Almanack Contributor John Warren

John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

John Warren: Adirondack Railroads’ Time Has Come

The Adirondack Journal reported this week that Warren County supervisors “derailed” (pun apparently intended) a local tourist railroad development project by voting to pay a consultant for the design of two of the railroads train stations at Hadley and Thurman. Looking around the net, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is going on, but it seems as though the county may be dragging its feet on the plan to improve the long neglected Delaware and Hudson RR tracks between Corinth in Saratoga County and North Creek, near the Gore Mountain Ski Area.

NY State Transportation Commissioner Astrid Glynn definitely is, when he announced $20 million in rail funding last week to go toward 15 projects statewide, extending the Adirondack Scenic Railroad from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake was not on the list. In December 2006, former George Pataki had promised $5 million to make the 26 miles of track between the two villages passable. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Adirondack Museum Launches ‘Rustic Tomorrow’

Recently received from the Adirondack Museum, the announcement of a new project that takes Adirondack rustic design into the future. The exhibit will be an interesting addition to the ongoing (until October 31) Adirondack Rustic: Nature’s Art 1876 – 1950. Sounds like a great time to visit the museum. Locals get into the museum free during a few weeks in May (something they don’t advertise anymore, so give them a call for dates), but if you can’t make it then, here is a link to a $2.00 discount (see the “special offer” at the right, mid-page).

The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York will introduce a very special exhibit this season called Rustic Tomorrow. Six modernist and post modernist architects or designers have been paired with prominent Adirondack rustic furniture makers. The results of these collaborations are one-of-a-kind pieces, distinctly futuristic in design, but constructed using traditional time-honored techniques.

The goal of the project is to demonstrate the relevance of Adirondack rustic traditions to contemporary life and design.

Rustic Tomorrow will be on exhibit at the Adirondack Museum from May 23 through October 19, 2008. The exhibition will travel to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Lake Placid, N.Y. for a November 7 through December 13,2008 showing, and to the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute in Utica, N.Y. from February 14 to April 19, 2009.

The six unique pieces that are Rustic Tomorrow will be displayed at D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc. Gallery in New York City in April 2009. They will be sold at auction to benefit the Adirondack Museum.

Ann Stillman O’Leary, who founded her firm, Evergreen House Interiors, Inc, Lake Placid, N.Y. in 1989, originated the Rustic Tomorrow project. O’Leary has established a solid reputation in the field of interior design. Known for leading the renaissance in rustic architecture and interior design, she is sought after for her distinctive style that is both rustic and refined. O’Leary is the author of the best selling books Adirondack Style and Rustic Revisited. She has been featured on the Today Show, HGTV radio, Cabin Life, House and Garden Channel and in numerous national publications.

The Participant Partners

David M. Childs joined the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1971 after serving on the Pennsylvania Avenue Commission. Mr. Child’s diverse range of design projects circle the globe. He is the designer for the World Trade Center Tower 1 at the World Trade Center site, and the new Pennsylvania Station at the historic Farley Post Office building in New York City. His more recently completed work includes the new 7 World Trade Center and the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. Childs is a Fellow, American Institute of Architects (FAIA). His work has been widely published.

Wayne Ignatuk, owner of Swallowtail Studios in Jay, N.Y., spent eighteen years as an engineer in the laser industry before his woodworking hobby became a career. His style has evolved from twig chairs and tables to more complex designs he describes as “organic arts and crafts.” Ignatuk’s work has been profiled on HGTV’s “The Good Life,” in the book Adirondack Home, in Adirondack Life magazine and other publications. He exhibits his work at the finest rustic shows in the country.

In 1998 The New York Times declared Dennis Wedlick a “rising star in architecture.” The “rise” has continued as Wedlick’s work has garnered awareness and accolades in both the media and architecture community. He began his career working with world-renowned architect Philip Johnson. His own firm, Dennis Wedlick Architect, LLC has become synonymous with quality, craft, and the best in contemporary picturesque design. He was recently named to Architecture Digest’s AD 100 – showcasing the top international designers and architects.

Rustic furniture artist Barney Bellinger is the owner of Sampson Bog Studio, Mayfield, N.Y. It is an art studio where bark, twigs and natural materials are gathered into the hands of a craftsman inspired by the logging trails, wildlife refuges, fly fishing sites, and the Great Camps of the Adirondacks. Furniture created by Barney Bellinger has been exhibited at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, the Adirondack Museum, and the Ralph Kylloe Gallery, and appears in the permanent collections of the Orvis Company and the Smithsonian Institution.

