As 14-year Mayor George Rivers leaves office, the village is facing a challenge with the Pfizer facility closing. Efforts to encourage business are vital for the future of Rouses Point, said the candidates for the March 20 village election.
Rebecca Reid has lived in the village for 33 years — her whole life. She’s deeply invested in the community, having just built a house there. She plans for Rouses Point to be home for a long time.
“I live here. I want to stay here. I have a vested interest in the village,” she said.
She has government experience with the village planning board. Reid said she attends all the meetings and has sat in for voting twice.
She’s also on the village’s Fourth of July committee where she organizes the 5k run to fundraise for the village fireworks.
“If you want to see something happen, you need to get involved,” said Reid.
Reid said the town’s biggest challenge is the closure of the Pfizer facility, where she’s worked for 12 years heading inventory and quality production globally. Without the tax dollars coming in from the plant, the village will need to ensure the budget’s able to survive.
With the village’s large marinas, tourism is a direction to look to help close the gap left by Pfizer’s departure, said Reid.
She’ll look to trim unnecessary items while ensuring there are business retention programs to keep small business local. Making beautification is priority will help encourage tourism.
Reid earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Clinton Community College. She added a speech and communication bachelor’s at SUNY Plattsburgh and a master’s in administration and leadership.
Reid said her goal is to “make sure Rouses Point’s an affordable and desirable place to live.”
Francis Baker has served as a trustee for the village for four years. Now that Rivers is giving up his seat, Baker would like the chance to lead the village board.
“I know a little bit about the village. A lot actually,” said Baker. “I like this village and I’d like to make it better.”
He wants to make sure the project to bury electric and communication cables is finished, though he said that project has been labor intensive for the village’s public works employees.
“We’re way behind on our infrastructure — streets and sidewalks, stuff like that,” he said.
He’d also like to find ways to encourage business in the village with Pfizer closing.
He’s lived 30 years in Rouses Point and grew up in Chazy. After high school, Baker served two years in the Army. There, he was assigned to an artillery unit and served a year in the Vietnam conflict.
Once he got back, he settled just outside the village, and soon moved into its boundaries.
Baker then worked 42 years with the local railroad as a track foreman and supervisor. He was also the secretary and treasurer of the union lodge for the local railroad workers.
He and his wife own two businesses in the village. Bumper’s Self Storage and Last Resort, a bar where he hears lots of local talk.
“I get my ears full,” he said.
He said he’s proud of the efforts to make downtown beautiful, and would like to see those efforts continue.
William Maskell was born and raised in Rouses Point. His father, Robert Maskell, was the village’s police chief for more than three decades.
Maskell grew up in a large family, and remembers a tight sense of community that he’d like to help rekindle.
“It was like one big family unit with multiple parents, all looking out for each other,” he said.
With major employer Pfizer closing its facility, the village needs to find creative ways to keep the community vibrant, he said. It’s also important to keep and raise village pride.
“This is a very proud little town down by the lake here. I’d like to instill that pride that was here when I was growing up,” he said.
Maskell spent most of his career in the southwest U.S. with border patrol. He worked as an assistant chief with the patrol in Washington D.C. for five years. He returned to his hometown a year and a half ago for his retirement.
“I realized this is God’s country,” he said.
With the village at a crossroads, getting involved and giving back with his knowledge from travel with the border patrol is important to Maskell.
“I’ve seen little towns die out and little towns come back a little bit. People come together and make something like a farmer’s market — from that spark they expanded the community,” he said.
He’d also like to look at bringing back a village beach, a motel and maybe historical re-enactments to make the village a destination.
Brad Martin, a lifelong Rouses Point man, said as a trustee he’ll always listen to his village neighbors and put their interests first at village board meetings.
“You have to listen to the people,” he said.
Martin wants to be a trustee because he cares about his hometown, but also because this is a critical time for Rouses Point’s future.
With government bodies dealing with smaller budgets, Martin said a fresh face with a new perspective can help the board make good decisions for the village.
Attracting small and tiny businesses and helping them succeed is vital to the future of Rouses Point as the village loses jobs at the Pfizer facility, he said.
He also thinks kids could use more to do in town to help young families prosper. Martin’s heard a lot of people ask about a village beach.
“I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep,” he cautioned. “But that’s definitely something to look into.”
He graduated from Northeastern Clinton Central School and had vocational training in refrigeration and appliances. After working odd jobs around the area, he’s settled in at Powertex.
Martin’s earned certification as a firefighter and an emergency medical technician. He’s been on the local rescue squad for eight years. He’s now a first lieutenant.
He has local government experience, too. He’s been active in the village’s zoning board for the past year.
It’s important for people to be involved in government, and for the government to communicate with the constituents, said Martin.