A pile of ruined books was created as volunteers helped to clean out the Wells Library in Upper Jay.
There was a lot that happened in 2011 throughout the region, from flooding and tropical storms to stories of compassion and lending a helping hand.
•Sophie Clarke was a standout on the soccer pitch at Willsboro Central School.
Now, Clarke, 22, a medical student, will compete in an entirely different competition, as a cast member on one the shows that launched the reality-based competition genre, “Survivor.”
Clarke was announced as one of 18 members for the cast of “Survivor: South Pacific,” the 23rd season of the CBS Television show starring Emmy-award winning host Jeff Probst.
“I have seen every single season,” Clarke, a 22-year old from Willsboro, said. “I would watch it online and brag to my friends that I could totally do that. I could be on that show.”
(We wonder how she does...)
• Days after Tropical Storm Irene showed little to no mercy here, the residents of Au Sable Forks, Jay and Upper Jay started to pick up the pieces.
“We can’t live here any more,” Sidney “Sid” Smith said about his home in Au Sable Forks. “The water was up to my waist. We’ve spent the last couple days just cleaning everything out.”
Veronica Murphy sat in front of her home, in the Jersey section of Au Sable Forks, and tried to wash off pictures.
That section of town was hit very hard by flooding, as were the hamlet’s youth sporting fields and courts.
At the Au Sable Forks Community Center, which houses the town of Jay offices, volunteers collected food and clothing, as well as served food to those who needed it.
•Some players come back from concussions, others from broken limbs and bones, and others from illness and muscle tears.
Very few come back from heart transplant surgery.
And while Elizabethtown-Lewis senior goalkeeper Brock Marvin was rarely tested in the Lions 4-0 win against AuSable Valley Sept. 1, it was his first chance to play varsity soccer since his freshman year, when illness forced him to the sidelines and eventually to an operating table in order to replace the vital organ.
“It’s nice,” Marvin said about being referred to as the ELCS goalkeeper for the first time in three seasons. “Good to be back. I just thank everyone from the surgeon to the doctors to the therapists and the psychologists. I just want to thank everyone who helped to get me back out here to enjoy the game that I love.”
•A North Country source of literacy on wheels has been shut down.
The Bookmobile, run by the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System, will no longer be running as of the end of the year.
CEFLS director Ewa Jankowska said in a press release that the Bookmobile was a victim of the current economic climate.
“Deep and ongoing budget shortfalls are responsible for this decision, which was a hard one to make,” Jankowska said. “However, despite the fact that we did everything we could, including not filling two staff positions, and slashing our materials budgets each year, we were faced with no alternative. Unfortunately, we needed to make a tough decision between fulfilling our mission to provide services to member libraries or to continue the bookmobile service. Our current budget climate simply cannot support both.”
•Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday, Sept. 12 announced that both lanes of Route 73 between Keene Valley and the Adirondack Northway (Exit 30) are now open.
“We’ve made remarkable progress in a very short period of time,” he said.
The announcement was made at 11 a.m. on Route 73 near the town of Keene hamlet of St. Huberts only seven days after the governor promised the highway would be open in 10 days.
“Over the weekend, I was at an event and a lady came up to me and told me that she heard the road was going to be opened this week,” state Sen. Elizabeth “Betty” Little said. “I didn’t think that could happen, but then I got the call yesterday from the governor’s office and here we are.”
•Aileen Geiling cashed in her skydiving opportunity at Saratoga Sky Dive.
Geiling boarded the plane with her instructor, whom she tandem jumped with and climbed to 9,000-feet.
Then, the chance to take that first step finally came.
“You take that step, and you are just going straight down,” Geiling said. “It’s scary and thrilling all at once.”
Geiling and her instructor were in free-fall for about 45 second before the parachute deployed, bringing them the rest of the way down.
“We were doing about 120 mph,” Geiling said. “I was cheered on by my family and friends, and I returned to the safe and smiling.”
•Thanks to a lot of donations, the United Way of the Adirondack Region, Inc., is well on its way to a goal of $775,000 in donations.
The organization held its annual Campaign Kickoff Breakfast for the 2012 endeavor at the American Legion Post 20 in Plattsburgh Sept. 16.
United Way of the Adirondack Region Executive Director John Bernardi said that the organization had built a support web throughout the counties of Clinton, Essex and Franklin.