Michael Graves has been at the forefront of architecture and design since he founded his firm in 1964. Michael Graves and Associates – the architecture and interior design practices, and Michael Graves Design Group – the product and graphic design group, have received more than 185 awards for design excellence. Design projects range from urban architecture to consumer products. Graves himself received the American Institute of Architect’s Gold Medal, the highest award bestowed on an individual as well as twelve honorary doctorates. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The work of Furniture Artist Jason Henderson stands out for its ability to push the tradition of Adirondack style furniture into new and interesting design areas. His interpretation of rusticity is closely aligned with studio furniture and contemporary furniture design. His work has an “edge” and has earned a bit of notoriety. “Dining Chair” (2003) received the Most Original Design award at the Adirondack Museum’s Annual Rustic Fair and was purchased by the museum for the permanent collection. He was profiled by Adirondack Life magazine in 2006 in an article aptly called “Mr. Henderson Presents.” Henderson lives and works in the Lake George, N.Y. area.

Thomas Cardone has had a long career as an Art Director in the film industry. He spent thirteen years with The Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California before joining 20th Century Fox’ New York-based Blue Sky Studios in 2002. His most recent project has been art direction for “Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who!” which premiered in the spring of 2008. Among Cardone’s many film credits are “Ice Age: The Melt Down;” “Robots;” “Chicken Little;” “The Emperor’s New Groove;” and “Pocahontas.”
Russ Gleaves love of nature began when he moved to a log cabin in the Adirondacks as a young child. Raised in Queens, N.Y. Bill Coffey has created custom furniture with many of New York City’s finest craftsmen. His love for the Adirondacks – nurtured as a child on vacation – led him to Northville, N.Y. in 1999. There he met Russ, and the pair has been creating one-of-a-kind innovative rustic furniture ever since. The duo takes pride in crafting pieces that will be passed down through many generations. Customers in Wyoming, Wisconsin, New York City, and Japan have commissioned their
work.

Allan Shope has been an architect and furniture maker for thirty years. He founded the distinguished architectural firm of Shope, Reno, Wharton Associates in 1981. Shope’s abiding interest in the use of sustainable building materials, land use, and alternative non-fossil energy sources led to him to found Listening Rock Farm and Environmental Center in Armenia, N.Y. The focus is on man’s problematic relationship with the earth around him. “Carbon neutral” is the minimum standard for the Center.

Judd Weisberg has his home and studio in Lexington, Greene County, New York in the Catskills surrounded by rivers, lakes, and streams, which inform his life and work as an artist, designer, teacher, and environmentalist. He creates furniture environments for the home, business, and for sets and properties for performing arts applications. Finishes are non-toxic and are expressive of the burnished or matte looks found in nature. His work is in private collections and homes nationwide Nils Luderowski is an architect whose practice is about residential architecture and design in an Adirondack vernacular. His studio offers traditional architectural services including site planning, interior design, furniture design, and custom artisan work. Luderowski pioneered the “New Adirondack Style” of architecture, an authentic blend of Shingle, Craftsman, Prairie and regional expressions, incorporating modern living requirements and current technology. In the mid 1990s he settled in Keene, N.Y. in the High Peaks Region of the Adirondack Mountains.

Creating unique and functional art has been Jay Dawson’s passion since he began designing pieces over 20 years ago. A self-taught craftsman, he has worked with wood in some form for most of his life. He is well known for both furniture and stairways and has developed a reputation for custom creations. He works with clients, architects, and interior designers to ensure that each piece meets expectations for beauty, quality and functionality. Dawson’s work has appeared in many publications including Smithsonian Magazine, Log Home Living, and the book Rustic Furniture by
Daniel Mack. He created archways for Woodstock 1999, the 2000 Goodwill Games, and the 2000 Empire State Games.

The Adirondack Museum has the finest collection of historic Adirondack rustic furniture and furnishings, not in private hands, in the country. The museum hosts an annual Rustic Fair in the fall. The fair attracts more than sixty highly skilled rustic craftsmen from all parts of the United States and Canada, and is the largest rustic show in the eastern part of the country. The 21st Annual Rustic Fair is planned for September 5, 6, and 7, 2008.

