Friday, July 3, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Adirondack Music Scene: Fourth of July Fix

Shamim Allen is away this week, at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, so I offered to cover for her and she e-mailed me some live music suggestions.

If Shamim is there, the Jazz Fest is obviously the place to be, only about two hours from the northern Adirondacks and featuring a 12-day schedule so ridiculously packed it might be easier to list who’s not playing. The price of entry to various venues ranges from free to about $80. On the Fourth of July Dave Brubeck, who is 88, will perform “Take Five,” which is 50.

Closer to home, there’s an open mic tonight at Grizzle T’s in Saranac Lake. It starts at 7:30 p.m.

On Friday, July 3, the holiday weekend gets rolling with Lake Placid’s annual I Love Barbecue festival, featuring amazing local musicians all weekend, including Stoneman Blues Band, Sven Curth and Lowell Bailey. If you like the Ramones, you’ll especially appreciate Loud and Stupid, which takes the stage at 3 p.m. Sunday.

The first concert of the season at Meadowmount School of Music will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Meadowmount is boot camp for classical music’s future string stars, and the location is remote, pastoral and camplike, complete with screens and mosquitoes. The summer school is located at 1424 County Route 10, in the town of Lewis. There’ll be another concert Sunday July 5. $7 adults, $4 seniors/students. See www.meadowmount.com for a full schedule.

Also Friday a trio from the Celtic band Inisheer will be playing at O’Reilly’s Pub in Saranac Lake 8-10 p.m.

SATURDAY, July 4

There’s free music pretty much anywhere you can find a parade or fireworks. Here are just a few suggestions:

From 1-3 p.m. Inisheer plays the bandshell at Mid’s Park on Mirror Lake, in Lake Placid.

Long Lake will be hosting an open acoustic jam at the town beach at 2 p.m. (The North Country Preservation Jazz Band will play in the evening.)

Atlantic Crossing, a Vermont-based band playing Celtic roots music of New England, Canada and the British Isles, will perform at Bolton Landing’s Rogers Park at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Puttin’ on the Ritz plays pre-fireworks in Raquette Lake, at the school.

Shamim will return to play with the Dust Bunnies in Saranac Lake’s Riverside Bandshell at 7 p.m., before the fireworks. The Bunnies’ friends Big Slyde are playing the Waterhole patio, about 100 yards away, at the same time.

There’ll be square dancing in the North Country Squares Building of the Clinton County Fairgrounds at 7 p.m. in Morrisonville.

If you like your Fourth of July fix of patriotic marches, the 45-piece Floyd Community Band will be playing at the waterfront park in Old Forge at 7 p.m. Saturday, before the fireworks.

The heavy (in a good way) blues trio Crow Party will rock the annual boogie fest at the Recovery Lounge in Upper Jay, starting at 8 p.m.

Mathematicians, a band with a strong Adirondack following, will be playing at HOTSHOTS on South Street in Glens Falls on the Fourth of July with Beware the Other Head of Science. It’s an 18+ show, doors open at 9 p.m., and show starts at 10 p.m.

Aiseiri is playing at O’Reilly’s Pub after the fireworks over Lake Flower, in Saranac Lake.

SUNDAY, July 5

Inisheer plays at 6 p.m. on the Peru Village Green.

Artwork: Mathemeticians


Thursday, July 2, 2009

FUND for Lake George 2009 Annual Meeting July 10

The FUND for Lake George, a not-for-profit, privately funded organization dedicated to the protection of Lake George that was formed in 1980, will hold its 2009 Annual Meeting on July 10th at the Lake George Club, beginning at 10:00 AM. The meeting will include an overview of the major issues confronting Lake George and the major programs and projects of the FUND, the Lake George Waterkeeper, and their partners.

