Thursday, August 17, 2006

Utica Photo Essay Wins National Press Photography Association’s "New America Award"

Better late then never – congratulations to UNHCR Refugees Magazine photojournalist Vincent Winter for his amazing series of photos documenting immigrant refugees in Utica. The piece was titled “The Town That Loves Refugees: A small American town, Asian freedom fighters, Somali ‘slaves’ and survivors of the ‘killing fields’”

Gotta love this bit:

“Utica loves refugees,” Gene Dewey, the Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration in Washington, told a Senate hearing last year. “Utica has benefited from refugees. The town was going downhill, but it is now reviving because of refugees.”

The piece was also picked up by ABC News.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rachael Ray: August York Stater of the Month

We couldn’t resist pointing you to the first Adirondacker to win the highly esteemed “York Stater of the Month” award – Rachael Ray – and you know how much we love RR.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Local Police Gone Wild: Shots Fired in Lake George


If the Bolton Police Department debacle wasn’t enough – now we have news of a “veteran” Warren County Sheriff Deputy who whips his gun out for a little wild west action:

Officer Jeffrey Clarke committed a “blatant and gross violation” of department policy by firing his department-issue handgun at the fleeing car, Sheriff Larry Cleveland said. Cleveland said the department may seek his termination over the incident.

He hit a tire with one of the shots but still was not justified in firing at the vehicle because he was not in danger at the time, the sheriff said.

“Our policies specifically prohibit the discharging of a firearm at a vehicle,” the sheriff said.

Clarke fired his .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun during a chase that began on the Northway shortly after 4 a.m. Saturday.

The pursuit began when sheriff’s officers and State Police tried to stop a vehicle for speeding. They later learned the vehicle had been taken without permission from the parking lot of a Lake George motel.

The driver of the car led them through Diamond Point and along Route 9 before turning onto Finkle Farm Road, a dead end.

When the fleeing car got to the end of the road, it stopped. Sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Breen approached the vehicle on foot in an attempt to grab the steering wheel, Cleveland said.

As Breen tried to grab the wheel, the driver gunned the engine. The car’s side view mirror then struck the radio on Breen’s equipment belt, spinning the sergeant around but not injuring him, Cleveland said.

Clarke then fired several times at the car as it sped down the road. It was not known how many shots were fired, but it did not appear anything of significance was hit other than the car tire, the sheriff said.

The shot that hit the tire did not stop the vehicle, police said. Instead, the car ran out of gas minutes later, with the driver running off into nearby woods.

He was suspended without pay – a small price to pay for an officer who is obvisouly out of control. He should be glad he didn’t kill someone (an 18-year old no less) and we should be wondering what else he’s been up to that we haven’t heard about.


Monday, August 14, 2006

A Lesson in Killing Business: The Bolton Landing Police Department

It really began about two years ago. That was when the Bolton Police Department began its harassment of local businesses in Bolton Landing, on Lake George in theAdirondacks. It started with slow drive-bys of the local businesses, particularly the only two places left in town that attract locals – the Sagamore Pub and the Brass Ring. Cars leaving town after 11 pm were pulled over constantly. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough,Bolton police began stalking tourists and locals who were walking down the street minding their own business. They asked for IDs and if someone walking down the street was intoxicated, they were automatically arrested – even if they were minding their own business.

Last summer Bolton Police began parking directly in front of the Sagamore Pub and the Brass Ring and waiting for patrons to leave – if they drove they were followed and stopped; if they walked they were asked for ID. A police sting which sent two undercover police into both bars ended in the closing of the Brass Ring after a new bartender, just 21 years old herself, served two people who looked obviously over-age, but were undercover and trying to deceive the bartenders into serving them. The Sagamore Pub is now closed and the Brass Ring is under new ownership (among other issues these changes mean neither establishments have a presence on the web any more).

So the Bolton Police have decided to move on to parking in addition to their usual tactics . Last Sunday night, the most popular night for locals in town, Bolton Police issued tickets and warnings to every car parked in the public parking lot – the reason? No overnight parking. Cars have to be moved at 2 am, never mind the Brass Ring (now called the Lakeside Pub or some such thing) doesn’t close until 4 am. Lots of locals stood by and cursed while their cars were ticketed afraid to confront police or move their cars from a near-empty public parking lot for fear of police intimidation. Of course, anyone who works at The Sagamore Hotel will tell you that they never see the Bolton Police – you see, the super rich of Bolton are exempt from the pestering the locals and “regular” tourist face.

