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Local News

Local Veterans Day Observance to be held Monday

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

The local Veterans Day observance will be held this Monday, November 11, 11 a.m., at the Memorial Arch, in the Gouverneur Village Park. The Gouverneur community is invited to join in paying tribute to the military veterans of this great country. A luncheon will follow at the James Maloy American Legion Post No. 65 at about noon.

Unofficial election results released

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

The Gouverneur Community Center served as Gouverneur’s polling place during the 2019 General Election. For the first time, voters used a stylus to sign their name on an electronic pollbook before casting their ballots. Pictured, voter waits to receive a ballot. (Curran Wade photo)

The Gouverneur Community Center served as Gouverneur’s polling place during the 2019 General Election. For the first time, voters used a stylus to sign their name on an electronic pollbook before casting their ballots. Pictured, voter waits to receive a ballot. (Curran Wade photo)

The unofficial election results came in after the polls closed at 9 p.m., and were released as follows by the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections:

In the contest for Village of Gouverneur Mayor, incumbent Ronald P. McDougall pulled away with the lead, receiving a total of 266 votes (125 Democratic, 141 Republican) over People’s Choice Candidate George Harder, who received 215 votes.

Village of Gouverneur Mayor Ron McDougall (right) stands with Village of Gouverneur Trustees (from left) Rick Wood and Shelly Simons-Washburn at the campaign watch party, held at the Casablanca Restaurant in Gouverneur on Tuesday, November 5. All sought re-election to their current elected seats. (photo provided)

Village of Gouverneur Mayor Ron McDougall (right) stands with Village of Gouverneur Trustees (from left) Rick Wood and Shelly Simons-Washburn at the campaign watch party, held at the Casablanca Restaurant in Gouverneur on Tuesday, November 5. All sought re-election to their current elected seats. (photo provided)

The contested race for two trustees to fill seats on the Village of Gouverneur Board of Trustees, the top vote-getter was incumbent Shelly Simons-Washburn with 375 votes (168 Democratic, 207 Republican), followed by incumbent Richard J. “Rick” Wood with 360 votes (157 Democratic, 203 Republican), and People’s Choice Candidate Scott Hudson with 165 votes. There were two write-in votes.

In the Town of Gouverneur, voters re-elected David L. Spilman, Jr. as Town of Gouverneur Supervisor. As the sole candidate, he received 625 votes (231 Democratic, 394 Republican). Voters also re-elected Stanley H. Young, Jr. as Town Justice with 629 votes (224 Democratic, 405 Republican). In the contested election for two councilpersons to fill seats on the Gouverneur Town Council, the top vote-getter was Jay L. Bowhall with 596 votes (225 Democratic, 371 Republican votes), followed by incumbent Jaimee McQuade with 485 votes (194 Democratic, 291 Republican), and Steven Jackson with 171 votes. There was one write-in vote cast.

Town of Gouverneur Supervisor David Spilman, Jr. stands with Town of Gouverneur Councilwoman Jaimee McQuade at the campaign watch party on Tuesday, November 5 at the Casablanca Restaurant in Gouverneur. Both sought re-election to their current elected seats in the 2019 General Election. (photo provided)

Town of Gouverneur Supervisor David Spilman, Jr. stands with Town of Gouverneur Councilwoman Jaimee McQuade at the campaign watch party on Tuesday, November 5 at the Casablanca Restaurant in Gouverneur. Both sought re-election to their current elected seats in the 2019 General Election. (photo provided)

In the Town of Fowler, voters elected Ricky W. Newvine as the new Town of Fowler Supervisor. The sole candidate, he received 314 votes (96 Democratic, 218 Republican). In the contested election for Fowler Town Clerk, Tami L. Gale (currently appointed to the position) received the most votes (283) over Democratic challenger Melissa M. Tuttle (64 votes).

Randy Durham was re-elected to the position of the Town of Fowler Highway Superintendent with 290 votes (89 Democratic, 188 Republican, 13 Conservative). There also were two write-in votes cast. Voters also elected Phyllis M. Shaw (151 votes) and Kathleen M. Besaw (269 votes) to the two open assessor positions. As well, voters elected Jeffery A. Andrews (280 votes) and Karen M. Simmons (275 votes) to the open Town of Fowler Council seats.

In the Town of DeKalb, voters re-elected John M. Frary as Town of DeKalb Supervisor with 314 votes (135 Democratic, 179 Republican), and Barbara Creazzo as Town of DeKalb Clerk with 264 votes. Town of DeKalb voters elected Wayne Holland as the new Town of DeKalb Highway Superintendent with 285 votes (255 Democratic, 30 DIR). In the contested election to fill two seats on the Town of DeKalb Council, the top vote-getter was political newcomer Andrew Fenton with 246 votes (210 Democratic, 36 NEW), followed by Constance J. Elen with 194 votes (160 Republican, 22 Conservative, 12 Independent), and incumbent Rae Ann Davis with 165 votes on the Democratic line.

In the Town of Clifton, voters elected John G. Dragun as Clifton Town Justice with 112 votes (56 Republican, 56 Democratic). There were two write-in votes. In the uncontested race for the two seats on the Town of Clifton Council, John Russell received the most votes (100), followed by Julia Lanphear (94 votes). There were also four write-in votes.

In the Town of DePeyster, Brian Hicks was the top vote-getter for Town of DePeyster Justice. There were 39 write-in votes cast. In the uncontested election to fill two seats on the Town of DePeyster Council, Daniel Chamber was the top vote-getter with 103 votes (22 Democratic, 81 Republican), followed by Leslie Hargrave with 86 votes on the Republican line. There were seven write-in votes cast.

In the Town of Edwards, Frederick J. Finley was re-elected as Town of Edwards Justice with 96 votes (77 Democratic, 19 Open Government). Michele D. Robillard (102 votes) and Jeffery D. Shippee (87 votes) were re-elected to their seats on the Town of Edwards Council.

In the Town of Fine, voters cast their ballots to fill two empty seats on the Town of Fine Council. The top vote-getter was Carlton Cheyenne Kerr (149 votes), followed by Jeremy E. Thompson (133 votes). There were also eight write-in votes cast.

In the Town of Hammond, voters cast their ballots for Theodore P. Elk (138 votes) and James C. Pitcher (161 votes) to fill two seats on the Town of Hammond Council.

In the Town of Hermon, Michael J. Perry, Sr. was elected Town of Hermon Supervisor with 201 votes on the Democratic line. In the contested race for Town of Hermon Clerk, Karen A. Wayering received the most votes (186; 181 Republican, 5 GRA) over Democratic challenger Jessica M. Love with 94 votes (90 Democratic, 4 SUN). The contested election for Town of Hermon Highway Superintendent, there was a tie. Robert E. Reed (DEM, FUL) and Brian Brunet (REP, CON) both received 145 votes. In the contested race for Hermon Town Justice, the top vote-getter was Heather Robinson Boyce with 139 votes on the Democratic line over Chris Valez with 136 votes on the Republican line. In the uncontested race to fill the two seats on the Town of Hermon Council, voters cast their ballots for Bernard F. Reed, Jr. (178 votes) and John Reed (177 votes).

