Friday’s Watertown Times reports that the plans to create a department store in Lake Placid have been put on hold.
Seaway Valley Capital Corp. of Gouverneur, owner of Hacketts Department Stores, has temporarily suspended its plans to establish a new outlet at the Cold Brook Plaza in the space formerly occupied by Tops Supermarket. The loss of a $5 million line of credit from Wells Fargo Bank was cited by Seaway Valley Capital officials as the cause of the suspension. Since September of last year, Hacketts arrival has been the subject of much anticipation in a region that lost its last large department store in 2002, when Ames closed in neighboring Saranac Lake. Efforts by WalMart Corporation to establish a store in the Town of North Elba (which contains the Village of Lake Placid and a portion of Saranac Lake) were thwarted in 1996 and 2006. A group hoping to establish an independent community department store in the Village of Saranac Lake is approaching its third year of a capital campaign to raise $500,000 for the project.
Calls to Seaway Valley Capital to ascertain a new timeline for the Lake Placid site were not returned Friday. Hacketts also has a store in Tupper Lake.
On Nov. 1, 1933, Mrs. Bruce Reid recorded seeing both a male and female ivory-billed woodpecker in Texas. And on May 28, 1938, Oscar McKinley Bryans observed a ruby-throated hummingbird in Michigan, noting that the birds were most common when apple trees were blooming.
These are just two of more than 6 million personal observations scribbled and preserved on notecards in government files. The cards record more than a century of information about bird migration, a veritable treasure trove for climate-change researchers because they will help them unravel the effects of climate change on bird behavior, according to Jessica Zelt, coordinator of the North American Bird Phenology Program at the USGS.
That is — once the cards are transcribed and put into a scientific database. And that’s where citizens across the country come in – the program needs help from birders and others across the nation to transcribe those cards into usable scientific information.
“These cards, once transcribed, will provide over 90 years of data, an unprecedented amount of information describing bird distributions, migration timing, and migration pathways and how they are changing,” said Zelt. “There is no other program that has the same historical depth of information that can help us understand the effect that global climate change has on bird populations across the country. When combined with current information, scientists will better understand how birds are responding to climate change and how to develop tools to help manage that change, especially for at-risk species.”
The millions of hand-scribbled cards sit in row upon row of federal green filing cabinets of ancient vintage in a modest and fittingly old office dating from before WWII. The cards contain almost all of what was known of bird distribution and natural history from the Second World War back to the later part of the 19th century, said USGS senior scientist Chan Robbins, who kept track of the cards’ whereabouts in attics and basements during the intervening years.
“When I go through the files, it is just amazing some of the stories that are recorded there,” said Jessica Zelt, who is an avid birder herself. “For example, one of our online participants recently wrote to tell me she had transcribed a migration card on purple martins by American ornithologist Margaret Morse Nice from 1926. It is exciting to see people today being linked to a piece of birding history.”
Participants recorded their name, locality and year, along with arrival and departure dates, date of abundance, and whether it was a species common in that area. Personal observations on the cards often caught the enthusiastic joy of a birder sighting a rare bird.
The collection, said Zelt, includes information on about 900 species, including some sightings of rare, extinct, or nearly extinct birds, such as the giant albatross, ivory-billed woodpecker and Carolina parakeet, birds whose very names make the hearts of avid birders go pitter-patter.
The BPP is joining efforts with the USA National Phenology Network, which has just kicked off a national program to recruit citizen scientists and professional researchers to monitor plant and animal life cycles, or phenology. The two efforts will complement each other flawlessly, with the BPP combining its expertise on historical bird data with the USA-NPN’s ongoing work to document changes in flowering, fruiting, migrations, reproduction, hibernation, and other plant and animal phenological events.
The BPP was started in 1880 by Wells W. Cooke, who wanted to broaden knowledge and understanding of migration. Eventually, famed scientist C. Hart Merriam expanded the volunteer network to include the entire United States, Canada and part of the West Indies. By the late 1880s the program had 3000 volunteers. Although the program was actively maintained by the federal government, in 1970 the program closed, until it re-opened again last year.
