Based on his personal journey as an undocumented immigrant, the film ties together two parts of Serrano’s life that have left him untethered and unaccepted in the country he calls home. » Continue Reading.
My husband and I are the parents that have limited “screen time” for our children. We have had numerous conversations about Internet safety. We’ve read books and talked with friends. We’ve always felt that our Internet restrictions are great, but children eventually leave the small bubble where we live.
Children share information instantaneously now and I’ve always known that I can’t shield my children from everything. I want to make sure that that they have enough information to make good choices when, not if, a situation arises.
Kids are bombarded by negativity on computers, on their phones, in advertisements, on television – How do we present a positive message that isn’t in the form of another lecture? » Continue Reading.
Beginning here is the story of an unknown but truly remarkable woman, an educator from Adirondack history. But first, some related information is helpful for perspective. For starters, here’s a sampling of complaints about our educational system: low graduation rates; undeserved diplomas; graduates lacking in real-world skills; students woefully unprepared for college; students without self-discipline, and more. Those are all issues today, but the very same items were also cited in 1970.
Since that time, our spending on education has risen by about 85 percent, but we’ve improved very little, still stymied by the same problems. In the meantime, we’ve fallen far behind many other countries, while still spouting that we’re the greatest country in the world. If we don’t find the answers soon, the hollow ring of that claim might well become deafening.
Since 1970, we’ve improved just about everything: civil rights, technology, weapons, communications, you name it—but in educating our youth, we’re failing over and over in so many ways. Sure, there are good kids, smart kids, geniuses, and prosperous citizens coming out of our schools, but consider a few shocking numbers that provide some balance. » Continue Reading.
Cannabis and its defining role in the culture wars and the ‘war on drugs’ declared by former New York State Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller forty years ago will be fully explored by award-winning investigative journalist Martin A. Lee in two separate events in the North Country on September 26-27. Lee will also be speaking in Albany on September 28.
All three events are sponsored by the freedom education and human rights project, John Brown Lives!, as part of “The Correction,” the organization’s latest initiative that uses history as a tool to engage communities in examining the past and addressing critical issues of our time. The focus of The Correction is the impacts of the 40-year era of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. » Continue Reading.
The “Songs To Keep” documentary, album, book and concert tour are underway, raising awareness of rare Adirondack North Country folk songs. Collaborating with TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York), the Adirondack History Center Museum and SUNY Plattsburgh Feinberg Library’s Special Collection, Mountain Lake PBS is helping to bring the Majorie Lansing Porter Song Collection to light.
Along with an album recorded from the collection, a songbook, manuscript and traveling exhibit, the PBS documentary will bring all aspects of this previously unavailable historic assembly of regional folk songs to the public. » Continue Reading.
In a recent Mountain Lake PBS e-newsletter, something caught my eye. Like many, I suppose, I get too many emails and often give many nothing more than a quick scan, if that, before hitting the delete button. But there was a little, green, Adirondack summer image with the words “Songs to Keep” superimposed. What’s this?
The teaser text read “The story of a woman who traveled the Adirondacks collecting rare folk songs that are being rediscovered and rerecorded 60 years later. Help make this project happen by investing in it!”. It hooked me and I clicked. Not only am I very glad that I did, but I wanted to share it with Almanack readers because it is definitely worth your attention. » Continue Reading.
Today is Martin Luther King Day, and if you lived through the 1960s, you’ll never forget that turbulent decade. Even turbulent is putting it mildly: weekly classroom drills for nuclear attacks (Get under my desk? What the heck is this thing made of?); riots over race, poverty, the draft, and the Vietnam War; the assassinations of JFK, King, and Bobby Kennedy; and so much more.
Martin Luther King was a leading figure of those times, beloved and hated nationally and internationally. Love him or hate him, he was remarkable. Against the worst of odds, he effected change through peaceful protest. The impact was clear, even here in the North Country.
A series of events during the 1960s proved that peaceful protest and the purity of King’s motives were strong enough to convert critics and naysayers. Plattsburgh offers an example of King’s effect over the course of a decade. » Continue Reading.
Once the weather gets a bit more consistent outside it will be time to hit the many outdoor Adirondack skating rinks. Until that time my family makes time for ice-skating at the indoor arenas. That is fine, too. Inside we have the opportunity to take off our skates, warm up our toes and listen to the music piped in over the sound system. It’s a great way to work off the holiday desserts!