In the Town of Macomb, voters elected Steve Burke as the Town of Macomb Supervisor with 153 votes (106 Democratic, 47 Independent). There was one write-in vote cast. In the uncontested race for Town of Macomb Clerk, incumbent Jessyca Cardinell was re-elected to the position with 190 votes on the Republican line. There were three write-in votes cast. In the contested race for Town of Macomb Highway Superintendent, the top vote-getter was Bill Law with 137 votes (132 Republican, 5 BET), followed by John Simmons with 59 votes (50 Democratic, 9 Independent), Donald L. Bayne, Jr. (29 votes), and Aaron Cardinell (12 votes). There also were four write-in votes cast. In the contested race for the two open Town of Macomb Council seats, the top vote-getter was Richard L. Youngs (153 votes), followed by Bret Martin (134 votes), and Shawn Clark (109 votes).

In the Town of Morristown, James T. Phillips, Jr. pulled ahead in the contested election for Morristown Town Justice with 227 votes (174 Republican, 28 Conservative, 25 Independent) over Arik G. Turner who received 221 votes. There was also one write-in vote. In the race to fill two seats on the Town of Morristown Council, the top vote-getters were Republican candidates David VanArnam (324 votes) and Gary B. Turner (279 votes), over Conservative candidate Ethyn Moquin (210 votes).

In the Town of Pitcairn, the top vote-getter in the Supervisor race was Clyde W. Sam Frank, Jr. with 106 votes on the Republican line over Democratic challenger Nancy J. McIntosh’s 69 votes. In the uncontested race for Town of Pitcairn Clerk, Rebecca J. Moore received 156 votes on the Republican line. In the contested race for Town of Pitcairn Highway Superintendent, the top vote-getter was Jerry McIntosh with 99 votes on the Democratic line, followed by Rod Moore with 66 votes. Lawrence Evans (98 votes) and Ann M. Hall (103 votes) were elected to fill the two Town of Pitcairn Council seats. In the uncontested race for Pitcairn Town Justice, the sole candidate Rick Bearor received 153 votes on the Republican line.

In the Town of Rossie, Harry E. Turnbull was re-elected as Town of Rossie Supervisor with 68 votes on the Republican line. Lynn A. DeCondo was re-elected as Town of Rossie Clerk with 68 votes on the Republican line. Voters cast their ballots for Alwin H. Fleming for Town of Rossie Superintendent of Highways. There was one write-in vote cast. In the uncontested race for the two open Town of Rossie Council seats, voters cast their ballots for Michael Moroz (42 votes) and James T. Mandigo (44 votes). There were two write-in votes cast.

In the Town of Russell, voters cast their ballots to decide who would become Town of Russell Supervisor. The top vote-getter was Timothy White with 276 votes (234 Republican, 26 Conservative, 16 Independent), followed by Michael Perry with 211 votes (199 Democratic, 12 PRO). Voters re-elected Tess Eells as Town of Russell Clerk with 454 votes (175 Democratic, 279 Republican). In the contested race for Town of Russell Highway Superintendent, Larry White pulled ahead with 279 votes (266 Democratic, 13 PRO), followed by Franklin H. Mackin III with 219 votes (210 Republican, 9 ROA). In the uncontested race to fill two seats for Town of Russell Council, the top vote-getter was Charles Kerr with 373 votes (180 Democratic, 193 Republican), followed by Tomorrah Nezezon Averill with 283 votes (263 Democratic, 20 PRO). There was one write-in vote cast.

In the Village of Rensselaer Falls, voters re-elected Michael Hammond as mayor with 33 votes on the Democratic line. The two seats on the Village of Rensselaer Falls Board of Trustees will be filled by Jolene LaSiege (31 votes) and James Blackburn (29 votes).

St. Lawrence County voters also cast their ballots for a new county clerk. The top vote-getter was Sandy Santamoor, current Deputy County Clerk, with 10,282 votes (8,355 Republican, 1,227 Conservative, 700 Independent) over her Democratic opponent Janet Otto Cassada who received 6,472 votes (5,928 Democratic, 544 WOR).

The sole candidate for St. Lawrence County Sheriff was Brooks J. Bigwarfe, who received 14,014 votes (10,304 Republican, 1,809 Conservative, and 1,901 Independent). He will replace current St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells of Gouverneur who is set to retire at the year’s end. There were 47 write-in ballots cast.

St. Lawrence County voters also cast their ballots for four State Supreme Court Justice (4th Judicial District) candidates. The top vote-getter was James E. Walsh with 10,156 votes, followed by Dianne N. Freestone with 9,159 votes, Rebecca A. Slezak with 9,020 votes, Michael R. Cuevas with 8,957 votes, Julie A. Garcia with 7,202 votes, and Michael Violando with 5,787 votes.

These election results are unofficial, and do not include absentee ballots. To see complete results, visit stlawco.org.

Gouverneur community pauses to remember life, legacy of longtime youth advocate

Dan McClelland

The dedication of a Jane Magnolia Tree in memory of longtime youth advocate, Laurie Allen, drew many local residents to the Gouverneur Community Center to remember Allen’s life and legacy. Pictured: Gouverneur Mayor Ronald McDougall and Donna Sawyer, Laurie Allen’s best friend, hold the dedication plaque behind the magnolia tree. They are surrounded by other community members, family members, friends, and local dignitaries (including Town of Gouverneur Supervisor Dave Spilman, Jr., Town of Gouverneur Deputy Supervisor Eldon Conklin, Village of Gouverneur Clerk/Treasurer Barbara Finnie, Village of Gouverneur Chief of Police Laurina Greenhill). (Rachel Hunter photo)

The dedication of a Jane Magnolia Tree in memory of longtime youth advocate, Laurie Allen, drew many local residents to the Gouverneur Community Center to remember Allen’s life and legacy. Pictured: Gouverneur Mayor Ronald McDougall and Donna Sawyer, Laurie Allen’s best friend, hold the dedication plaque behind the magnolia tree. They are surrounded by other community members, family members, friends, and local dignitaries (including Town of Gouverneur Supervisor Dave Spilman, Jr., Town of Gouverneur Deputy Supervisor Eldon Conklin, Village of Gouverneur Clerk/Treasurer Barbara Finnie, Village of Gouverneur Chief of Police Laurina Greenhill). (Rachel Hunter photo)

by Rachel Hunter

Looking to the future, Gouverneur Mayor Ron McDougall encourages Laurie Allen’s grandchildren – Laurie Ruth Allen and Harley Quinn Allen – to stand by the Jane Magnolia tree that was dedicated last Saturday, November 2 in front of the Gouverneur Community Center. (Rachel Hunter photo)

Looking to the future, Gouverneur Mayor Ron McDougall encourages Laurie Allen’s grandchildren – Laurie Ruth Allen and Harley Quinn Allen – to stand by the Jane Magnolia tree that was dedicated last Saturday, November 2 in front of the Gouverneur Community Center. (Rachel Hunter photo)

A magnolia tree, planted at the Gouverneur Community Center, was dedicated in memory of Laurie Allen on Saturday, November 2. A crowd of over 25 persons attended the special dedication ceremony. Local dignitaries in attendance included Village of Gouverneur Mayor Ronald McDougall, Village of Gouverneur Clerk/Treasurer Barbara Finnie, Village of Gouverneur Chief of Police Laurina Greenhill, Town of Gouverneur Supervisor David Spilman, Jr. and Town of Gouverneur Deputy Supervisor Eldon Conklin.

