Almanack Contributor Community News Reports

Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at editor@adirondackalmanack.com.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekly Adirondack Web Highlights

Each Friday Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers the week’s best stories and links from the web about the Adirondacks. You can find all our weekly web highlights here.


Friday, November 20, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Adirondack Music Scene:Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and More

Saturday night I will be checking out Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad at The Red Square in downtown Albany. I never considered myself a big reggae fan until I met these guys. It was at The Red Square in 2005. A band called Mountain Mojo Authority was playing and the percussionist (Buddy Honeycutt) and keyboard player (Aaron Lipp) were in both bands, both reggae bands from Rochester. Mountain Mojo broke up soon after, and Giant Panda’s lineup swelled to seven members. In 2007, Honeycutt left the band leaving two guitars, bass, drums, and two keyboard players.

The band recently downsized to just 4 players. Vocalist / Guitar Player Matt O’Brian and Keyboardist Rachel Orke (a couple) have moved on to pursue other interests. While this would appear to leave a gaping hole in the sound, I have complete faith that these guys have already filled the void and that this will open new possibilities. Giant Panda now consists of James Searl on bass and vocals, Chris O’Brian (Matt’s brother) on drums, Dylan Savage on guitar and vocals, and Aaron Lipp on keyboards.
Giant Panda has played several shows in the Adirondacks. They played the Songs at the lake Concert Series in Lake Placid in 2008, The Music by the River Concert Series in North Creek in 2008 and 2009, a few shows at the Waterhole in 2008 and 2009, and I think they played in 2006 and 2007 at ‘the other place’ in Saranac Lake. The first time I saw them live, I hired them for our annual raft guide party in North Creek in 2007.

The Red Square is on Broadway in Albany, 2 blocks closer to the river than the Knick (Times Union Center). Doors are at 8pm, but they don’t usually take the stage until after 10pm.

Thursday, November 19

Power Duo Sirsy is at Gaffney’s in Saratoga at 10pm. Looks interesting with a female drummer/vocalist and a guitar player.
Band: http://www.sirsy.com
Venue: http://www.gaffneysrestaurant.com

Friday, November 20

The Rubblebucket Orchestra is at The Putnam Den in Saratoga at 10pm. I first saw these guys open for Giant Panda in Rochester. They are a wild collection of percussion and horns.
Band: http://www.rubblebucket.com
Venue: http://www.putnamden.com

Saturday, November 21

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad will be playing The Red Square in Albany at 10pm.
Official Band Site: http://www.giantpandadub.com
Band MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/giantpandadub
Live Music Archive: http://www.archive.org/details/GiantPandaGuerillaDubSquad
Venue: http://www.redsquarealbany.com

Plattsburgh area band Lucid will be playing the Putnam Den on Saturday night. Opening the show will be a band called Dirty Little Boogie Band. Lucid headlined this year’s Backwoods Pondfest in Peru, NY.
Band: http://www.myspace.com/rulucid
Venue: http://www.putnamden.com

Capital Zen is at LaCasbah in Potsdam. It looks like they have great Mediterranean menu and live music every Friday night at 9pm.
Band: http://www.myspace.com/capitalzenmusic
Venue: http://www.lacasbahny.com

Sunday, November 22

Two Kribs (John & Orion) will be playing the Stony Creek Inn at 5pm and their weekly Mexican Night starts at 4pm. Only a couple weeks left until these guys close down for the winter.
Venue: http://www.stonycreek.net

Wednesday, November 25

The Blonde Roots at barVino in North Creek from 8-10pm. No Cover.
Venue: http://www.barvino.net

Grateful Dead cover band Half Step will be playing a mid-week show at The Putnam Den in Saratoga at 10pm. These guys have been playing shows since 1991, one memorable one being 12-31-99 at The Glens Falls Civic Center with The South Catherine Street Jug Band.
Band: http://www.halfstep.org
Venue: http://www.putnamden.com