Most of the indoor rinks cater to the hockey and figure skating crowd. We’ve found that even if the schedule is posted online, it is best to call first just to make sure a make-up game hasn’t altered the free skate time. » Continue Reading.
When entomologist James Needham arrived in Upper Saranac Lake in 1900 on a mission to study Adirondack aquatic insects, he found no room at the Saranac Inn. For the first 10 days, Needham, State Entomologist Ephraim P. Felt, and their assistant Cornelius Betten, were forced to find lodging two miles from the Adirondack Fish Hatchery where they hoped to “collect and study the habits of aquatic insects, paying special attention to the conditions necessary for the existence of the various species, their relative value as food for fishes, the relations of the forms to each other, and their life histories.” Although their study was short, it was also a historic first, up until that time all that had been written about Adirondack aquatic insects amounted to a few short paragraphs by former State Entomologist J. A. Lintner (1889). The daily trek to their study area didn’t diminish their enthusiasm. “I arrived at Saranac Inn on the evening of June 12m and at once began looking over the ground,” Needham recalled. “Dr. Felt came on the 14th, and spent the day with me canvassing the situations to be studied… and the regular work of the session was at once begun, to be continued without cessation to the date of closing [on August 20].” The study session was the first of a comprehensive study of aquatic insects in the state funded by the NYS Museum that also included short surveys in Old Forge and Lake George, and two additional trips to the Saranac Inn.
Needham and Felt identified a number waters to be studied. They were provided by the hatchery a space to work, the use of several hatching troughs for insect breeding, a carpenter bench and tools to build specialized breeding cages, and a small boat. They brought with them or acquired additional equipment necessary to sweep vegetation, raise insects, and store their collections. “Extensive use was made of white wash bowls, soup plates and saucers in the examination of our catch,” Needham reported.
The entomologists chose Little Clear creek on the hatchery grounds for their study area, which proved to be the most fruitful, but also the hatchery’s three fish propagating ponds, Little Clear, Little Green, and Bone. Twice they made trips to Lake Colby, Stony Brook (just north of Axton) and St. Regis, at the end of the carry from Little Clear, and the first week they spent mornings and evenings at Lake Clear.
The study they produced, “Aquatic Insects of the Adirondacks” (NYS Museum Bulletin 47, September 1901, link to pdf), proved to be the most important study of the subject for more than 100 years. It was one of the first truly scientific studies of aquatic insects in North America, and yielded life histories of more than 100 species, the discovery of 10 new species and and two new genera, plus additional information about Chironomidae dragon flies.
Needham, who studied under renowned entomologist John Henry Comstock (1849–1931), was then refining his pretracheation insect wing theory. Although discredited in 1938 by more refined studies, Needham’s work was the basis for the Comstock–Needham System of naming insect wing veins, considered “an important step in showing the homology of all insect wings.” Needham later replaced Comstock as head of the Department of Entomology at Cornell, a position he held for more than 20 years.
A new study by Luke Myers (a Saranac native) and Timothy Mihuc of the Lake Champlain Research Institute at SUNY Plattsburgh, along with Boris Kondratieff of Colorado State University, highlights the role of Needham and Betten in the rise to prominence of of aquatic insect entomology in New York State in the early 20th century and treads new ground as an important update to our knowledge of aquatic insects in the Adirondack region.
After four years of studying mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies, Myers (who did much of the fieldwork with the assistance of self-taught caddisfly expert D.E. Ruiter), Mihuc, and Kondratieff have produced what is being considered the most comprehensive biodiversity study of those aquatic insects in the Adirondacks.
According to a story by Mike Lynch in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, “Myers and his team examined 25,000 specimens from 465 locations. They found 509 species of mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies, including 99 that were reported in this state for the first time. They also discovered several species new to science and some species of conservation concern.”
Even given the new techniques and equipment available to modern researchers, that’s no mean feat. It’s also one that will be a welcome addition to those interested in the biodiversity of Adirondack wetlands and their place in the larger ecology of the region.
Photos: Above, Little Clear creek, Adirondack Fish Hatchery (1900 NYS Museum Photo); Middle, illustration from the 1901 report “Aquatic Insects – Sepedon and Tetanecera”; Below, Luke Myers working on the Raquette River near Axton Landing (Photo Provided).
James W. Loewen, award-winning author of the popular Lies My Teacher Told Me titles, will visit the North Country tomorrow Friday, October 14 from 10-12 pm at SUNY Plattsburg.
