Almanack Contributor Chris Morris

Chris Morris

Chris Morris lives in Saranac Lake and is communications manager at ACT, the community foundation of the Adirondacks. He has reported in the past for a variety of news outlets across the North Country, including the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, North Country Public Radio, and Denton Publications. His work has also appeared in the Adirondack Explorer and here at the Adirondack Almanack. He can be reached by email at

ACT, the Adirondack region’s community foundation, works to invest in a brighter future for the Adirondacks by inspiring philanthropy and community investment. Home to more than 220 charitable funds, ACT has awarded some $20 million in grants and scholarships in several broad categories, including education, environment, human well being, community vitality and culture. ACT is also leading a number of initiatives aimed at bolstering Adirondack communities and supporting nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit

Friday, June 10, 2016

Tri-Lakes Young Professionals Play important Role

photo of TLYP's boardAs the community foundation of the Adirondack region, we spend a lot of time in the community. Lately, we’ve noticed a promising trend: more and more young people are visiting the Tri-Lakes, and some of them are starting to move here to open up businesses or join the workforce. Sure, it’s anecdotal – but sometimes you have to trust what you’re seeing.

We commend the Tri-Lakes Young Professionals (TLYP) for convening the young people who’ve decided to make the Adirondacks their home, and for building a network that keeps growing by the day. » Continue Reading.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Lake Placid Community Helps Build A Band Shell

Designs for the new  band shell at Lake Placid's Mid's Park, courtesy of the Paul White Memorial Bandshell Fundraising Campaign.Construction is set to begin this fall on a new band shell in Lake Placid’s Mid’s Park.

This community project, led by a small group of dedicated volunteers and supported by the generosity of countless full-time and seasonal residents, has been in the works for years, and the rubber is finally ready to hit the road, according to Bill Billerman of the Paul White Memorial Bandshell Fundraising Campaign.

The Lake Placid village Board of Trustees recently accepted a bid from Murnane Associates of Plattsburgh to construct the band shell. Billerman said the two sides are negotiating a contract, and work will likely start in September. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Along the Ausable, Ironman Triathletes Give Back

Ironman Foundation volunteers take a break from their work at Keene Valley's Rock Cut Park.More than a dozen members of the Ironman Foundation Newton Running Tri Team took a break from their training in the days leading up to Sunday’s race to help spruce up Keene Valley’s Rock Cut Park.

The town-owned parcel, located on state Route 73 along the banks of the East Branch of the Ausable River, had been a staging area for the Rivermede river restoration project. As the volunteers spread out topsoil a few feet away from shore, Ironman Foundation Executive Director David Deschenes said his organization and the Newton team actively look for ways to give back to communities that host the Ironman race.

“The mantra of the team is service through sport and commitment to community,” he explained. » Continue Reading.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Valley Kitchen: Connecting Producers to Consumers

Members of the Valley Kitchen Board of Directors  gather at the old Upper Jay Schoolhouse in June. From left are Rob Farkus, Heather Morgan, and Natalie Woods.Volunteers in Upper Jay are working to establish a community kitchen in hopes of invigorating the local economy, promoting local food and connecting farmers to consumers.

It’s called the Valley Kitchen, and it’s an idea cooked up by a group of energetic volunteers from the Upper Jay area. I had a chance to meet with three of them – Heather Morgan, Natalie Woods and Rob Farkas – on a hot, sunny day back in June. (Yes, the sun was really out. I have photographic evidence.)

Standing outside the Upper Jay Schoolhouse, located on state Route 9N, Farkas – who is secretary of the Valley Kitchen Board of Directors – recalled that Trudy Rosenblum, who curates the Jay Community News with her husband Seth, urged her neighbors to think about coming together to work on a community project. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chris Morris On Amazing Adirondack Stories

Chris MorrisAmazing things happen in the Adirondacks every day. I want to share those stories with you.

In this new Adirondack Almanack feature, I’ll report on some of the great, community-minded work that’s happening across the Adirondack Park. I’ll also highlight opportunities for you to get involved and give back.

