As the dismal year of 2020 circled the drain in the waning months of summer, the tremendous impact of the COVID pandemic was being felt throughout the country, including the Adirondacks. Even the League of Extraordinary Adirondack Gentlemen, our tongue-in-cheek group of men of a certain age who enjoy an annual outing within the Blue Line found it hard to convince our significant others (and ourselves) that we could behave, stay safe, and maintain social distancing while having fun around a campfire for over 24 hours. In order to justify our continued existence, we needed to think outside the box.
Although the hiking trails and campsites we usually frequented were being heavily used as a welcome escape from the news cycle and the virus, the many non-profit organizations that help local causes were taking a financial beating. In the end we decided to combat the coronavirus’s negative impact on fund-raising for Adirondack non-profit organizations by using our combined manpower in an altruistic fashion. The inspiration for a new agenda came from our senior member Peter Hornbeck who, as he often does, came up with a simple yet clever idea. (Editor’s note: See Dan’s poignant tribute to Pete Hornbeck, who passed away Dec. 26, 2020)
“In 1982 I was a young Syracuse based sales representative for a distributor of composite raw materials selling all the supplies a manufacturer of small boats would need. Accordingly, when I noticed an ad in Adirondack life for Hornbeck Boats, I dutifully called the number introducing myself and company while setting up a future sales call. Little did I know as I hung up the phone the call would be the genesis of a 38 – year friendship with one of the most beautiful and unique human beings my path would ever cross.
In 1991 I witnessed a middle-aged woman lift a small canoe from the top of her car, carry it down an embankment to Lake Durant, slide onto the bottom of the canoe with ease, and paddle away. “I want that!” I said to my friends who were with me at the time. My first introduction to a Hornbeck Canoe.
Shortly thereafter I visited Peter Hornbeck in his house, where his office was located. The boats were manufactured in the near-by barn. I ordered the only model he was making commercially at the time – the 10.5-foot Lost Pond Boat weighing 15 pounds. I was ecstatic.
Peter Hornbeck, founder of Hornbeck Boats and master boatbuilder of lightweight canoes and kayaks with a distinctive red stripe below the gunwales, famous throughout the Adirondacks and beyond, died quietly and unexpectedly at his home in Olmstedville on December 26, 2020, after a hike with his family.
Pete was a founding Board member of Protect the Adirondacks since 2009 and served on the Board of the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA) before that from 1993 to 2009, serving eight years as the Chair. Pete was an unwavering advocate for the public Forest Preserve, especially on the need for more Wilderness lands in the Adirondack Park. Pete died at 77 years old. (Editor’s note: We posted this article about Pete on Adirondack Explorer’s website last night.) » Continue Reading.
For almost 50 years, Peter Hornbeck ran Hornbeck Boats, a business he started in his garage in 1971, from a shop on his property in Olmstedville alongside wife, Ann. On any given weekend, you could find him holding court with customers who came from all over the country and world to his pond to try out and buy boats weighing as little as 12 pounds. He was known for his sense of humor and colorful storytelling.
The Adirondack 64er round is set. Play-in victories by Frankenpines, Lawnchair Ladies, Peter Hornbeck and Backyard Sugarin’ have filled first-round pairings for the second annual Adirondack Bracket.
In general, it seems as though invasive species and related issues have established a beachhead this year. Spiny waterflea, rock snot, Realtors, and watermilfoils (some varieties of which, it must be said, are native to these parts) have joined the dance, as has Triclopyr (the chemical herbicide recently approved by the APA to kill Eurasian watermilfoil on Lake Luzerne), and DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries (whose failure to mount adequate protections at state boat launches is chiefly responsible for the spread of these invaders—with the exception of Realtors, who mostly plague the shorelines).
Click through for some featured match-ups from the first and second quads of this year’s first-round (check in tomorrow for featured matches in quads 3 and 4): In the first quad, light pollution—an excellent photo essay on the topic by photographer Mark Bowie is featured this month in Adirondack Life Magazine—is going up against the incredibly diverse galaxy of Adirondack mushrooms (our favorite, Ganoderma applanatum, a.k.a. shelf fungus, or—appropriately—bracket fungus, or artist’s conk, is its own natural artistic medium with numerous gifted practitioners throughout the Adirondacks and upstate New York.)
Cougar sightings are a recurring meme in Adirondack lore and blogging. These sinewy felines are going up against real maple syrup. Of the syrup it can be said that the sap runs hard throughout the month of March and is known to dribble furiously. Its chief vulnerability: the tendency to look too far ahead to potential pairings in the sweet sixteen round.
Frankenpines, having gotten past the century-deceased master watercolorist Winslow Homer by virtue of their height and period uniforms and three-point game, find themselves facing the Moodys—early and prolific Adirondack settlers whose members include Jacob Moody, founder of Saranac Lake. The legendary guide Martin Van Buren “Uncle Mart” Moody so impressed President Chester Alan Arthur (One of his two Presidential “sports”) with his guiding chops that the president established the eponymous Moody’s Post Office at Moody’s Mount Morris House in Tupper Lake (the present location of Big Tupper Ski Area, and the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort).