The Adirondack Museum is a regional museum of art, history and material culture. It is nationally known for extensive collections, exhibits, and research library that together reflect stories of life, work, and play in the Adirondack Park and northern New York State. The museum celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007. To learn about all the Adirondack Museum as to offer, please visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

The Adirondack Museum tells the story of the Adirondacks through exhibits, special events, classes for schools, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. The museum will open for a new season on May 23, 2008, introducing a new exhibit Rustic Tomorrow. For information about upcoming exhibits and programs, please call (518) 352-7311, or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

This is the rest of the post


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Under Fire: Adirondack Economic Development Orgs

Local chambers of commerce and tourism folks have been taking a lot of flak lately. Take for example, the recent photography debacle. It seems that some believe that the The Adirondack Regional Tourism Council has been working on putting local photographers out of work by encouraging others to abandoned them in favor of, get this, flickr. The Landscapist has the story in two parts (1, 2), but it basically comes down to the Council’s requiring that photographers give up all the pay for, and rights to, their work (a much lamented practice):

It’s hard to criticize too severely (but not without some vigor) someone for trying to get something for nothing while stating so in a forthright manner – that seems to be part of human nature – but when they do it with a slight-of-hand photo-rights grab photo contest they have stepped over the line. At that point they are nothing more or less than scam artists.

Copyright and use-right issues can be an expensive and tricky business when dealing with most professional photographers and with a substantial number of informed amateurs. Corporations and professional organizations, to include tourism organizations, are acutely aware of this. Rights-grab photo contests are their way of avoiding the issue.

Apparently, it’s not the first time. One commenter on the issue noted that:

Our last economic development officer kept suggesting that I should “donate” images to her very well funded (using my tax dollars) office … I told her I would be thrilled to just as soon as my much anticipated “donation” of a 1Ds MkIII arrived from Canon. I’m still waiting for it.

Some see Todd Shimkus, president & CEO of the Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce, as part of the problem. He’s been outspoken (and tax-funded?) on conservative issues in the Adirondacks. Witness his latest attack on the APA, blaming them for a lagging Adirondack economy:

The culture of the APA, the backgrounds and interest of its staff and appointees, and the political environment in which it exists all militate against serious focus on the Adirondack economy — even though the agency is required by law to balance the region’s environmental and economic interests in all its decisions.

That’s an interesting take on the subject, especially given the Shimkus’ own record of political activism and his apparent failure of the Adirondack photography industry. The day before his organization was trying to take the wind out of the sails of local professional photographers, Shimkus was telling his conservative friends about the “broad economic benefits of snowmobiling and point[ing] to an industry estimate that snowmobilers spend $3,000 per season on tourism-related businesses, including food, lodging and other needs.” In Shimkus’ view, those needs apparently do not include the goods and services of local professional photographers.

The Adirondack region is not alone in questioning the role of local economic development efforts. A recent post over at Fault Lines: The Greater Utica Blog entitled Lost Chamber, Lost Jobs, argued that “the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce is a disgrace and an insult to its home community. It must accept significant responsibility for Utica’s decline.” In a second post two weeks later, the writer took a virtual tour of all the region’s websites – it’s worth a look.

On a related not-so-successful note, the much touted Adirondack Regional Business Incubator is still looking for space after plans to renovate an old warehouse in Glens Falls fell through.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Biggest Threats to Adirondack Water Resources

The Adirondack Council has released a report that outlines eight major threats to Adirondack water resources. Titled Adirondack Waters: Resource at Risk [pdf], the 32-page booklet describes the threats and what can be done about them. The eight risks include: Acid Rain, Mercury Pollution, Global Climate Change, Aquatic Invasive Species, Inadequate Sewage Treatment, Suburban Sprawl, Diverting Adirondack Waters, and Road Salt.

Acid Rain – More than 700 bodies of water in the Adirondack Park have been damaged and native fish, amphibians, and other aquatic life are threatened. Although they may look clear and pristine, the appearance of water bodies damaged by acid rain is actually due to a lack of native life in the water. Recently, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which provides for the largest reductions in the pollutants that cause acid rain since the passage of the original Clean Air Act in 1963. Congress needs to put these new rules into law. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Adirondack Region Call-In With Gov Patterson

North Country Public Radio (NCPR) will be hosting a call-in special with New York Governor David Patterson tomorrow, Wednesday, at noon. The new governor will take questions at 1-877-388-6277 or by e-mail.

This is a great opportunity for letting the gov in on the concerns of North Country residents – issues of the Adirondacks and beyond.


Monday, April 21, 2008

The Dangers of Americade Revisited

Springtime means a lot of motorcycles on the road. It also means Americade, the annual motorcycle fest in Lake George that draws some 60 or 70 thousand riders to what is considered the World’s Largest Touring Rally.

According to their website, this year:

You can enjoy 5 new MiniTours, 3 Poker Runs (with a new route), a new scavenger hunt, 2 TourExpo tradeshows (bigger than ever), a new Moonlight boat cruise as well as a dozen daylight ones, 2 rodeos, 50+ seminars, 2 parades, parties, nearly $100,000 in door prizes!

