Wednesday, February 9, 2011

APA Meeting Thursday: Queensbury, Westport Development, More

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, February 10 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook. The February meeting is one day only and will be webcast live. The meeting will be webcast live.

Among the issues to be considered is a boathouse variance, bridges and culverts in the Park, development in Queensbury and Westport, Green programs at the Golden Arrow Resort in Lake Placid, and a presentation on alpine meadow vegetation.

Here is the full agenda:

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report where she will present the 2010 annual report.

At 10:45 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a request for a shoreline structure setback variance to authorize the construction of stairs onto an existing boathouse. The project site is located on First Bisby Lake in the Town Webb, Herkimer County. Jim Bridges, Regional Design Engineer, and Tom Hoffman, Structure Engineer, from the NYS Department of Transportation will then brief the committee on the status of bridges and culverts inside the Adirondack Park.

At 1:00, the Full Agency will convene for the Community Spotlight presentation. This month Town of Brighton Supervisor John Quenell will discuss issues and opportunities facing this Franklin County town.

At 1:45, the Local Government Services Committee will consider approving an amendment to revise the Town of Queensbury’s existing zoning law. The committee will also hear a presentation from the Town of Westport to utilize a Planned Unit Development (PUD) in conjunction with a linked Agency map amendment process to establish growth areas within the town.

At 3:00, the Economic Affairs Committee will hear a presentation from Jenn Holderied-Webb from the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid on “green programs.” The Golden Arrow Resort implemented unique initiatives to establish itself as an environmentally friendly resort.

At 3:45, the State Land Committee will hear a presentation on alpine meadow vegetation.

At 4:15, the Full Agency will convene will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website.

The March Agency is scheduled for March 17-18, 2011 at Agency headquarters in Ray Brook.

April Agency Meeting: April 14-15 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Synchronized Skaters Perform in Lake Placid

Despite a snowstorm, approximately 2,300 figure skaters, along with their coaches, parents, and friends, poured into Lake Placid for the 2011 Eastern Synchronized Figure Skating Championships. A qualifier for the National Championship, skaters from as far north as Maine and far south as North Carolina competed in the Olympic Center February 3rd through 5th.

Changes to the schedule were made due to the storm; Thursday night the competition lasted until early Friday morning (around 1 am).

In the Senior Championships, the well-known Haydenettes team based in Lexington Massachusetts placed first. They are the reigning National Champions. For more information about the Eastern Synchronized Figure Skating Championships, visit usfigureskating.org.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities on the Jackrabbit Trail

We plan just a jaunt to stretch our legs on the Lake Clear section of the Jackrabbit Trail. We are only going a small part of the nine-mile trail that starts near the Lake Clear junction and ends at the Paul Smith College Visitor’s Interpretive Center (VIC).

We struggle over the steep snow banks that line Route 30, throwing our snowshoes and skis ahead of us. With the recent dumping of snow we have to knock our feet into the snow to make steps up the embankment. We sit on the edge of the snow bank and quickly strap on our skis.

When we reach the Jackrabbit trailhead sign my son notes that we are standing about four feet above the ground. Cars rush past but the tree cover soon muffles the sound. Even on skis we sink into the fresh snow. There are more popular sections to the 33-mile trail but this one fits our needs.

The conditions are perfect. We follow the corridor of telephone poles. Snowmobile and ski tracks are on either side of us. We skirt around the poles trying to avoid the heavy ice that hangs from the lines above.

The Jackrabbit Trail was modeled after the European tradition of cross-country ski journeying. In certain European countries towns are linked with trails allowing skiers to travel smoothly between villages, eating and sleeping along the way.

I’m sure there are people that have completed the whole Jack Rabbit trail in day. We will not be one of them. For families the Jack Rabbit Trail is a perfect opportunity to get out on skis and enjoy the Adirondack backcountry.

Named in memory of Herman (Jackrabbit) Johannsen, the Jackrabbit Trail is constructed and maintained by the Adirondack Ski Touring Council. The 33-mile, multi-sectioned cross-country ski trail connects the towns of Paul Smiths, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Keene. The Lake Clear section is accessed about a half mile north on Route 30 from the Route 30/186 junction. There is a small sign across from the old Lake Clear Elementary School.

For more information on the Jackrabbit Trail please contact the Adirondack Ski Touring Council at 518-523-1365.

Photo ©Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Phil Brown: Aristotle and the Land Purchase Debate

Recently, Adirondack politicians have intensified their effort to block the state’s acquisition of Follensby Pond and some sixty-five thousand acres once owned by Finch, Pruyn & Company.

