Thursday, July 13, 2006

Adirondack Heritage For Sale – And Not Very Cheaply

A recent post over at one of our favorite blogs, York Staters, got us thinking about the price of Adirondack History. Jesse, one of the blog’s several prolific and thoughtful writers, offered this about the Adirondack guide boat, which he calls the pick-up truck of the region:

It is ironic that the pick-up truck has become the Rolls-Royce, but the boats are once again slowly proliferating in the region. Yet, how many Adirondackers can afford part of their heritage? At the same time that the Adirondacks themselves are increasingly being bought off and subdivided for homes for suburbanites, the artistic heritage of the people is only available to these same outsiders. This is not only true for guideboats, but also for Adirondack packbaskets, performances of traditional Adirondack music, which have all become expensive for, and distant from, the lives of Adirondackers.

To that we add this tidbit.

The most recent book on the history of the Adirondacks is Adirondack: Of Indians and Mountains, 1535-1838 – price? $39

One of the great resources for Adirondack information is the Adirondack Atlas – price? $23 (just reduced from $35 for a paperback!)

Expensive and distant indeed!


That said, if you can afford them, and they are great books, take the time to buy through the “Suggested” links we’ve been adding. It’s a nice way to contribute to the Almanack and help keep us going (actually we’ll keep going whether you buy or not, but making even a little cash makes us feel a whole lot better about it!).

Suggested Reading: Adirondack: Of Indians and Mountains, 1535-1838

Suggested Reading: Adirondack Atlas: A Geographic Portrait of the Adirondack Park


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Another Adirondack Community Forum is Dead

Several years ago our own Glens Falls Post Star had a community forum. They promised that citizens of the Adirondack North Country would have a place to discuss the news of the day and (god-forbid) provide feedback on the “news” paper’s reporting. It didn’t last long. Some forum posters demonstrated that the paper was editing its AP Newswire stories to lean just a little more to the right and others tossed out accusations that the paper was unfairly covering local elections (apparently also true considering their lack of coverage of independent parties so far in the coming election). Anyway, it wasn’t long before that forum was closed. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ticonderoga Lowe’s – Another Lesson in Poor Planning

On the heals of the Saranac Lake WalMart debacle comes the latest planning ignorance from our elected officials. Lowe’s Home Improvement will be using their immense size along with lame and out of proportion architectural [ahem] design, to further erode downtown Ticonderoga. The Plattsburg Press Republican is reporting on the Lowe’s project. Lowe’s operates over 1,225 stores in 49 states (excepting Vermont) and is number 42 on the Fortune 500 list – it’s the second largest hardware chain in the country.

Ti could have a nice downtown, which although filled with numerous abandoned shops and empty lots, still has much of its Victorian character and walkability. Unfortunately local and regional planners are eager to abandon the downtown in favor of ugly, automobile access only, strip development about a mile away. So far a Wal-Mart SuperCenter, a Super 8 Motel, a McDonald’s, a Subway and a Dunkin’ Donuts have all located on what was once farmland at the edge of town. All these businesses could have located downtown. Think of it! Imagine the ability to shop at several stores within walking distance downtown, maybe stop at the Post Office, or for coffee at a local coffee shop, maybe at the library.

Instead, Lowe’s, along with Congressman John McHugh (R-Pierrepont Manor, Vietnam draft-dodger), Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Robert C. Dedrick, and a number of other small-minded corporatist want to see Lowe’s build a 53 feet high 124,000 square foot store with, and get this, a 245 square foot sign! The standard APA park sign size is 60 square feet and the building is already designed a full story above the park limit. Apparently Lowe’s thinks that the Adirondack Park is just like any other place on earth.

Dedrick said a 60-square-foot sign was put up as a test at the proposed Lowe’s site.

“You could barely see the sign. You certainly couldn’t read the letters.”

Ah… yeah… sure Dedrick, maybe that’s because most reasonable people believe that a building and its sign shouldn’t be designed as an eyesore on purpose and that a 53 by what 2 or 3 hundred foot building is visible enough – especially when it’s designed to be entirely incongruent with its surroundings.

Dedrick said a busload of Ticonderoga citizens will be going to APA headquarters in Ray Brook for the meeting when the vote will be taken.

“We have had extreme support on this. APA, here we come.”

Supervisor Joyce Morency (R-St. Armand) said that as many members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors as possible should also attend.

Folks, take the time to counter these fools and save Ticonderoga from their lengthy tenure at destroying one of America‘s most important historic towns.

Vote them out!

Attend the public hearing on the sign variance on either July 17 or 24 at the Ticonderoga Armory Community Building (now that’s some nice scheduling work from the local officials).

UPDATE 7/13: The Press Republican accurately describes the current situation in an editorial July 11:

Ticonderoga Supervisor Robert Dedrick says the APA has assured him the process will be conducted fairly and without bias.