“We have been playing connect the dots at the United Way,” Bernardi said. “What we have created is a web and a network of health and human services.”
“We need to find some way to fill the gap, and this organization does,” Gerald “Gerry” Morrow, Chesterfield town supervisor and Campaign chairman, said. “Each business has a champion that really pushes this campaign to their employees. We have set a goal of $775,000. It is a goal that is reasonable for us to meet and exceed, and I’m sure that we are going to do it.”
• Members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors discussed several issues pertaining to problems related to post-Tropical Storm Irene cleanup and recovery during a visit from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Community Relations Manager Don Hawkins during the Sept. 26 Ways and Means Committee meeting.
While several issues did not pertain directly to FEMA, several supervisors wanted it known what their towns were now facing.
Board Chair and Jay Supervisor Randall “Randy” Douglas said that his main concern is the state of the Ausable River and the potential for flooding in the future due to erosion from the last three flooding events.
“There is definitely some research that needs to be done on the Ausable and the streams that flow into it,” Douglas said. “I understand that environmental groups are concerned about having machinery in the rivers, but I have to do what is best for the public safety of the people in my town and in my county.”
•There are signs everywhere of the life that the large brick building in the center of Willsboro once had.
While developer Eli Schwartzberg gave people a chance to tour the site of the future Champlain Valley Senior Community on Oct. 1, those in attendance also saw the fading signs of the former home of Willsboro Central School.
Murals painted throughout the building were covered in order to be preserved, classrooms had reminders of those who had once learned there, and the scoreboard still hung in the walkway that fans used to look down from during basketball games in “the pit.”
Schwartzberg said that he hopes the project he is working on will be a marriage of the building’s past and present.
“We are not going to hide the fact that this used to be a school,” Schwartzberg told a group of people interested in the work being done. “We want to keep that character, and we want people to be able to come here and feel that part of the history of the building.”
•Della Strong Garvey celebrated a healthy 100th birthday with family, friends, staff and patients at the Horace Nye Retirement home on Friday, Oct. 7.
Della, of Willsboro, was surprised by friends and family in the banquet hall of the retirement home with a party to celebrate her 100th birthday.
Wearing a birthday cake-fashioned party hat and looking vibrant in a purple pant suit and a beautiful corsage given to her by family, Della was happy to see five generations of Garvey come together for her birthday party that almost wasn’t able to take place.
“She was really excited to see everyone, the party had to sort of be a surprise because we didnt know if the party would be able to go on due to a three-day quarantine at the home because of a stomach bug,” Sharon Garvey, Della’s daughter-in-law, said.
•The first week of February will be a very busy time in the Tri-Lakes.
Along with the Lake Placid Loppett, Lake Placid High School Winter Carnival and Saranac Lake Winter Carnival opening weekend, the Empire State Games will be held starting Thursday, Feb. 2 and running through Sunday, Feb. 5.
Members of the ESG committee met with members of the press during an Oct. 12 conference to announce the dates for the event as well as the involvement of Behan Communications out of Glens Falls, which will be charged with selling games sponsorship opportunities.
“We are in the very early stages of reaching out to sponsorship candidates,” said Bill Callen, project manager with Behan. “We are looking for people who will provide a statewide reach. The passion and commitment of the people who now put these games together is contagious, and we are hoping to build off that.”
•Those living in northern or central Essex County may have to drive for a while in order to take a driver’s test.
During the Oct. 17 Finance Committee meeting of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, County Clerk Joseph “Joe” Provoncha said that he had recently received word that the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles was looking to end road tests in Elizabethtown and Saranac Lake, along with nine other sites throughout the state.
Instead, those looking to earn their driver’s license would have to do so at the Ticonderoga satellite DMV office, the Malone DMV in Franklin County or the Plattsburgh DMV.
“They want to take away the testing site in Elizabethtown, and the Ticonderoga site would stay because they do the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) testing there,” Provoncha said. “My concern is what happens to people who live in St. Armand or Bloomingdale; they now have to go to Malone or Plattsburgh.”
•While he described the task as “enormously challenging,” Garry Douglas said that the North Country Regional Economic Development Council was up to the task, as was the region.
“We are all involved in this challenge, and by that I mean everyone that is in this room,” Douglas, the co-chair of the NCEDC and Executive Director of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, told those in attendance at a community forum at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School Oct. 18.
