Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Update: The Point on Upper Saranac Lake

The apparent demise of Everlands will not affect the luxury resort the Point, a management official said today.

“Everlands is back-burnering itself” during the economic slump, confirmed David Garrett, president of Garrett Hotel Group, based in Vermont. The Garrett Group manages the Point, on Upper Saranac Lake, and owns Lake Placid Lodge, a separate Great Camp–style resort on the shore of Lake Placid.

Garrett said the Point will remain open to guests no matter what happens to Everlands, a start-up that planned to assemble a global collective of 45 exclusive properties in protected natural settings. Since it launched in 2007, Everlands acquired six lodgings, according to its Web site. The London Times reported it had attracted only 60 members out of a goal of 1,800, later lowered to 900. Memberships were to cost $1 million but were available to early birds for half that amount. Everlands has not returned calls seeking comment. The Point will continue to operate as a hotel, as it had in the past, not a fractional ownership.

The Garrett Group sold the Point in 2007 to “a group of founding members of Everlands, separate from the actual Everlands entity,” Garrett explained. He said the sale was carefully structured to “protect” the Point should the Everlands concept not prove viable.

The Point will be closed in April, as it always is, and will reopen in May.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

20th Congressional District Results Inside the Blue Line

UPDATED @ 1:00 PM
In the cliffhanger race for New York’s 20th congressional district seat, sixty-five votes separate Leader Scott Murphy from James Tedisco, with between six and ten thousand absentee votes yet to be counted. In the northern block of the district, inside the Adirondack Park boundary, conventionally regarded as reliable conservative turf, order was somewhat upended by yesterday’s vote. In Essex, Warren and Washington counties, Scott Murphy took 51.5% of machine votes cast in towns inside the Blue Line.

Murphy found strongest support up north where he won Keene and North Elba by 69% and 60% respectively, and the town of Dresden on the east shore of Lake George where he took over 55%. Jim Tedisco’s best showing in this region came in the towns of Schroon and North Hudson where he garnered 59% of votes cast, and Stony Creek where 57% favored the Republican/Conservative. Turnout across Essex County was 26.5% of registered and active voters.

Saratoga County was the only Adirondack County in the district for which town-by-town results were not available.

* All votes for the town of Fort Ann, which straddles the park boundary, were included in our count.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

NY 20th CD Special Election: April Fool’s Day Surprise


Candidates for New York’s 20th congressional district battled to a draw last night, extending the month-long special election campaign by two weeks at the very least. With 100 percent of the voting precincts reporting from the tripod district that covers portions of ten counties, Democrat Scott Murphy led Republican James Tedisco by 65 votes, out of a total of more than 154,000 votes cast by machine. The results do not include write-in votes or paper and absentee ballots. Absentee ballots will be counted on April 7, with ballots received by overseas military personnel to be counted April 13. The bottom line of this election, as viewed on this April Fool’s Day: Expect a recount that is longer and more expensive than the original campaign.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

America’s Cup Returns to The Olympic Sports Complex

The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) and the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation will be hosting the FIBT 2009 Lake Placid America’s Cup Bobsled and Skeleton competition at the Olympic Sports Complex April 2 – April 5. Nineteen nations will be competing in this international competition, with 154 athletes competing within the four disciplines.

Lake Placid is the final stop on the America’s Cup Circuit. This race allows competitors to earn points and experience that are necessary for a world ranking that determines starting positions and seeding at FIBT World Cup, Intercontinental and World Championship levels.

Competition starts Wednesday, April 1 with two-man bobsled and women’s bobsled Race 1 beginning at 1 pm. Men’s and women’s skeleton Race 1 will be held Thursday at 9 am, with two-man bobsled and women’s bobsled Race 2 starting at 1 pm. The men’s and women’s skeleton Race 2 will be held Friday at 9 am with the four-man bobsled race following the skeleton race. The final event held on Saturday, April 4 is four-man bobsled Race 2 beginning the first runs at 9 am.

U.S. drivers take the top two spots in two-man bobsled with Mike Kohn leading the way with 689 points and teammate John Napier in second with 644 points. Australian Chris Spring is third with 500 points.

Napier tops the four-man field with 752 points. Poland’s David Kupczyk sits in second place with 549 points, followed by Milan Jagnesak of Slovakia with 448 points.

