls for the trail to be located further south, largely paralleling Blue Ridge Road. From east to west, between 3 and 4 miles of new trail would have to be cut, which the Adirondack Council doesn’t necessarily dispute. “We do support a snowmobile connector trail,” Janeway said. But, he said, the record does need to be corrected on how many miles of road exist on the parcel. Protect the Adirondacks Executive Director Peter Bauer, despite filing court injunctions to halt progress on DEC-approved snowmobile connector trails, agrees with Access’ proposal to use existing roadways. The construction of new trails takes down between 500 to 1,000 trees per mile, he said. “It makes no sense to keep Gulf Brook Road open to motor vehicles and not use it for a snowmobile trail, and cut a new snowmobile trail somewhere else,” Bauer said. Protect is against all four APA proposals, calling the options akin to “hanging a Van Gogh painting on a telephone post.” Retired Forest Ranger Peter Fish said mankind always leaves an imprint on nature, which can range from the “long smell of exhaust” and grease slicks from snowmobiles to disintegrated hiking paths trammeled by overuse. “I am an utter and complete Wilderness advocate,” Fish said. “There is no such thing as a wheel that is not destructive.”

Hundreds attended the Adirondack Park Agency’s public hearing on land classification on Monday, Nov. 21. The Boreas Ponds Tract was the chief topic of discussion. Photo by Pete DeMola

Wilderness advocates also said the Adirondack Park hosts plenty of places where snowmobiling and motorized recreation is available — including within close proximity to Boreas. Just eight of the 100 biggest lakes in the Adirondack Park are motor-free, said Tyler Socash. “When Access the Adirondacks talks about balance, they are obtuse on how accessible the Adirondacks already is,” Socash said. LOCAL ECONOMIES Business leaders at the four-hour hearing presented a mixed portrait of the local economy. Roger Friedman marveled at the packed auditorium — the same room in which he received his high school diploma 50 years ago. But class sizes have dwindled since then, said the local realtor. And the community is struggling. “The Boreas Ponds offer a great economic opportunity for the region,” Friedman said. We can preserve it, but we must make it accessible for all people.” Anything but full access, he said, would be “another nail in the coffin” for the local economy. “If you live in this area like I have, you can literally hear the shrinkage,” Friedman said. Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tammy Brown said 68 percent of Schroon residents live under the poverty line, and it’s an ongoing struggle for businesses to stay open year-round. “When you get to be our age — when you look at how to feed your family, and keep businesses running — that’s also very important,” Brown said. Minerva Supervisor Steve McNally tied the decline directly to the increase in state land acquisitions. “These small towns are in jeopardy,” he said. “With the state purchasing lands, the people have lost their livelihoods.” But pro-Wilderness advocates said the economic picture was more complex, and said Wilderness buoys local economies, acting as a magnet for many, including young people who view the designation as a desirable magnet. Planting permanent roots will revitalize an ailing economy, they argue, and will repopulate the school districts that are hemorrhaging students. Samantha Brooks spoke of visiting the region from a young age. A seasonal job led to a permanent full-time position, and a full Wilderness designation is paramount to that attraction for her and other potential transplants, she said. Brooks said she couldn’t estimate how many times she has frequented local businesses after a long day on the hiking trail, including the Noonmark Diner in Keene Valley, the Lake Placid Pub and Stewarts in Long Lake. “They will stop in your town to buy stuff,” Brooks said. Pete Nelson, the co-founder of Adirondack Wilderness Advocates (AWA), said both sides needed to move past a debate he said has historically been “myopic and insular.” “I think it’s an unfortunate debate, this specific debate,” Nelson said. Nelson pitched the idea of leveraging Frontier Town, the abandoned theme park in North Hudson, as a gateway to a new Wildness High Peaks area. Peer-reviewed studies of communities surrounding federally-protected land in the western U.S., he said, reveal when properly leveraged, the protected assets can be used as tools for economic development. Economic profiles in communities near the National Park Service lands are similar to urban counties, he said.

