Thursday, March 12, 2009

20th CD: Eric Sundwall’s Petitions Challenged

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise is first out of the box with the news that two people have filed objections against the nominating petitions of Libertarian candidate for the 20th Congressional District, Eric Sundwall.

The objections were filed by Laurie Kelly Sickles of Ballston Spa and Donald J. Neddo of Waterford, according to state Board of Elections Public Information Officer John Conklin. Conklin said each is a general objection, or a statement of intent to file a more specific objection, which they have until Wednesday to do.

Neddo, 75, is a member of the Halfmoon Conservative Committee who ran for party state committee membership in 2008. He was formerly a school board member in the Waterford-Halfmoon school district. He was also responsible for organizing a number of rallies in support of the Iraq war in 2003, which he stopped doing after admitting that he had lied about having served in Korea when he is, in fact, not a veteran, according to the Times Union of Albany.

Sickles is a real estate agent and a member of the Ballston Spa Education Foundation.

Conklin said Sundwall had around 7,000 signatures on his petitions this year.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Forbes, Madoff Lists and the Adirondacks

It was a tough year for the world’s billionaires, Forbes reported today. Hundreds of the world’s wealthiest are merely millionaires now, including Sandy Weill, former CEO of Citigroup and seasonal resident of Upper Saranac Lake. “His Citigroup shares have lost nearly all their value,” Forbes says, estimating that Citi shares have fallen 95 percent in the last 12 months. The financial services conglomerate that Weill built is now the recipient of a $45 billion federal bailout.

Weill is prominent in New York City philanthropic circles, but he maintains a low profile in the Adirondacks. Up here his wife, Joan, is much better known, especially for her generosity to Paul Smith’s College, where she serves as chairman of its board of trustees and spearheaded construction of a library (photo above) and student center that bear her name.

A Lake George summer resident, however, is still in good standing on the billionaire list. Forrest Mars Jr., co-owner of the privately held Mars candy company (which also includes Wrigley, Pedigree pet food and other brands), is the 43rd wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $9 billion and growing, Forbes says. Mars and his wife Deborah Clarke Mars have a camp on the lake’s northeast shore, not far from Deborah’s hometown of Ticonderoga.

The Marses have been locally philanthropic, most notably to Fort Ticonderoga, but they withdrew support for the historic landmark last year after disagreements with its administration.

Meanwhile, Bernard L. Madoff pleaded guilty this morning to defrauding investors of about $65 billion dollars in a Ponzi scheme. The story seems unrelated, but it also has Adirondack connections, particularly for charitable giving. One of the victims on the Madoff list is the New York City–based Prospect Hill Foundation, a longtime supporter of many Adirondack environmental nonprofits. It’s still unclear what the repercussions will be for the foundation and its grant recipients. Also on the Madoff list is Anne Childs who — with her husband the Freedom Tower architect David Childs — owns a hilltop house in Keene.

If you know of other Adirondack connections on the Forbes or Madoff lists, please let us know.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Growing Your Energy Independence Program

Bruce Brownell, founder of Adirondack Alternative Energy, will present a program at The Wild Center this Saturday, March 14th at 1 pm titled “Growing Your Energy Independence.” Brownell has over 30 years experience in passive building construction, and has been constructing passive homes and educating on the topic throughout the north east. At 1pm Bruce will present on a unique method of home construction and can offer ideas for things you can do today to improve energy efficiency in your home. (proper use of drapes, pipe insulation, wall/floor/ ceiling insulation, sealing up cracks around windows and wall openings, window placement, use, air circulation, programmable thermostats, etc.)

There will also be an optional tour following the program which will be leaving from The Wild Center around 2:30. The tour, lead by Bruce, will travel to Lake Placid to visit a passive house that is under construction. The tour is optional and participants need to provide their own transportation.

The event is free for members OR with paid admission. For more information or directions, please visit the Wild Center’s website or call 359-7800


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Poll Shows Race for 20th CD Tightening

A new poll sponsored by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shows a tightening of the contest for New York’s 20th congressional district seat. The survey of 400 likely voters, taken February 24-25th, shows Republican James Tedisco ahead with 44% followed by Democrat Scott Murphy with 37% and Libertarian Eric Sundwall with 4%. Fifteen percent of those surveyed had not yet made up their minds. Balloting is slated for March 31st.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nor-Am Cup Alpine Finals Return to Whiteface

The USSA FIS Nor-Am Cup Alpine Finals will return to Whiteface this weekend, March 12-15. Over 100 athletes are expected to compete in this prestigious event that is a way up-and-coming alpine racers progress to the next season’s World Cup circuit. Every racer who wins a discipline title in the overall season’s events, as well as the runner up, will gain access to the World Cup tour. The Nor-Am competitions have not only seen many young racers move on to World Cup competitions, but many of these skiers have also moved on to compete as Winter Olympic athletes.