Also: 17 manufacturers offering demo rides on the latest bikes and trikes, and on Saturday, World Champ Chris Pfeiffer will demonstrate his amazing riding skills. And… a whole lot more.

I wholeheartedly support Americade, but increasingly every year the rally draws criticism from our friends and neighbors. Among the chief complaints are the role tax money plays in supporting the event (which brings thousands of dollars to private businesses) and the sometimes caustic attitude of event organizers (who have repeatedly threatened to take Americade elsewhere if they don’t get their way).

Last year, I wrote a piece called The Dangers of Americade that questioned the deafening silence of organizers on the issue of safety. I pointed out that according to an Associated Press report, Americade founder Bill Dutcher stated that he was “aware of only one death among the hundreds of thousands of bikers who have registered for Americade over the years.”

My argument was simple, Dutcher assertion was blatantly false – many folks are killed coming and going to Americade. I argued that Americade organizers should stop obfuscating the facts and show some leadership on the issue of safety and in particular, on the continued cultural sense that automobile drivers own the road. Not even on their website, loaded with corporate logos and tips for attending the event, do they bother to even mention safety. They do take time to try to keep out the the folks they think are riff-raff, however, as I noted last year:

While the Americade website offers no safety advice or links, it does take pains to remind a certain class of riders that:

Americade… [is] a convention of riders and passengers who enjoy riding tourers, sport-tourers and cruising motorcycles.

Americade is a gathering of friendly, fun-loving folks, for whom motorcycling is a social hobby, but not some form of rebellion. It’s NOT the place for shows of speed, hostile attitudes, or illegally loud motorcycles. Americade supports the AMA position that “Loud Pipes Risk Rights.”

Nowhere does it remind riders that, unfortunately, riding a motorcycle is dangerous in our car-centered, self-absorbed world. It’s one of the most important issues facing bikers (as well as pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists) today. It’s probably safe to say that every bike club in America has a memorial to one of their riders killed by a car or truck.

That recently drew some discussion on the original post from a long time rider who took offense with my call for Americade organizers to show some leadership. One of the arguments the commenter made was that:

Americade is run by motorcyclist for motorcyclists and the overwhelming majority of the attendees are very experienced motorcyclists. Very few of the attendees are newcomers to the sport. When they are newcomers they usually are in the company of experienced riders who are introducing them to the fun of Americade. Americade does not pose any dangers for riders that don’t exist every other time they throw a leg across the seat of their ride.

Motorcycling is all about freedom and the responsibility that goes along with it. Anyone who expect someone else to be responsible for their safety on a motorcycle has no business being on one. All riders learn very quickly that they are responsible or managing the risks when riding. No one can do it for them.

That’s sounds great, but it’s not the truth. A new study by Gannett News Service reporters John Yaukey and Robert Benincasa called Risky Ride looked at data from the federal government’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System:

Nearly half of the riders killed in 2006 were age 40 and older, and nearly a quarter were 50 or older. The average age of motorcyclists killed in accidents was about 38.

Half of motorcyclists killed between 2002 and 2006 lost control and crashed without colliding with another vehicle… Motorcyclists account for about 2 percent of vehicles on the road but 10 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to federal statistics.

The main point of the study is that the trend toward fewer helmet laws has led to an increase in fatalities. According to Yaukey and Benincasa:

Death rates from motorcycle crashes have risen steadily since states began weakening helmet laws about a decade ago, according to a Gannett News Service analysis of federal accident reports.

I don’t agree with helmet laws, though I think you’d be stupid to ride without one for any distance (yeah, I know, and even down the block… blah, blah, blah).

I do however, still think it’s long past time for Americade organizers to take a leadership role in rider safety – something – anything – to show a commitment to rider safety for bikers young and old. It makes even more sense now, that their is a rise in rider deaths with loosening of helmet laws to show the world that riders care about safety and don’t need the nanny state to keep them safe.

Don’t you think?

BTW: Last year’s post was prompted in part by the news that Alan Gregory, author of Alan Gregory’s Conservation News was hit by an 85-year old driver while bicycling near is home. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in long term hospital care – the good news is, one year later, he is getting back to blogging. We missed his insights and are glad to hear of his return to the blogosphere.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Pope and The Wind 3 Yrs Ago At Adirondack Almanack

Three years ago here at Adirondack Almanack we were wondering about how significant Pope John Paul’s passing would be for Catholics in the Adirondacks and we were Tilting at Wind Shills in hopes of keeping the tops of local mountains from being industrialized.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Adirondack Hacks

Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

Test Drive An Electric Motorcycle

Tips For Bear-Proofing Your Home

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Build Your Own Trash-Can Smoker

Open A Beer-Bottle With A Chainsaw

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at our Adirondack Hacks archive here.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ralph Nader To Speak in Glens Falls April 26th

Thanks to the folks at Adirondack Progressives, Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader will return to Glens Falls on Saturday April 26, 2008 for an appearance at The Charles R. Wood Theater at 8:00 pm. Adirondack Progressives is a group of area citizens interested in fostering local dialog on today’s most important issues.

