Posts Tagged ‘Plattsburgh’

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Adirondack Music Scene:Open Mic, Fiddle and Guitar Tunes, Thumping Bass Lines

I wouldn’t miss the Open Minded Mic Night at BluSeed Studios tonight. Always an interesting and fun night out. The performances are kept to a two-song or seven-minute maximum so the night moves along at a comfortable pace. It’s a great way to support local musicians and poets, and this one has the lovely Celia Evans hosting.

Staying inside the park Saturday night, I’d see Lissa Scheckenburger and Bethany Waickman, also at BluSeed. I know Bethany. She plays the guitar the way I’d like to.

Even though it’s a drive, if I were in the mood to really move my body (and because I missed the 20 Main gig) I’d check out Capital Zen in Saratoga Springs. The energy that comes through on their recorded stuff must be even better live — I love a hot bass line.

Thursday, February 25th:

In Saranac Lake, Open Minded Mic Night at BluSeed Studios. Sign up at 7 pm and the show starts at 7 :30 pm. Celia Evans is hosting.

In Ellenburg Depot, ALASH, Throat Singers from Tuva will be giving a performance at The Northern Adirondack High School Auditorium. This is located at 5572 Route 11. The doors open at 6:30 pm and he show goes from 7 – 9 pm.

In Saratoga Springs, Roots of Creation will be playing at the Putnam Den starting at 9 pm.

Friday, February 26th:

In Plattsburgh, Viennese Romance , Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival will be held at 7:30 pm at SUNY.
For more information call: (802) 846-217 or email: info@lccmf.org.

In Canton, Urban Verbs: Where Hip Hop Meets Life will be performed at St. Lawrence University. Held from 7:30 – 9:30 pm this show explores the blur between music, poetry and daily life. For more information call: (315) 229-5659.

In Saratoga Springs, Hot Day at the Zoo will be playing at Putnam Den starting at 9 pm.

In Peru, Seussical, The Musical will be performed at the Peru Central School at 7:30 pm. For more information call: 518-572-2020.

Saturday, February 27th:

In Saranac Lake, Lissa Scheckenburger and Bethany Waickman will be performing at BluSeed Studios. This concert of traditional ballads and fiddle tunes will held 7:30 – 10 pm.

In Queensbury, a Coffee House and Open Mic is held on the last Saturday of every month. It goes from 7:30 – 10 pm and is held at the UU’s church. For more information call: (518) 793-1468.

In Saratoga Springs, Capital Zen at the Putnam Den starting at 9 pm.

In Peru, Seussical, The Musical will be held at The Peru Central School at 7:30 pm. For more Information call:518-572-2020.

Sunday, February 28th:

In Saranac Lake, Bill Smith and Don Woodcock present, “Rosen and Rhyme”. This is to be held at Will Rogers at 2 pm. For more information call: (518) 352-7311.

In Potsdam, The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD, Encore of “Carmen” will be held from 1 – 5 pm at the Roxy Theater. For more information call: (315) 267-2277.

In Peru, Seussical, The Musical last chance to see it at the Peru Central School at 7:30 pm. For more information call: 518-572-2020.

Photo: Capital Zen


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: Holiday Train

In a mad rush of holiday cheer, too many side dishes and the turkey/tofurkey debate, it is easy to forget that some people will not have an argument over the necessity to recreate meat-shaped products out of tofu. Those and many others will be wondering where their next meal will be coming from.

For the 11th year the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Holiday Train will be pulling into over one hundred towns in seven states and Quebec raising awareness for local food pantries.

The northeast sector of the tour starts Thursday, November 26 at Rouses Point at approximately 11:00 pm. Each stop is a little over a half hour. Crowds will be treated to live entertainment as well as a festively decorated train, free of charge. All that is asked is a donation to the local food pantry. In addition, to providing the gaily lit-up train and live bands CFR donates funds to each stop’s food bank.

The US portion of the tour is hosted by Prescott a brother (Kaylen) and sister (Kelly) duo hailing from the Canadian musical legacies Family Brown (award winning country band formed by their grandfather, uncle and mother) and later Prescott-Brown (their parents’ award winning band). Prescott’s own style has them performing at such venues at the Ottawa BluesFest and welcoming their first cd, “The Lakeside Sessions.”

Singer/songwriter Adam Puddington will take the stage with his own unique brand of music lightly influenced by Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, and Blue Rodeo. Other musical guests will be Sean Verreault best known as part of the blues rock band Wide Mouth Mason and Milwaukee native Willy Porter’s blending of folk music rounds out the program.

Local food banks will be collecting non-perishable food items and donations at each location so all the audience has to do is stand back and enjoy.

Each event does take place outside so dress warmly. Some locations have vendors set up to sell hot refreshments but it is not something to count on. The focus is on the food pantries and making sure their shelves are stocked for winter.