In the past two weeks, the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board and the Franklin County legislature adopted resolutions opposing the purchases. The Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages is expected to vote soon on a similar measure, and it stands an excellent chance of passing.

The opponents say the purchases would cost forestry jobs, force traditional hunting clubs to disband, and in general harm the local economy. But their ace in the hole is the claim that the state simply cannot afford to buy these properties. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Corrina Parnapy: The Importance of Snow

During this winter, it seems to have been snowing almost every week. Snow is piling up making driving hard and causing roofs to collapse. While the snow may be causing problems for people, it is just what the environment needs. Winters with thick snow packs mean a productive, drought free summer.

Snow falls to the ground, insulating the soil and roots of plants. When the snow melts it sinks into the ground between cracks and crevices of the bedrock replenishing the groundwater supply. The snow-melt will seep into the pore spaces between the soil particles or flow over the ground, filtering out into the streams, springs and lakes, thereby recharging the surface water. Snow is the major form of precipitation in the Adirondacks. Mild winters threaten soil productivity, plant growth and freshwater resources. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Adirondack Carousel Hires Project Manager

The Adirondack Carousel Board of Directors has announced that Randy Cross has been hired as Project Manager to oversee construction of the Adirondack themed carousel, slated to open this year in the William Morris Park in Saranac Lake. Cross, who is a well known builder in the Saranac Lake area, was selected from a field of three qualified candidates.

“We have been very encouraged by the support of our donors, friends and neighbors, as well as the dedication of our volunteer Board and the State grants we secured. Our Board feels confident we will be able to break ground in early April, with a goal of opening sometime in July” said Marge Glowa, chair of the Carousel’s board.

The Adirondack themed Carousel hopes to employ as many local contractors as possible according to Glowa and is looking forward to advertising for bids as soon as final approvals are obtained from the Village and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “We will also be relying on many hands to help us build this one of a kind Carousel through in-kind donations of labor and materials”, she added.

The Carousel will be housed in its own Adirondack style pavilion with adjacent space for community workshops, exhibits and special events, including birthday parties, reunions and even weddings for up to 100 people. A new updated playground will also be added.

To view the Carousel’s progress and photos of the custom designed wildlife figures that have been hand carved and painted by volunteers, visit their website.


Monday, February 7, 2011

UN International Year of Forests 2011 Kicks Off

The U. S. Forest Service, with partner organizations the National Association of State Foresters and the American Forest Foundation, have announced the U.S. celebration of the official United Nations International Year of Forests 2011. The theme of the U.S. campaign is “Celebrate Forests. Celebrate Life.”

Trees and forests provide a wealth of social, economic, environmental, aesthetic, cultural and health benefits. Because of forests, millions of Americans have access to clean drinking water, an abundance of recreational opportunities, cleaner air, and countless jobs. Urban trees and forests also make important contributions by enhancing neighborhood livability, increasing home prices, and reducing household energy use and the effects of climate change. In short, trees and forests improve the quality of life in urban and rural areas alike. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Wreck of the George W. Lee

In November 1886, Captain John Frawley of the canal boat George W. Lee reached the eastern terminus of the Mohawk River at Cohoes. Before him was the Hudson River leading south to Albany and New York City, but Frawley’s intended route was north. At this critical waterway intersection, the Champlain Canal led north from Waterford to Whitehall at Lake Champlain’s southern tip.

Access to the Champlain Canal was on the north bank at the Mohawk’s mouth, opposite Peeble’s Island. Just as there is today, at the mouth of the river was a dam, constructed by engineers to enable canal boats to cross the river. About 500 feet upstream was a bridge. Canal boats were pulled by tow ropes linked to teams of mules or horses. To cross from the south bank to the north, towing teams used the bridge, which is what Frawley did.

Sounds simple, and usually, it was. But the Mohawk was badly swollen from several days of rain. Traveling at night, Frawley was perhaps unaware that the normally strong current had intensified. Water was fairly leaping over the nine-foot-high dam.

Accompanying the captain were his mother, around 60 years old; his ten-year-old son; and the boat’s steersman, Dennis Clancy. To help ensure that things went okay, Frawley left the boat to assist the team driver during the crossing of the 700-foot-long bridge. They moved slowly—the rope extended sideways from the bridge downstream towards the boat, which was much more difficult than pulling a load forward along the canal.

Below them, the George W. Lee lay heavy in the current, straining against the rope. All went well until the bridge’s midpoint was reached, when, with a sound like a gunshot, the rope snapped. Horrified, they watched as the boat swung around, slammed sideways into the dam, and plunged over the edge. Nothing was left but darkness.