Photo: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad playing at The Music by the River Concert Series in North Creek, 08-15-09, photo by Nate Pelton


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Adirondack Bird Research Resources

It’s 4 a.m. on a chilled morning in early June. Still three hours away from sunrise so my weak headlamp casts an eerie and unnatural glow to the trail as I pick my way through rock, stream, and unseen balsam fir branches. I’m heading to the summit of Wright Peak in the Adirondack High Peaks Region. Nearing the summit I must first stop every 250 meters from a predetermined point on my map. Here I listen for any bird song that might be heard and then record it in my notes. I chuckle as I think that it’s more like the first “yawn” I hear from these birds. Over a 30-day period myself and dozens of other crazy but doggedly determined volunteer birders are assisting an organization to acquire desperately needed information on some bird species that live on the mountains.

Fast-forward to the end of June, still early morning, and I’m slogging my way through a blackfly-infested bog in the wild regions of the Santa Clara Tract. I’m nearing an area known as the Madawaska Flow. Here I’m still listening for, identifying, and counting bird species but now I’m in a completely different habitat. This lowland environment reveals new species that need to be counted for another study. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Short Adirondack Hike For Short Days

November is one of those in-between months, sort of like mud or black-fly season, where your outdoor activities are sort of limited. There’s no snow yet (not anymore, not like the old days anyway), it’s too cold to paddle unless you’re a die-hard and without any leaves the woods certainly don’t look terribly appealing. Not to mention the fact that it gets dark only a few hours past noon.

Our advice for a hike during these dreary, pre-winter days? Keep it short.

A good outing for those in the Lake George area, or living in the Capital Region, is Sleeping Beauty. This 2,162-foot-high treeless peak is less than two miles from the parking lot (assuming you’re brave enough to drive the one-lane, 1.5-mile road to Dacy Clearing from Shelving Rock Road — but I’ve done it several times in a sedan and never had a problem). And though it gains steeply toward the end it’s a climb any hiker should be able to tackle.

To reach the trailhead, 149 east of Route 9 in Queensbury, and make a left on Buttermilk Falls Road. Follow that road for a good 10 to 15 minutes until you enter the Shelving Rock woods. You’ll see a huge parking lot on the right, and at the end of that will be the road to Dacy Clearing (or park here and walk the road if you like). Don’t make the right onto Hogback Road.

Trail signs point the way to Sleeping Beauty, which at first follows an old, rugged dirt road. Eventually, the trail leaves the road and climbs steeply past rock cliffs to the summit, which provides a sterling view over most of Lake George.

If you left early enough you’ll have time to explore some of the many trails in this area. Bumps Pond, just north of Sleeping Beauty, makes a nice loop, and Fishbrook Pond further north will make the loop even longer. There’s a nice leanto at Fishbrook to have lunch and a number of other loop options if the short days still haven’t caught up to you.

While the trails are well-signed, an ADK Eastern Region trail map will go a long way to helping you choose your destinations. Remember to pack a flashlight and warm clothes, and enjoy.

Photo: Lake George from Sleeping Beauty.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

World Cup Bobsled, Skeleton Returns to Lake Placid

The 2009-10 FIBT World Cup bobsled and skeleton season is underway and some of world’s best bobsledders and skeleton athletes will be coming to the Olympic Sports Complex track in Lake Placid, during the second stop of the seven-race tour November 20-22. Here are the details supplied by the Olympic Regional Development Authority, who manages the Lake Placid Olympic venues:

While in Lake Placid, the U.S. squad will try to match the same success it enjoyed last season when driver Steve Holcomb helped lead the team to four world championship medals on the 1,455-meter long course. The “Night Train” stood on three medal podiums, winning bronze in the two-man man race, bronze in the team competition and gold in the four-man event. That victory allowed him to become the first American pilot to claim a World title in 50 years.

Fellow American Shauna Robuck is also looking forward to being back in Lake Placid. Last season, the 32-year-old won a pair of world championship medals, piloting her sled to silver in the women’s two-man event, before helping the squad nab bronze in the team competition.