The local Glens Falls Post Star relegated Nader (who is a Presidential Candidate after all!) to page B7 on Saturday. You can read Matt “Two Political Parties = One Massive Corporation” Funiciello’s take on their efforts to diminish Nader’s candidacy at his blog (there’s more Ralph Nader stuff there too). Brian over at MoFYC also writes a lot about Ralph from a local and regional perspective. There is more on the flip – » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pending Adirondack Related State Budget Items

Here is an e-mail recently received from the Adirondack Council’s John Sheehan outlining the pending Adirondacks related budget deals. According to Sheehan, this is the “Environmental Conservation budget plan agreed to by Legislative leaders, which is in the process of being passed by both houses. The Governor is expected to sign the bills.” At least some time soon, the budget is now a week late.

The big news for us is that it looks like the the money is available to finish the (Pataki initiated) Domtar land purchase, the Lake George West Brook money didn’t make it, but money to study the impacts of road salt did.

The Almanack reported in January Spitzer’s budget proposals relating to the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hybrid Cars and the Adirondacks

In December of 2007 the old Subaru went down for the count and it was time for a new car. We got lucky (likely because it was December, not exactly a banner month for car sales) and found the Honda Civic hybrid we were looking for in Schenectady – it was the only one they had and we bought it on the spot.

At first, many of our friends, relatives, and neighbors showed some skepticism. They asked whether we thought we were jumping in to a new, unproven, technology. Some congratulated us for being ahead of the curve. Others wondered about the pick-up, asked if the batteries would hold-up for long drives in the mountains, questioned the costs of repairs, how it would handle in the ice and snow -you name it, they asked it.

So on the flip are some observations about our Hybrid experience so far.

The four-door Honda Civic that we bought doesn’t look funny – aside from the hybrid label on the back and the more streamlined look, it appears generally like most other current sedans.

Most folks who ride along have no idea it’s a hybrid unless we tell them. The car has the same pick-up as comparable automatics of its size. The only clue it’s a hybrid from the inside are the gauges and the fact that it shuts off when you come to a stop. Once you lift your foot off the brake, it starts right up again and you’re off. If the stereo is on, and you don’t know it’s happening, you can’t tell. On a related note – if we got rid of all the unnecessary stop signs in America and replaced them with yield signs we would save a LOT of gas.

Overall the mileage could be better. Although it’s rated for 45 mpg, we’ve gotten only 36 on average so far. Even so, I’m sure the old Subaru got a lot less then it was rated for – the bottom line is we’ve cut our monthly gas bill about 35 percent. Every car should have a current mpg gauge – just seeing how our driving is wasting gas has offered us as much savings as the hybrid technology.

As we’ve learned to drive the hybrid, we’ve gotten better mileage. We stared with about 32 on average, but since there’s a gauge showing the current mpg and a trip setting, we’ve been making a contest to see who can get the best mileage – I recently got an even 42 mpg on a trip to Albany and back. The trick we’ve learned is to keep the speed down on the highway (69 instead of 72), keep the cruise-control on, and keep the rpms below 3,000 when climbing large hills. We could probably make the 45 mpg average if we drove only 55 on the highway, which is not going to happen. It’s true that the mileage is considerably better in the city, primarily because the speeds are in the 20s, 30s, or 40s.

The way gas prices are rising (our theory is $4 by Labor Day, then it falls off again just before the election and rises considerably afterward) – we’re counting on our hybrid keeping its value enough to allow us to upgrade in two years when hopefully electric cars will be available at a reasonable price – that may be wishful thinking.

As far as the Adirondack conditions, the car climbs hills normally but it’s front wheel drive and does not even closely compare with the Subaru – that’s why we’ve kept our older Legacy wagon. When the weather is bad – like it’s been lately (and the Suuby has made legendary trips lately!) – we take the wagon. When the roads are dry, we take the hybrid. Since we live on a fairly main road, we could probably manage with only the hybrid, otherwise it would have to be one of the four-wheel drive models that naturally get much worse mileage. The combination we have now makes a lot more economic sense.