So it’s no surprise that the overzealous Bolton Police have all resigned this past week. The Glens Falls Post Star speculated on the reason:

Earlier this month, there was talk around town of changing the Bolton department’s duties, [Warren County Sherriff Larry]Clevelandsaid. Rather than focusing on making arrests and writing tickets, the officers were asked to make their presence known to business owners during the day and assist people crossing busy streets.

When they can no longer drive away business and hassle locals the Bolton Police resign – I, and a whole lot of residents and business owners in Bolton, say Good Riddance! Until the Bolton Police can perform their job more appropriately, they ought to stick to what they do best – giving directions and helping tourists cross the street (oh, and hunting aliens).

UPDATE 8/15/06: The ComPostStar is reporting more about why the officers resigned. Apparently they “notified the town they planned to resign Friday, three days after a Town Board meeting that focused on an effort to create a written policy outlining the duties of town police officers. Some Town Board members wanted the department — whose officers work a total of 1,200 hours a year, most of them in the summer — to perform more foot patrols, spend more time directing traffic and assisting pedestrians crossing the street, and issuing more warnings instead of citations.”


Friday, August 11, 2006

This Just In: Saranac Lake Wal-Mart Will Pull Out

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise is reporting that:

Wal-Mart’s bid to build a 121,000-square-foot Supercenter on three Lake Flower Avenue parcels is over, and the company has terminated purchasing agreements with the owners of Carcuzzi Car Care Center and Tri-Lakes Auto Mall, Wal-Mart spokesman Philip Serghini said Friday.

There’s more over at the Adirondack Wal-Mart Blog.

UPDATE 8/16/06: The Adirondack Wal-Mart Blog wonders “Has Wal-Mart Really Given Up?” and North Country Public Radio has a full report.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Adirondack Local History Up in Flames

Adirondack landmarks have had a tough year so far – first there was the arson that destroyed the Episcopal Church in Pottersville and then last week the Brant Lake General Store went up in flames.

The Brant Lake General Store was one of those classic places found all around the Adirondacks – part deli, part bait shop, part hardware store, newsstand and convenience store. It only recently changed hands (the new owners added a liquor store) when it caught fire sometime after midnight on August 1. The store’s former owner, Roger Daby, was among firefighters from six local companies and who fought the three alarm fire. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 7, 2006

Adirondack Birding Google Maps Mash-Up

Thanks to TourPro at Adirondack Base Camp for pointing us to the lastest offering from the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council – an Adirondack birding map!

And while we’re at it – we’ll refer you to our own Adirondack Map round-up from about a year ago.


Sunday, August 6, 2006

Green Candidate for US Senate Howie Hawkins in Glens Falls

In case you missed it – Brian has a nice review of Howie Hawkins recent trip to Glens Falls here.


Suggested Reading: Howie’s Latest Book on Independent Politics


Friday, August 4, 2006

A Sweeney News Round-Up

In case you haven’t seen:

Brian’s recent rant on the 20th Congressional District race

Democracy in Albany – “Someone’s lying

From the WFP Blog: “Sweeney misfires

NY Cowboy Looks at “Sweeney’s claims” he’s an upstater

And while we’re at it:

The Green Party of New York State is in petition mode – help out.

And remember these gems?

Sweeney in a bar fight?
Sweeney in a frat party drunken stupor?

Still have doubt? Check out the Washington Post’s Congressional Votes Database (goes back to 1991)


Monday, July 31, 2006

The Convention Center Parade Marches On

In March. the Adirondack Almanack reported on the proposal to build another Convention Center in Lake George. We pointed out that its been long understood by people who bother to look that:

a highly critical report on the convention industry for the Brookings Institution… found that various factors such as industry consolidation, telecommunication advances and rising energy costs have contributed to a nearly 50-percent drop in convention attendance since the late 1990s. But meanwhile, more than 100 U.S. cities completed or began construction of convention centers, increasing the supply of available exhibit space by more than 50 percent.

Now New York State has given $20 million to a convention center in Lake Placid and the Lake George Forum owners have offered to “expand their facility into a full-fledged convention center with an exhibition hall, ballroom and parking deck to be operated by a new public authority.” We can only hope they use similarly wacky design prinicples.