The U.S. skeleton team should be just as strong. The women’s line up is led by two-time World Cup Champion Katie Uhlaender and 2007 World Champion Noelle Pikus-Pace, while Zach Lund, the 2007 World Champion, and Eric Bernotas, a winner of several World Championship and World Cup medals during his career, headline the men’s roster.

Other sleds to watch include German Andre Lange, who won the four-man silver medal, and Latvia’s Janis Minins, the 2009 four-man World Championship bronze medalist. Other athletes to keep an eye out for include Switzerland’s Gregor Staehli, the reigning men’s skeleton World Champion, and Germany’s Marion Trott, the defending women’s skeleton World Champion.

Racing begins Friday, Nov. 20, at 9:30 a.m. with the women’s skeleton event, followed by the men’s skeleton race at 1 p.m. The men’s two-man bobsled race is slated for Saturday, Nov. 21, also beginning at 9:30 a.m., while the women’s two-man bobsled race is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Both the four-man bobsled race and the team competition are set for Sunday, Nov. 22. The four-man race begins at 9:30 a.m. and the team event caps off the three days of racing at 1 p.m.

Daily Tickets are available for $8.00 for adults and $6.00 juniors and senior citizens. Anyone who brings a non-perishable food item for the Lake Placid Ecumenical food pantry will receive free entry. For tickets call the Olympic Sports Complex at 518-523-4436 or pick them up at the gate on event days. For more information on the Nov. 20-22 FIBT World Cup bobsled and skeleton race in Lake Placid, log on to www.whiteface.com.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lecture: The Klan, Vigilantism in the Adirondacks

Writer and social historian Amy Godine will be giving a talk about vigilantes and the Ku Klux Klan on Sunday, November 22, at 3 p.m., at 511 Gallery on Main Street in Lake Placid. The lecture, entitled “Have You Seen That Vigilante Man?”, is being sponsored by The Lake Placid Institute.

Those interested in local history should be familiar with Godine’s work on social and ethnic history of the Adirondacks. Her stories, which have appeared a number of times in Adirondack Life magazine, take on the usually ignored aspects of Adirondack history. Spanish road workers, Italian miners, black homesteaders, Jewish peddlers and Chinese immigrants have all been brought to life through Godine’s meticulous research and writing. » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekly Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, November 13, 2009

APA Reverses Lows Lake Wilderness Vote

All three of Governor David Paterson’s representatives on the Adirondack Park Agency board have reversed votes made in September and opposed designation of the waters of Lows Lake as Wilderness, Primitive, or Canoe. By a 6-4 vote the APA had added most of the waters and bed of Lows Lake to the Five Ponds Wilderness in September. The rest of the lake was classified as Primitive, which would have prohibited motorized use. It was later learned that the tenure of one of the APA commissioners had expired and the vote needed to be retaken – that vote occurred today and ended in a 7-4 reversal of the previous decision. » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 13, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Adirondack Music Scene:Blues, Bluegrass, Heavy Metal and Jazz

Quite a variety this week. Country Legend in Glens Falls, Heavy Metal Nightmare in Albany, Bluegrass in Peru, and Jazz in North Creek. Whatever your musical taste, come out and support live music.

Thursday, November 12
Tonight in Glens Falls, country music great George Jones will perform at the Glens Falls Civic Center. This show is part of a Thanksgiving canned food drive, so bring non-perishable food items to donate. George Jones has been recording music for 55 years. Tickets are $35 at the show starts at 7pm.