So for whatever reason you are thankful, take an opportunity to kick off the holiday season with a lively concert and a contribution to a food pantry.

Northeast Schedule
Thursday, November 26

Rouses Point – 11:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Rouses Point Station

Saturday, November 28
Binghamton – 8:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., CP East Binghamton Rail Yard, Conklin Ave.

Sunday, November 29
Oneonta – 3:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., Gas Avenue Railroad Crossing

Cobleskill – 6:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., Cobleskill Fire Department, 610 Main Street
Delanson – 8:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Main Street Railroad Crossing
Schenectady – 9:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., Maxon Road
Monday, November 30
Saratoga Springs – 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m., Amtrak Station

Fort Edward – 1:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., Amtrak Station

Whitehall – 3:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., Amtrak Station

Ticonderoga – 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Pell’s Crossing, Amtrak Waiting Area, Route 74
Port Henry – 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Amtrak Station, West side stop
Plattsburgh – 9:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., Amtrak Station

photograph: The Holiday Train in Montreal


Thursday, July 30, 2009

ADK Music Scene: Classical, Country, Blues and Reggae

Tonight at St. Bernards Church in Saranac Lake the Elegua Duo performs from 8 – 9:30 pm. Classical musicians, Claire Black and Ginevra Ventre, pianist and cellist respectively, will be recording for NCPR. Some of the composers they embrace are Beethoven, Chopin and Britten. They will then be in Westport on Friday from 7:30 – 9 pm for the Essex Community Concert Series and Blue Mountain Lake for an interactive children’s workshop. The workshop will be held at The Adirondack Center for The Arts from 3:30 – 5 pm.

Also tonight in Saranac Lake at 6:30 pm, pianist and accordionist Radoslav Lorkovic is going to be in Berkley Square. He is so accomplished – throwing different styles of music into his original compositions; classical, blues, swing and zydeco to name a few. I’m excited that he’s in town and changed my plans to be at his concert.

Tonight in Westport at Ballard Park, Meadowmount Classical presents an evening of Chamber music at 7 pm. As a child my folks used to take me to Meadowmount concerts and despite being antsy on occasion, I loved going. They gave me a deep appreciation and understanding of classical music even though I haven’t studied it formally. I also think those concerts helped teach patience and respect for the silent moments in music and therefore in life.

Tonight, last but not least, at the Elizabethtown gazebo; Larry Stone, Julie Robards and Max Van Wie will be playing at 7 pm. Julie is a great bluegrass musician, you can catch her with the band Stacked Deck (which Larry is also part of) and Larry plays some great blues/swing/country with his band Stoneman Blues Band. They’re so talented individually that as a duo they must put on a good show. If you miss them tonight, catch them tomorrow from 7 – 9 pm at the Deers Head Inn also in Elizabethtown.

In Saranac Lake on Friday at the Waterhole Pie Boys Flat begins at 10 pm. It’s Rugby Weekend so you know it’s going to be crazy. I listened to these guys online and I think they’ll do a fine job keeping everyone pumped and jumping with their blend of reggae, funk and rock.

Also on Friday in Plattsburgh Crow Party is playing at the Monopole at 10 pm. A great hard-hitting blues band as far as I’m concerned – my only complaint with these guys is that even though they purposely compose short songs, I sometimes wish they’d just keep playing. When the groove is really working and people are up and dancing more of the same is better than fine, it’s fantastic. Russ Bailey, Franz Pope and Matt Rabideau are all excellent musicians! Call 563-2222 for more information.

On Saturday Blues For Breakfast is playing at North Creek Station and is a Jerry Garcia tribute band. August 1st also happens to be Jerry Garcia’s birthday. I found out about this show from Nate Pelton’s website adkmusic.com. Thanks, Nate!

Looking into next week: On Monday, August 3rd at 11 am, Earthtunes will put on a interactive performance for children and adults at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Playing mandolin, viola and guitars, Steve Mayone and Barb Herson use different musical styles to teach their audiences about the environment and how to care for it.

On Tuesday, August 4th, The Pines Inn Songs at Mirror Lake series continues with Spiritual Rez. A 7-piece funky reggae band is giving a free 7 pm concert a Mid’s Park in Lake Placid. These concert are usually of a very high quality and excellent. I like what i’ve been listening to online of these guys.

photo: Russ Bailey of Crow Party


Thursday, June 18, 2009

ADK Music Scene: Electric Rock and a Rockin’ Ukulele!

On Friday in Plattsburgh Ten Year Vamp will be rocking out at The Naked Turtle Holding Co. This year the band has been voted Best Rock Band in Metroland and they won best local rock band in Capital Regional Living Magazine. Fronted by Debbie Gabrione, they’ve opened for some of the hottest contemporary acts, including Nickelback and Gavin Degraw. Their show starts at 10 pm.