Shock and grief enveloped them at such a sudden, terrible loss. Within minutes, though, a light appeared on the boat’s deck. It had held together! At least one person had survived, but no one knew how many, or if any were injured. The roar of the river drowned out any attempt at yelling back and forth. With the boat aground, there was nothing to do but sit and wait until morning.

With daylight came great news. All were okay! But, as had happened the previous evening, great elation was followed by great uncertainty. How could they be saved? The river remained high and dangerous. The boat, resting on the rocks below the dam, could not be reached. And the November chill, heightened by cold water pouring over the dam all around them, threatened the stranded passengers with hypothermia.

A rescue plan was devised, and by late afternoon, the effort began. The state scow (a large, flat-bottomed boat), manned by a volunteer crew of seven brave men, set out on a dangerous mission. Connected to the bridge by a winch system using two ropes, the scow was slowly guided to the dam, just above the stranded boat.

The men began talking with the passengers to discuss their evacuation. Then, without warning, disaster struck. Something within the winch mechanism failed, and again, with a loud cracking sound, the rope snapped. Over the dam went the scow, fortunately missing the canal boat. Had they hit, the results would have been catastrophic.

Briefly submerged, the scow burst to the surface. A safe passage lay ahead, but the drifting scow was instead driven towards nearby Buttermilk Falls by the swift current. Two men leaped overboard and swam for shore in the icy water. The rest decided to ride it out.

In one reporter’s words, “The scow sped like an arrow toward Buttermilk Falls. It seemed to hang an instant at the brink, and then shot over the falls. It landed right side up and soon drifted ashore.” Incredibly, everyone survived intact. Chilled, wet, and shaken, but intact.

Meanwhile, still stuck at the base of the dam was a canal boat with cold, hungry, and frightened passengers. A new plan was needed, but darkness was descending. The stranded victims would have to spend another night on the rocks.

On the following day, Plan B was tried. According to reports, “A stout rope was stretched from the Waterford bridge over the dam to a small row boat at Peeble’s Island [a distance of about 1800 feet.] Two men stood on the bridge and pulled the skiff upstream until it came alongside the canal boat Lee. The party embarked and the boat was allowed to drift back to the island.”

What an amazing, fortuitous outcome. Two boats (one at night) over a dam; three people trapped for more than 36 hours in a raging river; two men swimming for their lives in icy water; and five men and a boat over a waterfall. All that potential for tragedy, and yet all survived unscathed.

Photo Top: The dam at Cohoes, looking west from Peeble’s Island.

Photo Bottom: A canal boat scene at Cohoes.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Study: Three Local Colleges Generate $563 Million

Three Northern New York private colleges, Clarkson University, Paul Smith’s College and St. Lawrence University contribute an annual $563 million to the economy and are directly and indirectly responsible for an estimated 4,200 jobs and more than $208 million in payroll according to a newly released study.

The new economic analysis by the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) found that
New York’s independent colleges and universities are major private employers in all regions of New York State with total payroll exceeding $19.5 billion for 360,200 direct, indirect and induced jobs.

More than 6,500 students enroll each year at Clarkson, Paul Smith’s, and St. Lawrence; about 57% are drawn from New York, 35% from out of state, and 8% from outside the United States. Detailed figures can be found online.

In nine of the state’s counties, the study found, private higher education employment represents five percent or more of total employment and six percent or more of total wages. In 2009 two of the top employers in New York State were private higher education institutions: Cornell University and University of Rochester.

In total, the 100-plus independent colleges and universities in New York State are believed to have contributed $54.3 billion to the state’s economy in 2009. This is an increase of $6.8 billion (up 14%) since 2007 and more than $12.9 billion (up 31%) from 2005. In 2009, direct institutional spending was more than $46 billion and academic medical center spending more than $4.3 billion.

The release of these updated figures complements those released by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in October 2010. The Comptroller’s report, The Economic Impact of Higher Education in New York State, stated “New York has the largest private higher education sector in the nation, with 167,450 jobs in 2009 – more than 40 percent larger than second-ranked California.” That report also noted that “Most of the growth in higher education employment this decade has been at private colleges and universities.

Editor’s Note: By way of comparison, the Olympic Regional Development Authority is believed to contribute about $271 million to the counties of Franklin, Essex, Warren, and Clinton.

Photo: Matt Barkalow of Paul Smith’s College woodsmen’s team. Photo by Pat Hendrick.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

War Of 1812 Symposium Planned for Ogdensburg

During the War of 1812 the dogs of war barked and bit along the U.S. northern frontier from Lake Ontario to Lake Champlain as American forces tangled with their British and Canadian counterparts for two-and-a-half years. The War of 1812 in this region, and its wider implications, will be topics at the third annual War of 1812 Symposium April 29-30 in Ogdensburg, NY, sponsored by the Fort La Présentation Association.