This program relies heavily on the participation of citizen scientists, said Zelt. It currently houses 6 million cards, which need to be scanned onto the website and then converted, solely by volunteers, into a database. Birders who want to concentrate on one particular group of birds can select that group or even a particular species.
To date, volunteers have scanned about 184,000 cards on hooded orioles, barred owls, spotted owls, scarlet tanagers, American redstarts, rose-breasted grosbeak and many other species. That leaves about 5,816,000 cards to go.
If you’d like to volunteer, visit the website. Remember that you can follow current sightings by Northern New York birders here.
(click image to see full-sized bracket) Well, the Adirondack Bracket contest is rolling. The first round was not without its moments of suspense (one time the coin we used to determine contest outcomes rolled under the sleeper sofa forcing a Logging truck/French and Indian War re-enactors rematch. An unforgettable moment). A few first-round highlights after the jump. Few surprises in the first quad. Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury) totally schooled the heritage strain brook trout, while our flaming Adirondack foliage fell to the preternaturally red Rockwell Kent. Senator Little will now face the Wild Center otters (will our wildlife creatures ever learn?), while Kent will face Lake Luzerne’s sweetheart of the garbage bowl, Rachael Ray. How good is that?!!
Perhaps reflecting the new hard times, eating bark upset the industrious and ubiquitous Eastern European waitresses in the bracket’s second quad. And in a bit of a turn-around, The Hochschild Award winners swarmed the black flies.
We have yet to discern a compelling narrative in the third quad.
In the fourth, the dreams of Old Forge’s Water Safari Enchanted Forest were invaded by Eurasian watermilfoil. Nineteen-foot-tall standout center Paul Bunyan seemed to just stand there for much of the second half. The second round pits nordic-combined skiing phenom Bill Demong against Theodore Dreiser’s American Tragedy. This one should be a classic.
The 2009 NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Championship returns to Lake Placid March 20-21 in the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena at the Olympic Center, where the 1980 Miracle on Ice occurred. Each of the four quarterfinal winning teams will begin playoffs with a semifinal game tomorrow Friday, March 20. All games in the championship are single elimination games, moving the winners of Friday’s competitions into the final championship round Saturday, March 21.
The action begins with the semifinals Friday as Gustavus Adolphus takes on the University of Wisconsin-Stout at 4 p.m. Neumann College faces off against sixth ranked Hobart College, for the fifth time this season, at 7:30 p.m. The winners of each game advance to the championship match at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The Gustavus Adolphus Golden Gusties enter the semifinals after a 2-0 upset over Wisconsin-Superior, number one seed in the Western Region. This is the second time the Gusties have made it to the NCAA DIII semifinals, with the last year being 1982.
Wisconsin-Stout comes to Lake Placid after defeating St. Scholastica 2-1, scoring in the last 37 seconds of the game. The win in the quarterfinals gave the Blue Devils a 10 game winning streak, and unbeaten in the last 15 games. The team has been dubbed the “comeback kids” due to overcoming 10-plus third period deficits. This is the first trip to the semifinals that Wisconsin-Stout has made.
Neumann College travels to the Olympic Center after triumphing over top-ranked Plattsburgh State University with a 5-4 win in over-time. The Knights move forward in the playoffs with a team led by 14 seniors and 20 underclassmen, 14 of which are freshman. This is the first time Neumann has made it into the playoffs and is currently enjoying a seven-game winning streak.
With a 25 win program-record, sixth ranked Hobart College handed Amherst a 2-1 loss in overtime and won a slot in the semifinals. This is the third time Hobart has made it to the quarterfinals and the second time the Statesmen reached the semifinals.
Prior to Saturday’s championship game, ORDA and Plattsburgh State University will be hosting the 2009 NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Championship Fan Fest at the Olympic Center from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. just outside the Box Office entrance. Bring friends and family to this free event and enjoy live music featuring The Zambonis, games, food vendors and the Whiteface Mountain Prize Cube.
Saturday’s championship game will be broadcast live on CBS College Sports Network. The semifinals on Friday may be seen on a NCAA live web-cast by visiting www.ncaa.com.