This year, the FUND will honor the Lake George Land Conservancy with the James D. Corbett Award. Since its creation, the LGLC has protected over 12,000 acres around Lake George, including over three miles of undeveloped shoreline areas. The LGLC’s work has helped landowners protect their lands, increased public access to wild areas, protected priceless undeveloped shoreline areas, helped protect the lake’s upland scenic beauty, and helped to protect water quality around the lake through preserving land in a natural state.

Past recipients include Lake George Mayor Robert Blais and past Chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors Bill Thomas for their leadership in organizing the West Brook Conservation Initiative, Dr. Carol Collins for her leadership on Lake George protection efforts over the past 25 years, and the RPI Darrin Fresh Water Institute for its long-term commitment to scientific study of Lake George.

In honor of Jim Corbett, The FUND for Lake George established an award in his memory. The Corbett Award recognizes an individual or organization whose work to protect Lake George continues the tradition of Jim Corbett’s passion and commitment to the lake. James Corbett had a tremendous passion for Lake George. He spent part of all of his 89 years here on the lake. As a senior partner with Merrill Lynch, Jim’s business career was on Wall Street where he was known as “Gentleman Jim.” Due to his integrity and sound thinking, upon retiring in 1970, Jim and his wife Amy became permanent residents of Huletts Landing. Jim’s passion for the Lake got him heavily involved with the Lake George Association and later he was the founder of The FUND for Lake George. Not only did Jim give endless hours of his time to preserve Lake George, he shared his treasures. He was a man of action dedicated to this lake.

2009 FUND for Lake George Annual Meeting Agenda

10:00 Welcome & Refreshments
10:15 Introductions and Agenda
10:20 Board of Trustees Business
10:30 FUND Treasurer’s Report
10:45 Program Reports: Lake George Waterkeeper
11:45 Break
12:00 Lunch: James D. Corbett Award to the Lake George Land Conservancy
12:30 Program Reports
2:00 Adjourn


Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Adirondacks: Gateway for Quebec Hydroponic Marijuana

Quebec, with its cheap hydropower and proximity to a porous section of the U.S. border, produces massive amounts of warehouse-grown high-THC marijuana.

A billion dollars worth of this weed funnels through Clinton, Franklin, and St. Lawrence counties annually, according to Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne. A look at the map is all it takes to see that much of it travels through the Adirondack Park on its way to Albany, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and as far south as Florida.

Adirondackers are mostly oblivious to this traffic, with its high stakes and organized crime, including the Russian mob, Irish mob and Hell’s Angels. But the lure of big money has attracted some North Country residents to sideline in the business, including a store owner/construction contractor from St. Regis Falls, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

Every other week for at least the past two years, a hundred or so pounds of marijuana valued at around $500,000 per shipment would leave northern New York and be transported by car to Cleveland, Ohio, authorities say. At first, police in the Cleveland area identified Daniel Simonds, a 31-year-old resident of Stockholm, in St. Lawrence County, as the deliveryman. But then Simonds was shot and killed in his home a year ago.

Investigators continued to watch Cleveland drug-ring suspects believed to have connections with the Russian mob. They got in touch with North Country law enforcement, confirming that shipments were still coming from this region, specifically from Franklin County. Police would not give details on their surveillance methods, but they say that suppliers from Cleveland would rent a car every other weekend and drive to their pick-up spot, a rustic camp on the St. Regis River in St. Regis Falls belonging to Harold Fraser, a 43-year-old St. Regis Falls resident who also owns the Hill Top Stop market and construction business in that Adirondack hamlet and whose arrest on drug possession charges was announced Wednesday.

The Cleveland drivers would wait at Fraser’s camp for a shipment of Quebec marijuana, which would cross the Canadian border via several entry points, but usually through the Akwesasne Reservation, according to David Leu, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s resident agent in charge for Northern New York. Jurisdictional ambiguities inside Mohawk nation land, which straddles the U.S.-Canada border on the St. Lawrence River, have fostered a smuggling economy. After a few hours at the St. Regis Falls camp, the drivers would receive the hydroponic, hand over the cash (hidden inside a computer hard-drive shell in at least one instance) and be on their way back to Cleveland, sometimes supplying other areas in New York State and the Northeast, Champagne says.