Saturday 6/20: The big show this Saturday is in Saranac Lake at Will Rogers, 78 Will Rogers Drive. Jake Shimabukuro, ukulele player extraordinaire, will dazzle his audience on the four-stringed instrument. I’ve watched some of the videos on YouTube. He does more with his thumb than most people do with both hands and he does it with feeling! I can’t wait to see him in real life. If you get a chance to check out his version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and I bet you’ll be hooked. The doors open at 7 and the show is scheduled to start at 7:30. Tickets are $20 in advance and $23 at the door. You can get tickets online through Lazar Bear.

Also on Saturday in Saranac Lake Sven Curth is playing on the patio at The Waterhole. This is a free show. Sven is a favorite singer/songwriter/guitarist in the North Country from the band Jim. The show starts at 7 pm.

Another Saturday show is being held in Plattsburgh at The North Country Food Coop Upstairs Music Lounge: one of my favorite bands Russ Bailey and Crow Party. Russ plays the blues -whether electric or acoustic you’ll feel what he’s feeling. The show is from 8-10 pm and it’s free.

Sunday 6/21: On Sunday in Tupper Lake, local favorite Steve Borst is back at P2’s Irish Pub. Steve is a much sought-after guitar teacher with a lovely voice who plays his own songs and can boast an impressive repertoire of covers.

Photo: Jake Shimabukuro


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An Adirondacker in T’bilisi

Saranac Lake has an inside man in the former Soviet republic of Georgia at a time when the country’s conflict with Russia remains intense and political opposition is taking to the streets in a bid to oust president Mikheil Saakashvili.

Jacob Resneck, who worked three years here as a reporter for WNBZ, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, NCPR, the Press-Republican, Adirondack Life and the Adirondack Explorer, departed in February to hitch-hike and couch-surf his way across Europe and Asia, gaining entree into local culture with gifts of Adirondack maple candy.

His route has taken him into Ukraine, Armenia, Abkhazia, Transinistria and Nagorno-Karabakh. “Admittedly, I’ve developed somewhat of a penchant for quasi-independent nation states,” the native northern Californian and erstwhile Adirondacker writes on his blog, jacobresneck.com.

With local journalism students acting as interpreters, Resneck is reporting in Georgia for Free Speech Radio News. The informal dispatches on his blog are available to all of us and give insight into life in some complicated places.

Resneck plans to move on in May to Turkey and then India, where we trust that his talent for friendship and train-hopping will serve him well. We’ll follow his writing with interest.

Safe travels, Tintin.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Frozen River, the Oscars, North Country Realism

Frozen River is nominated in two categories of tonight’s Academy Awards: best actress (the very deserving Melissa Leo) and best screenplay (by the equally deserving Courtney Hunt, who is also the film’s director).

If there were awards for North Country realism, Frozen River would run away with the all-time top honor.

The independent movie, filmed in Plattsburgh in 2007 on a budget of less than $1 million, has won 21 prizes, including the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, where Quentin Tarantino called it “one of the most exciting thrillers I am going to see this year.”

The plot centers on two single mothers — one Mohawk, from the Akwesasne Reservation, and one white, living in Massena — on the financial brink. They team up to smuggle illegal immigrants across the St. Lawrence River in the trunk of a car. There is suspense inherent in driving across ice, as a North Country audience knows all too well.

Director Hunt’s husband is from Malone, and her familiarity with local detail is abundant, down to the dirty snowbanks, rez radio, Quebec strip bars, Price Chopper, Yankee One Dollar, purple ties on State Troopers, and WPTZ weatherman Tom Messner giving a perky forecast of 30-below on a Rent-to-Own TV that’s always on inside the trailer of Ray Eddy, the character portrayed by Leo.

The movie also examines the jurisdictional ambiguities of the smuggling economy at Akwesasne, a nation unto itself straddling the U.S.-Canada border.

Other efforts in the bleak-North-Country genre (including an adaptation of Russell Banks’s The Sweet Hereafter, and Vermonter Jay Craven’s Northeast Kingdom movies) seem to sacrifice verisimilitude for art or convenience. Perhaps the truest antecedent for Frozen River is the ice-crossing scene in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, filmed in Port Henry in 1927 (excerpts can be seen here).

Frozen River was released on DVD earlier this month. Trivia/spoiler note: Michael O’Keefe, the actor portraying the State Trooper, played Danny Noonan in Caddyshack 29 years ago.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Imperialist Radio Follow-Up

Here is an update on the ongoing attempt by WAMC (an Albany NPR Station) to take over North Country Public Radio’s frequency in Lake Placid which the Adirondack Almanack blogged about over the weekend.