All tickets for the 2009 NCAA DIII Men’s Ice Hockey Championships are currently on sale through the Olympic Center Box. Box Office hours are Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The Box Office may be reached by calling 518.523.3330. Tickets are also available online. Ticket prices are $15 per person per game and $25 per person for the whole weekend. Group tickets are available for $12 per person per game or $18 per person for the weekend. Show a Whiteface lift ticket from Friday, March 20 or Saturday, March 21 and receive the group discount on your ticket.
Michael Merenda and Ruth Ungar Merenda, who live in the Catskills, toured seven years with indie string band the Mammals before striking out on their own last year. “With a repertoire of old-timey twang, topical folk, and just plain love songs, their heartfelt vocal duets intertwine with lively fiddle & banjo,” the Bluseed Web site says. Tickets are $14. Also Friday, at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, violinist Mark O’Connor headlines a Hudson River Quadricentennial concert. O’Connor, who is classically trained but inspired by American folk, is joined by clarinetist Don Byron — who fuses jazz, classical and soul — and violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, who’s into classical and hip hop. The three composer/musicians “have created new music inspired by the past, present and future of the Hudson River Valley.” Tickets are $15. The show starts at 8 p.m.
OK, not music, but Academy Award–nominated writer and director Courtney Hunt will introduce a showing of her movie Frozen River, filmed in Plattsburgh. 8 p.m. Saturday at Willsboro Central School. Tickets $5 for adults, $2 under 18.
Elsewhere in the Northeast, wildflowers are tentatively testing the air, while in the Adirondacks it’s still ski season. It won’t be long, though, till coltsfoot raises its fuzzy yellow head along roadsides.
Two of this region’s most-observant botanists made a study of when each native flower reappears in spring. The late Greenleaf Chase retired from the Department of Environmental Conservation but never tired of guiding friends to see rare blooms in rare places. Professor Mike Kudish, formerly of Paul Smith’s College, created a bloom-date chart for his book Adirondack Upland Flora. And in case you think botany effete, consider that original Hall-of-Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson kept a list of flowers he found around Saranac Lake in the summer of 1922, when he was there to recover from tuberculosis. (An excerpt: “June 24, 1922: Musk Mallow, Pink Petals also White Petals!!!!”)
Starting with the vernal equinox tomorrow, daylight increases at its fastest rate, Kudish writes. The ground begins to thaw. Around April 5 the mean daily temperature begins to rise above freezing.
Here are Adirondack Upland Flora’s first median flowering dates (at elevations of 1,500 to 2,000 feet; if you live at lower elevations expect to see blooms sooner):
May 2: Trout lily, red maple May 3: Spring beauty May 4: Trailing arbutus May 5: Dutchman’s breeches and squirrel corn May 6: Round-leaved violet May 7: Sweet gale May 8: Sweet white violet May 9: Painted trillium May 10: Strawberry May 11: Bartram’s serviceberry May 12: Purple trillium May 14: Leatherleaf May 15: Blue violet, early saxifrage, Canada honeysuckle, kidneyleaf buttercup; most hardwoods begin to leaf out rapidly May 17: Marsh marigold and sugar maple May 19: Bellwort May 20: Goldthread and toothwort May 21: Canada violet and serviceberry May 22: Witchhobble, downy yellow violet, red cherry (Christy Matthewson reported witchhobble blooms in April) May 23: Dwarf ginseng May 25: Red elderberry May 30: Foamflower May 31: Pussytoes
Shortly before he died in the early 1990s Greenie Chase made flower-finding notes for Kathy Regan, when she was staff biologist at the Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter. In late May, he suggested, visit Valcour Island to see ram’s head ladyslipper and look on alpine summits for lapland rosebay.
We’ll post more of Christy, Greenie and Mike’s bloom notes as spring and summer progress. You can see Christy Mathewson’s list yourself in the William Chapman White Adirondack Research Center of the Saranac Lake Free Library.