There you have it – I’d be interested in others comments on the hybrid experiences in the mountains.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

20 Things Adirondackers Should Know About Rural Life

One of the best new blogs is The Rural Blog, started last year by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. According to their masthead, The Rural Blog is “a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism in rural America.” They often report on issues in our area as they did when the Glens Falls Post Star started collecting information on local gun owners or in this piece about broadband access in Corinth.

Here are 20 things we’ve learned from the The Rural Blog that affect our Adirondack region:

Global demand for maple syrup is rising, but production is struggling to keep pace

Self-employment is on the rise in rural areas, but the average income of the rural self-employed is falling

While enlistments for Iraq have been dropping in urban areas, rural enlistments have remained stable

The decline in small-market broadcast news is hitting rural areas the hardest

Doctor and surgeon shortages are worst in rural areas

Hillary Clinton does best in mainly rural Republican districts

Many small market newspapers are not just surviving, but also thriving

Balloons are offering wireless service in rural areas

In rural areas, cell phones can cause 911 delays that lead to tragedy

Rural patients are less likely to receive necessary organ transplants

Lack of rural trauma systems kills rural Americans

Strong seat-belt laws help reduce deaths on rural roads

Even though Meth production is in decline, the drug remains a priority for police

Rural Americans make up a disproportionate share of Iraq war casualties

Hobby farms are boosting rural population as urbanites seek rural retreats or retirement

Kentucky’s public-private partnership for rural broadband serves as a national model

Municipal Wi-Fi is thriving in some rural towns

Hunting and fishing is declining, but watching wildlife is on the rise

Rural areas across the nation are struggling to keep educated young people

New EPA rules have left 45 rural counties (including Warren and Essex) out of ozone compliance


Monday, March 24, 2008

$1 Million Awarded to 18 Adirondack Projects

Here is a press release that just arrived from Governor Patterson’s Office. The projects include wireless, historic preservation, affordable housing, tourism, beautification, and more.

GOVERNOR PATERSON ANNOUNCES SMART GROWTH GRANTS FOR ADIRONDACK PARK COMMUNITIES

Projects Link Sustainable Development, Environmental Protection and Community Livability

Governor David A. Paterson and Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Pete Grannis today announced “smart growth grants” for Adirondack communities to help counties, towns, villages and their partner organizations develop plans that link sustainable development, environmental protection and community livability.

A total of $1 million will be awarded to 18 projects – ranging from one proposing a new life for the Indian Lake Theater to another designing a better wireless communication network across the Adirondack Park. The initiative, announced last July, proved so popular that the DEC received more than $3 million worth of proposals from around the Park. The grants relate to a mix of local, regional and park-wide projects.

“The Adirondack Park is a unique American treasure, a special place for residents and the millions who visit each year,” said Governor David A. Paterson. “The Park serves as a model for how to merge environmental sensitivity with the pressing needs of development and expansion. By providing local planning assistance, we hope to meet the challenge of developing sustainable communities while protecting natural resources.”

“This program is dedicated to the belief that sustainable development and environmental protection go hand-in-hand,” said Commissioner Grannis. “Safeguarding the assets of the forest preserve and fostering sustainable development and a good quality of life for residents throughout the Park is in everyone’s best interest. This initiative provides the local planning assistance needed to accomplish both. The overwhelming response demonstrates the program struck a chord with Adirondack Park communities.”

Smart growth is sensible, planned growth that balances the need for economic development with concerns about quality-of-life, such as preserving the natural and built environment. Smart growth is also becoming a useful tool to attract businesses that value community quality-of-life.

The 2007-08 Environmental Protection Fund included $2 million in grants to promote smart growth initiatives; $1 million was earmarked for the Adirondacks. Smart growth can be useful in addressing land-use issues facing rural communities – workforce housing, aging infrastructure, water quality, economic development, open space protection and village/hamlet revitalization.

The grant winners include 12 projects that address local issues, four that are regional in nature and two that are park-wide in impact.