Canadian Amanda Stepenko leads the way for the women, currently first with 658 points. American Bree Schaaf is second with 630 points, and Elfje Willemsen of Belaruse is third with 420 points.

France’s Gregory Saint-Genies slides into first place with 720 points for men’s skeleton. John Daly of the U.S. is second with 510 points while teammate Kyle Tress sits in third with 363 points.

Tionette Stoddard of New Zealand is at the top of the leader board in women’s skeleton with 928 points. Japan’s Nozomi Komuro has 873 in second place and American Anne O’Shea is third with 780 points.

Entrance to the Olympic Sports Complex is $7 for adults and $5 for student/senior.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Adirondack Trout And Salmon Season Opener Tips

Tomorrow is the traditional April 1 opening day for New York’s trout and salmon fishing seasons so DEC has issued tips and reminders for anglers heading out on opening day. Early season trout angling in the Adirondack region may be slow due to lingering cold weather and melting snow. Since many Adirondack ponds are likely to remain frozen for opening day, anglers should scout out areas beforehand. Here are DEC’s opening day fishing tips:

Slow presentations using spinners or minnow-imitating lures and, where permitted, live bait, work well in the early season. Those preferring to fly fish will find that similar slow, deep presentations using weighted nymphs and streamers can be effective. Trout and salmon fishing on lakes and ponds is often best immediately after ice-out. Prime areas to fish are those locations that warm the earliest, including tributary mouths and near surface and shallow shoreline areas. Afternoons can be better than mornings during the early season, as the sun’s rays can significantly warm surface waters. Early season anglers are reminded to be extra cautious as high flows, ice and deep snow can make accessing and wading streams particularly hazardous. Remember that ice fishing is prohibited in trout waters, except as noted in the Fishing Regulations Guide.

Several hatchery improvement projects were completed last year. Most significant among these was the completion of an extensive pole-barn complex covering hatchery ponds at the Rome Fish Hatchery to reduce trout predation by birds. It is estimated that this project will save 50,000 to 100,000 fingerling trout annually from predatory birds and will lead to more efficient hatchery operations. Additional hatchery rehabilitation projects are planned for this upcoming year including the rebuilding of the main hatchery building at Rome. Rome Hatchery is one of DEC’s oldest and largest hatcheries, growing and stocking more than 650,000 yearling brown and brook trout annually.

Spring is a busy season for the DEC Hatchery System. From mid-March through mid-June, nine trout and salmon hatcheries stock fish five days a week using 30 state-of-the-art stocking trucks. Stocking of catchable-size trout generally commences in late March and early April in the lower Hudson Valley, Long Island, and western/central New York, and then proceeds to the Catskills and Adirondacks. This year, DEC plans to stock more than 2.3 million legal-size brook, brown, and rainbow trout in 304 lakes and ponds and roughly 3,000 miles of streams across the state. Approximately 100,000 two-year-old brown trout ranging from 12 to 15 inches in length will also be stocked into lakes and streams statewide.

More than 2 million yearling lake trout, steelhead, landlocked salmon, splake and coho salmon also will be stocked by DEC this spring to provide exciting angling opportunities over the next several years. For those who prefer a quieter more remote setting, 325,000 brook trout fingerlings will be stocked in 343 remote lakes and ponds this spring and fall to bolster “backwoods” fishing opportunities. For a complete list of waters planned to be stocked with trout this spring go to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30465.html. A listing of waters stocked with all sizes of trout last year can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30467.html. In addition to stocked waters, New York State has thousands of miles of wild trout streams that provide excellent fishing opportunities. Regional fisheries offices, which are listed in the Fishing Regulations Guide, can offer specific details about the locations and opportunities offered by these waters.

The general creel limit for brook, brown and rainbow trout is five fish per day and the open season for trout in most New York State waters runs from April 1 through Oct. 15. There are numerous exceptions however, so anglers should review the Fishing Regulations Guide before heading out to their favorite pond or stream.

A New York State fishing license is required for all anglers 16 years of age and older. Those looking to renew licenses can do so at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6101.html or by calling 1-86-NY-DECALS. Fishing licenses can also be purchased from various sporting license outlets located throughout the state (town and county clerks, some major discount stores and many tackle and sporting goods stores).