The freedom education project John Brown Lives! and SUNY Plattsburgh’s Honors College, Department of Anthropology, Department of Education, Health & Human Services and the Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion are teaming up to sponsor Loewen. Loewen’s address, “Lies My Teacher Told Me About the Civil War—And How They Still Affect Civil Rights Today”, is open to the general public. Known for his engaging style and gripping retelling of U.S. history, Loewen has inspired K-16 teachers across the country to get students to challenge, rather than memorize, their textbooks. His best-selling title, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, resulted from two years studying U.S. history textbooks and it has sold more than 1,250,000 copies.
Currently residing in Washington, D.C., Loewen taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont and previously at the predominantly black Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He has been an expert witness in more than 50 civil rights, voting rights, and employment cases and is also Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, Visiting Professor of Sociology at Catholic University in Washington, DC, and Visiting Professor of African-American Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign.
Enrollment at the region’s educational institutions is growing. The number of new students at Paul Smith’s College gained for the second consecutive year toward a 30 year high set in 1981. SUNY ESF’s Ranger School in Wanakena saw a 50 percent enrollment increase, and Clarkson University welcomed the largest number of first-year students in the institution’s history this August, breaking a 1984 record. Plattsburgh State saw a rise this semester, especially among foreign students. Clinton County Community College enrollment went up almost 5 percent, 14 percent higher than 2008-09. SUNY Adirondack (formerly Adirondack Community College) saw a slight decrease in enrollment. Enrollment was expected to have risen slightly at North Country Community College. At Paul Smith’s College a new $8 million 93-bed residence hall designed to LEED standards is accommodating the growth. Enrollment at the Ranger School was given a boost by a new AAS-degree program in Environmental and Natural Resources Conservation, according to longtime professor and Almanack contributor Jamie Savage.
At Clarkson some of the rise is attributed to increased enrollment in pre-physical therapy and engineering programs, including environmental engineering which has seen growth of more than 100 percent.
Photo: Students walk by Bertrand H. Snell Hall at Clarkson University (Courtesy Clarkson University).
Adirondack towns and villages have a unique opportunity to be included in a project that seeks to improve wireless cell and broadband availability in the Adirondack Park.
The goal of the Wireless Clearinghouse project is to create an inventory of existing structures in Adirondack Park towns that are suitable for housing a wireless antenna. The database will be a resource for private wireless companies, with the goal of encouraging them to expand wireless telecommunications across the region, a key to economic development. The inventory produced is expected to be a significant planning asset available through a secure website and featuring a GIS database with maps and images. Right now, municipal officials are being asked to respond to an email sent by the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) that contains instructions for listing their community’s structures in the online inventory. All communities who provide feedback by May 31 will be publicly acknowledged when the final results of the project are published and will be entered in a drawing to win a free customized online mapping application.
Fountains Spatial Inc., a GIS consulting firm based in Schenectady, has been contracted by SUNY Plattsburgh and ANCA with project methodology, data collection, and development of an interactive web-map application to access the data collected in the project.
The data being collected this month will identify existing tall structures within Adirondack Park municipalities, such as churches, water towers, and other tall structures. To start, Fountains Spatial combed tax parcel data for information on property class codes such as churches, public services and government structures that could be considered suitable sites for a telecommunications antenna.
The project is due to be completed this summer. In the process, one of the goals is to inform community leaders of the opportunities provided by these technologies.
“DEC, SUNY Plattsburgh, Fountains Spatial and ANCA hope that the Wireless Clearinghouse database will encourage wireless carriers to provide service in additional Park communities. People today want to stay connected 24/7 using their mobile device or computer, and better wireless service will support municipal services, and benefit year round and seasonal residents, and visitors may stay longer,” said Howard Lowe, project manager.
As the 200th anniversary approaches, there will be a steady stream of new books about the War of 1812. But for readers interested in the effects of the war on the ground in the Champlain Valley, there remains just one foundational text, now available for the first time in paper by Syracuse University Press. Although first issued in 1981, Allan S. Everest’s The War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley is still required reading for those hoping to understand the Plattsburgh campaign, considered critical to the war.
The War of 1812, ranks with the often overlooked American conflicts of the 19th century, but unlike the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) or the Spanish-American War (1898-1902), the War of 1812 really was a Second War for Independence. America stood at the other side of Britain’s own Manifest Destiny, the homes, farms, property, and lives of Americans in the Champlain Valley stood in the middle. The first months of 1814 spelled gloom for America, then only 35 years old. The war against England was stalled. The British continued to kidnap and impress American for service on their warships. They supported Native Americans who attacked outposts and settlements on the American frontier. American harbors were blockaded by the British and New England, never sympathetic with the narrow vote of Congress for war, had become openly hostile and was threatening to secede.