That can happen here, he said, and development needn’t clash with full Wilderness protection. “Let’s make a smarter debate,” Nelson said. “Let’s go somewhere that helps out towns — they need it.” Chris Lincoln said he was torn between watching communities decline and allowing snowmobiling and mountain biking in ecologically-sensitive areas. “I don’t know what the answer is, but I don’t think this is it,” he said. AWA is calling for a full Wilderness classification, a concept that is not included in any of the four APA alternatives. Checkered flannel outweighed the green t-shirts last week, and the hearing again saw a mobilization of those calling for support of that plan, many of them students and young professionals. And while the sessions have largely been tranquil, one proWilderness speaker who spoke out against snowmobiling was jeered and booed by the crowd after revealing he was from Michigan. “You don’t understand because you’re from Michigan,” yelled a woman. Another speaker lashed out against what he perceived as idealistic and naive attitudes, and said roads were necessary on a practical level to ensure public safety. “It’s amazing how you people get hurt,” said Michael Carruso, citing DEC rescue reports. “It’s amazing how you fall and break bones and get carried out of there. “You want to get rid of the roads? Great idea!” That dynamic has been a constant push-pull during the sessions. “Yes, you are the future of the Adirondacks, but only if you live and work in the Adirondack Park,” said Newcomb Supervisor Wes Miga. “You may be the future, but we are the now.” NEW VIEWPOINTS The hearing, which drew 89 scheduled speakers (although many left earlier) did upend some conventional narratives. One disabled speaker endorsed the full Wilderness plan, an option that would close the Gulf Brook Road entirely to all but foot traffic. The Adirondacks is now at a critical point, and a historic moment, said Joan Cunningham, of ADK Community Works, a Schroon Lake-based nonprofit. An expanded High Peaks Wilderness would be the largest motor-free area east of the Rocky National Park in Colorado, she said. “Humans can co-exist and protect our beloved Adirondacks,” said Cunningham, who uses a motorized mobility device. “I choose not to access the Boreas Pond regions, but instead keep them as pristine as possible for my children and grandchildren to explore on foot.” Dan Lynch owns 200 acres on both sides of Blue Ridge Road, making him one of the closest private property owners. Lynch called for Alternative 2 (with several minor modifications) and said motorized use wouldn’t necessarily lead to an economic boost for the surrounding area. “No motors, including electrics, should be allowed to operate on Boreas Ponds,” Lynch said. Peter Hornbeck, owner of Hornbeck Boats on Trout Brook Road, said his customers are drawn to Wilderness, and that the classification isn’t necessarily “the kiss of death” to local merchants. “Our economy is real good,” he said. The buzz around Boreas, he said, is really helping his business, which employs six. “We have seen a spurt of interest this year because of that >> See Boreas Hearing | pg. 16

16 | December 3, 2016 • The ‘Burgh Sun

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Boreas Hearing << Continued from | p. 15