“In this case, in a one-year period, in excess of 18 loads were confirmed between Franklin County and Ohio with the average load having a street value in excess of $500,000. The organization has been operating in excess of 2-3 years allowing for an approximate street value of 18 to 27 million dollars during the known period of operation,” a press release states.

Eight operators described as “mid-level” have been arrested, five in Northern New York and three in Ohio so far. Leu says, “There are definitely going to be other arrests.” St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole Duve says the drug network is linked to the killing of Daniel Simonds but she would not elaborate because an investigation is ongoing. She says seven defendants are under indictment in the homicide case, two of them in Canada, and one remains at large.

The arrests resulted from search warrants executed June 15 in Cleveland and at three North Country residences and at the Hill Top Stop. Police would not comment on the convenience store’s role in the case. The warrants netted $1.3 million in cash as well as a pound of cocaine and another $700,000 in assets, including 14 vehicles, two utility trailers, three ATVs, a snowmobile and a boat. Leu says any day police take $1.3 million in cash out of the illegal-drug loop is a good day, and he expects the money to support further North Country drug interdiction efforts.

Champagne says marijuana-importing networks on this scale are not unusual in the North Country anymore. “Unfortunately we know a dozen groups that move that kind of volume,” he says.

Photo: The St. Regis Falls camp where marijuana transfers allegedly took place – the photo was supplied by law enforcement officials. To see more of their photos click here.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Hover Fly: A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

There you are, enjoying a pleasant stroll among the flowers, when your eyes suddenly land on a black and yellow banded insect getting a meal on a flower. “A bee!” your mind screams, and you hastily blunder your way out of the garden in full panic mode. When you reach the safety of the house, you contemplate grabbing a can of Raid and eliminating the unwanted insect. If, however, you had taken the time to look at the insect, you might have noticed two things. One, the “bee” only had two wings (most insects have four; flies have two), and two, the body was not fuzzy. This is no bee. It is a beneficial insect called a Syrphid, or Hover, Fly.

Syrphids are nifty, harmless flies. Although they may look like a bee or yellowjacket, they have no stingers. Their cryptic coloration fooled you, though, as it was supposed to. By looking like a bee or wasp, this insect is able to trick predators that might otherwise want to make it a meal.

Like our friend the housefly, Syrphids are equipped with sponge-like mouthparts, which they use to mop up meals of pollen and nectar. As such, they are very important pollinators, flying from blossom to blossom and transferring pollen as they go. But the benefits of these boldly colored insects don’t end here. Their larvae are also important.

The larvae of some species of Syrphids feed on decaying vegetation and fungi, making them important cogs in nature’s recycling system. Others seek out the nests of ants, termites and bees. But the ones that are dear to the naturalist’s (and gardener’s) heart are the ones that seek out and destroy aphids. In these species, the female adults lay their eggs singly near a herd of aphids. In days the egg hatches and the legless, slug-like larva oozes its way towards its prey. When an aphid is encountered, the larva raises its head, clamps onto the juicy body, and sucks it dry. Over the course of its short life, the larva can consume upwards of 400 aphids (provided their ant protectors don’t evict it first), providing relief to the host plant the aphids were draining.

The next time you find yourself walking through a field of flowers, along a roadside, or in your garden, keep your eyes peeled for these bright, bi-winged insects as they hover over the blossoms. Take a few moments to observe their behavior. You never know what else you might discover.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"In Search of the Picturesque" at Adirondack Museum

Nineteenth century armchair travelers and well-to-do American tourists eagerly read published travel guides and narratives, which often featured paintings reproduced as engravings. These images helped advance an artist’s reputation and marketability, and also shaped travelers’ expectations of the Adirondack wilderness. The Adirondack Museum‘s Chief Curator Laura Rice will lead visitors in search of the picturesque through the museum’s paintings, prints, rare maps, and photographs, many of which have never been exhibited during an illustrated program entitled “In Search of the Picturesque: Landscape and Tourism in the Adirondacks, 1820-1880” at the Adirondack Museum on Monday, July 6, 2009.