“We have been stuck in a one-size fits all approach to economic development in New York,” Douglas said. “The state is a series of fairly complex economic regions, each with different assets and different challenges. Now, the governor is turning upside down the way the state looks at economic development.”
•Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward addressed members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors at its Oct. 31 Ways and Means Committee meeting.
The majority of her interaction with the supervisors, where she once served while seated as the Supervisor of Willsboro, focused on the difficulties the county says it faces with the 2 percent tax cap.
“We have a new governor (Andrew Cuomo - D) who has an agenda,” Sayward, a Republican, said. “He has spoken to us on many occasions, and he does understand the issues that we have in local governments about mandates. I believe that we have to tighten our belts at a town level, a county level, the state level and the federal level.”
“The issue that we are faced with is we don’t have the number of mandated services at the town level that we have at the county level,” Moriah Supervisor and county Budget Officer Thomas “Tom” Scozzafava said. “This year, Medicare is 45 percent of the levy. Our revenue stream from the state is also going down. The state is straightening out there fiscal mess, but it is coming down on the backs of the county taxpayers. The programs that we could end up eliminating are the ones that our constituents use every day.”
Sayward said that there were a number of concerns from across the state, but that it still had become time for “everyone to pay the piper.”
•The Adirondack History Center Museum in Elizabethtown is haunted.
That is the opinion of professional paranormal investigator Jim Thatcher, co-founder of the Champlain/Adirondack Paranormal Investigations (ChAPI) team, which conducted a July 1 investigation at the site.
“We came away from this investigation saying that there is paranormal activity here,” Thatcher said to those assembled at an Oct. 29 event at the center.
Thatcher said that potential proof of paranormal activity should not lead people to think of the movie with a like name.
“A haunting doesn’t mean anything except the existence of paranormal activity,” Thatcher said. “It does not mean that it is a bad thing, and I never had a feeling that there was a negative thing happening here. Whoever is here, they may just be here because they are, but they might want people to know that they are here.”
•Residents from the hamlet of New Russia had the chance to let the United States Postal Service know how they feel about their post office.
They also heard about the timetable that may decide the fate of the facility during a Nov. 1 meeting with the manager of post office operations for the Albany District of USPS, Dan Cronin.
“We were assigned to do studies for the potential discontinuation of services or closure on the New Russia Post Office,” Cronin said to the crowd of 52 who packed into the Elizabethtown town offices.
“I told you there would be more than a few,” remarked New Russia Postmaster Margaret McCoy.
•A packed Old Courthouse at the Essex County Government Center watched as the supervisors gave their opinions.
There were some rounds of applause, some mumbling from the back rows, and the occasional loud moan as the 18 supervisors discussed the resolution that would allow the county to enter into an agreement with Marcus and Millichap to seek the potential sale or lease of the Horace Nye Nursing Home in Elizabethtown.
When the talking was over, the supervisors voted 2,065 (72.6 percent) to 778 in favor of the motion, easily earning the two-thirds weighted vote needed for the resolution to carry.
•Essex County Clerk Joseph Provoncha will keep his position following an easy victory in the polls Nov. 8.
The incumbent clerk received a total of 5,209 votes in the unofficial tally released by the Essex County Board of Elections, compared to the 2,704 ballots cast on behalf of challenger Brent Vosburg, who had previously worked for Provoncha in the clerk’s office.
“I’m humbled with the constituent support for another term,” Provoncha said of the result. “I am looking forward to help and serve the residents of Essex County for another four years.”
•Two local races for town supervisor did not have their outcomes changed after the tallying of absentee ballots.
Sharon Boisen, incumbent Essex supervisor, increased her lead dramatically, taking 26 of the 37 absentee ballots to take a 176-149 lead over challenger Frank Walls.
In Elizabethtown, Margaret “Maggie” Bartley also added to her lead, with a 28-21 advantage in the absentee ballots and a 254-238 lead over incumbent Noel Merrihew III.
The ballots were counted by the Essex County Board of Elections Nov. 16 at 9 a.m. (Elizabethtown) and 11 a.m. (Essex).
•The AuSable Valley Central School District showed off its newest piece of high-tech, “green” technology Nov. 16 when it officially opened its new woodchip boiler facility at the middle/high school.
The boiler, one of two in the district (the second located at the Keeseville Elementary School), is part of the AVCS EXCELL Capital Project, which allowed for school renovations at no cost to the local tax base.
