TICONDEROGA - Looking ahead to 2009, Ticonderoga Supervisor Bob Dedrick has taken a moment to look back.
The supervisor cited the accomplishments of Jeff Van Wert and Edwin "Brick" Howe, who both died in 2008, in delivering his 2009 "state of the town" address.
"When I first met Jeff and Brick I was immediately drawn to their wit, their commitment to the town and their unconditional love of this community," Dedrick said. "Both men would go far beyond the call of duty to do something that would benefit our community. This town was truly fortunate to have two such caring individuals. Their absence will be sorely missed and anyone who knew either gentleman has to consider their life a little more blessed. I certainly know I do.
"This coming year, 2009, will be my last year as supervisor for the town of Ticonderoga," said Dedrick, who earlier announced he will not seek re-election this fall. "Being my last year I would like to dedicate it to two individuals, Jeff Van Wert and Brick Howe, who have been very instrumental in volunteering their time, effort and expertise to move this town forward."
Van Wert and Howe were members of the Ticonderoga economic development committee and Ticonderoga Mainstreet Partnership.
"Jeff started with me on the economic committee in 2000," Dedrick recalled. "He attended every monthly meeting until he became too sick to attend. His ideas were thoughtful and his enthusiasm was contagious. He was one of the most respected members of the committee and one you could count on when volunteers were needed.
"Jeff and his wife Chatti put a lot of his time and effort into improving their business, both at the laundry and the car wash," he continued. "The bricks on his building on Montcalm Street were one of the first to undergo blasting and refurbishment. The beautiful painting near his entrance added an Adirondack appeal."
The Van Werts Jeff and Chatti were also instrumental in seeking a sewer grant for 9N-74. Through their efforts a $750,000 grant was secured through Small Cities for Economic Development grant submitted by the Industrial Development Agency, Dedrick noted.
Howe, a retired attorney, assisted by Chooch DeChame, wrote a Mainstreet grant for $125,000 and spent hours promoting downtown Ti, Dedrick said.
"Brick also secured a grant for $20,000 from Councilors of Real Estate, in which he was a member, to hire a professional planner Brandy Saxton to work with a committee to develop a comprehensive master plan," the supervisor said. "Thanks to Brick's dedication and determination, and the work of the committee, the town now has an updated comprehensive plan at no cost to the taxpayers.
"One part of Brick's overall plan to revitalize the downtown was to resurrect the Ticonderoga Sentinel," Dedrick added. "He worked hours trying to edit each story as well as labor tirelessly on laying out the format for each page. The Sentinel now is a mainstay of the Mainstreet program thanks to the efforts of Kim Rielly employed by the Credit Union.
Thanks to Van Wert, Howe and other volunteers, the Ticonderoga Mainstreet Partnership has been a success, Dedrick said.
He cited those accomplishments as:
- Indulge (Roxie's) has relocated and has a completely new interior and exterior facade;
- Northwood Wellness, physical and occupational therapy has opened for business where Doc's video was once housed;
- Country Florist refurbished an apartment building on the corner of Wiley and Montcalm;
- Sugar and Spice gift shop is open for business in the LaChute Square;
- Adirondack Hair Creations has opened next to the Corner Caf ;
- the Agway Building has a new, reinforced awning as well as structural and roof improvements;
- the House of Pizza, Montcalm Liquor and Olde Mill Caf have utilized New York State Main Street grants from PRIDE, along with their own matching funds, to make exterior improvements and the Burleigh House who got new second floor windows;
- the Ti Art Gallery, largely thanks to Margaret Howe, has opened its doors in the LaChute Square;
- the PRIDE of Ticonderoga office has relocated from the back of the building to the front along Montcalm Street and their new space and the adjacent H & R Block office have been completely renovated including a new brick exterior fa ade;
- Vilardo's Architecture has moved into the former PRIDE office;
- the Black Watch Library has been selling used books in the Reale building, and a major building project will begin shortly to upgrade and enlarge the current library;
- a new Cyber Caf is in the process of securing a lease where the Golden Rooster was located;
- the building which once housed North Country Community College on Montcalm Street has been sold by PRIDE. The new owners are renovating the interior and hope to open a bookstore; and
- the building where Rite Aid was a tenant may have a new lease. Dollar General is in the process of securing permits to open a store at that location.
Along with these businesses several ancillary projects have been completed to enhance Montcalm Street, Dedrick said:
- "Welcome to Historic Downtown Ticonderoga" banners have been added to the light poles along Montcalm and Wicker streets;
- a "pocket park' has been built between the Verizon building and Two Brothers complete with landscaping and a new Lakes to Locks interpretive sign; and
- new off-street parking has been added behind the Verizon building.
"Mainstreet is an on-going entity in itself," Dedrick said. "It has a board of directors, officers and is in the final stages of seeking a 501-C3. But like every town committee it is made up of countless individuals who volunteer their time monthly for the improvement of Ticonderoga.
"Our committee continues to work hard to bring back our main street and the town as a whole," he continued. "With the loss of Jeff and Brick there is a need for interested residents to join this dedicated group. Please consider joining this group. Your help will be very much appreciated. This is a great opportunity to give back to the town we all love."