Canoeists understand the silent satisfaction of the paddle-powered glide. The late John Jerome, who wrote often of water and of the Adirondacks, described the aesthetics:
“[W]e paddled long enough that I began to feel the enticing sphere of energy in the water beside the boat — all the water I could comfortably reach with the paddle — and got the sense that by shaping it, pushing and pulling against it, carving it, molding it, I could make the canoe go where we wanted it to go. Playing with that added fundamentally to the sensual pleasure of the trip.” If you’d like to increase your paddle pleasure, “obedience classes” for canoes are held each summer in the Adirondacks. Equal parts woodcraft and ballet camp, the Adirondack Freestyle Symposium promises to add “efficiency, grace and fun” to your boating. Registration just opened for this year’s gathering, which will be held July 19-23 at Houghton College’s Star Lake campus. American Canoe Association–certified instructors will teach a variety of levels, from basic travel technique to omering (an off-keel solo method).
Mary’s post on local traditional Irish music today inspired this list of “must have” Irish music everyone with Irish aspirations should know. Although these tunes are in no particular order, learn them and you’ll never spend St. Paddy’s alone.
Whiskey in the Jar – This classic tune is believed to have originated in the late 1600s or early 1700s. Since then it’s by been covered by The Dubliners, Thin Lizzy, Peter, Paul & Mary, Gerry Garcia and David Grisman, and Metallica. My favorite line: “I first produced my pistol, and then produced my rapier.”
Wild Colonial Boy – About 40,000 Irish convicts were transported to Australia between 1791 and 1867, many as political prisoners. There they continued to battle the British authorities as Jack Duggan does in this ditty – it doesn’t end well for Jack. My favorite line: “A terror to Australia was, the wild colonial boy” Whiskey, You’re The Devil – Whiskey leads our happy balladeer over hills and mountains. The word whiskey is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic “uisce beatha” (pronounced sort of like ishka ba) which translates as “water of life.” Today the Irish word is “craythur”; get The Pouges version. My favorite line: “Oh, whiskey you’re the devil, you’re leading me astray”
Finnegan’s Wake – James Joyce based his book in part on this song which includes the death of Tim – a hod carrier (a mason’s laborer) – and his subsequent wake at which a brawl breaks out, whiskey is spilled on Tim and he is revived. The Dropkick Murphy’s punk version is good craic. My favorite line: “You see he’d a sort of a tipplers way, but for the love for the liquor poor Tim was born. To help him on his way each day, he’d a drop of the craythur every morn.”
I Got Laid on James Joyce Grave – A Black 47 original. The band is named for the worst year of the Famine, Black 47. The song is an homage to Joyce and that says enough. My favorite line: “I Got Laid on James Joyce’s Grave, I was hoping that his genius would rub off on me.”
Wild Rover – A Traditional favorite you will hear on St. Paddy’s almost anywhere. It sounds like a proper old Irish drinking song, but in truth it is a Temperance song from the early 1800s. My favorite line “I’ve been a wild rover for many’s the year, and I spent all me money on whiskey and beer.”
James Connolly – One of my favorite songs of all time about the socialist labor leader, one time resident of Troy, NY, and commander of the Free Dublin forces during the Easter Rebellion of 1916. “With Pearce and Connolly bidding each other goodbye,” he was seriously wounded, captured, and taken to Kilmainham Jail where he was tied to a chair and executed. My favorite line: “So don’t give up your rifles boys, hold on to the dream, of a republic for the working class – economic liberty.”
Come Out Ye Black and Tans – Although Americans typically don’t know it, the half ale and half stout served as a “Black and Tan” is called a “Half and Half” in Ireland, and for good reason. The Black and Tans were a paramilitary group used to suppress revolution in Ireland in the 1920s. Their main targets were the Irish Republican Army, but they were notorious for their attacks on Irish civilians. My favorite line: “Come out ye Black and Tans, come out and fight me like a man, show your wife how you won medals out in Flanders, tell her how the IRA, made you run like hell away, from the green and lovely lanes in Killeshandra.”
Seven Drunken Nights – When The Dubliners play this song, they announce they can only sing five of the nights – the last two verses are generally considered too raunchy for the general public. If you hear them in the pub where you are, you know you are in the right place. My favorite line: “Your drunk, your drunk, you silly old fool, and still you cannot see.”