At this stage, that appears unlikely, for it will be difficult for the agency to rule against Lowe’s now, no matter how much sense it might make to do so. If the agency decides the store must settle for the 60 square foot sign, the charges of obstinacy and absence of fairness will fly in earnest. It will take more guts than normal to rule against the company.

In government, appearance is often more important than reality. In this case, it appears the APA has been backed into a ruling it will be hard pressed to deny.

The simple fact remains – the size of their store is a more than big enough sign. By trying to muscle the agency whose job it is to defend the character of the Adirondacks they prove themselves to be the enemy of the New York Constitution and the people its represents.

UPDATE 7/20: The Adirondack Park Agency issued a permit approving construction of a 153,000 square foot Lowe’s including a 124,051-square foot building and attached 28,829-square foot garden center, a parking lot for 441 vehicles, signage, lighting and landscaping. Municipal water supply, wastewater treatment and stormwater facilities will serve the Lowe’s Store. Once the permit is recorded in the Essex County Clerk’s Office, the developer is free to begin construction. The permit includes a condition that sign for the proposed store must conform to the size and height limitations required by the Agency’s “Standards for Signs Associated with Projects.” Agency regulations limit signs on jurisdictional projects to 40 square feet (15 square feet for luminous signs) and limit the total sign area of two signs on a project site to 60 square feet.

UPDATE 7/26: A well-organized group of ill-informed locals gave the APA a hard time at the hearing over the sign. Here’s a nice tidbit:

Moriah Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava is a longtime foe of the APA.

“We have suffered economic hardship in the Adirondack Park since the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency. We have been forced to live like second-class citizens.”

Sure Scozzafava – you live like a second class citizen.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Adirondack Turtles and Tourists

Take a look at the latest entries from Trinity University’s President Patricia McGuire blog. She’s been making her annual sojourn into the Adirondacks and has some interesting insights. Here’s a sample:

Driving east on Rte. 30 yesterday, about half a mile ahead I observed vehicles swerving all over the road. I approached cautiously, thinking there must be a piece of debris on the ground. But lo and behold, when I got closer, I saw the cause of all the commotion: a turtle about the size of a dinner plate ambling across the street from one marsh to another.

Now, growing up in Philadelphia, our vacations took us to South Jersey along the Black Horse Pike. We used to see a lot of turtles crossing the road along the way — or the remnants thereof. It’s where I first heard the term “roadkill.” You got points for hitting, fingers raised for swerving to save a turtle life.

Up here in the Adirondacks, I don’t see much roadkill. Instead, there’s a distinctive effort to preserve wildlife, including the turtle crawling across Rte. 30. Those swerving cars weren’t citified environmental lawyers in their Navigators. No, they were lumberjacks and fishermen in 4×4’s. Everyone understands the rules of the wilderness. Humans and wild things living side-by-side, warily respecting each other’s space. Nobody got hurt in all that swerving. No fingers waved out of car windows. Even the turtle made it home for dinner safely.

It’s always interesting to hear what others think about our Adirondack region – and their turtles.


Suggested Reading: Proceedings of the International Conference on the Conservation, Restoration, and Management of Tortoises and Turtles (SUNY Purchase, 1993)


Thursday, July 6, 2006

Firefly – Our Adirondack Back Yard Burning Man

In case you missed it – and we’re sure you did – last weekend brought a Burning Man like celebration to our neighbors in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont called Firefly [Flickr photo set]. We heard about it from the uvScene, and outstanding collaborative University of Vermont blog that, along with 802 Online, keeps us posted on all things cool across the water.


Suggested Viewing: The Burning Man DVD


Monday, June 19, 2006

Adirondack Media: The Glens Falls Post Star takes on WAMC – and loses

In a strangely foolish move two weeks ago (designed to make local Public Radio Station WAMC look bad?) the Warren County daily reported the following:

Warren County supervisors agreed Wednesday to spend $9,800 in occupancy tax funds for a year’s worth of advertising on WAMC/Northeast Public Radio. The money buys 52 weeks of “embedded” advertising during WAMC’s morning program, The Round Table. In addition to small announcements, discussion of the county and region is integrated into the commentary on the Round Table show, explained county Budget Officer Nicholas Caimano.

The Albany Eye (a one-man band blog, not a serious newspaper like the PS is supposed to be) was quick to point out that what the Post Star was saying was that Warren County was buying the right to content on WAMC’s regular morning show.

It sounds like this means that the county will get to place guests on the show where they’ll promote events and other Warren County tourism initiatives.

Well, that’s what it sounded like to us as well, and probably anyone else who bothered to pick up one of the Adirondack‘s worst run papers. But then, it turns out – surprise, surprise – that the Post Star got it all wrong because they didn’t bother to ask the folks at WAMC.

