Long Lake, NY, August 12, 2011
US Senator’s Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand stopped by Long Lake Central School on Friday, August 12th as part of a whirlwind tour of the Adirondack North Country Region to meet with leaders from around the Adirondacks and to engage in conversation about jobs and the most vital issues facing Adirondack residents today.
On tap for the structured panel discussion included William Farber, Chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, Brian Towers, President of the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, Mark Brand, Superintendent of Indian Lake Central School, Kate Fish, Executive Director of ANCA, Garry Douglas, President and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, and Ann Melious, Director of Economic Development and Tourism for Hamilton County.
Kirsten Gillibrand arrived in the room first, shook everyone’s hand and made light of the fact that Chuck was still out in the hallway talking. Gillibrand opened up the discussion with her appreciation for everyone coming out to meet with them and cited the most important issue of the day: jobs.
Senator Schumer entered the room with Bill Farber and greeted everyone and remarked on the beauty of the area, the bustle of the town, the great weather and then the panel got down to business.
Bill Farber led the meeting, thanked Long Lake Central School for hosting the event then and called on the panelists to share their insights.
Brian Towers spoke first and gave both US Senators copies of the APRAP study. The report is the result of a two-year research effort by and for the communities of the Adirondack Park to provide a data-rich, factual baseline for discussion and planning of park issues at both the local and regional levels.
Brian Towers touched upon the human desire of people who want to live in the Adirondack region because of the natural beauty, water, quality of life, small schools, but the lack of jobs has bled the region dry. He listed several ideas that included attracting innovative thinkers in rural development to the region, and the need to create and develop loan funds to support infrastructure. Other ideas included: the possibility of carbon credits, developing family friendly jobs focusing on biomass and to foster a way to encourage and reward private investment.
Mark Brand, about the schools in the immediate Hamilton County area. He emphasized the answer is not to consolidate the schools, but to create opportunities out of challenges. Model the regional school districts as the Newcomb, NY school district has done, and to seek federal help to revise immigration laws to make it easier for smaller communities and public schools to host foreign students.
Kate Fish spoke about the Common Ground Alliance’s successful meeting held in July (in Long Lake at Mt. Sabattis) which is a cross-section of people in the Adirondacks with differing views. This year’s event the Common Ground participants were asked to rank potential workable ways to model a future for park residents and the overall consensus was to work on the model for the Sustainable Life, but for that to succeed it was vital to have broadband available in the region.
Garry Douglas outlined the potential revitalization of the historical train corridor route between Utica and Lake Placid with an emphasis on connecting to Tupper Lake. Douglas also mentioned the possibility of developing it as a recreational corridor, clarifying that trains and a viable recreation corridor for hiking, biking and snowmobiling would not be exclusive of the other.
Both Kate Fish and Garry Douglas touched upon the importance of broadband to the region and the topic elicited a big reaction and much interest from both Schumer and Gillibrand. The panel discussion veered off course so the senators could clarify the needs of the area. Where broadband is available now? Where wireless is available and if one was more viable to the region than the other depending on the area it was serving.
In Long Lake cell phone service is available from AT&T only and not Verizon.
The broadband discussion emphasized the need for money to serve the last mile of broadband. The hardest challenge is the connection from a main hub to the local residents. Gillibrand is working on a farm bill and discussion on the agricultural committee is the consideration to put a requirement similar to the original telephone bill to make broadband service available and mandatory all across the country.
Ann Melious from Hamilton County, NY spoke about the effort by the county to promote and attract younger families with children to move to the region. Hamilton County is starting a campaign to tap into what is most attractive about our area to live including: safety, scenery, sense of community, small schools and to encourage people to work from home. She sought support from the senators to consider the possibility of Hamilton County being part of a pilot program and model for rural communities across the nation.