When purchasing a fishing license, anglers should also consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp, which is available to anyone for $5 from any sporting license issuing agent. Proceeds from sale of this stamp have funded many valuable trout stream access and habitat projects in New York, such as the development of a parking area and footpath on Felts Mill Creek in Jefferson County this past year.

For anglers seeking publicly accessible stream fishing locations, DEC continues to add to its inventory of public fishing rights (PFR) maps that can be downloaded from http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9924.html.

Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species and Diseases – With the recent discovery of the fish disease Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) in New York, and an invasive species of algae, didymo, in the Delaware River system and the Batten Kill, anglers are reminded of the important role that they play in preventing the spread of these and other potentially damaging invasive species and fish diseases. Please thoroughly dry equipment, particularly waders and wading shoes, for 48 hours before moving from water to water. If drying is not possible, equipment must be disinfected. One of the easiest and safest ways to disinfect gear is by soaking it for 10 minutes in a cleanser/disinfectant containing the ingredient alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. This ingredient is found in most common household antiseptic cleansers such as Fantastic, Formula 409 and Spray Nine. Anglers are also encouraged not to use felt-soled waders as they are more apt to transport didymo and other invasives than other forms of wading soles. For more information on invasive species and disinfection procedures, request a copy of the new DEC brochure “Anglers and Boaters: Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species and Fish Diseases in New York State” from your local DEC office.

New Baitfish Regulations Established to Protect New York Fisheries – Anglers are reminded that a new “Green List” of baitfish species that can be commercially collected and/or sold for fishing in any water body in New York where it is legal to use fish as bait has now been established in regulation. For a complete discussion of these regulations and how to identify these approved baitfish species, download the new brochure “Baitfish of New York State” at www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/baitfishofny.pdf. Personal collection and use of baitfish other than those on the “Green List” is permitted, but only on the water from which they were collected and they may not be transported overland by motorized vehicle. These new regulations have been established to stem the spread of non-native baitfish and dangerous fish diseases in New York State.

Best Bets for Trout Anglers in the Adirondacks:

DEC Region 5 – Adirondack trout streams are icy and there is plenty of snow in the mountains. A relatively mild thaw should clear the ice, but expect high stream flows until the snow pack is reduced. Best bets for early season angling in the southern part of the region are the Batten Kill, Kayaderosseras and Mettawee rivers. Catch-and-release regulations were enacted on the Batten Kill in 2004 from the Eagleville covered bridge to the Vermont state line. Year-round trout fishing is permitted in the catch-and-release section (artificial lures only). The lower two miles of the catch-and-release section will be stocked with two-year-old brown trout some time in May. A creel census of anglers will be conducted in 2009 to assess the fish population and the effectiveness of the catch-and-release regulations.

Many regional streams and rivers will be stocked in April and May. However, due to ice conditions, very few streams are stocked prior to opening day. If possible, yearling brook trout will be stocked in the Chateaugay River in Franklin County by April 1. The Chateaugay, Salmon and St. Regis rivers are scheduled for a creel census in 2009 to assess angler use and the fish population in these rivers. Rainbow trout might also be stocked in the Saranac River within the Village of Saranac Lake prior to April 1. Hundreds of smaller streams contain wild brook and brown trout. Fish slowly, especially if the water is cold, high, and swift. Contact the regional fisheries office for a brochure listing many of the wild trout streams in Region 5.

Remote ponds in the Adirondacks are rarely ice-free until mid-April or later, a pattern that is likely to hold this year. Once waters are ice-free and temperatures rise, surface trolling for salmon and lake trout is a good bet on the larger lakes. Brook trout pond fishing is good from ice-out through May. Anglers are reminded that in many Adirondack ponds the use of fish as bait is prohibited. For a list of these waters check the “Special Regulations by County” section in the Fishing Regulations Guide, or contact the DEC’s Region 5 Fisheries Office in Ray Brook at (518) 897-1333. A variety of leaflets are also available from the regional office including stocking lists for Region 5, top fishing waters, a list of reclaimed trout ponds, and others. For up-to-date information on fishing conditions in the region, anglers can access www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9219.html on the DEC web site. While browsing the Region 5 Fisheries website, be sure to check out the public fishing rights maps at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/32610.html for many area rivers. These maps can be downloaded and printed out to provide detailed locations for stream sections with purchased and deeded public rights for angling. Maps are also available from the regional office.

