For the past few weeks I just simply have not been in the mood for cooking. It has been hot and sunny, and sitting in the kitchen and standing over a stove – much less turning on the oven – holds about zero appeal. A lot of salads have been hitting the table, as we’ve had a bumper crop of lettuce this year. Herbs have also been plentiful, which makes for fun experimentation with different types of dressings.
Mostly I have been spending a lot of time outdoors with friends and family, bringing along a variety of Oscar’s ready-made salads, smoked meats and cheeses for picnicking. Ready-made has held a lot more appeal than actually whipping up my own potato salad or barbeque after a long hard day of relaxing. » Continue Reading.
The staff outnumbered the patrons when we arrived at the Hague Firehouse between 4 and 5 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon. The two bartenders on hand seemed to be more than enough for two men on one side of the bar and two women on the other. We chose two seats in the middle of the horseshoe shaped bar. A couple took refuge in the shade of the deck, enjoying the soft murmur of the surrounding trees and the brook below. Waitresses gathered in a far corner, taking turns between preparation and conversation. A summery breeze gently wound its way through the open front door, flirted with patrons, and escaped out the back through the sliding glass door in the wall of windows leading to the deck.
The gunmetal grey cinder block exterior and barn red garage doors give the impression that the building has not undergone much change from its former life to its reincarnation. One step inside puts that assumption to rest. » Continue Reading.
The Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) held a dedication ceremony recently in honor of Mrs. Margaret A. Darrin for the newly named Peggy’s Point in Hague. The dedication of Peggy’s Point was made in recognition of Mrs. Darrin’s contributions to the Lake George Land Conservancy, including her donation of the 1.9-acre park in 2005.
Nearly 100 people came to witness the celebration of Darrin at the Hague Community Center, including Peggy’s three sons and their wives, and six grandchildren. Among those who spoke during the ceremony were Hague Town Supervisor Dan Belden, historian Judy Shultz, LGLC Board President John Macionis, LGLC Executive Director Nancy Williams, and Peggy’s sons Drake and David and granddaughter, Hannah Darrin. “Peggy is a great inspiration,” said Macionis, adding “I hope we can all follow her lead to find our own ways in which we as individuals can contribute to the protection of the lake.”
Drake Darrin read from a prepared speech of fond personal memories he shared with his mother, including the many swimming lessons from their dock. “Your love of the lake over the years is contagious.”
Williams spoke to the group of the park’s Friendship Garden, of which she said, “the rules of the garden are simple. It is here for you.” To Peggy, she added a personal thank you, sharing that the garden project was responsible for reconnecting her with her brother, to whom she hadn’t spoken in 30 years.
Williams also took several minutes to go through the many names of individuals and businesses that contributed to the park and its Friendship Garden, in materials, time or monetary donations. Among them were Dan Belden, the Town of Hague and staff, David and Joanne DeFranco and team at DeFranco Landscaping, Judy Shultz and the Hague Historical Society, the entire Darrin family, Julia Beaty, Mary Lou Doulin, Peter Foster, Doug Langdon, Rich Morgan, Ray Murray, Scott and Alice Patchett, Betty Hans Rettig and the Carillon Garden Club, Nancy Scarzello, CL Williams, and the LGLC Stewardship Assistants who worked for weeks to the fence, path and garden, Mike Cerasaro and Jack Willis. In addition, plants for the garden were provided by Emily DeBolt of Fiddlehead Creek Native Plant Nursery and Mark Perry of Sweet Pea Farm Perennials and Art Gallery.
The ceremony ended with a champaign toast and cake, after which those in attendance then visited the property and contributed plants to the Friendship Garden.
The public is invited to add to the Friendship Garden; it is intended to provide a location for local residents and other Lake George visitors to memorialize or honor a loved family member, friend, memory or event with the planting of a perennial or small shrub. Plants may also be marked with small identifying plaques. For more information see www.lglc.org/naturepreserves/peggyspoint or call Sarah at 518-644-9673.