Axe-fodder is the leitmotif of the Bracket’s second quad. John Brown (who just last year “celebrated” the sesquicentennial of his hanging, only to return home to his North Elba farmstead to find that the state park has an appointment with the chopping block in the 2010 State Budget) will meet the magisterial eastern white pine, the object of logging desire since the first european settlers arrived on the continent. This section of the Bracket also features Moriah “Shock” Incarceration Correctional Facility and Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility, both slated for closure in this year’s state budget. They will face last year’s Bracket powerhouse Stewart’s Ice Cream Shops of Greenville, NY. Depending on the outcome—not so much of this contest, but of budget negotiations in Albany—Stewart’s might consider a new flavor: Moriah Shocolate, or Moriah Shock-full-o’-nuts, or something like that.
Our personal favorite in this corner of the Bracket is Yellow Yellow, who’s ability to crack the defenses of DEC bear-proof canisters proved that he is definitely smarter than your average bear. Yellow Yellow will meet Wells Olde Home Days.
In limited areas of the Adirondack Park, an understated excitement built gradually throughout the day yesterday as selections were made for the 2010 Adirondack Bracket.
Bracket pairings were made by combining the top 28 randomly selected entrants from two lists (a longer list of general Adirondackiana, and a shorter list of 2009’s Adirondack headliners). Four more slots were reserved for last year’s final four, including 2009 Bracket champion Stewart’s Ice Cream Shops. The remaining slots will be filled later this week by a play-in round which sets four randomly selected entrants from a list suggested by our readers, against the Bracket judges’ “Hand o’ God” choices (our favorites that somehow missed the first cut). A preview of the play-in round follows the jump. . . So here is how things stack up for this week’s play-in round:
Game one pits late 19th/early 20th Century painter Winslow Homer (who spent time throughout his career at the North Woods Club in Minerva—his last visit to the Adirondacks occurring one hundred years ago this summer, shortly before his death), against the frankenpine: that towering synthesis of artifice and nature, and itself a subject of contemporary Adirondack painting (not to mention inspiration for an excellent band).
Saranac Lake’s doyens of drill. . . the Idas of March. . . those angels of aluminum and mesh—the incomparable Lawnchair Ladies—sashay into the Bracket against an equally formidable lineup of local adirondack ski hills. This squad of impressive topography (talking about the ski hills, now), once thought to be heading downhill, fast, has made a strong comeback this winter led by Big Tupper and Hickory. The list also includes a couple cross country ski mountains, one of which boasts the only ski mountain palindrome in the Adirondacks: “O! Dewey. Aye, we do!” This match up could go either way, but one thing you can count on: Chairs will certainly be lifted, and might be thrown.
Game three features perhaps the most interesting play-in pairing, with Olmstedville’s Pete Hornbeck and his fleet of featherweight canoes taking on Lake George’s Winter Carnival, the village’s annual string of wintertime events held every weekend throughout the month of February. Any other year this would have been no contest as canoes are not much use on a solid lake surface, especially with a lot of cars and snow machines and dog sleds racing around. This year, however, warm weather forced cancellation of some carnival events, premature demolition of the ice palace and relocation of the dog sled races from the slushy lake top to safer ground inland. The Fund for Lake George reports that the lake failed to fully freeze over this winter (the first time since 2002). Though this might be an advantageous climate for a naval assault, Hornbeck will have his work cut out for him if he is to make it to a much anticipated confrontation with Senator Betty Little in the “Upstate Great Eight” round next week.
Yesterday morning the Plattsburgh Press Republican issued a “Breaking News” e-mail. It contained one story, “Hornbeck Nomination Denied: Senate Finance Committee cites conflicts,” by Kim Smith Dedam, a notorious anti-APA, anti-Forest Preserve “reporter.”
“Gov. David Paterson’s nomination of Peter Hornbeck to the Adirondack Park Agency Board was denied today by the Senate Finance Committee,” the first line read. The problem? It’s not true. The Senate Finance Committee has yet to vote, and isn’t expected to vote for some time. The story was concocted by State Senator Betty Little for her own political gain and duly reported as fact, without an ounce of actual journalism, fact checking, or confirmation. The only source Smith Dedam cited in the story was Betty Little’s spokesman Dan Mac Entee. The only evidence cited was Mac Entee’s word that “Senator Little was told late yesterday afternoon that there were — at best — 14 votes in support of the nomination.” To their credit, the Times Union’s Brian Nearing debunked Dedam this morning in a follow-up on the false report.
Unfortunately the damage is already done, as WNBZ’s Jon Alexander (who cut his teeth at the anti-environmentalist, anti-APA, Denton Publications) is also now parroting the one-sided report and saying, without a shred of journalistic evidence, that Hornbeck’s nomination is “on life support.”
Neither stories mention that Pete Hornbeck’s own locally elected representatives in Minerva voted to whole-heartedly support his nomination.