DEC Region 6 (Western Adirondacks)

The opening of trout season expands the region’s trout fishing beyond Lake Ontario and a select set of large lakes, to the rest of the region’s great variety of large and small streams, ponds and lakes. Region 6 includes the Western Adirondacks, Tug Hill, and the Black, Mohawk and St. Lawrence river valleys. The region’s wide diversity of water types provide habitat for everything from small headwater brook trout to large deepwater lake trout.

Stocking proceeds from the Mohawk Valley in mid-April north to St. Lawrence County throughout the month of May. The Oswegatchie River below Cranberry Lake is the only river in the region that is stocked prior to April 1, if conditions allow. The popular two-year-old brown trout stocking occurs in early May on some of the region’s larger, more accessible streams. Worms usually produce the best catches this time of year when the water temperatures are colder and the fish are more sluggish. Spinners and salted minnows also are popular lures. For best results, fish the pools and slow, deep riffles. Fishing in the late afternoon after the water has been warmed by the sun is also productive.

Lake Ontario tributaries should also offer good fishing conditions for steelhead. Try Stony Creek, North and South Sandy Creeks, Lindsey Creek, Skinner Creek and the Black River in Watertown, from the Mill Street dam down to the Village of Dexter. Use egg sacs, single hook spinners, wet flies and streamers.

Coldwater anglers in Region 6 should be aware of a few new regulations that are currently in effect. The catch-and-release section for trout on West Canada Creek in Herkimer and Oneida counties has been extended to the Route 28 bridge (Comstock Bridge) and is open year-round. A three-trout-creel limit with a minimum size limit of 12 inches has been established in Beardsley Lake (Montogomery and Herkimer Counties), Kyser Lake (Fulton and Herkimer Counties), and Stillwater Reservoir (Herkimer County). The catch-and-release season for trout on the West Branch St. Regis River in St. Lawrence County has also been extended to all year.

This year, Region 6 staff will be surveying approximately 25 remote brook trout ponds that contain stocked temiscamie hybrids to assess wild reproduction. This information will help guide future management of this unique resource.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Adirondack Bracket Final Four


The first of the 2009 Adirondack Bracket final four pairings is set. The tournament’s sole remaining top seed is the Northville/Placid Trail, wending its way through the third quad past state prisons, the ORDA Board of Trustees, moose, and Theodore Roosevelt’s midnight ride.

When called for comment, Neil Woodworth, Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club—the organization which established the trail in the early 1920s—betrayed no surprise whatsoever at the fortunes of this iconic Adirondack hike.

“The Northville/Placid Trail was NY’s first long-distance backpacking trail,” said Woodworth, in establishing the trek’s bona fides as a contender for the 2009 Adirondack Bracket championship. “As a hiking experience it traverses a wide range of ADK landscapes from its largest rivers [Sacandaga] through some of the most beautiful lake country [the Canadas and Cedar Lake].”

Woodworth has hiked all but some of the highway portions of the trail in segments over the years. His favorite stretch leads from Long Lake to Shattuck Clearing to Duck Hole to Wanika Falls and on to Lake Placid. “The Cold River Country offers an incredible wilderness feeling.” With civilization 15 to 16 miles away in every direction, “you really get a sense for how Noah John Rondeau and some of the early explorers felt,” Woodworth said.

This empathy for early explorers may come in handy for the 133-mile-long pleasure hike as it goes up against none other than Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer and warrior who traced the eastern flank of the park by birch bark canoe nearly three hundred years before there even was a Blue Line.

Champlain’s journey south from Quebec was not motivated by natural beauty or the health-restoring exertions of outdoor recreation. His game was pure offense, taking war deep into the home court of the Mohawks, who had been interrupting potential European trade routes through the lake valley. Denounced in many quarters today for his extremely brutal tactics, his introduction of gunpowder to the contest near what is now Ticonderoga on the morning of July 29,1609 changed the game—and by extension Adirondack settlement and culture—forever. With one shot from his harquebus Champlain killed two Mohawk chiefs and gravely wounded a third, claiming a quick victory (and perhaps the invention of the three pointer).