The ceremony was a great celebration of the life and legacy of the late Laurie Allen, a longtime youth advocate in the Gouverneur area. Mrs. Allen passed away after battling against cancer on May 14, 2015. It was Dede Scozzafava at the 2015 Gouverneur Breast Cancer Walk who first suggested that something should be done in Laurie's memory, and was joined in the effort by Laurie's friend, Donna Sawyer, and Gouverneur Recreation Director Casey Canell.

Laurie accomplished much in her years as youth advocate, serving as a member of the Gouverneur Recreation Committee and chairperson for the St. Lawrence County Youth Advisory Board. She also volunteered at St. James School for 25 years teaching art, and was responsible for creating the scenery for all the plays and shows.

Mrs. Allen and her son Corey were responsible for starting indoor roller hockey rink at the old Great American store in the former Ames plaza, along with the help of Casey Canell (current Gouverneur Recreation Director) and the Gouverneur Recreation Committee.

She also brought children from the Gouverneur Recreation Center to the family home on California Road to enjoy hiking on the nature trails and summertime barbecues.

Laurie Allen – along with her husband Darrell and their three sons Corey, Jason and Justin – was also instrumental in clearing the land (with the help of equipment from Zinc Corporation of America) for what is now the current Riverview Park in Gouverneur, including the land where the Gouverneur Community Center now is.

The dedication service commenced at about 12 p.m. (noon) in front of the Gouverneur Community Center. All were invited to surround the magnolia tree that was recently planted on the left side of the sidewalk entrance into the community center. Mrs. Sawyer had hung a red ornament the one of the magnolia tree’s branches which drew much attention during the ceremony. The idea came from Casey and Stacey Canell of Gouverneur as the dedication ceremony was being organized. The Jane Magnolia tree offers vibrant pink blooms and a longer season of color, and is in a league of its own when it comes to the Magnolia family. And because it blooms later than most varieties, it’s unaffected by the late spring frosts that cause other Magnolia blooms to fall. The tree will grow to be 10- to 15-feet tall, and 5-10-feet wide. It is a cold hardy variety down to -20 degrees.

At noon, Village of Gouverneur Mayor Ronald McDougall welcomed all those in attendance. “As many people do in this community and throughout Northern New York, (Laurie Allen) battled cancer, and she put up one heck of a fight,” he said. “There’s no question about that. We will never forget her… She touched a lot of lives in this community for a long time through the Recreation Department. We have Riverview Park as an outcome of that.”

A plaque, by Harland Brown of Brown’s Jewelry Store in Gouverneur, was presented and ready by Mayor McDougall as follows: “The Jane Magnolia Tree given in loving memory of Laurie Allen for her many contributions to the Gouverneur Recreation Program on this day, November 2, 2019.”

Mayor McDougall then gave the floor to Town of Gouverneur Supervisor Dave Spilman, Jr. to say a few words: “If you folks look left and right, this is what she helped start… It serves thousands of people each year. So, this is wonderful.”

Town of Gouverneur Deputy Supervisor Eldon Conklin then said the following: “I can’t remember her not being there, and involved in the Recreation Committee. Also, when we were having problems getting the Recreation Center set up at the fairgrounds, she was there always.”

“She was always supportive, and definitely a visionary,” Mayor McDougall said.

In the spring of 2020, Supervisor Spilman announced that the plan is to move the magnolia tree to the right of the Gouverneur Community Center sign by State Highway 58 in Gouverneur. “The tree is actually going to be planted by the entrance, because it is going to grow a bit too big for where it is now,” Supervisor Spilman said.

Meanwhile, it will be protected by the Gouverneur Community Center in the winter months.

“If you see the pictures, in a few years it won’t work here… It will be moved out there where more people can see it, but the plaque will be put in a prominent position in the Gouverneur Community Center. Anyone who uses the facility will remember Laurie.”

Laurie Allen’s best friend and co-organizer of the dedication ceremony, Donna Sawyer, then invited the family to say a few words. Much appreciation was extended for all the work that went into organizing the event.

“The Recreation Center, the Recreation Department was very important to Laurie,” Mrs. Sawyer said. “I wasn’t involved in that, but we were best friends. We did a lot together. We raised our kids together. We tore our kitchens apart together. We did a lot of things together – road trips and things of that nature. She epitomized grace and courage, and we miss her.”

Mrs. Sawyer then read a letter from Gouverneur Recreation Director Casey Canell was read as follows: “Today is a day to reflect on the memory of one of the biggest advocates for our Recreation Department… Laurie Allen. Laurie was active in the Gouverneur Youth Commission where she served as president when the Gouverneur Recreation Department was established more than 25 years ago. She served as a liaison and representative for Gouverneur on the St. Lawrence County Youth Bureau Advisory Board for many years. Laurie volunteered countless hours and was instrumental in the development of year-round programming for the Recreation Department.

“Laurie’s presence is greatly missed! She did so many things behind the scene people don’t realize, and she never wanted recognition. However, I find it so appropriate that this tree celebrates her memory for all the beautiful things she did to enrich the lives of our youth throughout the years. In her honor, the tree and memorial plaque will be a reminder of Laurie’s influence and all that she has done for our community.

“Dear Laurie, my friend and confidant… your warm smile, enthusiasm and encouragement are truly missed. We are all more blessed because of your dedication and impact on our community. This moment is for you… Thank you for everything!”

Mrs. Sawyer then told the crowd gathered that it was Laurie Allen who got Director Canell started with the Gouverneur Recreation Department in a part-time capacity years ago. “Casey is just Laurie in that the Gouverneur Recreation Department was so important to Laurie,” she said. “I want to thank everyone for coming today.”

Mayor McDougall then closed the ceremony with the following: “We are remembering the past, but we should look to the future.” Attention was then directed to Laurie’s young grandchildren, Laurie Ruth Allen and Harley Quinn Allen, who paused with the dedication plaque by the magnolia tree. Great applause sounded.

“I don’t know if any of you know how many children pass through the Gouverneur Recreation Center. We get (Director Canell’s) reports every month at the town and the village. Last month, it was 1,600 children in his different programs. The smallest I have ever seen is 800 in a month. That is usually in the summer when he is doing his summer youth program. Just to give you an idea of how far this has gone, and how Laurie helped get this all to happen. It’s wonderful.”

After a few more comments, Mrs. Sawyer said the following: “She was definitely a force to reckoned with when it came to the Recreation Department.”

The ceremony continued for several moments as those gathered remembered the life and legacy of Laurie Allen.

Second Annual Gouverneur Trunk or Treat to be held Oct. 25

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

The Second Annual Gouverneur Trunk or Treat, sponsored by the Community Health Center of the North Country and Seaway Valley Prevention Council, in partnership with the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair Association and Gouverneur Central School District, will be held on Friday, October 25, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Gouverneur Fairgrounds.

Motorists are asked to park in the Gouverneur Central lot on E. Barney St. Costumed children will then make their way through the fairgrounds entrance between the parking lot and the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair office. They will then walk down the Gouverneur Fair Midway, stopping at each vehicle with decorated trunks and receive their treats.

This is a free community event, and all are invited to attend.

Seaway Valley Prevention Council and the Community Health Center of the North Country hope that the Gouverneur Trunk or Treat will be a fun, family-friendly way to get the word out about what services are available for people dealing with substance use issues.