There will be two community forums this Thursday:

Saranac Lake at 3:30 (Adirondack Artists Guild)

Lake Placid at 5:30 (Adirondack Community Church)

This morning there was an on air Question and Answer session – you can listen to the audio here.

NCPR’s website on the conflict now also includes a link to provide NCPR with your e-mail address in order for them to contact you if and when they need more and/or louder voices.

Dale Hobson, NCPR’s tech guy who blogs at Brain Clouds reports in a post on Monday that the station is being very careful how they cover the story (WAMC isn’t covering it at all):

The news was first aired in the region this morning on Saranac Lake station WNBZ, in a feature story by Chris Knight who, in addition to his duties at WNBZ, is a frequent freelance reporter for NCPR on Adirondack issues. While NCPR is committed to retaining the frequency on which it has served Lake Placid for over twenty years, we needed to find a way to cover the story in a fair and balanced way that would place the public interest ahead of the institutional interests of the station. Toward that end, the station manager and the news director sought advice from the Poynter Institute, an organization that provides training in journalistic ethics. They recommended that we use an outside editor with no connection to either of the parties to the dispute to oversee NCPR’s coverage. Suzanna Capelouto, news director of Georgia Public Broadcasting, agreed to fill that role. The reporting by Chris Knight that you will hear on NCPR tonight and tomorrow was edited by her.

An Albany Business Review story picked up by the Boston Business Journal noted that NCPR is not alone in being bullied by WAMC – apparently Vermont Public Radio (VPR) is also being driven from a frequency in its own region. All total WAMC is trying to supplant locally originated radio in eight communities:

The eight communities are Brewster; Cooperstown; Lake Placid; Norwich and Stamford in New York; Vergennes, Vt.; Manchester, Conn., and West Swanzey, N.H. There are rivals for all but the Stamford and West Swanzey frequencies.

WAMC will face its toughest battle in Vergennes. St. Lawrence also wants to serve that city, as do Vermont Public Radio and a company called Wilbur Gospel Communications.

[Alan] Chartock said the FCC will award licenses to the applicant whose signal would reach the most people, based on such factors as the location and height of the proposed tower.

“So it comes down to whose engineer did the best job,” he said. “This will take months or even years to work out.”

Apparently, according to Chartock, that’s good enough for us – it’s a single engineer who gets to decide whether we have a locally originated station or we get homogenized radio.

WAMC’s Wikipedia page notes that the current conflict is part of an ongoing assult on local radio stations:

Though the original expansion of the WAMC network starting in the mid 1980s was done to serve areas that had previously lacked NPR service, many of the station’s expansions since then have been into areas that either had service from a WAMC signal or where an established NPR network was already on the air. Two examples of this were WAMC’s purchase of WAMQ (then WBBS), a signal whose coverage area is near enveloped by other WAMC signals, and in 1992 WAMC outbid SUNY Plattsburgh for the then-WCFE-FM in 1995 to serve an area with two established NPR stations.

A number of local bloggers have stepped up with their own comments including Adirondack Musing whose post title WAMC – The North Country Doesn’t Need You, pretty much says it all.

Brian over at MoFYC calls the whole affair a “terrible decision by WAMC.” He also takes the Albany station to task for their existing deeper problem in attempting to cover such an enormous area with such disparate interests:

WAMC’s news coverage is decent but cursory. It’s a mile wide and an inch deep. This isn’t surprising because WAMC’s gargantuan coverage area means it must provide local news for people in central and southern Vermont, the Berkshires (western Massachussetts), northern Connecticut, the Hudson Valley (southeastern NY), the Mohawk Valley (Central NY) and New York’s Capital District.. WAMC also reports on state politics for those four states.

By contrast, NCPR is focused almost exclusively on the region in and around the Adirondacks. The station often runs stories that are 5-9 minutes in length and thus offer significantly more depth than WAMC’s typically brief pieces.

WAMC almost never reports on issues in Glens Falls or the Adirondacks, simply because there’s not enough time. NCPR had extensive coverage of the 2001 Finch Pruyn strike in Glens Falls, even though the station’s main headquarters is three times more distant than WAMC’s.

There’s a lot more to what Brian has to say (including a follow-up to his original post) but he concludes with:

I used to be a member of WAMC but am not anymore. I simply found that WAMC just didn’t cover news stories that were relevant to my community or nearby ones. When NCPR added transmitters in Glens Falls and Lake George, I found a station that did. I now send money to Canton.

And frankly I’m glad I’m not a member of WAMC anymore. I wouldn’t want my membership monies to making the media less local and more homogeneous.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise called it “dirty pool” and said:

Chartock suggested that NCPR just move to a different frequency so both stations can serve Lake Placid. That’s like demanding someone’s house and suggesting they camp out in the woods out back. Sure, we’d like to have the option of listening to WAMC, but not at a better, more local station’s expense.