Still worse, Napoleon had been defeated in Europe and Britain could now devote more time and effort to America. The British saw an opportunity to split the new American republic and once again take control of sections of the young colonies. The bold plan called for a combined army and naval strike at Plattsburgh, followed by a drive down the lake and through the Hudson Valley to New York City, splitting the colonies in two. The Americans saw that opportunity too.
The Navy Department contracted Noah Brown, one of New York’s finest shipwrights, to build a fleet to protect the way south from Canada along Lake Champlain. In less than two months, Brown constructed, armed, and launched a total of six of war ships: Allen, Borer, Burrows, Centipede, Nettie, and Viper. With the help of the small Vermont town of Vergennes and its iron foundry that could supply spikes, bolts, and shot, and it’s water-powered sawmills, and surrounding forests filled with white oak and pine for ship timber, Brown built the 26-gun flagship Saratoga, in just 40 days, and commandeered the unfinished steamboat and completed it as the 17-gun schooner Ticonderoga.
Vastly out-manned and outgunned on both land and sea, a rag tag inexperienced group of 1,500 Americans commanded by Capt. Thomas Macdonough met the greatest army and naval power on earth. Because of a serious shortage of sailors for his fleet, he drafted U.S. Army soldiers, band musicians, and convicts serving on an army chain gang to man the ships.
Their leader Macdonough had some experience. He had served against the Barbary pirates in North Africa, but two decades of warfare had given the British considerably more experience. It had for instance, led to the promotion of officers by merit, rather than by purchase or birth. As a result the British forces were the best trained and most experienced in the world and they enjoyed the backing of the world’s greatest military power. Sir George Prevost led the large British army and its fleet into New York and down Lake Champlain to meet the Americans. But what happened that September 11th no one could have predicted.
By the end of the day, the U.S. had achieved the complete and unconditional surrender of the entire British fleet and the full retreat of all British land forces. More importantly, the American victory at Plattsburgh helped persuade the British to end the war.
That’s the bigger story, but the local story is the strength of Allan Everest’s history. As a professor of history at SUNY Plattsburgh, and the author of Moses Hazen and the Canadian Refugees in the American Revolution, Our North Country Heritage, and the seminal book on the region’s prohibition history drawn from local interviewees, Rum Across the Border, Everest had a grasp of the topography of the region’s political, social, and cultural history.
Over some two and a half years, the region saw armies raised, defeated, and disbanded, including their own militia, which was repeatedly called out to protect the border areas and to serve under regular army units. Everest catalogs the political and military rivalries, and the series of disheartening defeats, loss of life, and destruction of property and markets resiliently borne by local people, who were forced to flee when battle threatened, and returned to rebuild their lives.
2001’s The Final Invasion: Plattsburgh, the War of 1812’s Most Decisive Victory painted with a broader brush and suffered criticism for misunderstanding the Plattsburgh campaign. As a result, Everest’s 30-year-old work – despite its age – is still the definitive work on the impact of the War of 1812 on northern New York.
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The Ausable River Association (AsRA) has received two awards that will fund trout and salmon habitat improvement projects. The project will identify and replace structures that act as barriers to the passage of fish and other aquatic organisms. AsRA will receive $46,910 from the Lake Champlain Basin Program and will work with The Adirondack Nature Conservancy and SUNY-Plattsburgh to complete a fish passage study. AsRA will also receive $52,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to replace culverts and deconstruct dams that act as barriers to fish migration. The project will use field assessments and GIS mapping tools to identify and rank barriers to aquatic organisms, assess the overall connectivity of stream habitat in the Ausable Watershed, and prioritize structures for replacement. The collaborating groups will conduct a training workshop to present the results to Town and County highway superintendents, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
Maintaining connections between rivers and small tributaries is important for protecting trout, salmon, and other aquatic organisms. Trout rely upon small upland tributaries for spawning and refuge from warm summer temperatures. Dams, culverts, and bridges can altered flow and block upstream movement to important refuge streams. Connectivity to upland tributaries is becoming even more critical as temperatures in valley bottom streams rise due to climate warming.
The Ausable and River Association is a nonprofit watershed group that works cooperatively with landowners, municipalities, and government agencies to preserve the natural, scenic, and recreation resources of the Ausable Watershed. For more information call 873-3752 or write [email protected]