The idea originated with the Seaway Valley Prevention Council who in partnership with the Massena Drug-Free Community Coalition held a successful Trunk or Treat at Massena High School in 2017, drawing in hundreds of costumed children. Piggybacking on this rousing success while seeking a fun, engaging way to spread the word in the local community about the services available to those with substance use issues, SVPC and CHCNC thought the best way would be to bring a Trunk or Treat event to Gouverneur in 2018. The inaugural event was a rousing success with hundreds of costumed youth participating.

Recalling the fun, Gouverneur-area families are already anticipating this year's event. The Second Annual Gouverneur Trunk or Treat has been announced at the Village of Gouverneur Board of Trustees meetings and the Town of Gouverneur Council meetings the past couple months. Town of Gouverneur Supervisor David Spilman, Jr. said he gave out over 1,500 pieces of candy last year, and is hoping to distribute double that number this year. All are encouraged to check out all of the decorated trunks while at the Gouverneur Fairgrounds.

The Second Annual Gouverneur Trunk or Treat is still looking for individuals, community organizations, and businesses to decorate a trunk and hand out treats on Friday, October 25. Organizers also encourage wellness-focused agencies to join, distributing healthy alternatives to candy and other items of interest to the costume youngsters in attendance. As of press time on Tuesday, there were 41 trunks registered. For more info or to register a trunk, call Ray Babowicz of the Community Health Center of the North Country at 315-386-1156 ext. 8311, or call SVPC at (315) 713-4861 or email jbrock@svpc.net.

The Second Annual Gouverneur Trunk or Treat will be handicap accessible, allowing it to be a safe, secure alternative to trick or treating in the local community for people of all abilities. Make plans to join the free, family-friendly fun on October 25, 5:30 to 7:30 at the Gouverneur Fairgrounds.

Gouverneur Fire Department holds open house

Dan McClelland

Gouverneur firefighters lined up in front of one of their trucks available for everyone to check out at the annual GFD open house event. From left: Dale Johnson, Dennis Cornelius, Vinny Ferry, Dorwin Gore, Barry Gale, Jordan Ritz and Cody Hadfield. (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

Gouverneur firefighters lined up in front of one of their trucks available for everyone to check out at the annual GFD open house event. From left: Dale Johnson, Dennis Cornelius, Vinny Ferry, Dorwin Gore, Barry Gale, Jordan Ritz and Cody Hadfield. (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

by Jessyca Cardinell

The Gouverneur Fire Department hosted its annual open house on the afternoon of Saturday, October 12 at its fire station, located on US Highway 11 in Gouverneur. This event is a great opportunity for people of the community and those surrounding to come and see all that the department has to offer.

The Gouverneur Fire Department has gone above and beyond for many years to ensure that the community of Gouverneur, as well as those surrounding are safe in all kinds of emergencies including accidents and fires.

Everyone was able to come and check out all the extensive equipment the Gouverneur Fire Department has been blessed to obtain through funding and grants.

London Wood, 5, is all smiles of excitement as she gets to take a look around inside one of Gouverneur Fire Department's fire trucks with her family at the annual GFD Open House. (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

London Wood, 5, is all smiles of excitement as she gets to take a look around inside one of Gouverneur Fire Department's fire trucks with her family at the annual GFD Open House. (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

There were interactive demonstrations, including how to properly use a fire extinguisher. Everyone was welcomed to climb inside the big trucks and take a look over everything inside and get the feel for what the inside is like. This was a huge hit with the youngsters attending the event.

The New York State Police had a car and trooper available for questions, and all those in attendance were able to check out the inside of the patrol car.

The St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department was available with one of their patrol vehicles as well as their free service they offer doing ID cards for children. These identification cards help in case a child is ever lost or abducted. They will now be in a system that makes finding them an easier process.

There were a variety of delicious foods to eat, including hearty chili made by Casablanca Restaurant in Gouverneur. Many of the GFD firefighters helped with barbequing foods and serving residents and those attending the event.

Great job Gouverneur Fire Department for putting together this wonderful event for those you serve and protect.

Cats win 54-0; first time under lights

Dan McClelland

by Dick Sterling

The Gouverneur Wildcat football team has played their home games on the field at the Gouverneur Fairgrounds for generations. There have been plenty of memorable games and players over the years. But last week the Wildcat varsity football team did something that no other team has ever done… they treated their fans to a game under the lights.

Friday Night Lights has become a theme across America. That’s when most high school football teams play their games. Most stadiums now have lights and fancy turf fields. But Frank LaFalce Field, in Gouverneur, has always featured Saturday afternoon contests… that is until last week, when portable lights were brought to town and surrounded the field. Fans poured into the facility… parking spaces were hard to find… the weather cooperated and so did the football team. Gouverneur stretched its regular season winning streak to 27 straight, clinched their fourth straight Northern Athletic Conference title, and improved to 6-0 this season as they pummeled the Massena Red Raiders 54-0.

The Wildcats, currently ranked eighth in the New York State Sportswriters Association Class C poll, took less than 20 seconds to find the scoreboard against the Red Raiders and never looked back, Gouverneur will close out the regular season tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon at Canton. In two weeks, the Cats will host the Section 10 Class C championship game against the winner of next week’s game between Ogdensburg and St. Lawrence Central.

The Wildcats received the opening kickoff and Cayden Stowell fielded the kick just inside his own 20-yard-line and returned the kick 81 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion brought the score to 8-0 with just a few seconds erased from the clock.

Moments later the Wildcat defense, which has played outstanding football for the entire season, came up big again as they tackled a Massena player in the end zone for a safety, making the score 10-0. Massena kicked off and sophomore Kyle Savage controlled the kick and returned it 46 yards for another kickoff return touchdown. The conversion attempt failed and with 6:30 to play in the quarter the Cats held a 16-0 advantage.

On their next offensive possession, Mitch Tyler took a handoff from Quarterback Caleb Farr and ran 18 yards to the endzone. The conversion attempt was good and the Cats held a 24-0 advantage at the end of the opening quarter.

Gouverneur scored the only points in the second quarter as Farr scored on a short run. The conversion attempt was good and the Cats held a 32-0 lead at the half.

There was only one score in the third quarter. Joseph Cummings ran one in from 15 yards out with 7:05 to play in the third quarter to make the score 40-0 after another successful two-point conversion.

The Wildcat scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Savage scored on a 25-yard run and Jared Wilson broke free for a 70-yard touchdown run. Both conversion kicks split the uprights to bring the final scored to 54-0.

Town of Gouverneur keeps tax rate hike under tax cap

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

Town of Gouverneur taxpayers will see a slight increase in the tax rate in 2020, according to the tentative town budget. The tax rate will be $3.80 per $1,000 assessed value for property owners in the Town of Gouverneur and $3.10 per $1,000 assessed value for property owners in the Village of Gouverneur. Town of Gouverneur Supervisor Dave Spilman, Jr. said that this increase is under the two percent tax cap.

The following tentative budget was released at the Oct. 8 town board meeting.

The $2,216,616 budget calls for $715,079 to be raised by tax. This includes $441,964 (general fund), $212,345 (town highway fund), and $60,770.