We hope the FCC recognizes this injustice and puts a stop to it.

So do we.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Imperialist Radio: A Hostile Takeover of NCPR?

By now you may have heard. Albany based WAMC is attempting to take over North Country Public Radio’s 91.7 fm frequency in Lake Placid. The whole thing stems from the exceedingly rare decision according to NCPR’s page on the subject (apparently WAMC could care less about answering questions we in the Adirondacks might have about the situation – they have nothing about it on their page):

After 10 years of refusing to accept new applications for transmitters in the non-commercial section of the FM radio band, the FCC opened a brief ‘window’ in October.

WAMC applied for a the frequency that is being used by NCPR. You should also know that there are no other full-power frequencies available in Lake Placid,there may not be another opportunity for another frequency for years to come, if ever, and NCPR has been serving this community for a long, long time:

NCPR has used a translator (a low power transmitter) in Lake Placid for 20 years. Translators are NOT protected by the FCC under the rules of the current application period. Therefore, we applied for a full-power transmitter at the same frequency we’ve used for two decades, 91.7 FM.

It is Imperialist Radio, plain and simple, and here’s why:

WAMC does not cover the Adirondacks in any significant way. Go to their webpage and search for Adirondacks – you’ll find nothing about the important issues that face the Adirondacks – their coverage is limited to the “big” southern oriented stories – nearly all based on press releases from politicians and advocacy groups. Have they seriously covered North Creek’s recent boom and bust in development? How about border issues? How about Potsdam food-coop story? The recent property tax decision? How about the increasingly vibrant blogging community? Local elections? NCPR is an important part of the Adirondacks – does “NCPR” ever show up on their webpage? No. Does “WAMC” ever show up on NCPR’s – sure does.

WAMC has hundreds of thousands of people of color in their backyard and yet not a single program oriented to their community needs. Until WAMC hires some people of color (or even offers relevant programming) to cover the neighborhoods (some of which are literally a block or two away from the offices) they have no business marketing to the wealthy in Lake Placid. It’s no accident that WAMC broadcast outside it’s natural environmental and cultural region into the wealthy lower Hudson Valley and the Berkshires – now they want the wealthiest community in the Adirondacks too. Look at their supposed coverage area – do they really think they can serve Worcester, MA, Sussex, NJ and Lake Placid equally?

WAMC is obviously attempting to take the economic resources from our region to their offices in Albany without returning services to our community. In fact, they will be reducing local news coverage in Lake Placid. They’ve already done this in Plattsburgh and Ticonderoga. Search for Ticonderoga on the WAMC website – in all of 2007 they’ve reported just twice about Ticonderoga -both stories about International Paper. Take a look at their events calendar – not a single event in either Plattsburgh or Ticonderoga, or anywhere in the Adirondacks for that matter. Now take a look at NCPR’s events calendar.

What should we do? Here is what NCPR says we should do:

We know that NCPR listeners are concerned about this conflict and want to help the station. We appreciate your support and encouragement. At this time, the best thing for you to do is stay informed about the issue–read the information provided here and follow the story as it develops. Share accurate information with others you know.

Here is what I think we should do:

1 – Be informed and inform others. Write about this issue: blog about it, write to local newspapers and media outlets.

2 – Contact WAMC (if you can, they only have one all-encompassing e-mail) and tell them that you know what they’re doing and it’s wrong – plain and simple. Tell them that you value NCPR and do not want WAMC to damage your LOCAL NPR station. Ask them to withdraw their attempt to take over NCPR’s frequency in Lake Placid.

3 – If you have a business from the Mohawk River to the Canadian border, or from the Vermont line to the St. Lawrence / Great Lakes and you advertise with WAMC – contact Dona Frank at 518-465-5233 ext. 167 and ask her to pull your advertisements and start supporting your local NPR station instead. Remember to tell WAMC why.

4 – If you live in the NCPR region now is the time to send some support their way – advertise your business by becoming an underwriter or become a member of the station.

5 – Leave a comment here to let NCPR know that you’re thinking about them and wishing them well. When your supposed allies turn on you, hearing form your friends and community makes a difference.

6 – Begin advocating for the removal of Alan Chartock as head of WAMC. He’s been unaccountable for far too long.

Good luck NCPR and let us know when and if there is anything we can do to support our best local radio station.


Friday, October 5, 2007

Adirondack Snowmobile History, Part Three

In Parts One and Two we traced the emergence of snow vehicles from their earlier cousins, the automobile, the tractor, and motorcycle, and the development of the smaller more versatile nowmobiles popular today. That development led to some forty snowmobile manufacturers in the late 1960s and, eventually, an explosion in interest.