The ladies’ super combined and men’s super G will kick off the competition on Thursday, March 12 at 10 am and 1 pm. Men’s super combined and ladies’ super G will be held begin Friday, March 13 at 10 am and 1:15 pm. Men’s giant slalom and women’s slalom can be seen Saturday, March 14 at 9:30 am and 1 pm. The final events held on Sunday, March 15 will be the ladies’ giant slalom and the men’s slalom, beginning their first runs at 9:30 am.

Spectators are invited to come out and watch as some of the finest young Alpine athletes compete on courses that will be set up on the Draper’s Drop and Wilderness trails.

Volunteers are still needed for this event. If interested, contact Brian Fitzgerald at 518.946.7001 or via email at brian@nysef.org. Each email should include individual skiing ability and the volunteer position desired.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

DIY Natural History at The Wild Center

Maybe you’ve started walking to the store instead of driving, or line-drying the laundry, or insulating drafty gaps in your walls. Whatever you do, little steps like these can give other people ideas on how to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.

Visitors to the The Wild Center in Tupper Lake are writing footnotes about their efforts to cut fossil-fuel use and posting them by their hometown on a map of the Adirondack Park. Guests from farther away tape their stories outside the Blue Line. The little feet-shaped pieces of paper represent carbon footprints, which must shrink if the Adirondacks is to have a chance of keeping boreal birds, spruce trees and maples. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Scott Murphy Visits Lake Placid

Democrat Scott Murphy, running in the special 20th Congressional District race, made stops yesterday in Schroon Lake, at Rivermede Farms in Keene Valley, at Whiteface Mountain, and in Lake Placid.
The Lake Placid event was billed as a reception for supporters and public party officials. The two dozen in attendance at Mr. Mike’s Restaurant included Lake Placid Mayor Jamie Rogers and Trustee candidate Jason Leon, both running in village elections on Tuesday, March 18.

The congressional hopeful kept his remarks general, reiterating his wish to serve the district on the agriculture and financial services committees. On environmental matters, Murphy said he would like to see more federal money directed to Adirondack Villages to help improve water supply and treatment infrastructure. While praising Lake Placid’s economic growth of recent years, he cited the residential development of open spaces which the village has experienced as a potential threat to the health of Adirondack waters.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Adk Council Slams Paterson’s Adirondack Record

Here is a statement from the Adirondack Council’s Executive Director Brian L. Houseal on what he calls Gov. David Paterson’s “proposed give-away to polluters” under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). My favorite part is when Houseal calls Paterson out on his Adirondack record (which makes George Pataki look like a saint) – “the Paterson Administration has displayed unexpected hostility toward environmental initiatives and Adirondack issues.” Stand back.

The Adirondack Council strongly objects to Governor David Paterson’s decision to give away pollution rights to polluters participating in compliance with the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Not only is the decision bad for the environment, it is also bad for the economy.

The decision is especially disappointing in light of President Barack Obama’s pledge to create a national cap-and-trade program similar to RGGI to control carbon dioxide emissions nationwide. It would be irresponsible to do anything to weaken the prototype program at this crucial moment. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Forward


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Adirondack Park Agency Meeting This Week

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, March 12 and Friday March 13, 2009 at the APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) amendment related to Lows Lake in the Bog River Complex Unit Management Plan was postponed to give DEC and APA staff additional time to complete the Final Environmental Impact Statement and consider public comments. Review of the proposal will be rescheduled for the Agency’s April meeting. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Opinion: The Two-Party System in the US

Eighteen-year-old Ottawa, Canada native and now freshman at Hawai`i Pacific University, Michelle Mann-Saumier has written a short piece outlining the problems with the two-party system. I figured that since some of our local media folks are having so much trouble understanding how Democracy is supposed to work, I’d reprint her essay here and let a college freshman explain it. Michelle moved to Washington County when she was nine. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 6, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Friday, March 6, 2009

Adirondack Blogging Round-Up


Thursday, March 5, 2009

400 Years of The Champlain Valley Event

Rich Strum, Director of Interpretation and Education at Fort Ticonderoga, will offer a program entitled “Conquest, Commerce, and Culture: 400 Years of History in the Champlain Valley” at Saranac Village at Will Rogers in Saranac Lake on Sunday, March 8, 2009.