The first offering of the season in the Adirondack Museum’s Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members.

Rice will discuss how guidebook authors reinforced visual messages by using painterly language to describe scenes travelers would encounter along a given route. The visual and descriptive imagery promoted the Adirondacks as a public treasure, contributed to a national understanding of wilderness as evidence of God’s hand in creation, and fostered the development of wilderness as a national icon and reflection of the American character.

The Adirondack Museum introduced a new exhibit in 2009, “A ‘Wild, Unsettled Country’: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks,” that showcases paintings, maps, prints, and photographs illustrating the untamed Adirondack wilderness discovered by early cartographers, artists, and photographers.

Laura Rice joined the staff of the Adirondack Museum in 2003. She had previously served as a Curator, Museum Educator, and Consultant at a number of other museums. Ms. Rice holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania in American Civilization with an emphasis on Museum Studies. She is the author of the award-winning book Maryland History in Prints: 1752 – 1900, a history of the state of Maryland based on selected images in the Maryland Historical Society Print Collection.

Photo: Untitled: Wolf Jaw Mountain, by Horace Wolcott Robbins, Jr., 1863.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shamim Allen’s Brush with the King of Pop

Our own Shamim Allen – that’s her at left while attending an all-girls high school in Dobbs Ferry, circa Bad – reports here every Thursday afternoon on the unique and eclectic Adirondack music scene. Last week she took the occasion of Michael Jackson’s death to relate the story of her poignant parlay with the mainstream pop presence, even though she was (and still is) way more into Rush.

The Ten Dollar Radio Show scooped the Almanack’s backyard, so now dutifully we bow our heads and click our mouses over to www.tendollarradioshow.com (“sounds like a million bucks and plays for free”). The site is the work of Peter Crowley and Ned Rauch, two North Country newsmen, musicians and music geeks.

If you are within range of WLPW/WRGR (105.5 or 102.3) in the Tri-Lakes, tune in 6-8 p.m. every Sunday evening. If you’re not, visit Ten Dollar’s Web site for the podcast.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An Adirondack Almanack Book Coming in July

I just got word that my new book, Historic Tales from the Adirondack Almanack, should be available for purchase in mid-July; it’s being published by The History Press.

Over the past four years I’ve tried to offer a look at the modern Adirondack Park that includes historical context to today’s political, cultural, and economic news and trends. For example, when mining accidents made national news, I wrote about the mining accidents that occurred in the Adirondack region with regular frequency in the 19th and 20th centuries. When the excursion boat Ethan Allen sank in October 2005, I wrote about similar accidents on Lake George that had also taken a large number of lives. When debate raged over allowing floatplanes to continue to land on Lows Lake, I wrote a short history of development there. Local events, places, and attitudes have been source of fodder for Adirondack Almanack’s historical cannon.

Bank robberies, the Ku Klux Klan, snowmobiling, gambling, railroads, buried treasure, raising hops, rattlesnakes and earthquakes are just a few of things that inspired historical pieces about the Adirondack Park. They are all collected here, with a few whimsical historical explorations thrown in for good measure. These essays were meant to be glimpses of history, short pieces on context, not usually complete historical narratives – although a five-part history of snowmobiling in the Adirondacks may be an exception. I’ve edited them lightly trying to preserve their character while translating them from the internet page to printed page.

Thanks are due to the many readers of Adirondack Almanack, many of whom provided feedback and encouragement when these stories were first posted. I hope you’ll find the new book worthwhile. I will post information about how to get a copy in the coming weeks along with some events that are being scheduled around the book.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Adirondack Iron Ore Program in Wilmington

The Wilmington Historical Society will sponsor the program “Adirondack-Champlain Iron: Creator of Boom Towns & Ghost Towns, 1750s-1970s” with guest speaker John Moravek, Associate Professor of Geography, SUNY Plattsburgh. The program will be held at the Wilmington Community Center on Springfield Road in Wilmington, Essex County, on Friday, July 17, at 7 pm. The public is encouraged to attend. Refreshments will be served. For further information, contact Karen Peters at 946-7586 or Merri Peck at 946- 7627.