To help build a customer base, sled makers began traveling to winter events and showing their machines. Beginning in January of 1964, snowmobilers in Lake Placid organized one of the first annual “power sled meets.” The event was followed by Artic Cat’s first snowmobile derby in February 1964 in Eagle River, Wisconsin. The company invited all known snowmobile makers, and held dozens of races in front of a couple thousand attendees.

Snowmobile historian Leonard Reich noted:

Drag races, obstacle courses, and hill climbs provided thrills, and a “marathon” event of 22 miles demonstrated the reliability of the machines over long distances and difficult terrain. Soon, race derbies organized by towns, manufacturers, and distributors were taking place all over the winter landscape. Like its automotive precursors, the snowmobile industry used racing and other organized events to generate excitement, attract attention, and demonstrate the capability and reliability of its product. As the early automakers had said, “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday.”

The first International Diamond Trophy Snowmobile Championship held on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid in January 1967 was one of the first major snowmobile meets at a time when, as the Essex County Republican, reported: “At least three major power sled meets are scheduled for the Adirondack Park area, and a dozen or so lesser meets, although no sanctioning unit has yet organized the sport, and there is no official record keeping or planning.” Nonetheless, the Mirror Lake meet offered $1,000 in cash prizes and included a hill climb and downhill slalom. By the 1969-1970 season major races around the country could see purses as high as $25,000.

Other area meets in 1966-1967 included the Eastern New York Races at Lake George (about 125 registered sleds and a new Schaefer Cup trophy race), and another at Boonville where the New York State Snowmobile Championship was held (more than 100 sleds and the emblematic Adirondack Cup). Lesser races were held at Malone, Tupper Lake, Speculator, Schroon Lake, Chazy Lake, and Old Forge.

For the 1966-1967 season 100,000 copies of Johnson Motors’ “Fun Guide to Snowmobiling” were distributed to various dealers around the country which included facts about the sport and sources for trail information. By the end of the 1966-67 season there were about 200,000 snowmobiles in America and even the first magazine devoted to the new sport – Sno Goer, was published by an advocate for snowmobiling on public lands named Susie Scholwin. According to industry sources, the snowmobile industry rose from $3 million in sales in 1965 to $30 million in 1967.

With the boon in snowmobilers, came a local boon in snowmobile clubs. The Central Adirondack Association was organized before the 1966-67 season. By 1973, the Essex County Association of Snowmobile Clubs (ECASCO) included nine clubs from the county’s twelve towns: the “Keeseville Trail Riders,” “Bouquet Valley Snow-Drifters” of Essex Willsboro, “Crown Point RR&R Snowmobile Club,” “Lake Placid Snowmobile Club,” “Moriah Snowmobile Club,” Schroon-North Hudson Snowmobilie Club,” the “Adirondack Snowmobile Club” of Ticonderoga, “Mt. Valley Snogoers,” the Wesport area “Bessboro Ski-ters” and the “Lewis-E’Town Snow Machine Club.” Even “North Country Squares,” a dance group, was getting into the action by organizing weekly races at the Clinton County Fairgrounds in Plattsburgh.

Snowmobile dealers were spreading throughout the region by 1970 when the Essex County Republican newspaper saw fit to publish a special snowmobiling section. In Peru, auto dealer Truman Davis sold Ski Doos based at the Stanley-Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Plattsburgh. Also in Plattsburgh, Jim Manley’s Welding and Repairs sold Skiroule; in Jarvis Falls, Jarvis Auto Parts sold Polaris; Ray’s Mobile Service in Keeseville usually sold chainsaws, but now also sold Allouette sleds; in Elizabethtown Dick Burpee’s Outdoor Power Equipment sold Artic Cat, Elizabethtown Builders sold Sno Jet and Artic Cat, and Norton Insurance Agency advertised snowmobile insurance.

Along with the spread of snowmobiles in the late 1960s there also emerged the first rumblings of those concerned that the noise, new trails, and detrimental effects to the environment were something to be concerned about. But as we’ll see in Part Four, just as it appeared that snowmobiles would conquer the Adirondack environment the bottom fell out.

Read the entire series here.


Friday, October 13, 2006

A Little Bit o’ Michigan Here in The Adirondacks

According to the Press Republican:

Clare and Carl’s, Gus’ Red Hots and McSweeney’s Red Hots are featured in the October issue of Gourmet magazine, which has a story on michigans. The North Country hot dog and meat sauce combo has made the big time.

Unfortunately, it’s not online – but the paper’s Michigan Online Report is.


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?


Monday, March 6, 2006

Warren County Convention Center – Another Round of Corporate Welfare?