The environmental impacts of dredging the deltas that develop at the mouths of Lake George’s tributaries will receive a second look from conservation agencies and advocacy groups.
New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation has agreed to conduct the new review, which will include a study of methods to be used to dredge deltas around the lake, including those at the outlets of Hague, Finkle and Indian Brooks.
The review will constitute an update of the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement for the “Lake George Delta Sediment Management/ Shoreline Restoration Project,” approved by the Lake George Park Commission in 2002. The Lake George Association has formally requested the new review, said Walt Lender, the LGA’s executive director.
“We were very involved in drafting the original Environmental Impact Statement, and we felt it was necessary to supplement the original by investigating new methods of dredging so they’ll be fully vetted,” said Lender.
The review should be completed by autumn, 2011, said Lender.
The decision to conduct a new review apparently resolves a deadlock over whether to dredge a delta at the mouth of Finkle Brook, in Bolton Landing.
The proposed method of dredging the delta, called mechanical dredging, was not one authorized when the original Environmental Impact Statement was approved, the Lake George Park Commission said in a resolution adopted in September.
The project as designed might have unintended environmental impacts, the Commission stated.
According to Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, who also objected to the plan to employ mechanical dredging, “While that method – using a steam shovel and scraping the lake bottom – may be the least expensive, it’s one that’s most damaging to the lake.” Walt Lender said he hoped mechanical dredging would be approved during the supplemental review so that it could be used at Finkle Brook and other sites around the lake.
According to Lender, an excavator builds its own “access pads” of dredged material as it moves out from shore. The excavator is then reversed, removing the sediment as it returns to shore. The sediment is then transported by truck to a nearby landfill.
Chris Navitsky, however, says the access pads are roads constructed in the lake which, even after they have been removed, will damage the lake and shoreline.
Navitsky also claims the dredging will allow nutrients to escape, creating algae blooms.
Photo: A large Lake George delta, this one at the mouth of English Brook in Lake George Village. Courtesy of Lake George Association.
For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine.
When it comes to sheer number of routes one can take through the Adirondacks, rock climbing has got to have more opportunities than any other outdoor sport. Any guide that hopes to cover every single one is going to be a tome, and coming in at more than 670 pages, the newest edition of the seminal Adirondack climbing guide, Adirondack Rock, meets that description.
Adirondack Rock includes 242 cliff areas, many of which have never before been documented, and nearly 2,000 routes and variations. The guide’s authors, Jim Lawyer and Jeremy Hass, spent years visiting new and seldom visited climbs around the Adirondacks. Among the regions they turned their focus to was the Lake George basin, long neglected by regional climbing guides. » Continue Reading.
Lake George’s miles of hiking, skiing and snowshoe trails are an untapped resource for tourists and day-trippers, an oversight Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover hopes to correct.
On behalf of the Town and the Village of Lake George, the Town of Hague and Bolton itself, Conover will submit an application to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for an $80,000 grant to create a comprehensive inventory of the public hiking trails in the Lake George watershed. The final product would include graphics showing the public trail heads, lake access points, public docking areas, links to downtown business districts, trolley stops, various attractions, and recreational, historic and cultural resources, said Tracey Clothier of the LA Group, who will write the grant application.
According to Clothier, funds are available through the state’s Adirondack Park Community Smart Growth Grant Program. The DEC seeks proposals for planning initiatives that link environmental protection, economic development and community livability, Clothier said.
“The Smart Growth program promotes sustainable economic development, and this proposal envisions a powerful tool to attract a new audience and bring significant new visitor dollars to the area,” said Clothier. “We’re appealing to the kind of experiential tourist who seeks a deep appreciation of an area’s unique natural and cultural history, the kind who will keep coming back.”
Clothier said the completed plan will also identify gaps in the trail system and examine potential alternatives for developing links between Lake George and Bolton, said Clothier.
Trails to be inventoried include not only those on state and municipal owned lands, but trails in the Lake George Land Conservancy’s nature preserves, said Clothier.