The following preliminary 2020 Town of Gouverneur salary schedule was released as well: Supervisor ($10,506), Deputy Supervisor ($550), Bookkeeper ($25,300), Town Councilmen ($13,028 total/$3,257 per councilman), Town Clerk ($32,000), Deputy Town Clerk ($11,700/975 hours at $12 per hour), Town Justices ($40,126 total/$20,063 per town justice), Court Clerk(2) ($58,240/$29,120/ 40-hour week at $14 per hour), Assessor ($15,000), Data Clerk ($4,000), Attorney ($5,000), Cleaning Service ($3,120), Highway Superintendent ($55,725), Historian ($500), Highway Employees ($21.69 per hour), Code Enforcement ($12,190), Code Enforcement – Shared Services ($12,000), Planning/Zoning Secretary ($600), Clerical – Board of Review ($600), Board of Review (5) ($50 per meeting attended), and Dog Control ($9,850 ($5,000 DCO/$4,850 Pound).

The Town of Gouverneur also held a public hearing on Local Law No. 2 of 2019, allowing for an override of the tax cap. The local law was later adopted by the town board during regular session.

The public hearing for the 2020 budget will be held on Thursday, November 7, 6 p.m., in the town offices building.

St. James School welcomes family support coordinator

Dan McClelland

Family Support Coordinator Karley Wake (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

Family Support Coordinator Karley Wake (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

by Jessyca Cardinell

St. James Catholic School recently welcomed a new position into its staff, as it recently added a family support coordinator.

Karley Wake began her position at St. James along with St. Mary’s in Canton. She is alternating between the two schools, offering a great new opportunity for families to have extra support.

Mrs. Wake, who is originally from Harrisville and recently moved back to the area, has two children including a daughter who is in second grade at St. James.

“My hope is to help strengthen families and offer support for families and help them navigate the different systems. This includes the St. James Parish as well as the greater Gouverneur community. School is a huge part of a child’s social life and it’s important for families to be involved in what their children are doing,” said Mrs. Wake, who recently sent a survey home for families to fill in out in hopes of being able to help their specific needs and get to know them each individually a little better.

Mrs. Wake will be working on family-focused events to bring families out and together. The preschoolers will be able to sign books out in the month of October, as they have previously not been able to do so. For Thanksgiving Mrs. Wake is working on organizing a dinner for the families of the school to enjoy together. There will be a Family Book Club which the community as a whole will be able to be involved in.

“In October we will have a Parent’s Night Out event, which is an opportunity for parents to have child care provided so they can enjoy a date night together. For single parents this could mean a self care night,” said Mrs. Wake, excited for the opportunity this will provide parents.

Mrs. Wake has extensive experience and educational background, as she received her bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University and her Master’s Degree from The University of Kentucky.

She previously worked as a vocational counselor at Credo in Watertown and prior to that as Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation in Ohio.

“I saw an ad listed on Indeed for this position and I was on the fence about applying for it because I wasn’t sure I was ready to go to work with a small child at home. I put in my application just before the deadline and got the phone call,” said Mrs. Wake, about how this job opportunity presented itself to her.

Congratulations to Mrs. Wake on this fantastic position and opportunity to work so closely with these Catholic schools and the communities in which they are located.

Wildcats throw Stoners in double OT thriller

Dan McClelland

by Dick Sterling

Once every generation or so high school football fans have the opportunity to witness a game that will stay in their memory for decades to come… Saturday’s battle of the unbeatens at Frank LaFalce Field, behind the Gouverneur High School between the hometown Wildcats and the visiting Potsdam Sandstoners, will be one of those epic games that fans will be talking about for years to come.

An extra point kick from a sophomore who had kicked exactly zero extra points during his initial varsity season, tried to erase the sound of the excited crowd, tried to dismiss the fact that every Potsdam player on the other side of the line was hell-bent on blocking his kick, did his best to fight off that “what if I miss” feeling… as Jacob Shippee received the snap, expertly placed the ball on the natural grass field that generations of Wildcats have played on over the years, Kyle Savage tried to drown out all the noise… chase away those butterflies… and kick the ball… Savage kicked the ball…

Potsdam failed to get a hand on it… everyone’s eyes followed the path of the football and the official raised his hands in the air, signifying that Kyle’s kick had, indeed, split the uprights… the kick gave the Wildcats a hard-fought 15-14 victory and stretched their regular season winning streak to 26 straight… and only two wins shy of a fourth straight undefeated league season.

Yes this was a game that we’ll remember for a long, long time.

The Wildcats had averaged over 50 points a game during their 4-0 start. They had scored 52 points in the opening quarter, they had only trailed for 93 seconds this season… they had certainly dominated every game they’ve played.

Potsdam also had opened the season in impressive fashion with four easy victories, outscoring their opponents 152-24. This was to be the toughest challenge either team had faced in 2019… and the big crowd that had come out to witness the battle on a picture-perfect fall afternoon, would not be disappointed.

Both teams’ defenses showed that they had come to play after a scoreless opening quarter that featured three punts, one series that was turned over on downs and another that ended with a fumble. Potsdam opened the second quarter with Quarterback Zack Kirka completing a pass on fourth down and eight for a first down, and running back Will Varney, considered one of the best in Section 10, reeled off runs of eight and 11 yards before polishing off the 66-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run. Varney also ran in the two-point conversion to give the visitors an 8-0 lead with 9:24 to play in the half. ‘

The Wildcats received the kickoff and started the drive on their own 23-yard-line. Several running plays steadily marched the ball down the field. Facing a fourth down and 10, the Cats lined up in punt formation, but faked the kick and Joe Cummings gained 11 yards… just enough for the first down. Cayden Stowell ran seven yards to set up a first-and-goal and then polished off the 77-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown run. Mitchell Tyler ran in the two-point conversion try to tie the score at 8-8 with 3:02 to play in the half.

For the remainder of the first half, and all of the second, both the Wildcats and Sandstoners defensive units did an excellent job in keeping the opponent off the scoreboard. Stowell stopped one Potsdam drive as he picked off a pass from Kirka. Potsdam put together a goal-line stand in which the Wildcats failed to score from the one-yard-line. The Wildcat defense sacked Kirka on two consecutive plays to break up an impressive Stoner drive. And, late in the fourth quarter, a 43-yard field goal attempt from Potsdam’s Nolan Anderson was blocked by Tyler Tupper. Regulation ended with the scored tied 8-8.

Overtime rules in high school football allow one team to attempt to score from 20 yards out. The opponent then has a try at their own 20-yard drive.

The Wildcats initial drive was thwarted by that goal-line defense of the Sandstoners. Any type of score by Potsdam would end the game. Varney carried for seven yards and then Potsdam were called for back-to-back penalties and turned the ball over on downs.

Potsdam got the ball first in the second overtime and left the outcome up to their talented running back. Varney carried for 7, 6 and 5 yards and polished off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run. The Wildcat defense was up to the challenge on the conversion attempt though as they planted Varney into the ground on the one-yard-line. Potsdam held a 14-8 advantage… but the Wildcats would have their chance to keep their streak alive.

Quarterback Caleb Farr called his own number on first down and ran for eight yards. On second down, Farr surrounded himself with his teammates, and Potsdam players joined the fray, as the giant crown marched steadily towards the goal line… Gouverneur would not be denied as the crowd pushed Farr across the goal line. The two-play drive tied the score at 14 and let the heroic moment up to their talented sophomore. The kick was good and the crowd, as well as the Gouverneur bench, celebrated one hard-fought, well-played football game.