Last week the Warren County Board of Supervisors voted to establish a “public” Authority which would use occupancy tax money to purchase the former Gaslight Village (who can resist humming the tune… “Gaslight Village, yesterday’s gone today). The $5.4 million property, owned by the Charles R. Wood Foundation, would be used for another convention center. Back in the day it was a railroad yard up the line from the Lake George [ahem] Spanish Colonial style D & H Train Station:

Back to 1998, the Albany Business journal, bastion of the coporate press and ignoring the more than half million dollar annual shortfall of the Glens Falls Civic Center, reported dutifully in an article entitled ” ‘Tin Box’ is all that’s needed for some conventions” that:

“Economically, the only way our community is going to grow is by lengthening the [tourist] season,” said Robert Blais, mayor of the village of Lake George. “The only way to do that is to make a suitable building to house the organizations we presently have coming to Warren County, as well as others who may want to come here.”

At his urging, Blais said, Warren County recently allocated $100,000 to the project, and a new convention center committee was charged with hiring a firm to conduct a marketing study to determine whether a center is feasible anywhere in the county. The spot favored by many interested in the project is Lake George, which already has proven itself to be a draw for the county.

Then we had:

Delays mean not only lost time, but lost money, however. “Warren County is surely losing millions every year by not having some sort of tin box–a rudimentary, simple convention center,” said William Dutcher, president of Americade Inc., a week-long motorcycle touring rally held in Lake George each year.

Dutcher pointed out that car clubs, motor home clubs, sports-oriented groups and regional conventions all would be attracted to the area if a facility were built to accommodate them.

Well that all worked out well for Blais and now we have the entirely architecturally incongruant and almost utterly useless tin box that’s design draws on Lake George’s lengthy local history of Greco-Roman vernacular architecture – the Lake George Forum – well that’s useless except for the local news fluff pieces on Zambonis, and events like Hockey, Bounce-A-Palooza, Hockey Camp, the Teen Dance and Bounce-A-Palooza Party, Hockey, another Brewfest, another Adirondack Living Show, more Hockey.

And still the convention center cowboys ride on…even in the face of the facts. Metroland this week [get it while it last – they still don’t have permalinks] is featuring a report on the proposed Albany convention center (stand back Jim Coyne):

‘Few cities learn from their own mistakes or the mistakes of any others,” says Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

In January 2005, Sanders became a focal point of frustration for many elected officials with their eyes on projects like the one in Albany, when he authored a highly critical report on the convention industry for the Brookings Institution, a public-policy think tank in Washington, D.C. Sanders 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. This growing gap between supply and demand, concluded Sanders, “should give local leaders pause as they consider calls for ever more public investment into the convention business.

Pause be damned:

Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, who proposed the public authority operate
the Civic Center as well as the proposed convention center, said the county
could receive word from the state before legislative session wraps up in June.

Glens Falls Mayor Le Roy Akins Jr., Lake George Village Mayor Robert Blais and Town Supervisor Lou Tessier all expressed support for the idea Wednesday.

Blais, however, conditioned his support on the inclusion of the Lake George Forum on the list of venues the public authority could operate, saying he’s concerned the Forum could suffer from competition with the authority-run venues.

“The Forum could suffer from competition” – do you think so Mr. Blais? According to Metroland:

Recently built or expanded convention centers in major cities (and tourist destinations) including Baltimore, San Francisco, St. Louis and Portland, Ore., all have failed to approach the number of booked conventions proposed in their initial feasibility studies, while new facilities scheduled to open in Boston, Omaha, Neb., and various other cities across the nation have struggled to prebook enough events to fulfill expectations. Like gamblers who refuse to leave the table, many of these cities have found themselves locked in one expensive, risky convention-related investment after another as they try to make up for their earlier losses.

Across the nation, the cycle has followed a similar course: New facilities are built when consultants report that the existing facilities are outdated, existing facilities are expanded when consultants determine that the current facilities are no longer adequate (the standard life cycle of a convention center is only 15 to 20 years) and massive hotels are constructed when neither of the two former plans generate the predicted financial windfalls.

So folks… does Warren County join the bandwagon – again? Maybe this time it can have publicy funded classic Adirondack Egyptian architectural details.

UPDATE 4/5/06: Maury Thompson at The Glens Falls Post Star (get it while you can) reports, in one of the most blatant examples of advocacy journalism we’ve seen in a long time, that even though convention centers are in the works for Lake Placid, Plattsburgh, Glens Falls, Lake George, Saratoga Springs, Albany, and who knows where else, well, they are just a good idea. Thompson asked the opposition – well – nothing – they didn’t figure in his idea fair and balanced reporting.

UPDATE 4/24/06: Another entry from the folks at the Post Star – this time from a more balanced Madeline Farbman. The jist? Warren County is moving ahead despite long held desires from the local water quality folks to return the Gaslight Village site to a filtering wetland (get it while you can).