The question local reporters ought to be asking is whether our local Senator is holding up the legislature’s business, as she did when she supported last year’s Republican coup that brought the state legislature to a halt.
More importantly, Kim Smith Dedam and her editors need to explain to us how this “story” – “Hornbeck Nomination Denied” – happened, and apologize, or they should resign.
Local media no longer has a place for corrupt journalism.
BTW: You can reach Kim Smith Dedam at [email protected]
UPDATE: In case you needed to know how the story plays at Denton, they’re right into the act with “Hornbeck Appointment Turned Down”. One source: Betty Little.
Olmstedville (that’s in Minerva, Essex County) boat builder and businessman Peter Hornbeck has made it through the NYS Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, the first hoop in his nomination by Governor David Paterson to serve on the Adirondack Park Agency board of commissioners (APA). The vote was a smack-down of sorts for local Republican Senator Betty Little who sits on the committee and has opposed Hornbeck’s nomination from the start. What Little doesn’t like about Hornbeck, she told North County Radio, was “his association as chairman of the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks.” Little’s spokesman Dan Mac Entee, claiming to represent “dozens” of local officials, told the Plattsburgh Press Republican: “They feel his affiliation with environmental groups suggests he is going to bring an environmental agenda to APA, not an economic-development agenda, which we feel is critically important now.” Little wants Lake Placid resort owner Arthur Lussi, whose term is expiring, to remain in his seat. “We feel he has a balanced approach to economic development in the park,” Mac Entee said. [BTW, the Minerva Town Board disagrees; it voted to send a letter in support of the Hornbeck nomination to both the Governor and the Environmental Conservation Committee.]
What Little says she really wants is to require all five of the in-park APA Commissioners to be chosen by her pet group, the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, who is supported by a gaggle of attorneys, engineers, and development interests. NCPR’s Brian Mann asked the Senator: “Wouldn’t that kind of a measure basically preclude anyone with an environmentalist background being chosen?”
“Not necessarily,” Little responded. “I think that they understand that there is a balance and most likely would know that they would have to have some people on that list who were maybe active environmentalists.” She kind of mumbled that “maybe” so I don’t fault Brian Mann for not following-up with the question, “Maybe Yes or Maybe No?”
Anyone who looks at Betty Little’s record of opposing the APA and the concept of a Forest Preserve can see what she’s really after: a purge of those she labels “environmentalists” from all decision-making related to the Adirondacks. Pete Hornbeck, who employs five people in good-paying manufacturing jobs at Hornbeck Boats, has made a crucial error in Little’s mind, in that he has associated with the wrong people.
“I have here in my hand a list of two hundred and five [people] that were known . . . as being environmentalists and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the APA,” Little said.
Just kidding – that was a quote from Joseph McCarthy; just replace environmentalists with Communist Party, and APA with State Department.
McCarthy saw enemies everywhere, including really evil places like the National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union. Little has her own enemies list that includes not just local conservation organizations, but apparently their supporters and members as well.
I’d like to ask her that famous question from the McCarthy hearings: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” But I already know the answer, Little showed her sense of decency when she opposed the rights of gay people to be married, when she said that the Republican coup attempt that brought the state legislature to a standstill last year was a good idea, when she toyed with closing North Country Community College, and when she got a little too close to the criminal conspiracy of her leader Joe Bruno.
For background, the APA Board includes five representatives of local interests from inside the Park, three representing the rest of the state, and the state’s Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development, the Secretary of State, and the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation (Pete Grannis). These last three appoint others to represent the interests of their agencies. Regional Director for DEC Region 5 Betsey Lowe (former Executive Director of Wild Center) is Grannis’s substitute on the board; Region 5 includes three-quarters of the Adirondack Park. Lowe recently joined local members in opposing a wilderness classification for Low’s Lake. Fred Monroe of the Local Government Review Board has a non-voting seat on the APA Board.
Six of the eleven voting members (plus Monroe) of the current APA Board are full-time residents of the Adirondack Park. Three members of the APA Board—Curt Stiles, Cecil Wray, and Dick Booth—previously served on the board of the Adirondack Council. How many APA Commissioners are members of a Chamber of Commerce is anyone’s guess. The status of their connections to the Communist Party are also unknown.
Hornbeck’s appointment will need to pass the Senate Finance Committee before a full Senate vote.
Photo: Peter Hornbeck from the Hornbeck Boats website.
Protect the Adirondacks! will host the 7th Clean Waters Benefit on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at Hornbeck Boatworks off Troutbrook Road in Olmstedville, in the Town of Minerva to raise funds for its programs and services in the Adirondack Park. The event will begin at 11:30 AM with a canoe/kayak paddle on Minerva Stream, concluding at the historic Olmstedville dam.
Participants are asked to bring their own canoe and be prepared to pull over several beaver dams. Tours of Hornbeck Boat Works and of the owner’s Forest Stewardship Council certified forest will begin at 12:30 PM. A Reception begins at 3:00 PM and features author Bill McKibben as the event’s guest speaker along with Adirondack singer-songwriter Dan Berggren. » Continue Reading.
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.