If heavy metal is more your style, Metallica is playing the Times Union Center in Albany tonight at 7pm. Ticket prices range from $51.50 to $71.50.
http://www.metallica.com
http://timesunioncenter-albany.com

Friday, November 13

On Friday night, acoustic bluegrass group Bear Tracks will perform at the Peru Community Church at 7pm. Some of you might be familiar with the band from the Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival in North Creek.
http://www.beartracksband.com
http://www.perucommunitychurch.com

Dreaded Wheat will be at Hotshots Bar in Glens Falls playing a regular bar-time show from 10pm-2am. Dreaded Wheat is a partying duo playing all your favorites since 1999.
http://www.myspace.com/dreadedwheat
http://www.myspace.com/clubhotshots

Matt & Shannon Heaton are a husband and wife duo playing traditional Irish music. They will be at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs at 7pm. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door.
http://www.mattandshannonheaton.com
http://www.caffelena.org

Saturday, November 14

North Country favorites Raisinhead will be at the Putnam Den in Saratoga from 9pm-1am. Raisinhead has played many shows in North Creek, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake in recent years and has developed quite a following. They have become the official band of the Hudson River Whitewater Derby and are already scheduled for next year’s event.
http://www.raisinhead.com
http://www.putnamden.com

Blues guitarist and singer Christine Santelli is playing upstairs at the Waterhole #3 in Saranac Lake at 9pm. Christine is originally from Albany and has toured the US and Europe.
http://www.christinesantelli.com
http://www.myspace.com/saranacwaterhole

Also Saturday Night, Dreaded Wheat is playing J&J’s Foxx Lair Tavern in Baker’s Mills. This place has a great setup for bands and dancing, and a sweet shuffleboard table. Show is from 9pm-1am.
http://www.myspace.com/dreadedwheat

Sunday, November 15

Traditional Bluegrass Legend Del McCoury is playing at The Egg in Albany at 7:30pm. Tickets are $28. Contemporary Bluegrass Band, The Infamous Stringdusters will open the show.
http://www.delmccouryband.com
http://www.thestringdusters.com
http://www.theegg.org

The Greene Brothers are at the Stony Creek Inn at 5pm. Their Mexican Night starts at4pm, so get there early.
http://www.stonycreekinn.net

Wednesday, November 18

Tony Jenkins Jazz Trip playing at barVino on Main Street in North Creek from 8-10pm. Tony is an exceptional jazz guitarist and is accompanied by bass, drums, and local legend Frank Conti on the saxophone. barVino has music every Wednesday night from 8-10pm with no cover. barVino offers the best beer and wine selection in the Adirondacks. They also serve the tastiest and most creative food inside the Blue Line.
http://www.myspace.com/thetonyjenkinsjazztrip
http://www.barvino.net

Photo: Philly Music Guide


Thursday, November 12, 2009

John Collins of Blue Mountain Lake to be Honored

Blue Mountain Lake resident John Collins will be honored for his achievements over the past forty years in education, community enhancement and wilderness protection in the Adirondack Park by Protect the Adirondacks! at the Forever Wild Dinner in Glens Falls on Saturday.

The organization will award Collins with its highest honor, the Howard Zahniser Adirondack Award.

For more than 10 years Collins served on the board of the Adirondack Park Agency, and helped to organize the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks in 1990; he was chairman of both institutions for a time. He also had a lengthy career on the staff and board of the Adirondack Museum, as a trustee of the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts, and chairman of the Town of Indian Lake Planning Board. Collins also taught 5th grade at Long Lake Elementary School for 26 years. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Adirondack Council Opposes Snowmobile Trails Plan

The Adirondack Council is asking the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to reject a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposed snowmobile trail plan saying that it would allow mechanical groomers on Forest Preserve land and also what the council called the “illegal widening of snowmobile trails on state owned land.”

The APA is considering today and tomorrow in Ray Brook whether the plan, known officially as Management Guidance: Snowmobile Trail Siting, Construction and Maintenance on Forest Preserve Lands in the Adirondack Park, is consistent with provisions of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The proposed changes include the building of mechanically groomed “Community Connector” trails nine feet wide (12 at curves). » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mount Marcy A Safer Ski This Winter

For advanced skiers who are looking forward to hitting the High Peaks this winter, the Adirondack Ski Touring Council has some good news: There are now fewer opportunities to get skewered by branches or whapped in the face by evergreen boughs when skiing down Mount Marcy.