In a September 2008 New York Times article Adirondack author and canoeist Chris Shaw retraced Champlain’s 2009 journey down the Adirondack shoreline. We leave you with his takeaway on Samuel de Champlain’s claim to a berth in the 2009 Adirondack Bracket final four:

“Champlain’s 1609 incursion into our neck of the woods marks one of those moments after which everything changed, whether we agree with the outcome or not. And who’s to say how it might have been different? He was a navigator and a pirate. He had high ideals of unifying the cultures of North America, yet he spent years dividing them for profit. The journal of his trip on Bitabagw (the Abenaki name for Champlain’s eponymous lake) is evocative if vague on details, except for one thing. When challenged by medicine men to mind his dreams, and despite his deep skepticism, he produced a perfectly prophetic dream of their victory over the Mohawk. This shows us that meaning abides more deeply in geography than we normally allow, and we can still tap into that reality though the preservation of species and habitat.”

If you missed our preview of the Bracket tournament and recaps of the first rounds you may find them here, here, here and here.

Come back tomorrow for the final match up of the final four.


Monday, March 30, 2009

The Special Election: Politics as March Madness


On the eve of tomorrow’s special election to represent New York’s 20th congressional district, there seems no better metaphor for much of what is wrong with our dysfunctional political system than the sort of hysterical ambivalence embodied by our culture’s obsession with team sports, on full display this week in the beer-belching economic machine that is March Madness. Whether it is the NCAA tournament, the Stanley Cup, World Series, or the Tyrannosaurus Rex of all contests, the Super Bowl, Americans seem pre-disposed toward 2-sided SmackDowns. Put any of these spectacles up against, say, Track and Field’s 4X400 meter relay, or the Iditarod for market share and you have, well, no contest. Judging from the cable listings alone, one could easily conclude that the American mind cannot readily grasp concepts which stray too far from the basic formula of one protagonist versus one antagonist.

In a similar vein, our political culture, as determined by the two dominant parties (with the solid backing of the same media that profits from sports spectacles) has decided it is not in the best interest of the American body politic to stray too far from one donkey mascot versus one elephant mascot. Nowhere in recent memory has this proscription against political outsiders been more crassly played out than in the special election for New York’s 20th congressional district seat. Given its 30-day duration—a calendar that reduced the importance and influence of big money donations—this race should have been wide open to any registered party that could field a qualified candidate. Instead, in a race where the major party candidates were picked by handfuls of party operatives behind closed doors, the only registered third party candidate in the race was held to the standard used for a regular cycle election, the collection of 3,500 meticulously recorded signatures of registered voters from within the district.

This sort of princess-and-the-pea standard invariably leads to the predictable farce of a political sideshow where the handmaids of one of the two major parties launch salvos of legal challenges to the third party petitions and the Board of Elections (comprising—you guessed it—Republicans and Democrats) eliminate enough signatures to disqualify the candidate. Genuine Banana Republic electioneering.

Perhaps it is time for our elected representatives, who claim to represent a constituency of which a full third identifies with neither major party, to remove their heads from their respective caucuses and vote for substantive electoral reform, and restore the free market of political ideas and speech that should be the aspiration of any true democracy.

In the meantime, the best any of us can do as citizens is take time to inform ourselves of the issues and the candidates positions, and take the time to hold up our end of the democracy contract. Cast your ballot.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Adirondackers Getting Old Fast

A certain Almanack editor turned 43 over the weekend, reaching the average age of an Adirondacker. But in this respect, the Adirondacks is anything but average.

Elsewhere in New York State and most other parts of the country the average age is more like 31 or 35, says Brad Dake, coordinator of a new comprehensive statistical study of the Adirondack Park. It’s no surprise to people living here that young people often leave to find work. But what surprised Dake is the number of older people who have moved to the park.

“This inmigration is causing a rapid aging of the population. We could almost find ourselves at the level of western Florida in two decades,” Dake says. Almost every Adirondack community has a handful of new-ish residents in their 40s, 50s and 60s who have made their money elsewhere and decided to move here for a lifestyle change, he says. Collectively they form a demographic wave. Three decades ago the average age in the Adirondacks was 31. “The Adirondack age is growing at a pace of four years per decade, which is astounding. That is cause for at least curiosity, if not alarm,” Dake says.