Varney was the star of the Potsdam offense as he carried 28 times for 135 yards. The rest of the team gained a total of 15 yards. Gouverneur shared the running duties as Farr carried 19 times for 68 yards, Tyler had 15 tries for 63 yards and Stowell had a dozen carries for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Elsewhere in the Northern Athletic Conference, Watertown used a 60-yard pass on the last play of the game to beat St. Lawrence Central 28-24; Ogdensburg beat Malone 48-6 and Canton got by Massena 40-22.

Tonight (Friday), for the first time ever, the Wildcats will play a Friday night game under the lights at Frank LaFalce Field. Portable lights will be in place to illuminate the contest between the Wildcats and the Massena Red Raiders. Next Saturday Gouverneur will wrap up the regular season at Canton.

Saturday’s game was dedicated to the memory of George Gordon, a long time teacher and coach at both Gouverneur and Potsdam. Coach Gordon died in Syracuse on October 2… his 63rd birthday would have been on Saturday.

GCSD Board of Education addresses recent incidents on district school buses

Dan McClelland

by Jessyca Cardinell

Within a span of a week, there have been two reported incidences of violence among students on Gouverneur Central School buses.

As reported in last week’s edition of the Gouverneur Tribune Press, two Gouverneur Middle School students – white girls, ages 10 and 11, have been charged after allegedly assaulting a 10-year-old black schoolmate inside a Gouverneur Central School bus.

On Tuesday, September 10, the Village of Gouverneur Police Department received a complaint from a concerned parent who reported that her 10-year-old daughter had been physically assaulted and at the same time, subjected to racially motivated language on the school bus. During the physical assault, the victim suffered a blackened right eye caused by being punched in the eye, the loss of hair after getting her hair pulled, and a bruise to her right knee after falling backward into the school bus seat as a result of the victim’s hair being pulled.

The Gouverneur Police Department also identified an adult, Tiffany N. Spicer, 28, of 183 River Rd., Edwards, who is employed by First Student as a bus monitor, and in part, responsible for the safety of the students who ride the bus in which Spicer is assigned, who was witness to the assault carried out upon the victim, but did not make an effort to stop and/or prevent said behavior. Spicer was charged with three counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child on September 23, 2019 and released in appearance tickets returnable to the Town of Gouverneur Court at a later date.

The juveniles have been charged each with one count of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree. The 11-year-old juvenile has also been charged with and additional count of Assault in the Third Degree- Hate Crime. The juveniles and their parents have been referred to St. Lawrence County Probation for further action.

Upon hearing of this incident, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sept. 25 directed the State Division of Human Rights to investigate the alleged hate crime.

"I am appalled by the reports of the horrendous, 20-minute racist assault on a 10-year-old African American girl in the town of Gouverneur,” the statement reads. “That this was allegedly perpetrated by her own classmates, on a school bus with an adult monitor present, makes this incident even more shocking and troubling. When we put our children on the bus to school, we are entrusting others with our most precious resource and this was an egregious and inexcusable violation of that trust.

"In the face of the recent rise in hate crimes and discriminatory acts, this summer I signed legislation that expanded the authority of the New York State Division of Human Rights to investigate incidents of discrimination in public schools, including on school buses. I am directing DHR to open an investigation into this heinous act immediately, and, if applicable, to take legal action to the fullest extent of the law against the perpetrators. I am also directing the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to provide local authorities with any resources needed to assist in their investigation.

"In New York, violence of any kind towards others based on their race or religion is not only offensive and repugnant to our values, it is illegal. We will never allow hate to win - we will defeat it and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to help ensure all our children are safe from hate."

A few days later, on Sept. 27, WWNY-TV received a report from Southwest Career and Technical Education Center Principal Lori Sheffield that New York State police were investigating an incident on a Gouverneur Central School District bus which involved two scholars being shocked by an electric shock device. The incident allegedly occurred on Sept. 26 during the 11:30 a.m. bus run from Gouverneur High School to the BOCES center in Fowler. It was reported that one student had an electronic shock device and that two students willingly participated in being shocked by the device. Sheffield told WWNY-TV that all students involved were dealt with according to the school’s discipline code, as the devices are not allowed on school property.

These incidents on Gouverneur Central School buses have raised many concerns in the community, and the Gouverneur Central School District Board of Education made a public statement at their regular meeting held Monday, September 30.

GCSD Board of Education President David Fenlong began the meeting addressing these concerns as follows: “The recent incidences have come as a shock to the community. I too have boys in this school district. As a parent and school board member, I’m left feeling a number of emotions just like yourselves.

“Neither hate nor violence has any place around us, not in our district, not in our school and not in our community. It is true, Gouverneur was written on the side of those buses, but what happened on those buses was not Gouverneur. It never has been and never will be. Hateful acts are dangerous and disturbing and are very disruptive, so keep this in mind, this incident does not define our school. It will test our culture and our climate but our response will be our true measure of our character. We take all instances like this in this nature very seriously, as well as the safety of every scholar and every staff is our first concern.

“We also take very seriously both student misconduct and privacy. We are following all legal guidelines to do this correctly. It is a complicated balance and our administration does a fantastic job of balancing both needs. Our children including my own get on those buses every single day and we trust they will get to school and home safely. We realize this trust is in question, we are very sorry for what happened.

“We will do everything we can to restore your faith and our ability. We have standards and a policy and a commitment to our scholars, families and communities we serve. Our expectations are firm, high and are very clear. One of the reasons we exist is to intervene in those situations where people cannot defend themselves and need help from someone who can make a difference. We will take every opportunity to remind ourselves who we are, why we are here and what it means to be a Wildcat,” said Mr. Fenlong as to what the school district is doing to handle the situations and the expectations that are in place.

“As the Board President I am committed to the belief that our district is recognized, not only for celebrating diversity of all kinds but for encouraging and welcoming it. We will continue to strive for this standard because accepting anything less than 100% in this area will be deemed unacceptable. Our hope is to collectively wrap our arms around these incidences and issues to stop them from ever happening again,” said Mr. Fenlong.

Mr. Fenlong stated that a strong partnership between administration, staff, families and community members is important in these instances from happening, as one person alone cannot handle its enormous impact.

“I do regret having to make this statement and I want to emphasize the actions from a small group should not damage the reputation we’ve all worked so hard to build. The landscape for events like this to happen is busying. Stay vigilant, watch for signs, words, phrases, behaviors and actions. If you see something, please say something,” said Mr. Fenlong on how to take action on such matters.

“We believe in our scholars, we believe in their limitless potential, we believe in their hopes, dreams and aspirations. We are committed doing everything we can to make them a reality for every single one that wants to graduate as a Gouverneur Wildcat. We stand for equity and excellence for a greater path opportunity and limitless power of public education. We applaud the reason our employees come to work every single morning. We believe in the potential of all scholars. As a district and community, we will continue to pursue conversations about what we can do to seek better understanding, compassion and sensitivity for each other. We look forward to ongoing conversations and action, as we continue to use these conversations as another opportunity to learn and create a culture of unwavering inclusion because that is the right path moving forward. We will push ourselves and the result will be worth it. Thank you,” said Mr. Fenlong in conclusion.

Mr. Fenlong went on to open up the first public comment period of the board meeting.

Cheryl Hay, a community member, stood before the school board with a thought-provoking question.