In fact, Clothier said, the project complements the Lake George Land Conservancy’s “Round the Lake Challenge.”
Similar to the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Forty-Sixer program, the “Round the Lake Challenge” encourages hikers to climb local peaks, paddle bays and marshes, and visit natural, historic, and cultural landmarks.
A detailed master plan for the east side of Lake George would be completed during a second phase of the project, said Clothier.
Photos: Lake George Wild Forest; Paddling in Northwest Bay.
Yesterday I visited an old graphite mine in Hague that once harbored the largest population of wintering bats in the state. Back in 2000, state scientists estimated that the old mine contained 185,000 bats. Last winter, they found only a few thousand.
“As a young man, I was chasing a dream. As I got older, I realized the ultimate gig was a mile down the road, playing with and for my friends and then going home to my wife and kids. That’s really making it.”
That’s local legend Rick Bolton’s idea of a successful career in music, and by that definition, he’s made it.
From playing in garage bands on northern Lake George, where he traveled to gigs by boat because he was too young to drive, to touring out west, only to return home and help launch a thriving music scene in Saratoga, Rick Bolton has led a life in music and found the music that reflects his life. “I grew up in Hague,” he recounts. “When summer hit, we got some culture, but not not enough to hurt us. I buried myself in my room in winters and learned to play guitar. I listened to the Beatles and the Stones, and I worked backward toward the music’s roots. I got lucky. I was exposed to old time guitar players, banjo players and fiddlers, here and in northeastern Vermont where I went to college. That’s the music that makes sense to me.”
Those traditions have found their way into the music he’s been playing for the last forty years, with bands like the T-Bones, northern Lake George’s favorite dance band, Rick Bolton and the Dwyer Sisters (which includes his wife Sharon and her sister Molly) and Big Medicine, which will perform in Lake George Village’s Shepard Park on July 28.
“I’m a tavern singer, I make no bones about that, but I love playing town concert series,” said Bolton. “You have a chance to mix it up with towns people and tourists; they’re better venues than taverns for playing original tunes and trying different takes on cover material. They’re always a lot of fun.”
Bolton characterizes Big Medicine, which consists of Jeff and Becky Walton, Tim Wechgelaer, Arlin Greene, Mike Lomaestro and Bolton on guitar, as “classic Americana; we cover a lot of bases – swing, rhythm and blues, rock, folk.”
Musicians younger than Bolton and from such unlikely places as Brooklyn and Somerville have re-discovered the acoustic roots music that Bolton has been playing for most of his life. In fact, they’re popular draws at the concert series in Shepard Park.
Rather than disparaging the young bands’ grasp of the traditions or resenting their intrusion upon fields he’s tilled for decades, Bolton welcomes their enthusiasm.
“It’s awesome, they’re bringing they’re own influences to bear on the music, just as we did, and they’re taking the music back to the garage, where it started,” says Bolton.
Although Bolton still has his day job with Warren County, he’s performing nearly every night with one band or another.
“We had 27 or 28 gigs scheduled for July, and June was just as busy,” he said. Bolton has lived in Saratoga for the past twenty years. In the last six years, he says, “the music scene has just taken off.”
“Sooner or later, a place just gets touched,” he says. “It happened to Austin, Texas, it happened to San Francisco. I can envision the same thing happening to Saratoga. Within blocks, you can hear jazz, acoustic folk, blues or rock. There are a lot of influences, conducive to vibrant original music. There’s a definitive Saratoga style, and there’s an audience for it.”
A sampling of that Saratoga style can be heard soon on “Saratoga Pie,” a compilation of Saratoga bands that Bolton has helped produce as a benefit for the Saratoga Center for the Family.
“There’s a lot of money for the arts in Saratoga, but often places that serve people don’t get the attention they need. There are battered women and abused children in every town in the Adirondack Park, but people never talk about that,” he says, explaining the purpose of the album. “They need our help.”