The purpose of this feature is two-fold. For one, I hope these stories will inspire others to act. That could mean volunteering at a local animal shelter, signing up to coach youth athletics or donating money to a meaningful cause. If I fail to inspire you, that’s OK: my other goal is to simply make you feel good about where we live. » Continue Reading.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chris Morris: A Local Election Season Preview

It’s an off-year as far as elections are concerned, but a few local races provide some intrigue.

In the town of North Elba, incumbent Supervisor Roby Politi faces a challenge from one of his colleagues on the town council — Democrat Derek Doty.

Politi had been weighing his decision, and opted-in after his doctors gave him the thumbs up. “I want to be healthy,” he told Nathan Brown of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. “Until recently it was a concern. But it’s not anymore.”

In the town of Keene, Supervisor Bill Ferebee will need to fend off a primary challenge by Paul F. Vincent if he wants to stay in office.

The towns of Schroon, Newcomb and Crown Point are also hosting primaries on Sept. 13. » Continue Reading.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chris Morris: Where Are All The Volunteers?

Earlier this month, volunteer fire departments across New York state took part in a unified recruitment effort, aimed at increasing ranks and attracting younger volunteers.

Hosted by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, the Recruit NY effort was deemed a success.

I reported on the recruitment and retention issues that are, according to most fire departments, putting volunteer ranks at risk. You can listen to — or read — the story here. » Continue Reading.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chris Morris: A Final Look at Tuesday’s Election

The election is just days away, so a quick round-up of election notes pertinent to the Adirondack North Country is in order.

Statewide, the gubernatorial election has drawn the most attention during this campaign cycle. The mainstream media has zeroed in on the “big ticket” candidates, tea party Republican Carl Paladino and Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo has, for the most part, held a comfortable lead in the polls. Paladino began making gains following his resounding victory over Rick Lazio in September, but that momentum appears to have dried up.

Paladino’s big chance to carve into Cuomo’s lead was an Oct. 18 debate. Unfortunately for Paladino, a little-known gimmick candidate stole the spotlight and, at least for me, sort of ruined what turned out to be the only debate ahead of the Nov. 2 elections. » Continue Reading.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chris Morris: Election 2010 Update

Happy Monday, folks. Here’s a recap of recent political news in the Adirondack North Country — as well as a quick look ahead.

Saranac Lake accountant Doug Hoffman is, as you may have heard, out of the race for New York’s 23rd Congressional District. His decision to drop his third party run cleared the way for a two-way race between Watertown banker Matt Doheny and Democratic incumbent Bill Owens.

I don’t need to tell you that a two-way race dramatically shifts the GOP’s chances to take back a seat held by Republicans for more than a century. Politicos are predicting a close race — personally, I see Doheny gaining momentum, and fast. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chris Morris: Election 2010 Primary Recap

The primary elections are in the books and it was a wild ride, indeed.

Carl Paladino shocked pundits — and the Republican establishment — by thumping former Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio in the GOP gubernatorial primary. It wasn’t even close.

I spent primary night at the Red Fox in Saranac Lake, where GOP congressional hopeful Doug Hoffman’s campaign team was set up. I was glued to the returns and shocked to see Paladino put up such big numbers. But Lazio’s death knell came when Ralph Lorigo, his opponent in the Conservative primary, actually took a slim lead for a few minutes.

Paladino has little time to celebrate. Andrew Cuomo is a much more formidable and better-financed opponent.

Paladino’s resounding victory makes Doug Hoffman’s failure to gain victory over Matt Doheny that much more interesting, though.

The tea party express made a strong showing last night. In Delaware, Christine O’Donnell handed Congressman Mike Castle a stunning defeat. The tea party could pick up another big win in New Hampshire, too.

So where was the support for Hoffman last night?

I spoke with Hoffman early in the evening, pointing out that tea party candidates were making a strong showing. He told me that gave him confidence.

Not so much. Not only does it look like Hoffman might lose, the voter turnout was shaky at best.