Tony Goodwin, executive director of the council, joined two other local skiers last September to prune trees along the 7.5 mile trail from Adirondack Loj to the summit of the state’s highest peak. This was their second pruning trip in a year.

Long a popular ski route as well as a hiking trail, it’s the only official ski trail to the top of a High Peak.

The route was first built with skiers in mind but has been allowed to grow inward over the years. Recently, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has allowed skiers to go in and clear the trail to the width allowed for skiing – six feet in most places, eight around turns.

The work, which included the use of expandable poles up to 20 feet long – the snow is often five to ten feet deep by March, meaning the dangerous branches are far overhead in summer – drew some curious stares by warm-weather passers-by. “People actually ski this trail?” was a frequent question, Goodwin said.

A week after their work on Marcy, a larger group headed to the Wright Mountain Ski Trail (which stops below the summit), which was also cleared of dangerous branches.

“We’re definitely making a noticeable improvement,” Goodwin said.

Backcountry skiing in the High Peaks has grown into a very popular sport in the past decade, with the advancement of high-tech alpine and telemark gear, a ski festival in March and the release of a photographic guide to skiing slides.

But many serious skiers complain the DEC has refused to consider making the mountains more backcountry ski-friendly, such as creating separate trails for skiers and hikers, allowing the widening of unofficial routes or permitting the pruning of small saplings in areas that would make nice glade skiing.

“They’ve definitely made it clear we can’t go too far beyond the six-foot width for trails,” Goodwin said.

In other ski news, the Town of North Elba has created a small parking lot on McKenzie Pond Road near Saranac Lake for users of the popular Jackrabbit Trail. The parking lot coincides with a new section of trail that takes advantage of an easement purchased by the council to ensure continued access from that point.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

History Channel to Feature Saranac WWII Veteran

A History Channel documentary will feature an Adirondack veteran of World War Two: Archie Sweeney of Saranac Lake. The 10-hour series WWII in HD, which will air over over five consecutive nights from Sunday through Thursday, November 15-19 will be narrated by Gary Sinise.

Archie Sweeney was a resident of Saranac Lake Village (where one of his sisters still lives; another lives in Glens Falls), who came to the series late in production according to Larry Miller, who did research and character development for most of the men and women in the series. “I had finished preliminary work for six characters when I got a call from the producer who told me that they wanted a character who was killed early in the war, preferably in North Africa,” Miller told me. “That was going to be a problem for several reasons. Men who died early in the war had very little time to write letters or diaries so there would probably be very little material to work with. There would be no oral histories recorded and obviously no book written.”

What Miller hoped to find was a man who had surviving family members and who had saved information relating to his experiences. “Almost immediately, my thoughts turned to the Adirondacks,” Miller says. “My chances to find surviving relatives were better if I could find someone from a small town rather than, for example, Manhattan. These families were, at the time, less mobile than those from larger cities. A side benefit would be that I could work and be in the Adirondacks simultaneously.”

Miller began his search by reading the casualty lists published in the New York Times where he found three men from the Adirondack region who had been killed in action in North Africa. A search of their obituaries told Miller that two of the men were survived by only their parents – the third was Archie Sweeney, whose several siblings survived the war. “After several months of researching newspapers, public records, service records and interviewing his surviving relatives, I had gathered enough information about the young man to write a narrative of his short life and brave death,” Miller said.

Larry Miller sent the short biography he wrote about Archie Sweeney to the Almanack. Here it is in its entirety:

Corporal Archie Sweeney was twenty one years old when he graduated from Saranac Lake High School in Saranac Lake, New York. He was not their best student. Once he teasingly told his two little sisters that when you did well in high school they used the word “flunked”, so when he came home one day and told his mother that he had flunked math, the girls greeted him with hugs and congratulated him.