Thursday, February 9, 2006

Another Wal-Mart On The Way – To Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks

The rumors were persistent, probably a sign that the deal was already done behind closed doors. Wal-Mart is coming to Saranac Lake and it’s going to be a big Supercenter: 121,000 square feet. “The Wal-Mart Supercenter would be considerably larger than the building Ames used to occupy ­– larger even than the entire plaza in which the building sits,” reports the Plattsburgh Press Republican:

In a news release, Philip Serghini, the retail giant’s public affairs manager, said, “Wal-Mart very much wants to become part of the Saranac Lake community so that consumers in the area can benefit from everyday low prices.

“We hope to design a store that is in keeping with this unique community.”

Whether Saranac Lake is as eager for Wal-Mart to join the community depends on who you ask.

Some cheered the news Wednesday evening, saying the arrival of Wal-Mart would finally bring to Saranac the kind of low-cost retail store it has been without for too long.

Others fretted, saying it could cripple local businesses and, in doing so, ruin the character of the community.

Saranac Lake and Lake Placid have both fended off Wal-Mart in the past. The nearest Wal-Mart stores are in Plattsburgh and Ticonderoga.

There will be a fight:

Mayor Tom Catillaz learned of Wal-Mart’s announcement from a reporter [a-hem… sure he did]. He, too, balked at the size.

“I really need to wait to see what their plans are,” he said. “Hopefully they’ve got plans for a smaller store.”

Mark Kurtz, whose Sound Adirondack Growth Alliance has kept a close eye on the issue, said the organization would have to learn more about the proposal before issuing a strong opinion.

Oddly enough, Carcuzzi car-repair co-owner Bob Bevilacqua (an owner of land that Wal-Mart is looking at) actually believes that “having a Supercenter here will keep tax dollars in the community.”

Who exactly is he kidding, beside himself? Apparently he’s done NO research on the costs of these Supercenters – goodbye local business, hello low wage jobs supplied with benefits from county services, hello New Jersey like development, goodbye tourism.

Good luck Saranac Lake – some resources are here.

UPDATE: An anonymous reader points us to a new blog: Adirondack Wal-Mart. A recent excerpt:

Does Saranac Lake need a large retailer? Sure it does. Do we need 121,000 sq ft of stuff for sale? Well it seems that could be a point of compromise. Would a downtown location for a retailer be a better option? Certainly a question deserving of an answer. Can the people of Saranac Lake, it’s towns and counties work together to find the answers? One would hope so.


Monday, February 6, 2006

Recent Interesting Adirondack Related Links

Canadian blogger Alan McLeod was over our way for a visit to North Country Public Radio last week. He even took pictures behind the scenes.

Adirondack Musing gives us a page on the recent vote in Plattsburgh over whether or not George Bush should be impeached. Here’s a scary tidbit from the Plattsburgh Press Republican story:

The most emotional voice against the impeachment idea came from Ron Long.

Long, his voice rising and face twisting with anger as he spoke, said the president has the right and responsibility to do whatever he has to in order to deal with enemies without and within.

“Hang the traitors, death to the left,” he shouted as several in the crowd wearing veterans hats cheered.

Also last week, CNY EcoBlog has revealed where all those Adirondack crows have been going each winter. It turns out that:

New York State has in fact hosted some of the largest roosts of American Crows for decades and possibly hundreds of years.

The American Crow from Animal Diversity Web.


Thursday, August 4, 2005

Ticonderoga Plane Crash: Murder-Suicide?

What do the band Phish, the regional airline Capital Airlines, a Connecticut scam artist, and Old Fort Mountain near Ticonderoga have in common?

Maybe a murder-suicide.

A year ago this month, an experienced pilot from Connecticut named Milton Marshall was flying his own twin-engine Piper Navajo chartered by 40-year-old Michael Keilty when the two crashed mysteriously into Old Fort Mountain just south of Ticonderoga cutting a “500 foot long swath through 60 foot [old growth] trees” (Press-Republican, Part I, Part II). Keilty said he was a pilot himself interested in becoming an investor in Marshall’s company.

Marshall had started his career as a professional pilot at the regional airline Capital Airlines in 1952. Capital became a part of United Airlines in 1961 but when Marshall retired in the 1980s he started a new Capital Airlines, a Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135 On-Demand Air Carrier (certificate number VRWA687I). “Quite a bit smaller in size, but not at heart,” the company’s website read.

Now, Marshall’s daughter Kathy Leonzi thinks the crash was no accident.

And oh yeah… Phish… who could forget the 1996 party they threw at the abandoned Plattsburgh Air Force Base in honor of the founder of the original Capital Airlines – Clifford Ball – and what a party it was (audio of the shows and photos) – it was the first of the annual Phish summer festivals and made Plattsburgh (temporarily) the ninth largest city in New York State.


Suggested Reading

Airports: A Century of Architecture