Throughout his campaign, Hoffman took pride in his get-out-the-vote ability based on last year’s special election. The total number of votes for both candidates — about 31,000 — represents less than half of the total votes tallied for Hoffman last November.

Strange stuff, considering the great interest in this election exhibited by voters in the 23rd.

That brings me to the Upstate New York Tea Party, the group that has backed Hoffman throughout the campaign. The talk among news junkies this morning is a press release issued by UNYTEA Chairman Mark Barie. He says Republicans and Conservatives can’t waste time with lengthy recounts.

“There are less than seven weeks until the November election, and we intend to use that time to reorganize and to make the case to voters that Bill Owens has got to go,” Barie said.

“Doug would have to take about two thirds of the absentee ballots in order to win. I think that’s unlikely, but we can not afford to sit idly by while the recount takes place,” he added.

He also made some strong remarks about Hoffman’s campaign:

“I am very disappointed with the way in which the Hoffman campaign was conducted. It was unorganized, it lacked focus, and it failed to take advantage of Doug’s tremendous popularity. Doug’s senior campaign adviser, Chris Baker, ran this campaign from his office in Arizona and he was clearly ignorant of what was happening on the ground here in the North Country,” he said.

“Speaking just for myself, if Doug doesn’t make some personnel changes, his campaign for Congress is going no where. I think his chances for success on the Conservative Party line are minimal. This is true because, unlike last year when he came so close to defeating Bill Owens, this year’s GOP nominee is not a tax and spend liberal. Matt Doheny is a fiscal conservative.”

Barie stopped short of formally endorsing Doheny, however.

I’ll keep you posted with any updates. News outlets are currently waiting (somewhat impatiently) for Hoffman’s team to make an announcement on whether he is conceding or staying in the race as the Conservative candidate.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chris Morris: Election 2010 Update

Hey all — just checking in with a quick update on the 2010 primary and general elections.

John Warren and some of his colleagues here at the Adirondack Almanack have long lamented the mainstream medias’ disdain for covering third party candidates (I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been more than guilty of this myself). [See John Warren, Brian Farenell]

I’ve put a more sincere focus on those third party candidates in my coverage of this year’s elections, and I wanted to share an interesting article published Sept. 8.

The Associated Press reports that at least two third parties are in danger of losing their future spots on the ballot. The Working Families Party and the state’s Conservative Party need to carry the names of two gubernatorial candidates on Nov. 2 if they wish to retain their ballot positions without going through future petitioning.

New York State Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Cuomo has been courted by the WFP for some time. But Cuomo has been hesitant — if not outright opposed — to accepting their nomination and appearing on their party’s line.

In June, a Cuomo spokesman said an ongoing federal investigation into the WFP had to be cleared up before the candidate would jump on board.

Now, Cuomo says the party needs to accept his agenda before he welcomes their endorsement.

Another third party is also crossing its fingers ahead of next week’s GOP primary.

Rick Lazio says party unity is key if the Republicans are to beat Cuomo in November (a long shot no matter who wins the primary). According to political experts, that could mean Lazio will abandon his spot on the Conservative Party line if he loses to Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino.

Yesterday’s AP report notes that minor parties need at least 50,000 votes on their respective lines to secure future ballots.

On another note, I firmly believe third parties are going to gain momentum rapidly in the coming years.

The tea party movement — which is exactly that, a movement — could potentially see the establishment of an actual “Tea Party” line on the ballot. Paladino has already created the Taxpayer Party in New York (which, technically, would include everyone who pays taxes regardless of political beliefs).

And how long before we see a similar split in the Democratic Party? The Blue Dog Caucus, which consists of moderate and conservative Democrats, has been picking up steam in recent years. It’s only a matter of time before Dems like Congressman Scott Murphy decide that it’s no longer politically expedient to be attached to their more liberal counterparts.

Finally, a few quick links to check out:

North Country Public Radio Adirondack Bureau Chief Brian Mann has been a blogging animal as of late. Here’s a few choice cuts: Republicans need to get specific on abortion; the GOP as the party of no sacrifices; and my personal favorite, Scott Murphy is not a kitten killer.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise Staff Writer Nathan Brown blogged on Doug Hoffman’s FEC fine.