“My understanding was that there was a young man who was on the school bus that aided in helping the young girl get off the bus without any further punishment or whatever you would like to call it. I wondered if this young man was going to be recognized for that?” asked Mrs. Hay, who stated that upon reading that she felt compelled it showed there are a lot of good kids out there. She expressed how impressed she was with this young man’s actions.

Superintendent of School Lauren French was able to answer Mrs. Hay’s concern.

“Mrs. Hay, he has been recognized privately by several different individuals. I do not know if the parent wanted it to be public or not,” Mrs. French said. “But he has been recognized privately.”

There were no other comments made concerning the incident. There is a video also available of President Fenlong’s statement created on www.wevideo.com for anyone interested in viewing. It was shared on the GCSD Wildcats Facebook page. As of press time on Tuesday, the video had already received over 1,500 views.

Gouverneur Pumpkin Festival a smash hit

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

The 2019 Gouverneur Pumpkin Festival was a smash hit this past weekend at the Gouverneur Fairgrounds. This was the eighth annual event, presented by the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair Association and the Gouverneur Area Chamber of Commerce.

It was also sponsored by RSI Roofing Co., Gouverneur Garden Club, Aubuchon Hardware, Community Health Center of the North Country, and Peace of Mind Home Inspection Services.

The giant pumpkin weigh-off contest was won by the sole entry, a 435-pounder grown by Lyle Hotis of Gouverneur. Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair directors used a crane scale to determine an accurate weight. Festival-goers saw the giant pumpkin drop from a tremendous height during the Second Giant Pumpkin Drop on Sunday, September 29. Mr. Hotis also grew at 285-pounder that was used for the First Giant Pumpkin Drop on Saturday, September 28.

The crowd watched in amazement as the giant pumpkins were lifted by a RSI Roofing Co. crane, operated by Barry Turner of Gouverneur (who has volunteered his time since the inaugural Gouverneur Pumpkin Festival to make the event a success).

On both Saturday and Sunday, a giant pumpkin was released by the pull of ropes handled by various fair directors. In mere moments, the eyes of all the people in attendance went wide as the giant pumpkin smashed into smithereens on the landing below. Pumpkin, water, and numbered golf balls then flew all over the grounds.

Over 700 tickets were sold this weekend for the Giant Pumpkin Drops. Each entrant took a number, corresponding to a numbered golf ball that was put into the giant pumpkin before the drop. The top three golf balls that travelled the furthest were then determined, and the winners announced. Big cash payouts were promised, and the local winners were not disappointed.

The winners of the First Giant Pumpkin Drop were as follows: The top prize ($300) went to Wesley Besaw of Gouverneur, whose ball travelled 85 feet, 3 inches. The second prize ($200) went to Claudia Moulton whose ball travelled 62 feet, 1 inch. The third prize ($100) went to Courtney Hays, whose ball travelled 57 feet, 6 inches.

The results of Second Giant Pumpkin Drop will be released once they are made available to the Gouverneur Tribune Press.

The winner of the 2019 Gouverneur Pumpkin Festival’s Guess The Pumpkin’s Weight Contest was Art Mason of Brier Hill. He guessed 437 pounds on Mr. Hotis’ pumpkin, which weighed in at 435 pounds.

William Stamper of Russell won the drawing for the Gouverneur Area Chamber of Commerce’s basket raffle.

The winner of the 50/50 raffle drawing was Manny Laso of Canton, who won $61.

The 2019 Gouverneur Pumpkin Festival was complete with a wealth of fun activities and events for both the young and young-at-heart.

On both Saturday and Sunday, vendor displays and a craft show was held outside on the Gouverneur Fairgrounds and inside in the 4-H youth building. Many people commented that they were impressed by the number of vendors participating this year.

On Saturday, the auxiliary to Silas Wainwright Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6338 held its Second VFW Auxiliary Annual Freedom Festival. Members were there to provide information about the various programs that they do throughout the year to support veterans, auxiliary members and local youth. All were invited to stop by and learn about scholarship programs the Auxiliary supports and sponsors locally, the VFW National Home for Children, this year' special project (America's VetDogs), and to find out eligibility requirement to join the VFW Auxiliary.

There was entertainment offered both days inside the FFA Building with appearances by the Matune Creek Band and Steelin’ Country. Many toe-tapping country and bluegrass hits were performed for the audience’s enjoyment.

Children were also invited to “ride the Cow Train,” a free ride that was created with the help of students at Southwest Career and Technical Education Center in Fowler. It had its first Pumpkin Festival appearance in 2018.

The Gouverneur Recreation Center also brought a variety of children’s activities for all to enjoy, including the following: crafts, a scavenger hunt, carnival games, Pumpkin Plinko, and much more.

Local children also enjoyed playing on the bounce house, obstacle course and huge slide that was on site during the entire 2019 Gouverneur Pumpkin Festival.

Many also enjoyed the wagon rides around the Gouverneur Fairgrounds, made possible by Bango Valley Percherons in Richville.

Food vendors – Mullins, Cotton Candy N More, and Nibble’s Snackery – were on site both days.

On Saturday, the Gouverneur Garden Club held its annual mum and bake sale to the great enjoyment of the various festival-goers. More plants and baked goods were available for sale on Sunday. The booth also featured a raffle for a framed painting by local artist, Nancy Holdstock of Gouverneur. The results of this drawing will be announced once they are made available to the Gouverneur Tribune Press.

The Fourth Annual Ripathon Fitness Event was held on Sunday morning at the Giant Pumpkin Drop Area. A worship service, conducted by the First United Methodist Church of Gouverneur, drew dozens of local residents to the Gouverneur Fairgrounds, and it was held in the new cattle barn.

About 200 chicken barbecue dinners were sold at noon on Sunday. The chef-in-charge was Fair Director Dave Bishop of DeKalb, who was assisted by many other fair directors throughout the morning hours.

A Pumpkin Cruise-In Classic Car Show drew many car enthusiasts to the Gouverneur Fairgrounds on Sunday, September 29. See related story inside this edition.

Face painting and temporary tattoos were available to all the children in attendance, due to the generous sponsorship received from the Community Health Center of the North Country.

All proceeds from the 2019 Gouverneur Pumpkin Fest were directed towards the building maintenance fund for the fairgrounds.

NYSP seeking public’s assistance in burglary at Bowman’s Gun Shop

Dan McClelland

Security camera footage from Bowman’s Gun Shop during the robbery. (photo provided)

Security camera footage from Bowman’s Gun Shop during the robbery. (photo provided)

New York State Police are looking for assistance in a burglary which occurred at Bowman’s Gun Shop, County Route 11, in Gouverneur.

On September 14, 2019, shortly after 1 a.m., two unknown suspects made entry into the gun shop and stole the following firearms: 1. Mossberg Model 590, .410; 2. Charles Dailey Model 301, .410; 3. Tennessee Arms Model 15, .556, black and red in color; 4. New Frontier Model C-9, 9mm; 5. Rugar RPR, .308; 6. C02 BB pistol; 7. Black powder pistol with a wooden grip.

A large quantity of ammunition of various calibers was also taken from the shop.

The two suspects are described as wearing all black clothing and black ski masks. The two suspects are believed to have been in the County Route 11 and/or village of Gouverneur area between 12 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. on September 14, 2019.