The grants include:

– $106,971 to the Town of Saranac to develop the “Wireless Clearinghouse” project to create a comprehensive plan for identifying potential structures for telecommunications infrastructure to bolster wireless networks in the Park. The State University of New York at Plattsburgh and the Adirondack North Country Association will assist the Town;

– $100,000 to the Town of Tupper Lake to produce a “Community Development Priorities” plan. Part of the plan includes developing a “visual identity” for the Town and Village of Tupper Lake, and concept designs for streetscape and waterfront projects;

– $42,600 to the Town of Indian Lake to plan the re-opening of the Indian Lake Theater. The 250-seat, Main Street venue has been closed for more than a year. Local officials want to explore re-opening the facility as a year-round community stage and screen, offering films and musical and theatrical performances, and a public space for schools, libraries and other organizations for meetings, lectures and seminars;

– $100,000 to Essex County to create an “Essex County Destination Master Plan” that will focus on communities beyond Lake Placid. It will explore opportunities to take advantage of recreational and natural resources in an economically sustainable way in locales such as Moriah, North Elba, Schroon Lake, Ticonderoga and Wilmington;

– $50,000 to the Town of Wilmington to conduct feasibility studies for a community center, municipal offices, historical society building and a fly fishing museum; and

– $35,000 to the Town of Chester to make plans for retaining existing affordable housing and establishing new affordable housing opportunities for working families.

Senator Betty Little said: “Balancing stewardship of the environment with the economic, housing and infrastructure needs of our Adirondack villages, towns and counties is critically important. I am pleased to see this partnership between the State and our local governments. I want to thank Commissioner Grannis for spearheading this initiative and congratulate the recipients for their successful applications.”

Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward said: “I applaud Commissioner Grannis and the DEC for addressing the needs of the North Country. These grants as well as collaboration among State and local officials, business leaders and concerned citizens are a good step toward a balanced approach to our economic development while sustaining the character of the Adirondack region.”

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey said: “I am pleased DEC has recognized the unique issues facing municipalities within the Adirondack Park. I congratulate the local governments that have been awarded smart-growth funding and look forward to working with these communities as they complete these projects. The large number of competitors for the grants points out the struggles facing Adirondack Park municipalities, and I encourage Commissioner Grannis and DEC to continue this competitive grant program.”

Adirondack Park Agency Chairman Curt Stiles said: “We were impressed by the innovative and comprehensive grant applications that were submitted by Adirondack municipalities. We extend our congratulations to the grantees and look forward to the successful implementation of their plans. This was a very competitive grant program and demonstrated a strong need for future support. Partnering with local governments and State agencies enables smart growth through synergy and shared values, and makes for stronger communities.”

Upstate Empire State Development Corporation Chairman Dan Gundersen said: “I look forward to seeing these projects enhance and shape the Adirondack communities in a way that invites economic development that is compatible with the Adirondack’s natural environment.”

Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez said: “The Adirondack smart-growth initiative represents a model for inter-agency and inter-governmental collaboration on some critical challenges and opportunities in the Adirondacks. With these grants, the State and the individual Adirondack communities have demonstrated an impressive commitment to economic and environmental sustainability in the region.”

Brian L. Houseal, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, said: “It was a great pleasure to stand with Commissioner Grannis last summer as he announced in Lake George that half of the State’s smart growth grants would be awarded to communities and organizations in the Adirondack Park. Sound planning is a wise investment for municipalities, and it helps preserve open space, natural beauty, water quality, and wildlife habitat.”

Established in 1892, the Adirondack Park features world-class natural and cultural resources, including the Nation’s only constitutionally-protected wild forest lands. In contrast to America’s national parks in which no one resides, the Adirondack Park is home to 130,000 full-time residents and hundreds of businesses whose future depends on continued protection of the natural resources and a sustainable economy.

Many Adirondack communities lack the resources to comprehensively address the land-use challenges before them. The smart-growth grants program will provide communities with technical capabilities necessary to plan for the future.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Adirondack Blogosphere: Year Three

This month marks the third anniversary of the Adirondack Adirondack and that means a look at the local blogosphere.

New Local Blogs of Note

This past year, once again, has been a banner year for local blogs. A look at our blogroll (at right, below) shows that a number of new blogs have joined the ranks. Here are a few that I think are the best new local blogs:

Corktown Capers – written by the chaplain of the Corinth Fire Department. You’ll remember that Corinth recently had a devastatingly destructive fire. Here is another post – God in Three Inches – worth reading and thinking about.

City Mouse / Country House – the ramblings of a musician, artist, craftsperson, modern homesteader and who knows what else, splitting his time between the Adirondacks and the big city. Check out I Have a Propane Problem, and Authentic Dreams for a taste of what it’s all about.

Adirondack Naturalist – NatureGirl says : “From sea slugs to sundews, redpolls to resin blisters, the world presents an endless array of “WOW” upon which we can feast our eyes, ears and mind.” Her blog has so far proven to be the proverbial dinner table. May we suggest My Favorite Marten and a helping of Hungry Deer?

Lake Placid Skater – a figure skater and speed skater living and training in Lake Placid writes this local blog that provides a little insight into what’s really happening on the Olympic rink – loaded with photos. Check out her report on the “load-in” for 2008 Empire State Games entitled Meeting Monica and find out what speed guarding is all about.