“Polite” was the term most often attached to his name. It helps to be polite when you share your living space with eight brothers and sisters. And it becomes a survival skill when you are separated from your family, Archie to one relative and his two younger sisters to another, because your mother has died and your father is too ill to care for you. (His mother died from cancer and his father has a broken neck that he sustained while digging trenches along the roadside. After his accident, he spent many months in a body case.)

At the time of her death, Archie was working two jobs and attending high school. He loved his days spent on his father’s farm in Lawrenceville, a tiny village in upstate New York almost as much as the times he and his brothers spent at their dad’s hunting camp Floodwood, a speck on the map located in the Adirondack Mountains, where they hunted and fished during the fall and winter when the farming was idle. It was during those frigid winters that his sisters remember Archie bundling them up, seating them in a sleigh, hitching the horse up and driving them to church.

When the war broke out, Archie was the first young man whose number was called in the draft lottery held in nearby Lake Placid. But Archie has enlisted the previous day. On New Years Day, 1941, he told his older brother that this was a good way to start the year. It was time to move on; to see what life had in store for him. Two days later he walked to Lake Placid a few miles away, to report for his physical.

He took a train, the first time he had ever been on one, to Fort Bragg, N.C. where his politeness was put to the test training with the 39th Infantry, 9th Division.

By the middle of March, he had been assigned to Company H and proudly sent his company photograph home. There he stood, right next to the company flag, all 5’ 11”, 145 pounds of him, standing ram-rod straight and looking quite serious.

Early that summer, Archie returned home and stayed at the farm. One of his sisters took a snapshot of him standing proudly in front of their barn. That evening, as she was preparing for bed, she saw Archie, standing as comfortably as if he had been sitting, watching as the sun set. “What are you looking at?” she asked. “I’m just looking. I don’t know if I’ll ever see this again.”

On 25 September 1942 the 39th, the Fighting Falcons, boarded 5 ships and sailed out of New York harbor. On the 6th of October 1942 and about 4,000 miles later, the convoy dropped anchor in Belfast Harbor. The 39th moved to Scotland and awaited the departure of the 47th and 60th Infantry Regiments from the US and their first D-Day.

The 9th Infantry Division saw its first combat in the North African invasion when its elements landed at Algeria in Ain-Taya 15 miles east of the city of Algeria on November 8, 1942. Moving swiftly the 39th defeated the Vichy-French troops and had the city surrounded.

The next three months were spent guarding communications lines along their front.

Company B picked up a new rifle platoon leader during this period, Lieutenant Charles Scheffel.

The war was not going well. The Germans were retreating but we couldn’t face Rommel’s tanks with our big guns. The units that tried that at Kasserine Pass suffered a devastating defeat.

The U.S. plan involved the U.S. 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions, to occupy the hills on opposite sides of the El Guettar Pass which would enable the armored troops to pass through the valley without being fired on from its flanks. This force attacked Hill 369 on the afternoon of 30 March but ran into mines and anti-tank fire, losing 5 tanks. The tanks were removed, and the 1st and 9th attacked again the next day at 06:00, moving up and taking several hundred prisoners. However an Italian counterattack drove them back from their newly gained positions, and by 12:45 they were back where they started with the loss of 9 tanks and 2 tank destroyers. A further attempt the next day on 1 April also failed, after barely getting started.

Captain Scheffel recalled that, “On March 27, 1943, my first wedding anniversary, I took out Ruth’s picture and wished I was back in Enid. I kept thinking what a shitty place to spend an anniversary. At least we weren’t fired on during the first night, and for that, I was grateful.”

On April 1, Archie was writing a letter home. “It’s very quite here this evening. I think the war may be coming to an end.” [see p 7 of my notes-when the skirmish occurred a few days later.]

His older brother, Harold, received a telegram on May 8th, 1943 informing him that Archie was “Missing in Action”. Two days later an Army chaplain arrived at his door to tell them that Archie had been killed the same evening he wrote his letter.

He was twenty five years old; the first Saranac Lake Village soldier to die in action.

Photo: Saranac Lake’s Archie Sweeney during World War Two. Photo provided.



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