Worse yet, on Tuesday the paper’s Christine Margiotta passed the fault back to Caimano:

Warren County Budget Officer Nicholas Caimano drew sharp criticism Monday from WAMC/Northeast Public Radio over his description last week of an underwriting deal between the county and the radio station.

WAMC staff members said Caimano was out of line last week when he said Warren County‘s status as a station underwriter would buy “embedded” advertising and commentary on WAMC’s “The Round Table” morning show.

Susan Arbetter, co-host of The Round Table show, explained Monday that underwriters have no influence over the show’s content.

“WAMC and the Round Table never do quid pro quo,” she said. “We certainly sell underwriting but there is a firewall between the underwriting department and editorial at WAMC. It’s as sacred at WAMC as it is at any newspaper.”

Fine, but here’s the rub:

Caimano said Monday his lack of understanding led him to inaccurately characterize WAMC’s underwriting process to the county Board of Supervisors.

Ah… sure… but it was a lack of real journalism on the part of the Post Star that reported his false claim as fact and led them “to inaccurately characterize WAMC’s underwriting process to the county.”

True to form, the Glens Falls daily deceives and obfuscates, rather than simply admit its shortcomings when it’s wrong – nothing new there.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Adirondack Progressives Gear-up for Election 2006

Adirondack Progressives, who have been heralded here at the Almanack a few times before, have announced that they will meet at 7:30 pm, tomorrow (Thursday, 7/15) at the Rock Hill Bake House Cafe in Glens Falls.

According to always active progressive Matt:

It’s time! Howie Hawkins (Green candidate for U.S. Senate against Hillary) is coming to Glens Falls next month for a fundraiser that we’re going to put on for him! We need to help this man out …in the fall, we can likely have him come up with Malachy McCourt (the Green candidate for Governor) and hear them speak at the Wood Theater. Let’s see the Post-Star ignore that! So far they have neglected to mention, even once, that there are any alternatives to Hillary and Spitzer.

We hope you can make it!

While we’re at it: The Working Families Party Election Round-Up for June


Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Strange Life of James Jesse Strang

I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left.

So it was that Joseph Smith, prophet of God and founder of the Mormon Church (now the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) rather mistakenly announced the demise of these United States on this day in 1843.

So what do Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church have to do with the Adirondack region? A man named James Jesse Strang – his parents were born in Saratoga and Washington counties at the end of the 18th century. He was born in 1811 and later moved with his wife to Chautauqua County. He later moved to Nauvoo, Illinois where he met Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Mormon Church.

Long story short, Strang converted to Mormonism, was elected to the State Legislature, claimed to have had heavenly visions, and that an angel appeared before him to tell him the secret location of – you guessed it – another buried account of ancient people, this time etched into brass plates.

After Joseph Smith was killed by a mob in Illinois in 1844 a feud erupted between Strang and Brigham Young over who was his rightful heir. Smith’s followers divided between “Brighamites” and “Strangites.” Although Strang produced a letter from Smith appointing him the new Prophet (still in the Yale University Library), and 12,000 believers allegedly joined him, the winner was Brigham Young who excommunicated Strang and took his followers to Utah – home of the Big Love!

Strang moved with about 125 followers to Beaver Island, Michigan where he proclaimed himself “King of the Kingdom of God on Earth” and well, generally pissed off the local Irish fishermen and farmers by extracting tithes from them.

That didn’t last long and James Jesse Strang was shot 150 years ago this June and died a short time later. His spiritual descendents are still spread around the Midwest, Canada, and even Mexico although a mob burned the Beaver Island temple around the time of Strang’s death. There are no temples for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (known as the True Faith – not to be confused with the Utah folks who use Latter-Day, rather than Latter Day).


Suggested Reading

Biography of James Jesse Strang


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Adirondack Region School Board Vote Results

All school budgets in Clinton, Essex, Lewis and Jefferson counties passed! Here’s a report from NCPR’s Brian Mann

Essex, Fulton, Saratoga, Washington and Warren Counties from Capital News 9
Southern Adirondack Details from ComPost Star
Clinton County fromThe Plattsburgh Press Republican


Sunday, May 14, 2006

An Adirondack Mothers Day

Everyone’s favorite Adirondack celebrity Rachael Ray on the School of Mama and for mom – The Barefoot and Pregnant Bear – Yikes!


Suggested Reading: Rachael Ray’s Latest Cookbook – Perfect for the Grocery-less Adirondacks


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

SUNY Potsdam Republicans Organizing Armed Militia on Campus

You read it right… SUNY Potsdam College Republicans, apparently afraid of something, are organizing shotgun-toting patrols.