Samuel de Champlain first saw the great expanse of Lake Champlain, the Green Mountains to the east, the Adirondacks on the west in 1609. New York State, Vermont, and the Province of Quebec are commemorating the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s explorations this year through a variety of programs and events.

Strum will provide an illustrated overview of four centuries of the Champlain region’s history. He will discuss military contests for control of the vital Champlain corridor, the role the lake has played in economic growth and expansion, the lasting impact of 150 years of French dominance in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The presentation will begin at 2:00 p.m. and is offered at no charge to member sof the Adirondack Museum and children of elementary school age or younger. Free admission will be extended to all residents of Saranac Village at Will Rogers. The fee for non-members is $5.00. For additional information, please call the Education Department at (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit the museum’s web site at www.adirondackmuseum.org.

Rich Strum has been the Director of Interpretation and Education at Fort Ticonderoga since 1999. He serves as North Country Regional Coordinator for New York State History Day. He is the author of Ticonderoga: Lake Champlain Steamboat, as well as two books for young readers: Causes of the American Revolution and Henry Know: Washington’s Artilleryman. He lives in Ticonderoga, N.Y. with his wife and daughters.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

5 Questions: Saranac Lake Birder Brian McAllister

Brian McAllister of Saranac Lake conducts bird surveys for environmental groups and wind-power companies, teaches ornithology lab at Paul Smith’s College and is one of the founders of the annual Great Adirondack Birding Celebration.

He discusses what to look for during this winter-to-spring transition as warblers and other migrants journey north to their Adirondack nesting grounds, and he talks about tower lights that keep some birds from ever making it back.

Q. Can we call you a professional birdwatcher?

A. I guess I’d call myself a field ornithologist. I’ve been lucky to piecemeal a career in birding here in the Adirondacks.

Q. Do you bird-watch every day?

A. I bet I do. I’m constantly tuned in to what’s going on, even if I’m just driving somewhere.

Q. So how was your winter?

A. It’s been amazing. Every year there is some sort of irruption, with one or two species that sort of run out of food up north, so they come down south to the border states and into New York and Southern Canada to find cones or other food. This year it’s been phenomenal because everything came: red crossbills, white-winged crossbills, bohemian waxwings, redpolls, pine siskins, pine grosbeaks, hawk owls. Also, it’s a record year for snow buntings.

Q. What are you looking for now?

A. It’s funny, in March I veer away from the winter up here and focus on what’s happening in Florida and the Caribbean because a lot of migratory birds are starting to jump out of the tropical rainforest and work their way up the East Coast. Last night I was checking the Internet for rare bird alerts in Florida, and they’re seeing a bunch of warblers. They’re on the move. Along Lake Champlain and Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River we’ve got red-winged blackbirds and sparrows coming up from Mid-Atlantic states — also rusty blackbirds, brown-headed cowbirds, anywhere from March 1 on. Some winter birds begin to sing in March in courtship, like golden-crowned kinglets and brown creepers. Owls are on territory now and they’re breeding.

Q. You’ve done some field surveys at potential wind-turbine sites north of the Adirondack Park, but there’s a lot of talk lately about another kind of tower.

A. Yes, communications towers. The most famous tower-kill study was done by Bill Evans of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and he conducted most of his dead-bird counts at television towers in the Boston Hills area of western New York. Tower kills per year are far worse than all wind turbine deaths put together. Outdoor cats kill the most birds, then towers and their guy wires are a close second. But what we have to realize is that these kills only occur on nights of heavy fog or very low cloud ceiling when there’s a heavy migration. The birds see this glow in the fog, and for some reason — we don’t know why — they’re attracted to it. They start circling, around and around and eventually they die of exhaustion or they actually collide into the tower or, more likely, into the unseen guy wires. . . . The solid red lights on top of towers should all be changed to blinking or strobe lights. Researchers have discovered that those are less harmful. When I lived on Averyville Road in Lake Placid there was a tower behind my cabin and on foggy nights it would cast this eery red glow, and I could see how birds are attracted to it.

Editor’s note: According to McAllister’s copy (thanks, Brian) of “Living on the Wind” by Scott Weidensaul (North Point Press, 1999), two to four million birds are killed by towers taller than 200 feet each year in the Eastern United States alone. To sign a petition asking the Federal Communications Commission to minimize tower kills click here. To follow current sightings by Brian and other Northern New York birders, click here. Brian’s own natural-history observations and photographs can be found on his blog, Adirondacks Naturally.