Schumer and Gillibrand wanted to clarify that their job encompasses everything from big problems to small and they are here to serve the needs for everyone in New York State. Everyone is encouraged to contact their office with their thoughts, concerns or ideas. Schumer mentioned that the elimination of earmarks was tough on rural economies and directly effects those in the Adirondacks. “Getting rid of earmarks makes our job harder.”
Time was short, the itinerary was tight and the Senators took some photos with guests at Long Lake Central School. Once photo ops were completed they continued on their North Country Tour.
On, November 14, 2009 John Collins was awarded the honorable achievement, the “Howard Zahniser” Award by the organization “Protect the Adirondacks” He received this award for his efforts, courage, education and passion to protect the Adirondack Park & Catskill Park. I was asked to write something about his time teaching at Long Lake Central School and I thank all of you who generously shared some very funny memories and the following is a compilation of insights many friends shared, so I thank you. FYI Howard Zahniser was the author of the federal Wilderness Act of 1964. While there are obviously many different sides to the preservation of the Adirondack Park and the efforts to protect it, I was honored to be asked to write something for the program because Mr. C was a very important influence on my own personal history (and on many of my fellow facebook friends)
The following appeared in the program…
He made an indelible impression on the students passing through his classroom. He expected participation, and was often met with resistance, but he never gave up. He went out of his way to encourage those who didn’t embrace traditional modes of learning for hard labor, hammering nails, reading, physical exertion, or memorizing poetry.
He wore the part well, with a macramé belt, short sleeve print shirt and a cotton tie with a flat end, and he was often heard muttering, “don’t touch my tie.” He made us memorize “El Dorado,” “The Road Not Taken,” and all of the state capitals. His temper was infamous and his red-faced, boiling demeanor often exploded trying to control the mischievous antics of rambunctious ten-year olds. Fearful forth graders deliberately sabotaged their grades in an attempt to avoid the inevitable jump to fifth after hearing the bellows of indignation booming down the second floor corridor.
Mr. Collins exposed students to culture through senior trips to Paris and London. He advised the Student Council and National Honor Society. He introduced students to Albany through the Student Senate Policy forum. He stashed cookies in his desk drawer, and pretended not to notice when cookie crumbs trickled down the face of guilty students. His demonstrated finesse by teaching politeness, differentiating between the words “can and may” “Can I go to the bathroom?” “I don’t know, can you?”
He initiated our first relationship with the great outdoors by exposing students to their own backyard, the Adirondacks. There were the mandatory hikes with sixth grade teacher and partner-in-crime, Gary Baker. Yearly trips up Chimney Mountain to explore caves, steep terrain up to Blue Mountain, pushing students up Mt. Marcy, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing into Sargeant’s Ponds and the ultimate rite of passage: the fifth grade overnight. Destinations varied year to year… Kelly’s Point or Marcy Dam.
Mr. Collins, or Mr. C as he was affectionately known, encouraged kids who had never been into the wild to appreciate the natural experience. Rain or shine there were hikes. He tolerated whining, scraped knees, mud, inappropriate shoes, and general disinterest, able to turn apathy into curiosity. His infamous side trips often questioned by inquisitive young minds asking, “are we lost?” His confident response as branches hit his torso and neck, “we’re bushwhacking!” Relief etched on his face as soon as the lean-to appeared. He and wife Ellen always packed their tent to maintain peace and privacy. From his tent he would occasionally beckon “go to bed!” while students giggled and flicked flashlights on and off, amazed how quiet the woods actually were.
His laugh, his floppy hair, his passion and competitive game of kickball carried us through and made our brains work, for that we forgive his impatience and thank him for instilling us with fever for knowledge and an appreciation for what we may have ignored had he not been there to open the door.
A collective history was compiled by the alumni of Long Lake Central School through Facebook. Memories from: Roberta Sutton McKinney, Jan Hunt, Maureen Rayome Turcotte, Scott Wight, Lynn Wight Stonier, Seth Baker, Melanie Boudreau Marcone, Michael Marcone and Alexandra Verner Roalsvig.