Once built, Lake George Venture Partners, owners of the Forum, would either sell the facility to the authority for $13.5 million or lease it for $775,000 annually, under a proposal to be presented to the Executive Host Committee of the Warren County Board of Supervisors at 1:30 p.m. Friday [July 28] at the Warren County Municipal Center.

Hmmmm… we wonder who makes out on that deal – certainly not the taxpayers of Warren County we’ll bet.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Adirondack Tourism: Another Study in the Works

The Northern New York Travel and Tourism Research Center has announced that it will conduct another survey of regional tourism in the Adirondacks. According to the Press Republican:

[The study] will measure the local economic impact of tourism in a 10-county area.

The first report, issued in 2003, showed that the average tourist spent an average $63.66 a day while in the Adirondacks — $33 on a day trip and $109 if they stayed overnight, according to Laurie Marr, executive director of the Research Center.

The final results were released in 2004 and showed that tourists to northern New York spent over $1.5 billion in 2003 with a local economic impact of almost $150 million (in local government revenues). It also showed that an estimated 35,000 jobs are supported by both direct and indirect tourist dollars across northern New York, with a resultant $662 million in wages and income earned by business owners in 2003.

Bryan Higgins at SUNY Plattsburg conducted a similar study in about 2000 and reported at that time that only two had been done in the previous ten years:

We are aware of only two scientific assessments of regional tourism issues and needs having been conducted in the Adirondacks during the 1990’s. The first was a brief visitor intercept survey at various attractions and lodgings in the Park, carried out by Ambrosino Research (1993) for the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council. The second was a compilation of available research prepared by Dr. Chad Dawson at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) et al. (1994) for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. A key finding of Dawson’s report is that the lack of accurate and objective data on recreation and tourism use within the Adirondack Park is a serious limitation to any NYSDEC comprehensive recreation and tourism planning efforts and therefore needs to be addressed in the future.

The most recent county reports are interesting reading as was this detail from the Plattsburg PR:

The 2003 study revealed a few surprises to some: just 7 percent of the tourists that year were from the New York City-Long Island area; 6 percent were from Canada; and only about $14 a day was spent on shopping.

It’s not clear if that is just Clinton County or the region in total and unfortunately the combined results are not available on the web. Also, the poverty numbers are still elusive. According to the New Tork Times, in 1992 the only five counties with unemployment rates above 15% were Hamilton, Warren, Essex, Lewis and Jefferson.

The state rate in June 2006 was 4.5% and the county numbers were:

Hamilton 3.6 %
Warren 3.7
Essex 4.9
Lewis 4.6
Jefferson 5.0

Why such a big differnence? They changed the benchmark in 2004 – did that lower the rates considerably?


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pee Wee Herman / Paul Reubens’ Enchanted Forest

Strange as it may seem, Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee-Wee Herman) spent part of this week, the week of the 15th Anniversary of his arrest for, well, we’ll let the Daily Rotten describe it:

arrested in Sarasota, Florida for jacking off twice with his left hand inside the South Trail XXX Cinema. It was screening the triple feature Catalina Five-O: Tiger Shark, Nancy Nurse, and Turn Up The Heat. Following his masturbatorial debut, Reubens loses his children’s television show and product endorsements.

Anyway, he spent it where? You guessed it – at Enchanted Forest in Old Forge!

The details are all here.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Schroon Lake: Scaroon Manor Day Use Area Finally Opens

The Scaroon Manor Day Use Area, on the site of the old Taylor’s on Schroon, has finally opened to the public (word has it that their will be limited camping facilities beginning next year). According to a DEC press release, it’s the “first new recreational facility constructed in the Adirondack Forest Preserve since 1977.”

Scaroon Manor comprises 241 acres in the towns of Chester, Warren County, and Schroon, Essex County, including 1,200 feet of shoreline on Taylor’s Point on the western shore of Schroon Lake. The day use area, which complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, contains a beach [next to the abandoned boat crib at left], swimming area, large parking lot, bathhouse, and 58 picnic sites located in the pavilion and surrounding areas. It will be operated by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The parking lot contains ample parking for all users of the Scaroon Manor Day Use Area, with designated parking spaces for persons with disabilities.