This nugget of information is one of many to come from the Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project, a two-year study of infrastructure, education, land use, geography, demographics and government services in every town in the Adirondack Park.

The study originated with the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages (AATV), which will publish a final report of about 70 findings on its Web site around April 15. Other participants include the Adirondack North Country Association and the LA Group, a Saratoga-based consulting firm. Dake, who is chairman of the Arietta planning board, took an interest in the project and helped obtain a $93,000 grant from the Department of State. AATV provided $20,000. The partners previewed their findings at a meeting of local government officials in Lake Placid last week.

Some other numbers:

— 40 percent of private land parcels are owned by people or companies in zip codes outside the park
— 76 percent of land inside the Blue Line is protected from development
— After subtracting steep slopes, wetlands and unsuitable soils, 15 percent of the park remains for building (much of it already built)
— There has been a 31 percent drop in school enrollment over 30 years
— There has been a 40 percent increase in the number of teachers
— 44 percent of Franklin County workers are employed by government
— One out of 26 park residents lives in a correctional facility (5,125 out of 132,000)

Dake says the partners have tried to avoid interpreting the data or making recommendations so that people don’t think the numbers are twisted to suit an agenda. “If we’re going to be talking about what the park already is, we’ve got to start talking in terms that everybody understands,” he says.

Map from Adirondack Park Agency cart room.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Point’s Parent Company Overextended?

Everlands, owner of luxury resort the Point on Upper Saranac Lake, is said to have suspended operations.

Everlands is a fledgling collective of exclusive nature-oriented estates around the world, but its members-only concept has not gotten off the ground.

The Point, a former Rockefeller great camp, was the first lodging Everlands bought, in 2007. Since then the company has acquired five more properties in the United States and New Zealand and has options of four others, according to its Web site.

Much of Everlands’ capital came from Lehman Brothers investment bank, which was liquidated last fall after buying deep into the subprime mortgage market. According to NewWest.net, an online Montana news source, Lehman committed $55 million in backing. One of Everlands’ properties was historic Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, MT.

Everlands advertised that a one-time fee of $475,000 plus annual dues of $40,000 would provide members with “all amenities, such as world-class dining, fine beverages, local transportation, and a broad array of sports instruction, equipment and outdoor adventures” at — eventually — 45 properties around the world.

“So far, ‘approximately 60’ of a projected 900 (readjusted recently from the original target of 1,800) members have bought into Everlands,” the London Times reported in February.

A telephone call to the Point Sunday was directed to the voice mail of its management company, Garret Hotel Group, based in Vermont. A call to Everlands’ public relations firm was not returned.

The Point has continued to accept non-member guests since it changed hands two years ago. Julian Hutton, who heads hotel operations for Lifestyle Development, the parent company of Everlands, told NewWest that Everlands’ properties will remain open — to all guests, or at least to those who can afford at minimum $1,350 for a night at the Point.

As for those who purchased memberships, “a 15 percent deposit is required by each Member at the time of commitment, which will be returned with interest if initial Membership goals are not achieved,” the Everlands Web site states.

The defunct Lehman Brothers is said to have lost $40 million on a different Adirondack resort whose ownership fell to the lender in 2008: Whiteface Lodge. The four-year-old, 85-suite property in Lake Placid has a complicated fractional ownership structure. According to the Lake Placid News, Whiteface Lodge is contesting its assessed value, trying to get it reduced from $109 million to just $2 million. Despite reported slow timeshare sales, the lodge continues to operate as a hotel and is open to the public.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tedisco’s Adirondack Endgame

There is an opportunity in the last days of any close, high-stakes political race to gain a clear view of the strategies and, by inference, the internal polling of each campaign. The professional political consultants attached to each candidate reveal their cards on the final weekend when they announce the campaign appearances for the closing days. That moment has arrived in the race to succeed Kirsten Gillibrand in New York’s 20th Congressional District. And the schedule for Republican James Tedisco will interest voters in the district’s Adirondack lobe.