The five presentations by authoritative Canadians and Americans are: Ogdensburg and Prescott during the War of 1812, Paul Fortier; American supply efforts on Lake Ontario: “Cooper’s Ark,” Richard Palmer; “Colonel Louis” and the Native American role in the War of 1812, Darren Bonaparte; The war on the St. Lawrence River, Victor Suthren; and Excavation of American Graves at the 1812 Burlington Cantonment, Kate Kenny. The post-dinner address by Patrick Wilder is the Battle of Sackets Harbor

“We established the symposium in advance of the war’s 2012 bicentennial to help develop a broader public understanding of the War of 1812, so important to the evolution of the United States and Canada,” said Barbara O’Keefe, President of the Fort La Présentation Association. “The annual symposium is a vibrant forum of scholars from both sides of the boarder presenting informative seminars to an enthusiastic audience of academics, history buffs and re-enactors.”

The cost of the symposium is $100 for the Saturday seminars and after-dinner speaker, including a light continental breakfast, a buffet lunch and a sit-down dinner. The Friday evening meet-and-greet with period entertainment by Celtic harpist Sue Croft and hors d’oeuvres is $10.

The symposium and dinner fee for Fort La Présentation Association members is $90, and they will pay $10 for the meet-and-greet.

Other pricing options are available: $80 for the Saturday seminars without dinner; and $35 for the dinner with speaker.

Seminar details and registration instructions on the Fort La Présentation Association webpage.

The Freight House Restaurant in Ogdensburg will host the symposium, as it has in previous years.

The Fort La Présentation Association is a not-for-profit corporation based in Ogdensburg, New York. Its mission is to sponsor or benefit the historically accurate reconstruction of Fort de la Présentation (1749) in close proximity to the original site on Lighthouse Point.

Seminar Presenters

Darren Bonaparte from the Mohawk community of Ahkwesáhsne on the St. Lawrence River is an historical journalist. He created the Wampum Chronicles website in 1999 to promote his research into the history and culture of the Rotinonhsión:ni—the People of the Longhouse. Mr. Bonaparte has been published by Indian Country Today, Native Americas, Aboriginal Voices and Winds of Change, and he has served as an historical consultant for the PBS miniseries The War That Made America; Champlain: The Lake Between; and The Forgotten War: The Struggle for North America.

Paul Fortier, of Kingston, ON, worked 10 years as a military curator and historian for Parks Canada and a following 10 years as a manager at the National Archives of Canada. While living in Prescott, ON, the home he restored was the Stockade Barracks, British military headquarters on the St. Lawrence River during the War of 1812. Mr. Fortier is a founder of the re-enacted Regiment of Canadian Fencible Infantry. He owns Jessup Food & Heritage, providing period food services at Upper Canada Village, Fort Henry and Fort York.

Kate Kenney is the Program Historian at the University of Vermont Consulting Archeology Program. She supervises historic artifact analysis and also helps supervise field work, particularly at historic sites. She is the senior author of Archaeological Investigations at the Old Burial Ground, St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Ms. Kenny has organized and conducted UVM CAP public outreach, including presentations to elementary and high school students. Personal research projects involve Vermont history from the earliest settlement through to the Civil War.

Richard F. Palmer of Syracuse is a senior editor of “Inland Seas,” the quarterly of the Great Lakes Historical Society, and has written some 40 articles for the publication, covering more than 250 years of Lake Ontario’s maritime history. His presentation on “Cooper’s Ark,” is the story of a short-lived floating fortress built in Oswego during the War of 1812, but lost in a storm while sailing to Sackets Harbor. He’ll also recount the attempt to raft lumber for the construction of ships from Oak Orchard to Sackets Harbor; the delivery was intercepted by the British.

Victor Suthren, from Merrickville, Ontario, is an author and historian. He served as Director General of the Canadian War Museum from 1986 to 1998, and is an Honorary Captain in the Canadian Navy and advisor to the Directorate of Naval History and Heritage, Department of National Defence (Canada). He has worked as an advisor to film and television productions and has voyaged extensively as a seaman in traditional “tall ships.” Mr. Suthren has published several works of historical non-fiction, as well as two series of historical sea fiction.

Patrick Wilder is an historian retired from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. He is the author of The Battle of Sackett’s Harbour, 1813.

Photo: Canadian Fencibles Colours, courtesy Fort La Présentation Association.


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