About the speaker: John Moravek has been on the faculty at SUNY Plattsburgh since arriving in fall semester of 1969. Now an Associate Professor of Geography, he teaches a variety of courses, including Physical Geography, Historical and Cultural Geography of the United States; as well as the History and Cultural Geography of Russia. He has also offered a popular and intensive two-week workshop (a 3-credit course) on the Historical Geography of the Adirondack Region every July for the past 26 years consecutively which he considers a genuine labor of love as an incorrigible “Adirondackophile”. John is also an official Forty-Sixer, having climbed the first 45 mountains solo. His doctoral dissertation, completed in 1976, investigated a number of facets of the history and geography of the Adirondack-Champlain Iron Industry. He has also presented several papers on the topic at professional meetings, with aspirations of writing a book on the topic at some future date. Currently, his publications include a number of Review Essays/Book Critiques on various topics, primarily related to the Adirondack Region.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Opinion: DEC’s Low-keyed Response to Aquatic Invasives

First appeared in the June 28, 2009 Sunday Gazette

Summer has come to the Adirondacks, and with it the anticipated flotilla of recreational boaters and fishing fleet, accessing our waterways through a dense network of public and private boat launches.

Joining this annual cavalcade, a horde of invading plants and marine animals: organisms with a proven record of destroying the lakes, ponds and streams they infest. Lake associations and other private organizations across the park are once again gearing up for another season of defense against the introduction of these dangerous pests. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Lake George Theater Lab Announces 2009 Season

The 2009 season of the Lake George Theater Lab (LGTL) in Bolton Landing has been announced. The LGTL, now in its fifth season, does new American productions in bare-bones style that feature Broadway and off-Broadway talent (and according to them, “way off-off-Broadway pay”). Two of the shows are free, and their main stage is only $15 (plus discounts for students and seniors).

The season kicks off on July 9 with LGTL’s annual free outdoor Shakespeare: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Daniel Spector, with a cast drawn from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Classical Studio. “Midsummer,” one of Shakespeare’s most performed plays, will take over Rogers Park, on Route 9N in central Bolton Landing, on July 9-11, at 7:30 PM. Bring a blanket and picnic.

Next in the schedule is a world premiere by Jesse McKinley, a national correspondent (and former Broadway reporter) for The New York Times: “The Theory of Everything,” a paean to true love, the Thea-tah, and the beauty of the Adirondacks. A comedy with heart – and a mystery or two — “The Theory of Everything,” directed by Mark Schneider, runs July 16-18, 8:00 PM, Bolton Central School, 26 Horicon Avenue, Bolton Landing. Reservations: 518-207-0143. $15.

Then “Belle of Amherst”, William Luce’s celebrated 1976 solo piece about Emily Dickinson, will be performed as a co-production with LGTL’s frequent artistic partner, the Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum. “Belle” will star LGTL artistic director Lindsey Gates in the role that won Julie Harris a Tony Award as the reclusive poet. A one night only event directed by Michael Barakiva, “Belle” will be on July 25, at 7:30 PM, the Opera Museum, 4800 Lake Shore Drive, Bolton Landing. Reservations: 518-644-2431. $25. Ms. Gates will also join her mother, Toni Gates, to present a family-friendly performance of “Stone Soup,” at Bolton Free Library, Route 9N, Central Bolton Landing, July 29th, at 7 P.M. A classic about making something from nothing, “Soup” is ideal for kids of all ages (and adults, too), and is free.