As Bolton describes it, Saratoga’s music scene is not that different from Hague, where, he says, everyone knew everyone else’s business, but everyone looked out for one another.
That’s probably why Bolton’s happier there than if he had stayed out west. He may be “only in it for the beer,” as the title of a recent CD puts it, but he’s made a full, rich life out of it.
The Lake George Land Conservancy is holding an Annual Meeting and Field Day event, this Saturday July 24, 2010. The public is invited to participate in a themed hike or presentation around the lake in the morning, then join the group for a picnic lunch in Hague, listen to brief remarks on LGLC’s recent conservation efforts, and family games and activities. » Continue Reading.
Last year, for the first time in decades, sales tax revenues in the Lake George region declined in every one of the year’s four quarters. Revenues dropped by as much as 15% over the summer. That’s not only an indication that resorts, restaurants and shops saw less trade in their busiest season than in years past; the drop in revenues left local governments scrambling to fill gaps in their budgets. According to Warren County Treasurer Frank O’Keefe, 1.5% of the 7% sales tax collected by New York State in the county is distributed to local towns.
And, as O’Keefe explains, “The sales tax is apportioned on the basis of a town’s share of the collective value of the property in the county.”
Lake George, Bolton and Hague represent approximately a third of the value of all property in Warren County, and the lion’s share of sales tax revenues are returned to those towns and to Queensbury, where more than 32% of the assessed value of the county is located.
At the start of 2009, Warren County expected to receive approximately $45 million in sales tax revenues; instead, it received only $42 million, a drop of more than 8%, O’Keefe said.
Newly-elected Town Supervisors in Lake George and Bolton now find themselves with less revenues, and less flexibility, than their predecessors had.
The Town of Bolton received $3.2 million, approximately $333,000 less than it had received the previous year.
“That could have been devastating,” said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover, who said he had carefully observed the previous administration’s budget making process before he himself took office in January.
“Whenever there’s a drop in sales tax revenues, there’s additional pressure on property taxes,” he said.
While the town’s tax rate did rise by 2.5%, that increase was much less than one that hit residents of Lake George, where municipal taxes rose by 26%.
“The members of the Bolton Town Board were very careful, knowing that sales tax revenues would be impacted by the recession. They knew this was no time for wishful thinking,” said Conover. “The Board went over every expenditure. The result was a good budget that allows the town to operate without reducing existing levels of service.”
Warren County estimates that Bolton’s share of sales tax revenues will rise in 2010, but Conover says the town will continue to follow a prudent course.
“Sales tax revenues may rebound, although not to the historically high levels of the past; but if the economy picks up, it will take some pressure off the property-owners’ taxes,” he said.
Although Bolton will watch its expenses, it will continue to maintain and improve its infrastructure of parks, beaches and public docks, said Conover.
“These are assets that we need for economic development and tourism,” Conover said.
In Lake George, according to Supervisor Frank McCoy, sales tax revenues dropped by 12%, leaving the town with $300,000 less than it had anticipated, said McCoy,
The market for recycled paper and plastic also crashed, costing the town another $100,000 in revenues, said McCoy.
But those losses in revenue were not wholly responsible for the 26% increase in property taxes, McCoy said.
For the past several years, the town had drawn from its reserves rather than raising taxes; by mid-2009, those reserves were all but exhausted.
“From 2004 to 2009, we chipped away at the reserves,” McCoy acknowledged. “Instead of using the reserves, we should have increased taxes incrementally, by 3% a year.”
The increase in property taxes will enable the town to rebuild its reserves, McCoy said.
“We’re on the road to recovery,” said McCoy. “We’ll watch the pennies, we’ll review finances monthly and meet with department heads every quarter to make certain we’re on track, just as any business would.”
No reductions in the town work force are planned, said McCoy.
Any new positions would be part-time posts, he said.
“Last August, when the sales tax revenues dropped, we went into an austerity mode,” said McCoy. “We’re still in an austerity mode.”
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