The site features a 120-foot long beach and 10,000 square-foot swimming area that can accommodate hundreds of bathers and swimmers. The lawn area immediately adjacent to the beach provides additional space forrecreation or relaxation. The beach bathhouse has changing areas, flush toilets, and sinks, all of which are accessible to persons with disabilities. The picnic pavilion contains 20 picnic tables and there are 38 additional picnic sites located in three areas close to the beach. Half of the picnic sites in each area are also accessible to people with disabilities.

In the 1700s, the Scaroon Manor site was called Spirit Point because of its use by religious worshipers. The property was home to a large farm, and eventually housed a succession of summer resorts. As a major summer resort from the 1930s through the 1950s, the facility included a grand hotel with a large ballroom, guest cottages, a golf course, and a 500-seat outdoor amphitheater. The last resort at this site – The Scaroon – closed in the early 1960s.

The property was acquired by New York State in 1967, and became part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Many of the original buildings were sold and removed to new locations, some of which can still be found on the shores of Schroon Lake today.

That last line is interesting – the big rub has always been that they simply burned down a historic hotel and resort complex. That’s still true.

No word on what will become of the “500-seat outdoor amphitheater” (right) an amazing Greek style theatre that looked pretty rough last time we saw it.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Star Trek Returns to the Adirondack Region

About eight months ago the Adirondack Almanack noted a Wired story on James Cawley of Ticonderoga who transformed the historic Wheelock Garage in Port Henry into a Star Trek movie set in order to kill off Chekov. According to Lohr McKinstry at the Press Republican, Cawley is back with another installment –

Ten actors from the five “Star Trek” television series are in the show, including Nichelle Nichols, Uhura on the original “Star Trek”; Gary Graham, the Vulcan ambassador on “Star Trek: Enterprise”; Walter Koenig, Chekov on the original show; Garrett Wang, Ensign Kim on “Voyager”; Grace Lee Whitney, Yeoman Rand on the original; and Alan Ruck, Capt. John Harriman in the “Star Trek: Generations” movie.

This time Cawley’s troupe is taking on terrorism:

Once they finish shooting interiors in Port Henry, some location scenes will be shot in California, [Star Trek: Voyager star Tim] Russ said, including a desert sequence.

“It takes place at two different times, and we’ll use two different starship bridges. We aren’t experiencing any deep-seated character issues, but we will experience themes that take place now. For example, terrorism.”

The original “Star Trek” did it the same way, covering contemporary issues like war and racism that would have been taboo on TV if they hadn’t been set in the future.

“People remember the original series because it broke so much ground,” Russ said. “It was the first of its kind.”

Which part of the terrorism story will they tell? The Captain encounters a border road black 75 miles from the border? Or the crew have their financial and phone records monitored by an alien overlord? Your guess is as good as ours.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Adirondack Heritage For Sale – And Not Very Cheaply

A recent post over at one of our favorite blogs, York Staters, got us thinking about the price of Adirondack History. Jesse, one of the blog’s several prolific and thoughtful writers, offered this about the Adirondack guide boat, which he calls the pick-up truck of the region:

It is ironic that the pick-up truck has become the Rolls-Royce, but the boats are once again slowly proliferating in the region. Yet, how many Adirondackers can afford part of their heritage? At the same time that the Adirondacks themselves are increasingly being bought off and subdivided for homes for suburbanites, the artistic heritage of the people is only available to these same outsiders. This is not only true for guideboats, but also for Adirondack packbaskets, performances of traditional Adirondack music, which have all become expensive for, and distant from, the lives of Adirondackers.

To that we add this tidbit.

The most recent book on the history of the Adirondacks is Adirondack: Of Indians and Mountains, 1535-1838 – price? $39

One of the great resources for Adirondack information is the Adirondack Atlas – price? $23 (just reduced from $35 for a paperback!)

Expensive and distant indeed!


That said, if you can afford them, and they are great books, take the time to buy through the “Suggested” links we’ve been adding. It’s a nice way to contribute to the Almanack and help keep us going (actually we’ll keep going whether you buy or not, but making even a little cash makes us feel a whole lot better about it!).

Suggested Reading: Adirondack: Of Indians and Mountains, 1535-1838

Suggested Reading: Adirondack Atlas: A Geographic Portrait of the Adirondack Park