The Republican candidate will hold a rally today at 1:30 at the Northwoods Inn in Lake Placid, followed by a walk down Main Street. From there he heads to the Noonmark Diner in Keene (3:30 PM). In a district stretching nearly 200 miles north to south, it is a matter of significance when a candidate invests precious time in the sparsely settled northern reach of the district.

The reason for Tedisco’s eleventh-hour Adirondack schedule may be found in the opinion poll released by Siena Research Institute on Friday.

While Democrat Scott Murphy holds a 2-to-1 lead over Tedisco in Essex, Warren and Washington Counties (combined), that breakdown includes Murphy’s hometown of Glens Falls where it is fair to infer support skews more heavily toward the Democrat. Also missing from the 2-to-1 statistic is the size of the undecided vote. While eight percent of voters across the whole district have not yet settled on a candidate, in Essex, Warren and Washington counties ten percent of voters remain undecided. As with the concentration of support for Murphy, quite likely fewer voters are undecided in the Glens Falls vicinity, leaving a larger percentage up in Essex.

The other area of concern for Tedisco in the north is the three percent of voters who backed the now withdrawn candidacy of Libertarian Eric Sundwall. This figure increased one percentage point since the last poll two weeks ago while Tedisco’s support has slipped by the same margin. In terminating his campaign, Sundwall threw his support to Murphy.

A footnote to Tedisco’s announced schedule: While he will be joined today by Freda Solomon (widow of the former Representative Gerald Solomon) on the stump at West Mountain Ski Center in Queensbury, he is scheduled to appear solo in Lake Placid and Keene. Conspicuously absent is popular State Senator Betty Little, who endorsed Tedisco despite reported dissatisfaction with his selection as the Republican’s standard bearer.

UPDATE: The Post Star reports that Senator Little did accompany Tedisco and Freda Solomon in Queensbury on Sunday.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Budweiser Challenge Ski Race Results

From the better late then never department comes an announcement about the winner of the Budweiser Challenge Ski Race Series this week. The Budweiser Challenge is an eight-race alpine ski racing series featuring many of the areas local businesses. The competitors took two trips each down the NASTAR course on the Lower Valley trail at Whiteface with the lower run times counting.

The Budweiser/Cottage team claimed victory for the second straight year with 424 overall series points. Although winning the eighth and final race by posting 57 points, Scheefers Adirondack Builders placed second in the series with 399 overall points. Coming in third place was Wilkins Insurance Agency at 358 series points. Casa Del Sol came in fourth place in the series with 355 points. Fifth place went to the Wilderness-Willkommen team with 148 overall points.

Winning the Women’s Category 1 Race for Casa Del Sol was Delphine Winter, posting a time of 23.38 seconds. Coming in second for Budweiser/Cottage was Robin Anthony at 24.59. Third place was taken by Niki Olsen, skiing for Scheefers with a 26.44.

Joellen Haviland won the Women’s Category 2 Race, skiing for Scheefers Adirondack Builders, posting a 28.34. Finishing second was Wilkins Insurance Agency’s Rachel Irwin with a 29.23. Third place also went to Scheefers with Lisa Sciacca coming in at 30.11.

Budweiser/Cottage’s Kristie Smith took first in the Women’s Category 3 Race with a 31.77. Wilderness-Willkommen, with their only top three showing for the day, took second with Heike Yost posting a time of 33.16. Debbie Neill with Casa Del Sol took third with 33.40.

Ken Carre, racing for Budweiser/Cottage, posted the fastest time of the day and won the Men’s Category 1 Race at 21.60. Kory Barney, also skiing for Budweiser/Cottage, placed second with a 21.96. Third place went to Scheefers’s Jeff Staves with a 22.18.

The Mens’s Category 2 Race was won by Eric Lanthier, skiing for Scheefers Adirondack Builders, with a time of 24.32. There was a tie for second when Wilkins’s Todd Anthony and Casa’s George Gregory posted times of 24.50. Fourth place went to Mike Stosiek with Wilkins Insurance Agency at 24.67.

Jeff Abbott with Budweiser/Cottage won the Men’s Category 3 Race coming in at 27.04. Scheefers swept second and third place when Bill Dora posted a 27.25 and Ron Morrow a 27.31.