property.” Hornbeck, like many other speakers, urged the DEC to draft a proper Unit Management Plan following the classification to ensure environmental safeguards — including the use of parking lots as a management tool, which would open and close access on a seasonal basis. Pete Finch, a member of the Barkeater Trails Alliance, called for more study on the relationship between the economy and recreational land use. For years, people said Wilderness would be an economic driver, he said. But that hasn’t happened yet. “To this point, it really hasn’t done much for local economies,” Finch said. The increase in Wilderness areas, he said, has led to an overburden on trail systems. “Literally thousands of people (are) at trailheads on a daily basis,” he said. EXISTING STRUCTURES Infrastructure remains a sticking point. Wilderness advocates say man-made materials, including some 53 miles of roads, can fade back into the landscape, and that much of the Adirondack Park was once trammeled by man. But advocates of Alternative 1, including state Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury), say existing infrastructure goes against the legal definition of Wilderness. “These roads rival a lot of town roads in terms of their construction and their capability,” Stec said, noting the ponds themselves were artificially created by the construction of a dam. Monroe, of the Adirondack Local Government Review Board, said the maps provided by the APA do not accurately convey the current road infrastructure, as well as culverts. He said he has asked the agency for accurate maps, “but so far I haven’t seen them.” Access mapped the parcel earlier this fall, and those findings are available upon request, Monroe said. BeWildNY agreed that a broader inventory is necessary, and indicated discussion will continue after the public comment period ends on Dec. 30. “That level of analysis needs to happen, and it hasn’t happened yet,” said Rocci Aguirre, director of conservation at the Adirondack Council. Nearly the entire park was laid waste at one point, said Russ Hartung, and made barren from fires and logging. “Increased access results in increased destruction — there’s no doubt about it,” said Hartung, a Saranac Lake art gallery owner. But some said letting the structures be reclaimed by nature would pose undesired results. Lukas Dobie, an engineer, said if the dam was allowed to deteriorate, it will jeopardize the wetlands, and possibly even result in state DEC enforcement action. “I can’t believe people are talking about taking out the dams,” Dobie said. “The dam erosion would be unfathomable.” Dave Reckahn said he fails to see how Wilderness will provide more water quality protection than any other safeguards in the wake of High Peaks degradation, and warned against the loss of habitat in the event of a dam blowout. ACCESS FOR DISABLED Owing to the format of the hearings — comments were limited to three-minute segments without back-and-forth discussion — nods to opposing views have generally been limited to lip service, and the comments generally run along parallel paths. But many officials tailored their comments to address concerns made in past hearings, including those in Ray Brook, Northville and Newcomb. Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Farber said local governments have actually taken the lead in combatting invasive species. “I don’t want that to get lost in these fights,” he said. Farber added: “A Wilderness population by itself has not protected the High Peaks,” citing trampling, herd paths and overuse. BeWildNY and Access attempted to clarify where they stood on motorized usage, particularly when it came to access for the disabled. Access is against any land use classification that disallows access for the widest possible amount of people, and disagrees with BeWildNY over the best way to accommodate disabled visitors. Wilderness and Wild Forest offer varying degrees of accommodation, including the use of the DEC’s CP3 parking spaces, which are prohibited under Wilderness. BeWildNY says CP3 opens the doors to ATV usage; Access says that is not their intent. “Permitting parking for the handicapped and bicycling around the perimeter of the ponds would not be permitted under a Wilderness classification,” said North Hudson Supervisor Ron Moore. In a follow-up email, Moore wrote: “Again, we have not ever proposed the use of ATVs in any of the many meetings that we have had with the DEC, APA, or any of the other stakeholder groups.” John Sheehan, a BeWildNY spokesman, says a Wilderness designation would not bar access. “I think it’s important for everybody to know that a Wilderness designation is not an impediment to handicapped access to the area,” Sheehan said. All that is required is a level path from LaBier Flow to Boreas Ponds, he said. FINAL HEARINGS The hearing in Schroon was the final session held within the Adirondack Park. A fifth hearing was held Monday in Rochester, and another is scheduled for Tuesday in Canton. The final session is slated for Dec. 7 at DEC headquarters in Albany. “This is very emotional to a lot of people,” said APA Deputy Director of Planning Kathy Regan. “Let’s continue this rapport and respect.” Public comments will be accepted until Dec. 30. Written comments can be sent to: Kathleen D. Regan, Deputy Director, Planning Adirondack Park Agency PO Box 99 1133 State Route 86 Ray Brook, NY 12977

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The ‘Burgh Sun • December 3, 2016 | 17

‘Polar Express’ screening, fundraiser slated Dec. 6 PLATTSBURGH — Teens for the Marines’ “Toys for Tots” will host a movie night Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. at Cumberland 12. “Polar Express” will be screened. Admission is $10. Attendees can pay the ticket cost or bring a new unwrapped toy to be donated to the local Toys for Tots. For more information, call 324-3777.







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Seton Catholic to host community dinner Dec. 4 PLATTSBURGH — Seton Catholic Middle School will host a Christmas dinner on Sunday, Dec. 4 from noon to 5 p.m. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, squash, coleslaw and dessert will be served. There will also be a bake sale, wreath sale and raffle. Admission costs $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and children from 5-12 years old. For more information, call 561-4031.






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D’town parade and tree lighting slated PLATTSBURGH — The Downtown Plattsburgh Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting will take place Saturday, Dec. 3 from 6 - 8 p.m. The parade will begin at 6 p.m. At 8 p.m., the tree lighting will take place at the Strand Center for the Arts. The Adirondack Jazz Orchestra will perform afterward. For more information, contact Sandra Geddes at or call 536-7458.

The ‘Burgh Sun • December 3, 2016 | 19

P’burgh VFW to host HAUS Holiday Hoopla PLATTSBURGH — The HAUS of Starr’s Holiday Hoopla will take place Saturday, Dec. 3 from 8 - 11 p.m. at the VFW Post 125. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $5 or an unwrapped new toy. All proceeds will go toward the VFW Post 125 Children’s Christmas Party.

20 | December 3, 2016 • The ‘Burgh Sun

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