Finally, the premiere of “Rest, In Pieces” by Steve Bluestein, in association with Ted Seifman, Silverwood Films, Susi Adamski, and the Charles Wood Theater. A comedy about a family finding themselves through death, “RIP” stars Marcia Wallace (“The Bob Newhart Show”) and Richard Kline (“Three’s Company”) and is directed by John Bowab. At the Wood Theater, 207 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY, “RIP” runs from August 27-September 6, 8 PM. (Sundays at 2 PM.) Reservations: 518-874-0800. $30.

Photo: Drew Cortese, Jose Febus, Jenny Maguire, Mary Lou Wittmer performing “Leo” by Daniel Heath in 2008.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Latest APA Classifications: Public Comments Sought

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has opened the public comment period and will conduct three public hearings on its proposals to classify and reclassify 12,545 acres of state lands and water of the Five Ponds Wilderness Area, Lows Lake Primitive Area, Hitchens Pond Primitive Area, Round Lake Wilderness Area Lows Lake, Hitchens Pond and the Bog River. These areas are located in the northwest part of the Adirondack Park in Hamilton and St. Lawrence Counties. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Please Welcome Our New Sponsor, NCCC

Please join me in welcoming North Country Community College (NCCC) as a sponsor for Adirondack Almanack. Support from advertisers like NCCC helps make the Almanack possible. If you are interested in supporting Adirondack Almanack through advertising, let us know.

The people of Essex and Franklin Counties of New York founded North Country Community College in 1967. The College’s mission is to provide the highest quality public, post secondary education to area residents, as well as those outside the region, who desire to live, learn and grow in a unique educational setting.

NCCC maintains a strong reputation for progressive academic curriculum that is anchored in the liberal arts tradition. College programs are ideal for those students who plan on attaining a 2 or 4 year degree, as well as those seeking a career change.

Begun in the spring of 2005, the Almanack has grown to be the region’s most popular online journal of news and opinion, covering local politics, culture, history, regional development, outdoor recreation, the environment and other issues. Adirondack Almanack has become a go-to regional news resource for Adirondackers and for those outside the park who want to stay current on Adirondack news and events.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Deer-Proofing the Adirondack Garden?

“There’s a deer in the hummingbird garden,” our intern said in a stage whisper. “It’ll probably be gone by the time I get there,” I said, as I grabbed the camera and made a dash for the door. Lo and behold, the deer stood there, ripping through our hosta as though it was so much buttercrunch lettuce, completely ignoring me as I stepped closer and closer snapping one shot after another.

While this certainly gave us a wonderful wildlife encounter, it isn’t really the type of wildlife we want to see in our butterfly and hummingbird gardens. Already it has pruned the hollyhocks, and who knows what else it will munch on next. We’ve had little problem with deer before now, but once they’ve discovered the choice produce aisle, it is hard to keep them away. What is a gardener to do? » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Whiteface to Debut Disc Golf Course July 11th

The New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) announced Tuesday the addition of a nine-hole disc golf course at Whiteface set to open July 11. The new course features nine distinct “holes” around the lower part of Whiteface that incorporate Mixing Bowl, Wolf, Boreen, Round-a-Bout, Lower Valley and other trails into the layout, with the start and finish area located at the base of the Facelift.

Disc golf consists of players using flying discs instead of clubs and balls to go from the tee box to the hole, usually a metal chain basket of some sort. Players normally have three discs – a driver for teeing off, a mid-range one, and the putter for using around the hole. The object of the game is to complete each hole with the fewest number of throws.

“We are excited about becoming involved in a sport that is growing across the nation,” said Whiteface General Manager Jay Rand. “We have consulted with Dave Messner – the principle of the Lake Placid Middle School – who has played on courses throughout the country.”

Disc golf at Whiteface begins will run daily from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. through September 7. Cost is $5 per person per nine holes, and includes one disc rental. Additional discs may be rented for $2 per disc. For more information contact Whiteface at (518) 946-2223. Information on disc golf can be found at the Professional Disc Golf Association.

For more information on ORDA venues and events and for web cams from five locations, please log on to .