Jude Seymour of the Watertown Daily Times is rolling out some talking points.

And some shameless self promotion:

Jon Alexander blogged on Hoffman’s primary strategy, wondering whether it is childish or brilliant. I commented on Scott Murphy’s recent Lake Placid visit — and a few people seemed to think I was endorsing him. I was absolutely not, for the record.

Finally, if you missed Tuesday night’s debate between Doug Hoffman and Matt Doheny, you can listen to it here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chris Morris: Election Update 2010

It’s been too long since I’ve posted on the upcoming primary and general elections, so let’s dive right in.

First off, we’ve got some debates in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. In fact, I’ll be moderating one of them, right here in Saranac Lake.

Matt Doheny and Doug Hoffman will square off in a primary debate at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7 at the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake. It’s being sponsored by the WNBZ news department and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

A three-person media panel will ask the questions – that panel features Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio, Peter Crowley of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, and Matt Bosley of Denton Publications. Panelists will draft questions, and we’re encouraging the public to submit questions, too.

Voters need debates. It offers folks a first-hand look at the candidates, free of canned press statements and air-brushed advertising. That’s why our questions are being kept secret until the night of the debate – we want to see how the candidates react to questions off the cuff (although I’m not implying that we’ll be asking screwball questions).

The Upstate New York Tea Party (UNYTEA) is also sponsoring a debate in Plattsburgh. Speaking of UNYTEA, the group recently reached the 1,000 member milestone.

In other 23rd CD news, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing both incumbent Congressman Bill Owens and Doheny on North Country Today. You can listen to those interviews here. I’ll be interviewing Hoffman Sept. 2.

One of Hoffman’s major criticisms of Doheny is the Watertown business man’s ties to Wall Street – I had a chance to ask Doheny about those criticisms directly. Here’s what he told me: “I don’t think there are concerns at all,” he said. “Unfortunately, my opponent is sort of grasping at straws.”

“The reality is twofold,” he added. “Number one: I’ve invested my time in turning around troubled companies. And number two: I’ve been related to finance for my entire career, but I’ve never worked with an institution that took a bailout from the feds.”

Doheny says he shouldn’t be criticized for his personal success. “My opponent shouldn’t be critical of someone who has followed their own American dream,” he said. “I’m proud of my success. I’m proud of Mr. Hoffman’s successes. I’m proud that Mr. Owens has found success.”

Meanwhile, Hoffman is espousing the merits of Arizona’s controversial immigration law; you can watch his new ad here.

Casey Sieler of the Times Union picked apart Hoffman’s ad in a blog post at Capitol Confidential.

In New York’s 20th Congressional District, Democratic Representative and incumbent Scott Murphy is hitting the airwaves with some new ads, and challenger Chris Gibson got some help from an influential Republican.

Finally, a quick look at the gubernatorial election, or, “the one that Cuomo is going to win come November.”

Joking aside, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s lead in the polls looks pretty insurmountable at this point. But as I’ve said before, at least we’ve got Carl Paladino to keep things interesting.

In July, the Buffalo businessman introduced Mario Jr. – a campaign volunteer dressed as a duck, assigned to follow Cuomo around to all of his events.

Now, Paladino is rolling out Little Ricky – a volunteer dressed as a giant chicken. And as the name implies, this one’s job is to follow around former Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio.

Yeah, I know, these are just gimmicks and really don’t offer anything to voters looking for a meaningful dialogue – especially since Mario Jr. refused to take any of Jon Alexander’s questions outside a Cuomo campaign event in Saranac Lake (the response from the duck’s handler was, “he doesn’t talk, he’s a freaking duck”).

Paladino’s shtick might be working, however. He’s gaining ground on Lazio.

That’s it for now. I’ve got elections AND football coming up. I love autumn.

