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

State Investigators Probing Lake George Officials

The New York State Comptrollers Office is investigating potentially illegal actions by Town of Lake George officials, a spokesman for the Comptroller’s office said. “An investigation is underway but we cannot comment on its scope or how it was initiated,” said Mark Johnson, a spokesman for Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Lake George supervisor Lou Tessier said he had no knowledge of any investigation nor any idea why such an investigation would be undertaken.

Auditors from the Comptroller’s Division of Local Government and School Accountability have begun an examination of the town’s books, Tessier said, but stated that a performance audit is a routine matter. A similar audit was made of Lake George Village’s records earlier this fall.

Investigators from the Office of the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations, based in New York City, traveled to Lake George in mid-October to conduct interviews, the Lake George Mirror has learned. Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky and Fort William Henry Corporation president Robert Flacke were among those interviewed.

Navitsky said he was asked whether he knew of any instances of favoritism in the granting of variances or permits by the town’s Zoning or Planning Boards.

Flacke said he was asked about issues that emerged during his unsuccessful campaign for Town Supervisor two years ago. “We discussed issues such as whether developers are given gravel free from the town’s gravel pit and whether town employees work on private roads and driveways,” said Flacke.

Rita Dorman, a former Town Clerk who was later elected to the Town Board, said she was contacted by investigators but has not spoken with them. “I haven’t had any association with the town government in recent years; I have no information to give,” she said.

Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan, to whose office any criminal actions might be referred, said she has had no formal contact with the Comptroller’s office about the Lake George investigation.

Some residents have surmised that the investigation was begun after the Office of the Comptroller received complaints from one or more current or former town employees.

According to the Office of the Comptroller, the public is encouraged to report allegations of fraud, corruption or abuse of taxpayer dollars to a hotline staffed by investigators from the Investigations Unit of the Legal Services.

After conducting a preliminary investigation, the Office may proceed with a full investigation and refer its findings to a prosecutor or, if no evidence of wrong-doing is found, close the case.

Individuals who make complaints are granted anonymity, the Office says.

Photo: Lake George Supervisor Lou Tessier

For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror or visit http://www.lakegeorgemirror.com


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

November in the Adirondacks

November often seems like the most barren time of the year. The bright colors of autumn have passed, leaving a world of greys and browns behind. Lawns may still be green, but it’s a dull green that’s slowly turning brown. The days are shorter and more chill, and we reach for our sweaters and blankets. Woodstoves are fired up, and the tang of woodsmoke fills the air. People seem to be preparing for hibernation.

But the curious naturalist doesn’t go into hibernation. For many nature nuts, November is the time when secrets are revealed. With leaves off the trees, new woodpecker holes are visible. The line of sight through the forest no longer stops about three inches into the woods. Dens in rocks begin to look lived in, and beaver activity becomes quite pronounced. Signs of feeding, be it bears or squirrels, moose or chickadees, can be found with very little effort.

November is the time to explore. There are fewer distractions now that flowers are not blooming and insects are not buzzing. Everything seems to have been distilled to its essential nature. No more lazing around – it is time to get down to the business of survival, for winter is not far off.

Galls, as mentioned in previous posts, are highly visible in this time between the seasons and make perfect objects for nature studies. Dried flower heads (weeds, to some people) stand out with their own stark beauty and are ideal candidates for winter floral arrangements. In fact, there is at least one book out there to help you identify these ghosts of flowers past: Weeds in Winter, by Lauren Brown.

Many mornings are now kissed with frost. Few things are as beautiful as Jack Frost’s artwork, especially in the early morning light. From spears of ice lining late autumn leaves, to feathers and swirls on frozen puddles, these ephemeral gifts of the season presage the coming winter.

And just when you think it is time to pack away the t-shirts and shorts, Mother Nature throws us a bone with a glorious day of sunshine and warmth. Moths and flies dart around in hopes of finding a pre-winter snack, and last minute outside chores are hastily done. Sure, November can be gloomy if you don’t know how to appreciate it, but take a page from the naturalist’s book, and you will soon find yourself looking forward to the month that hangs in the cusp between autumn and winter.


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

Adirondack Family Activities:Paul Smiths Visitor’s Interpretive Center

This morning a mob of deer casually gather in our yard. My husband makes the comment that the word has gotten out that we are non-hunting household. It seems like one has told another and soon the neighborhood has not gone to the dogs but to the deer. So while the deer spread their news we humans have our own version of meeting places during hunting season.