“This is something that we have been looking forward to since the end of 2006,” AVCS Superintendent Paul Savage said. “We are very proud that the community supported this project when it came up for a vote in 2007, and we are now one of only four school districts in New York State to have a facility like this.”
•Westport Chamber of Commerce officials honored Ben Sudduth as their 2011 Citizen of the Year in a ceremony on Nov. 10 at the Westport Historical Center.
“We always ask what our favorite part about Westport is, and the answer is always the same, the people, and tonight’s man of the year, Ben Sudduth, has exemplified outstanding qualities and acts of generosity,” Westport Chamber of Commerce Board member Molly Kasriels said.
Sudduth was honored by the New York state Senate for his countless accomplishments and outstanding contributions he has made to the state and the nation in January 2011. Now the community of Westport has come together to show its appreciation and acknowledge his accomplishments.
•Hundreds of people lined up to cross the new $76 million Lake Champlain Bridge Monday, Nov. 7 — bicyclists, walkers, runners and, finally, the motorists.
First they had to get past New York Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and a group of VIPs giving speeches and cutting a golden ribbon. Once the hour-long ceremony was over, around 3:30 p.m., the podium was removed, the white chairs stacked against the guard rail, and the crowds streamed across the bridge to Vermont.
It had been more than two years since the 1929 bridge closed here on Oct. 16, 2009. Commuters and visitors had to take a free ferry to get between Crown Point, N.Y. and Addison, Vt. when the service opened on Feb. 1, 2010. The loss of the old bridge was described multiple times as “an inconvenience.”
While politicians lamented the old bridge — remembered well by more than a dozen ’29ers who had been at the original Aug. 26, 1929 bridge opening — Nov. 7, 2011 was the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Lake Champlain.
•Autopsy reports confirmed Theresa Caito, 75, and her grandson, 7-year-old Henry D. Caito of Jay, died as a result of asphyxiation due to drowning.
Theresa was enroute to drop Henry off at school Wednesday morning, Nov. 30, when she lost control of her 2007 Volvo, flipped it on its roof and skidded into a stream that passes underneath the Carey Road and empties into the nearby East Branch of the Ausable River. The accident happened about half a mile up the Carey Road from the Stickney Bridge Road.
State police and emergency personnel began searching for the Caitos around 9:30 a.m., after Henry was reported missing from his first-grade class at the Au Sable Forks Elementary School.
•The autopsy of a Lake Placid man who was found dead Nov. 30 revealed that he was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In an autopsy performed by Dr. C. Francis Varga on Dec. 1, the results stated that Russ Beede, 63, of Lake Placid, had been killed by a gunshot wound that was from the gun he was carrying.
Beede was found on Wednesday, Nov. 30, located deceased on the lower slopes of Mount Jo in the Adirondak Loj area, about one-half mile from where he had parked his truck on Saturday, Nov. 26, when authorities believed he had set out for a hunting trip.
Essex County Coroner Robert Huestis was on-scene and authorized the removal of the body from the forest, which was then taken to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.
•Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Dec. 8 announced that $785 million has been awarded through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative, including $103.2 million for the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.
Out of the state’s 10 councils, the North Country received the second largest amount of money for economic development.
• The Essex County Board of Supervisors voted on a 2012 budget that eliminates 10 positions while raising the tax levy 10.54 percent.
The board met for almost four hours Monday, Dec. 12, where they passed a budget after several attempts to restore the positions that were eliminated.
“In my 20-plus years here, this has been by far the most difficult budget process,” Moriah Supervisor and budget liaison Thomas “Tom” Scozzafava said. “I have never been through a process where you take a vote on a budget then re-vote to go back and look at each detail.”
Board Chairman Randall “Randy” Douglas said that he felt the board worked hard on the budget, even though he disagreed with the final numbers.
•Essex and Clinton counties have received more than $2.7 million in federal funding as a result of damages caused by Tropical Storm Irene.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Information Officer Peter Lembessis released figures concerning the response to the late August storm as the Dec. 15 deadline for registering for recovery assistance passed this week.
In Essex County, there have been 570 individuals or organizations that have registered for disaster relief, with disbursements totaling $2,025,384.
•Brock Marvin knew that people gravitated to his story, but did not know how much.
Now he knows he is one of 12 high school soccer standouts that fans voted to be potentially honored with a national award.