Irish Men Will Set Them Free – The beginning line – “In the jail that held McSwiney; In the prison where he died” – is all you need here, but there is more to this tale of women imprisoned for their “love of dear old Ireland.” The title is sometimes offered as “The IRA Will Set them Free.” My favorite line: “Twas the love of dear old Ireland brought them to a prison hell, but the ghosts of Pearse and Connolly, filled their lonely prison cell, Clarke and Plunkett stand beside them, McDonagh McDermott and Wolfe Tone, and all the voices of old Ireland, cry for us to bring them home.”
If you like real Irish music, the northern Adirondacks is a good place to be this St. Patrick’s Day. Michael Cooney, an All-Ireland champion piper many times over, is playing in several venues.
Cooney was born in Tipperary, where he learned tunes from local fiddle and accordion players. In the 1980s he came to the United States, recently moving to Lake Placid.
With the band Aiseiri, Cooney will be playing today at P2s Pub in Tupper Lake 4-6 p.m. and at Kyna’s Pub in Malone 8-11 p.m. Wednesday Aisieri will play 12:10-1:10 p.m. at North Country Community College’s Saranac Lake campus, in the Connector (cafeteria). A lot of bands play Irish music, but it’s rare to find musicians so dedicated to the old-country style. Aiseiri also features a singer, bodhrán (drum) and banjo player as well as another uilleann (elbow) pipes player who complement each other beautifully.
Aiseiri is organizing the second annual Festival of Ireland in Lake Placid, to be held Labor Day weekend.
Join your favorite Adirondack Almanack editor (yeah… me) at the St. Paddy’s Day Donegal Beard Contest, Gore Mountain Base Lodge, today between 1-4 pm; judging at 3 pm.
A Donegal Beard (also called a Chin-curtain or Lincoln) is a particular style of Irish hirsute appendage (facial hair) that grows along the jaw line and covers the chin – no soul patch, no mustache. Contest Rules: All contestants must be clean shaven January 1st and grow a Donegal Beard by St. Patrick’s Day. On the day of the contest all beards must conform to the Donegal standard.
Contestants will be judged on the following criteria:
1. Length 2. Fullness 3. Style and Sophistication 4. General Manliness
Judges will be chosen at random from the crowd by three wise Adirondack women – the Donegal Biddies. Donegal Biddies are also responsible for the issuance of Clean Face Citations for violations of the Donegal standard. All men without a Donegal Beard are subject to a $1 fine.
Well, it is that time of year again, when office worker productivity takes a dive as all thoughts and computer monitors turn to the NCAA basketball tournament. For those of you who could not possibly care less about “the dance,” but resent having to do something useful while your co-workers squander their afternoons and paychecks poring over free-throw percentages and betting pools, your friends at Adirondack Almanack offer this equally pointless alternative: Our first (and possibly last) annual Adirondack Bracket…
Since late last fall, bits and scraps of odd Adirondack trivia and associated miscellanea ranging from the obvious to the obscure have been floating around the desk, vying for recognition and publication in one form or another. This weekend we finally got around to putting them all into a feed-cap, jamming the feed-cap into the computer disk drive and and generating a random list. We then proceeded to select the top 64 items from that list (with a few minor alterations) and plug them into our tournament bracket. In the coming weeks we will post the randomly selected outcomes of each pairing after each corresponding round of the NCAAs. As our Adirondack Bracket reaches its thrilling climax, we hope you will share your thoughts on the pairings and your predictions of the outcomes. Let the random acts of Adirondack mud Season mania begin.
More proof that camping remains an inexpensive vacation option came this late last week when the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced that advance camping reservations are currently up 6 percent, noting that State Parks are booking record numbers of vacations.
According to the state, there are already 45,300 advance reservations for campsite, cabins and cottages for the 2009 season, a level that is more than 2,650 ahead of the total at same time last year. Advance reservations at state parks campgrounds have been steadily increasing in recent years, with a record 137,000 bookings in 2008. OPRHP oversees 67 campgrounds with more than 8,000 campsites, 800 cabins and 41 vacation rentals. Reservations are accepted for campsites and cabins, from one day to nine months in advance of the planned arrival date by calling toll free 1-800-456-CAMP or online, www.nysparks.com.