Since 1989, the Adirondack Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) at Paul Smiths has offered a safe option during hunting season. The 2,885-acre preserve is owned by Paul Smith’s College and leased by New York State to operate as a public facility. The many trails are available for the enjoyment of children and adults of all ages. The paths are clearly marked, mulched and cleared of debris.

We choose a combination of the Heron Marsh and the Shingle Mill Falls trails. Each trail is about a 0.8-mile loop. Together it forms a 1.5-mile figure eight with easy access and plenty of seating along the way.

My son runs ahead, the guide in our mission to successfully circumnavigate Heron Marsh. My daughter would rather spend a bit more time inside studying the interactive displays, dioramas and touch table.

We continue on another hundred yards to a boardwalk that extends out into the marsh. Signs of beaver surround us and we search for their lodge. I sit to observe the last passing moments of autumn while the rest of the family walks to the observation deck. We come to a crossroads where we can either loop back to the Interpretive Building or continue across the marsh.

We opt to cross the bridge leading over Heron Marsh. The leaves are slick from previous rain so be careful around the shoreline and bridge edge. We cross a bridge, setting leaf boats on the open water to shoot the rapids of the Heron Marsh dam. This was the original site of a gristmill then a shingle mill. It was last used in the 1920s by Paul Smiths Hotel as a source for water.

We loop back and follow the signs to the Interpretive Building because we have yet to identify correctly each birdcall to each bird. Lastly I sit for a bit of the sun while the kids expel any energy they have left on the playground.

Trails are open from dawn to dusk every day. There is no camping or fires allowed. Dogs are only welcome on the trails during the summer months. Located 12 miles north of Saranac Lake on 8023 State Route 30, the VIC building is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WWI Exhibit to Be Open Free on Veterans Day

Tomorrow, November 11, Historic Saranac Lake will open its exhibit on World War I in Saranac Lake to the public 2 – 4 p.m. to commemorate Veterans Day. The community is invited to a free viewing in the John Black Room of the Saranac Laboratory at 89 Church Street. Light refreshments will be served.

Following is a press release from Historic Saranac Lake describing the origins of Veterans Day:

Veterans Day marks the date of the armistice between the Allied nations and Germany. On this date in 1918, WWI, the “War to end all wars” finally came to end. It was a war that took the lives of over 9 million military men, and left an indelible mark on the Village of Saranac Lake. Almost 300 residents of Saranac Lake served in some capacity in World War I.

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words (quoted from the website of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs).

“Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

“Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

“Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday:

“Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”

Photo: WWI officer John Baxter Black, provided to Historic Saranac Lake by his family.


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.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Reminder: Local Journalism Conference Tuesday

Just a short reminder that the Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) is hosting a journalism conference at the Blue Mountain Center, in Blue Mountain Lake, tomorrow (November 10th).

The keynote speaker will be environmental journalist Jeff Goodell, author of Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). I will participate as a panelist in a discussion on blogs. Will Doolittle of the Glens Falls Post-Star, Mike Hill of the Associated Press and Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio will also be there.

The conference is open to all. For more information contact the Adirondack Center for Writing, at (518) 327-6278 or acw@paulsmiths.edu.


Monday, November 9, 2009

The Last Days of John Brown: The Famous Beard

For reasons of political expediency, Republicans in the North initially distanced themselves from John Brown and his raiders. Many joined the chorus of (often pro-slavery) voices proclaiming Brown insane, no doubt in part to protect their own political party, for as John Brown’s biographer David S. Reynolds put it, “the implication was that republicans, and by extension many Northerners, were lawbreakers who threatened national peace.” The truth of course, was that Brown had probably already planned a raid into Virginia to free slaves there before the Republican Party was founded in 1854. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 9, 2009

APA: Big Tupper, Route 28, Lows Lake, Zoning, Snowmobile Trails

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will meet on Thursday and Friday (November 12th and 13th) at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook to consider the temporary re-opening of the Big Tupper Ski Area, reconstruction and widening of Route 28 in Oneida County, and more. Amendments to the park’s land use maps will also be considered, including whether to set a public hearing for the re-classification of about 31,570 acres. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Are You Getting The Almanack Every Day?

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