Marvin was one of 12 finalists for the Inspireum Soccer Awards, which honor students “not because of their statistical performance, but because of their ability both on and off the soccer field to inspire teammates, classmates, families and communities,” according to the organization’s website.
“I understand more now why people say that this is inspiring and it makes a difference,” Marvin said about being voted into the final selection process for the award. “Going as far as I have and seeing the support that people have given me and voted online, it’s pretty nice.”
•Since the inception of “Survivor,” 22-year-old Willsboro native Sophie Clarke has always wanted to be on the final stage of the CBS television show.
On Dec. 18, Clarke not only realized that dream but also the dream of winning $1 million as the 23rd champion of the reality show.
Clarke, a Willsboro Central School graduate who starred for the Warriors on the field and court as well as in the classroom, was crowned champion during a three-hour season finale.
•An effort to save the jobs of 10 Essex County employees fell short Dec. 27.
Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow, who moved the resolution to re-instate the 9.6 positions affecting 10 employees, said that he was surprised more supervisors did not vote in favor of the measure.
“It would cost us money to get rid of these people,” Morrow said. ”I think this is pretty much done now unless we could figure out another way.”
• The town of Essex has set $80,000 aside for a potential legal fight with the owner of the Lewis Family Farm.
Essex Supervisor Sharon Boisen confirmed that the town had set aside the money “on the assessor's legal expense line to defend the town in property tax litigation,” adding that “the only case we currently have is with the Lewis Family Farm.”
Salim “Sandy” Lewis filed suit July 27 against the town, claiming that the assessments on two of the six parcels he owns were grossly high, even after seeking relief.
Lewis and his legal counsel, Martina Baillie, did file a pair of grievances about the assessments on two parcels of land: a field crops parcel of 1,111 acres assessed at $6,033,190; and a 5.2-acre family residence assessed at $412,900.
The grievances were both taken into consideration by the town’s zoning board of appeals, which cut the first parcel’s assessment to $4,811,112 while leaving the second parcel’s value the same.
•Friends of a Lewis teenager who died this past week gathered at the Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School the evening of Friday, Dec. 23 for a candlelight vigil.
Around 5:30 p.m., dozens of people held candles and shared memories of 16-year-old Ashley Grady, who was found dead in her home the morning of Dec. 21.
"It was an evening of tears, smiles and even laughter," said friend Brian Gay, who reported on the event for Denton Publications. "Stories were told by her peers of her 'doing what she wanted when she wanted.' Ashley was a girl that was known for her smile her laugh, and who could forget her sneeze? Everyone came to a consensus that she was a girl that would make anyone laugh and smile. She was also very welcoming to newcomers and made sure that everyone felt like they had a place. Her good mood and sense of humor was very infectious. This amazing young lady never will be forgotten."
•The Essex County Board of Supervisors outlined what a potential buyer of the Horace Nye Nursing Home here would have to do in order to complete a sale.
The board voted by a weighted tally of 2,786-1,130 to set the terms and conditions for the potential sale of the home after an executive session on the matter during the Dec. 27 meeting.
The board set a sale price at $4.25 million, with a 3.25 percent commission rate ($138,125).
“This would be a direct sale, not a lease,” County Attorney Daniel Manning said.
The resolution also stated that current residence would have the right to remain in the home for an indefinite amount of time. They added that current union employees would be guaranteed an offer to keep their positions at Horace Nye and that preference would be given to Essex County residence when it came to placement.
•Jay Supervisor Randall “Randy” Douglas wants to continue in the role of chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors.
Douglas, who has been Jay Supervisor for 10 years and chairman of the Essex County board for the past two, announced that he was going to seek a third term last week in an e-mail to his fellow members of the county board.
Douglas said that he had discussed the matter with North Elba Supervisor Robert “Roby” Politi, who has been serving as the vice-chairman and was agreeable and would still run as the vice chairman.
•The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Board of Commissioners continued to hear about the various details regarding the Adirondack Club and Resort at APA Headquarters Dec. 15 and 16.
The Agency continued its three consecutive monthly meeting cycle to deliberate project 2005-100, the Adirondack Club and Resort, a residential/resort project proposed for lands in the town of Tupper Lake. The Board began its review at the Nov. 17-18 meeting, and a decision is expected at the conclusion of the Jan. 19-20, 2012 meeting.