There has been a movement toward local business blogging. The best of the business blog bunch has been The Cottage Chat based in the The Cottage Cafe, the former Mirror Lake Inn boathouse turned pub-style restaurant in 1976. The Cottage Chat’s mix of event notices, Lake Placid gossip, and general community news is the best of what Adirondack business blogging can (and should) become. Another blog worthy of note this year is the infrequently updated but funny, irreverent, and mildly urbanesque cogblog from the women of Adworkshop / Inphorm.

Something we hope not to see anymore in local business blogs is the attempt to attract readers by using blog titles that mis-construe the true nature of the blog. Adirondack Vacation Guide, by Harbor Hill Inns and Cottages in Saranac Lake is a classic example. Some advice: be honest with your readers business bloggers, be upfront about your purpose, offer value. Take the good example of Christy’s Motel in Old Forge; their regular reports on snowmobiling conditions no doubt attract readers and customers – without the subterfuge.

Local Media Enters the Blogosphere (Sort Of)

The local papers have begun to get into the blogging game more seriously. Syracuse was named one of America’s Top Twenty Blogging Cities and I suspect that a large part of the reason is the Syracuse Post-Standard’s acceptance of the blog community. Unlike local media who – even though they’ve tried to enter the Adirondack blogsphere – have yet to cover the local blog scene in any even remotely appropriate way, the Post-Standard online includes an enormous list of blogs, and reports regularly on local blogs and blogging. Even the Adirondack Almanack graced their pages when we wrote about the Best Summer Adirondack Travel Blogging in September 2007.

The best local newpaper blogs (other media still hasn’t entered the fray) arrived this past year at the Albany Times Union. Their list of blogs is impressive, but so far offer little more than your average old media style commentary. Perhaps the best blog of the bunch is Birding by Rich Guthrie. Guthrie’s pursuit of his topic demonstrates the kind of potential local newspaper blogs have.

The Saratogian’s managing editor Barabara Lombardo entered the local blogosphere with Fresh Ink – not much happening there though. The Glens Falls Post Star’s effort (blog list) seems like some kind of weird joke, unless you’re a sports fan. The archives are nearly impossible to navigate.

Our suggestion for local media outlets? Take a lesson from the Syracuse Post Standard and get involved in your local blog world and abandoned attempts to merely capitalize on it. That’s just not what the blogosphere is about – it’s about a variety of voices engaging the local media world. There’s nothing wrong with making money from your efforts, but provide your audience with value first.

Those interested in the local blogospere should check out our comparison of local news stories reported on blogs and local mainstream media which appeared to show that local blogs are competing head-to-head for internet eyeballs.

There is also now a list of mentions of Adirondack Almanack in the local media, for those who are interested.

On a related note – although in the past year the New York Times opened its historic archives to readers, local newspapers have yet to figure out that people want to be able to access their stories for more than a week or two even though, as we recently pointed out, there is obviously a great desire to access old copies of local papers.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Adirondack Historic Newspaper Site Hosts Millionth Page

Quite a milestone over at the Northern New York Library Network’s historical newspaper site. According to Alex Jacobs at the Watertown Daily Times, they just added their millionth scanned page of local newspapers from the past.

Just three years after its founding, the Northern New York Historical Newspapers Web site now has 1,004,000 pages available from 28 newspapers in seven counties.

The millionth page was among 84,000 pages added from the former Potsdam Courier-Freeman, published from 1861 to 1989. Its addition was supported by the Friends of the Potsdam Public Museum, which helped finance the microfilming of issues from 1946 to the mid-1980s.

This part should interest local media who still charge for access to their own digital archives (attn: Albany Times Union and Glens Falls Post Star – even the New York Times has begun opening theirs).

Since the Potsdam publication was added, more than 24,000 searches have been conducted on the online Courier-Freeman archive, said Thomas J. Blauvelt, library network systems administrator.

At the NNLN’s page you can look at scanned copies of the originals and search their index – ads and all. They are going to add the Tupper Lake Free Press and the Massena Observer next.

SOME TIPS
Search for full or last names of people you know, famous people you’re interested in, places, industries, ideas.

Instead of viewing the pages in the built-in online viewer, download all the pages for a single search term into their own folder and view them later in your pdf program (like the free Adobe Acrobat).

Also check out the Brooklyn Daily Eagle online and another more local newspaper archive here.

And don’t forget our own Great Adirondack History Searches from 2005.

And also Adirondack Genealogy: Researching Local Roots from 2007.



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