Kelly Eustis tells NewsWatch50 he borrowed the idea from student leaders at SUNY New Paltz but also believes it’s a Republican-oriented issue.

“I believe it is our constitutional right,” Eustis said. “It will show people that it is the right to bear arms. It will also act as a defense organization for the students of SUNY Potsdam and act as a kind of a watchdog group for police.”

Eustis said that after just a few days of soliciting he has 16 students interested in being a part of the militia.

At SUNY New Paltz, Student Association leaders are proposing patrols consisting of three students, two armed with shotguns and a third carrying a video camera.

Friends… prepare your arm salutes! We only hope there isn’t a beer garden nearby.


Suggested Reading: Potsdam Public Museum’s Photo History of Potsdam


Monday, May 8, 2006

Some Posts From Around the Adirondack Region You May Not Have Seen

Over at jockeystreet we have a great post on the meaning of May 1st – that’s the original May 1st, not the jingoistic 1958 Cold War version that is dying a slow and deserving death in Glens Falls – apparently much to the dismay of the Glens Falls Post Star.

Speaking of the region’s worst daily – and we recently spoke with a long time VIP at the paper who completely agreed with that assessment. We wish we could say more about that but he asked us not to. Anyway, Matt is back with his Angry (and strikingly disturbing and truthy) Letters to the Editor which demonstrate the long held accusations of Matt’s. Apparently they are withholding and corrupting the news, printing painfully slanted rhetoric in place of the news, and, well, lying to their readers.

A nice comparison is to take a look at these two stories:

From the Post Star: DEC wins court decision stopping vehicle use on Adirondack roads (now that’s a headline – how the hell will we get to the grocery? or the pub?)

And from the North Country Gazette (now a one woman about to go under webzine): Horicon Loses Attempt to Lift ATV Ban

In other internet news – we have a bizarre thread on the need to carry guns while hiking. Forget the bears! Its the teenagers some are ready to shoot.

And there’s the local Wikipedia war with words!

While we’re going on about the new wonders of the internet – Metroland has a good read about the death of local music retailer The Music Shack – unfortunately the blame is all on us, has nothing to do with them:

For every music collector, record collector, appreciator of album covers and lover of lyric sheets, there is a careless bandit, an unemotional music drone, the one who downloads music willy-nilly, regardless of taste, ignoring the band’s history or influences, oblivious to the group’s importance and pedigree or lack thereof. These buyers are the ones who are giving Memorex, Dynex and Verbatim a boost in the piggy bank. They are the ones you see scooping the jumbo CD carrying cases off the shelves at Wal-Mart to fill with ugly, scribbled-on discs. They are the people who don’t recognize the album covers or know the track names of their favorite bands.

Metal fans are in a tizzy – where will they buy the latest Tool? Meanwhile, music is making real progress on an old front – connecting with the dramatic and awful things that are happening today. We give you:

The release of Bruce Springsteen’s cover of Pete Seeger tunes from Hudson Mohawk IMC
The release of Neil Young’s Living With War (with extra mp3 goodness for all you “unemotional music drones”) from Vermont’s False 45th Blog.

UPDATE #1 – 05/10/06: NCPR reports on calls to restrict ATV use by young children.

UPDATE #2 – O5/10/06: Forgot to mention a really great music blog agregator with plenty of great mp3 goodness – elbo.ws


Monday, May 1, 2006

Lake George Fire – A Chance to Fix Some Lake George Blight

Last week’s fire in Lake George Village destroyed a block of architectural blunders that had replaced the majestic Hotel Lake George, which itself was destroyed by fire in 1978.Let’s only hope someone has a little better foresight and consideration of the character of the village when they rebuild (or approve a rebuild) this time. Consider what it looked like in the 1950s:

The old Hotel Lake George had been a local landmark owned byCaldwellSupervisor (as the Town ofLake Georgewas known then) Edwin J. Worden – it was called the Hotel Worden until the late 1940s or early 1950s. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Three New Species Found in the Adirondack Treetops

Graduate student researcher Heather Root has made international news with the discovery of three new species in the canopy near Newcomb. The paper was presented at the Ninth Annual Northeast Natural History Conference in Albany.

UPDATE 05/09/06: North Country Public Radio has picked up on this story. Root told NCPR’s Brian Mann that she also found a rare lichen believed to have disappeared from the Adirondacks decades ago.


Suggested Reading: A History of Adirondack Mammals


Monday, April 24, 2006

Earth Day 2006 and the Adirondacks

In honor of Earth Day 2006, some interesting and important Adirondack related sites.

It’s still not too late to take part in this year’s Hudson River Sweep a clean-up of the Great North River sponsored by the Scenic Hudson. They even have a cool page to locate your local clean-up event. Unfortunately, the closest clean-ups in our area are down in Saratoga County. » Continue Reading.


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