The 2009 Budweiser Challenge Race Series was sponsored by local Budweiser distributor A & M Beverages of Malone. Pictured in the photo are: (left to right) Amy Knappe, Ken Carre, Jay Dewell, Corey Hamelin, Connie Trainer, Kory Barney, Jeff Abbott, Robin Anthony, Karen Tomich, Sue Cameron, Kristie Smith, Denise Bujold and Francisco Braun. In front: Franz Fredericks. Missing from photo: Dave Colleen, Lisa Brown, Jim Sullivan, D.J. O’Neill and Liz Donahue.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Keeping Adirondack Skies Dark

From space the Adirondack Park is a dark spot in the Northeast, but even here outdoor lighting is starting to bleed into the night sky.

Tonight between 8:30 and 9:30 people around the world are turning off their lights to try to raise awareness about climate change. It’s also an opportunity to think about those lights.

Tonight’s dark-out is called Earth Hour. The movement began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 when 2 million households and businesses shut out the lights to send a message about overuse of fossil fuels. The gesture grew into this year’s global effort.

Meanwhile the International Dark Sky Association estimates that two out of three people in the United States cannot see the Milky Way because skies have become obscured by light pollution.

In the Adirondacks, astronomers are raising funds to build an Adirondack Public Observatory for stargazing in Tupper Lake. That’s one reason village planners there are encouraging “good neighbor lighting” that doesn’t stray upward or across property lines. The municipal electric department has also been installing more efficient streetlights for several years.

“We are installing full-cutoff lighting throughout the village to help put the light down on the ground instead of out and around,” said John Bouck, electric superintendent. “Our results have been good. We’re continuing on with the process. There are expenses involved so we’re doing it over a three- to five-year period.”

“An added benefit of this type of light fixture is that there is less sky glow that most people are used to seeing as they approach a community,” added Marc Staves, chief lineman as well as president of the proposed observatory. “In fact it’s about 40 to 50 percent less as compared to areas that do not use this type of lighting.”

Tupper is experimenting with photocell lights that turn themselves off halfway through the night when very few people are awake. If they test well, the lights will be installed on every other pole in selected areas, Staves said.

The observatory was originally planned adjacent to the Wild Center, but there was too much glow from the nearby headquarters of Sunmount Developmental Disabilities Services Office, a state agency. So the observatory site was moved to the darkness on another edge of town. But light pollution is a curable problem, as Tupper Lake has figured out. Community awareness there continues to grow, household by household.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Adirondack Bracket: Round Three Recap


If it looked as though seasonal residents just didn’t show up for their match against the Wild Center otters, it’s because they didn’t. Excuses ranged from new restrictions on use of corporate jets, to a few who were laying low, waiting to cash their TARP-subsidized year-end bonuses. It was an early present for otters Squeaker, Louie and Squirt, who will celebrate their birthdays on Sunday.

Speaking of anniversaries, quadricentennial explorer Samuel de Champlain showed off his skillet skills, making a 30-minute meal out of Rachael Ray.

In the second quad, home to a couple of southeastern Adirondack powerhouses, file this one under “just say nose.” Hard-riding, hard-partying Americade succumbed to white nose syndrome. We are talking about the mysterious fungus that’s devastating bat populations, aren’t we? And E-bay watch out: Warrensburg’s World’s Largest Garage Sale discounted, tagged and liquidated another cherished Adirondack icon, the lean-to.

In the third quad, two lopsided pairings in the round of sixteen has cleared the way for a classic showdown between endurance and speed. Moose were overrun by the Northville-Placid Trail, while TR’s Midnight Ride left hunting camp coffee cold. The 25th veep’s lightning-fast buckboard ride from Tahawus to the railhead at North Creek will now face the 133-mile-long recreation trail, which was laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in the 1920s. This match-up promises to be a rough ride, much more than a simple walk in the park.

In the final corner of the dance floor, the iconic Adirondack pack basket proved to be more decorative than utilitarian, getting stuffed by popular local hang-out Stewart’s Shops. And finally, nordic-combined golden boy Bill Demong could not find the right combination to defeat Canadian drivers. Work continues on what particular characteristics distinguish Canadian drivers from any other sort.

Coming Monday: The Final Four.


Friday, March 27, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Friday, March 27, 2009

Adirondack Blogging Round-Up


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