By the way, send your questions for the Hoffman/Doheny debate to – or pass them along to John Warren here at the Adirondack Almanack and he’ll forward them to me.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Doheny, Hoffman to Debate; Questions Sought

The two candidates seeking the Republican line in this fall’s 23rd Congressional District election will square off in a debate ahead of their September 14th primary.

WNBZ radio and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise are teaming up to host a debate between Doug Hoffman and Matt Doheny. The debate is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7 at the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake.

This is expected to be the second debate featuring Doheny and Hoffman; another will be hosted by the Upstate New York Tea Party on Sept. 1 in Plattsburgh.

Questions for the Saranac Lake debate will come from a panel of North Country journalists. The public is invited to submit questions to these panelists for consideration.

“In order to provide a fair and balanced debate setting, all questions will be kept secret prior to the evening of the debate,” said Chris Morris, news director at WNBZ and a regular contributor on politics here at Adirondack Almanack.

“We’re also welcoming questions from the voting public,” he said. “However, questions should be formulated so they can be directed to both candidates; questions aimed at one particular candidate will not be considered.”

Panelists and moderators for the evening so far include Morris, Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio, Peter Crowley of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, and Matt Bosley of Denton Publications. Panelists and moderators are subject to change.

Each candidate will be allotted two-and-a-half minutes to answer each question, with 30 seconds for rebuttals.

Both candidates have indicated they will be available following the debate for a brief meet-and-greet session.

Voter questions should be submitted to panelists no later than 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3 to any of the following journalists: Chris Morris at, Brian Mann at, Matt Bosley at or Peter Crowley at

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chris Morris: Election 2010 Update

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and his RV tour zipped through upstate New York last week, and two prominent North Country Republicans announced their support for Watertown businessman Matt Doheny in the race for New York’s 23rd Congressional District seat.

Let’s start with the congressional race. Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun and Franklin County Republican Committee Chairman Jim Ellis were in Tupper Lake last Wednesday, where both men said they would be supporting Doheny – as opposed to Saranac Lake accountant Doug Hoffman – in September.

Ellis told WNBZ’s Jon Alexander that Hoffman will need to come to terms with both his fundraising numbers and his support among Republicans. Ellis indicated that Hoffman – who narrowly lost to Democratic Congressman Bill Owens last fall – is lagging in both fields.

“If he fails to do either of those things he should pull out,” he said. “He’s failing according to any objective test.”

Maroun, a Republican himself who sought endorsements for the congressional seat earlier this year, was pretty straight forward in his endorsement of Doheny.

“I try real hard to not support a loser. I really go out of my way not to support losers,” Maroun said. “I’m pretty confident that although Mr. Hoffman is a nice man, I think Matt Doheny is going to win this race.”

Reacting to the endorsements, Hoffman’s campaign spokesman – Rob Ryan – told North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann that Maroun and Ellis were scared.

“They know that Doug Hoffman is ahead by 32 points in a poll and they know that Matt Doheny is going to lose,” he said. “It’s going to be a repeat of last year when the party bosses backed Dede Scozzafava.”

The poll Ryan refers to is an in-house survey funded by Hoffman’s campaign that shows the Conservative and Tea Party backed candidate with a commanding lead ahead of the September GOP primary.

That’s the latest news in the 23rd race; let’s turn to the gubernatorial election.

I have now had the opportunity to personally interview both Democrat Andrew Cuomo (last Friday in Saranac Lake) and Republican Rick Lazio (earlier this spring). My conclusion: they seem an awful lot alike.

For starters, their respective views on the size of government, New York’s legislative houses, ethics reform and the state’s fiscal mess are very similar.

And here’s the kicker: they also sound a lot like what Governor David Paterson has been saying for the last several months.

So here’s my question: does it matter who is living in the Governor’s Mansion?

Without significant reform in the state Senate and Assembly, it seems like our current problems could continue right on into 2011, new governor and all.

I haven’t met Carl Paladino yet, although I hope to. The one thing the Buffalo businessman has brought to the table so far is a little sizzle and pop; without his flair for the dramatic, the race would be a total snooze fest.