It’s hard to believe that Big Tupper, the ski area in Tupper Lake with a vertical drop of 1,136 feet, has been closed for a decade. A pair of local owners threw in the towel in 1999 after a string of money-losing seasons.
Small and midsize ski centers are marginal businesses in the Adirondack Park. There’s only one still privately owned inside the Blue Line: Royal Mountain, in Caroga Lake, which balances the books by hosting motocross in the off-season. There are some little town-run hills, and the village of Speculator recently took over bankrupt Oak Mountain. The state Olympic Regional Development Authority’s larger Whiteface and Gore Mountains seem to be going strong in Wilmington and North Creek. Tupper Lake has a long skiing tradition, and you can’t blame people there for wanting their kids to grow up on the home slope. Diana Foley, a town resident, is organizing a rally at the base of the mountain at 4 p.m. today for local students to show support for reopening it.
But strings are attached. Ever since the ski area was sold in 2004 it has become the centerpiece of a development plan that also includes 652 high-end home and townhouse lots, a 60-room inn and other amenities. Foley has spoken out in favor of a tax exemption for the Adirondack Club and Resort.
The project has become a sensitive issue, drawing questions about its scale, financing, tax breaks, new utilities and backcountry building lots. Inside Tupper Lake, there have been shows of political and public support. Some have questioned whether asking kids to wear ski jackets and carry signs shills them into a much larger debate. And to miss a point. Nobody is against skiing.
Foley said this morning that the kids are fully aware of the broader issues, and many young people came unsolicited to a rally in favor of the project last month. “I think the more noise we can make the better,” she said. “What are the students going to have when they graduate from high school?” There are few jobs in town, she said, and the resort as a whole, not just the ski area, would give Tupper Lake an economic boost
A memorandum from the developers detailing ski deals that the town will get as part of an exchange for creation of a new sewer district is distracting. Free skiing for Franklin County residents age 70 or older is nice, but free skiing for septuagenarians no matter where they live is standard across the country. Likewise free skiing for young children. Any Tupper Lake student with straight As or perfect attendance would get a free season pass. Whiteface and Gore’s Youth Commission Programs offer youth-group deals including six full days of skiing and a lesson for $103, regardless of grades or attendance. Titus Mountain, north of the Blue Line, offers similar incentives to young skiers.
Which is not to say that lead developer Michael Foxman doesn’t have a point when he argues that the ski area can’t be self-sustaining; the second homes are necessary to support it, he maintains, and so a hostage situation enters its fifth year.
His Philadelphia-based investor group originally planned to open a new base lodge and skiing by Christmas 2006, but the project is still in Adirondack Park Agency-ordered adjudication as well as mediation with three dozen concerned parties. The parties aren’t supposed to talk about it, but last month Foxman sent a letter to the Plattsburgh Press-Republican saying the plan remains alive.
He also noted that Big Tupper languished on the market for five years when the economy was “booming,” criticizing a suggestion by an environmentalist involved in the mediation that the town try to obtain the ski area and pursue other buyers. “Had it not been for the actions of [the environmentalist] and his peers (not the APA), your readers and their children might be skiing Big Tupper now,” Foxman wrote.
Organizers say Foxman is expected to attend the child rally today and a meeting of the Tupper Lake town board tonight.
The Adirondack Almanack is a public forum dedicated to promoting and discussing current events, history, arts, nature and outdoor recreation and other topics of interest to the Adirondacks and its communities
We publish commentary and opinion pieces from voluntary contributors, as well as news updates and event notices from area organizations. Contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The information, views and opinions expressed by these various authors are not necessarily those of the Adirondack Almanack or its publisher, the Adirondack Explorer.
General inquiries about the Adirondack Almanack should be directed to editor Melissa Hart.
To advertise on the Adirondack Almanack, or to receive information on rates and design, please click here.