Which reminds me: Paladino’s duck – Mario Junior – was standing outside the Saranac Lake Adult Center while Cuomo spoke inside. I wish the duck took questions, alas…

It’s worth noting that North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi was in attendance during Cuomo’s campaign stop. Politi endorsed Cuomo’s candidacy – and if you go by popular belief, that makes another North Country Republican endorsing a Democrat.

I say “popular belief” because no one is quite sure what political party Politi belongs to. As he put it to me, he “votes for the person who is best for the job, regardless of political affiliation.”

Cuomo did refer to Saranac Lake as “Saranac” – a critical mistake in the minds of many locals, as Saranac is a much smaller town about 40 miles downriver from Saranac Lake. My friend Nathan Brown at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise claims that it’s a minor hiccup; I beg to differ.

You could feel the collective groan in the room every time he misspoke.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Back next week with another update.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chris Morris: Adirondack Election 2010 Update

What do Bill Owens, Matt Doheny and Doug Hoffman have in common?

For starters, they’re all pretty well off.

Last week, a variety of news outlets reported on the personal finances of the three men running for the U.S. House of Representatives in New York’s 23rd Congressional District.

I thought Nathan Brown’s article offered one of the more detailed break-downs of each candidate’s finances.

I’m not sure how much stock voters put in the personal wealth of a candidate, but I’d argue that in this particular instance, it probably won’t make a huge difference – mainly because all three men are doing just fine as far as their checking accounts are concerned.

The last week has been relatively quiet, though, as far as the 23rd is concerned. However, a story penned by my partner in crime at WNBZ – Jon Alexander – did attract quite a bit of attention on the state and national level.

Jon reported that Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava – of absolutely no relation to Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava – is endorsing Congressman Owens. Scozzafava is a Republican; Owens a Democrat.

Both Politico and Capitol Confidential picked up on the endorsement. Some are comparing it to Dede’s endorsement of Owens just days before last fall’s special election – although comparing a prominent statewide Assemblywoman to the supervisor of a small town in Essex County (no offense to Mr. Scozzafava) seems like a stretch.

The fact that the story has received so much attention tells me that the “third party issue” is on the minds of voters and pundits alike, regardless of what the three candidates are saying.

One more note on the 23rd race: Matt Doheny and Doug Hoffman will both officially file election petitions this week. The minimum number of signatures required to appear on the ballot is 1,250 – both candidates will file petitions carrying far more than the minimum.

Turning to the gubernatorial race, we do have another Democrat in the mix. Joel Tyner is a four-term Dutchess County legislator who last week ended a 140-mile walk from Wall Street to Albany.

He began that trek on June 26 at the New York Stock Exchange and ended it in Albany on July 7.

Tyner is scrambling to gather enough petition signatures to challenge Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in a September primary. A spokesman for his campaign says Tyner is alarmed by Cuomo’s “more conservative agenda.”

Tyner objects to Cuomo’s calls for a property tax cap and refusal to support a “millionaires” tax.

In a release issued last week, Tyner joked that he didn’t walk nearly 150 miles for his health.

“The fact of the matter is, I’m not running on a fringe position,” he said. “I’m running on what most people want. If we’re going to do something about taxes, rich people have to pay their fair share.”

He’s calling for an additional tax bracket for income earners making more than $1 million annually. Tyner also wants a partial reimplementation of the stock-transfer tax on Wall Street.

During his so-called “Walking Campaign,” Tyner said Cuomo is abandoning Democratic principles.

Elsewhere, Carl Paladino is meeting with upstate Tea Party activists as he seeks to ruffle Rick Lazio’s feathers.

One last note: 20th Congressional District candidate Chris Gibson raised nearly $500,000 in the second quarter this year.

Gibson, a Republican, is challenging Democratic Congressman Scott Murphy.

Sources indicate that Gibson raised $483,179 through 1,530 donations – 90 percent of which were individual donors. The other 10 percent came from political action committees and other related organizations.

That’s it for now, I’ll be back next week with more.