The Troop B State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation is requesting anyone with information to contact Investigator Raymond Mead at (518) 873-2750.

First Presbyterian Church Pastor Richard Mayforth retires

Dan McClelland

Pastor Richard Mayforth and wife Fran all smiles as they are celebrated by their church family and close friends at the Casablanca in Gouverneur. (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

Pastor Richard Mayforth and wife Fran all smiles as they are celebrated by their church family and close friends at the Casablanca in Gouverneur. (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

by Jessyca Cardinell

The Rev. Dr. Richard Mayforth made the decision to retire from his position as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Gouverneur after 10 years of service.

Church members, family and friends gathered at the Casablanca Restaurant in Gouverneur on the afternoon of Sunday, September 22 to honor and celebrate the pastor who has given so much to his church and community.

There was delicious food and great conversation, as many were able to share stories and experiences with the pastor over the last decade.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the great people of this church,” said Pastor Mayforth of his time with the church.

Although Pastor Mayforth was with the First Presbyterian Church for 10 years, he began his pastoral services in the year 1960. A 1957 graduate of Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, he continued his degree work graduating from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1960 with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He received his Doctorate of Ministry in 1989.

“I felt the clear call of God on my life to become a pastor,” said the Rev. Mayforth on becoming a pastor, which he has enjoyed for so many years.

As he retires, the pastor is keeping his plans simple and enjoyable.

“I plan to spend time with my family and friends, as well as with nature. That is something I really enjoy and don’t get to do enough,” Pastor Mayforth said.

Many expressions of best wishes were extended to the Rev. Dr. Richard Mayforth on the occasion of his retirement.

The gorgeous cake that was devoured by the guests of the luncheon celebrating Pastor Richard Mayforth's 10 years of pastoral services at the First Presbyterian Church in Gouverneur. (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

The gorgeous cake that was devoured by the guests of the luncheon celebrating Pastor Richard Mayforth's 10 years of pastoral services at the First Presbyterian Church in Gouverneur. (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

Gouverneur Savings and Loan Supports Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Dan McClelland

Gouverneur Savings and Loan Association employees showing their support for Ryan's Wish Foundation and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. From left: Kiesha Smith, Cathy Schiszler and Cheyenne Whitford. (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

Gouverneur Savings and Loan Association employees showing their support for Ryan's Wish Foundation and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. From left: Kiesha Smith, Cathy Schiszler and Cheyenne Whitford. (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

by Jessyca Cardinell

The Gouverneur Savings and Loan Association is supporting Childhood Cancer Awareness through the month of September.

All proceeds collected will go directly to the Ryan’s Wish Foundation. Ryan’s Wish is a local organization in memory of Ryan Saidel, who died of cancer at the age of 19. Monies from the organization to go families afflicted by the awful disease and help with the many medical expenses, gas, meals, among many other things that are needed throughout treatment.

The bank is decorated with many yellow ribbons showing its tremendous support of Childhood Cancer Awareness.

Cheyenne Whitford, Gouverneur Savings & Loan Universal Banker, came up with the idea and organized the event, as her son Cohen was diagnosed in July of 2014 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Gouverneur Savings and Loan Association employees show their support for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. From left: Tracy Stowell, Glenda Bickford, Cheyenne Whitford and Jim Campanaro. (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

Gouverneur Savings and Loan Association employees show their support for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. From left: Tracy Stowell, Glenda Bickford, Cheyenne Whitford and Jim Campanaro. (photo by Jessyca Cardinell)

“I’ll never forget the day after my son’s diagnosis waiting in the pre-op room for him to get his port placed. I laid next to him in the hospital bed holding him while he slept, it all felt so unreal like a bad dream, a very bad dream. As a parent many thoughts were running through my head. But while we were waiting, I had received an e-mail telling me that Ryan’s Wish Foundation had donated a gas card and a check for our personal use while caring for our son during this difficult time. Money was honestly the last thing on my mind but the feeling that moment was the most overwhelming and most memorable part of our initial diagnosis for me. I couldn’t believe the immediate outpouring of generosity from our community while we went through that. We are forever grateful, and I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like if we didn’t have this kind of support from our community, friends and family,” said Ms. Whitford of the initial traumatic news and how amazing the support was for her family.

“It was a long, emotionally draining 2.5 years of treatment. Treatment consisted of IV chemo, oral chemo, spinal taps with chemo, bone marrow aspirations, IV antibiotics, oral antibiotics, steroids, blood infusions, platelet infusions, fluid infusions and many hospital stays over two hours away from home,” said Ms. Whitford of the impact that childhood cancer had on her son and family.

“We continue to travel to Syracuse for routine checkups. Cohen is now 9 years old and is considered a Leukemia Survivor. His checkups will become fewer and farther between as long as everything stays good,” said Ms. Whitford of the journey ahead.

“We are not only raising awareness for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we are also raising funds for this great organization so that they will continue to help families like mine by relieving some emotional and financial stress when a family member becomes unexpectedly ill and the expenses keep piling up. I’m very lucky to work with such a caring group of individuals that will help support something so close to me,” said Ms. Whitford of Ryan’s Wish Foundation and its impact locally.

Ms. Whitford shed light that before her son was diagnosed, childhood cancer seemed like something rare and something you’d see on television. After her son’s diagnosis she said that quickly changed.

“I quickly learned that childhood cancer is not rare and it is in fact very common. Now when I hear of a child diagnosed cancer, especially in our community it hits very close to home and brings back a lot of memories. Our children are so innocent and yet they are the most resilient, I’ll never understand why they or anyone has to fight these battles. At least we know they won’t be doing it alone!” said Ms. Whitford.

Stop into Gouverneur Savings and Loan Association before the end of the month and help in raising funds for Ryan’s Wish as well as supporting Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

8th Annual Pumpkin Festival to be held at Gouverneur Fairgrounds September 28-29

Dan McClelland

Archive photo of the heaviest pumpkin in the youth division, weighing in at a whopping 594 pounds. This picture was taken after the giant pumpkin weigh-off competition at the 2018 Pumpkin Festival on the Gouverneur Fairgrounds. (Rachel Hunter photo)

Archive photo of the heaviest pumpkin in the youth division, weighing in at a whopping 594 pounds. This picture was taken after the giant pumpkin weigh-off competition at the 2018 Pumpkin Festival on the Gouverneur Fairgrounds. (Rachel Hunter photo)

by Rachel Hunter

The 8th Annual Pumpkin Festival, presented by the Gouverneur Fair Association and the Gouverneur Chamber of Commerce, will come to the Gouverneur Fairgrounds on Saturday, September 28 and Sunday, September 29, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The event is generously sponsored by RSI Roofing Co., Gouverneur Garden Club, Peace of Mind Home Inspection Service, Community Health Center of the North Country, and Aubuchon Hardware in Gouverneur.

All are invited to showcase their green thumb during the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off Competition. Pumpkins will be received on Saturday, September 28, 10 a.m. to noon, and on Sunday, September 29, starting at 10 a.m. The weigh-off will be from 1 to 2 p.m. on Sunday, with the Giant Pumpkin Award Ceremony at 2 p.m.

Returning once again is the crowd-favorite, Great Pumpkin Drop, which will be held at 3 p.m. each day. All are encouraged to get a $5 ticket to win a chance at big cash payout on both days. The first place winner will receive $300, second place winner, $200, and third place winner, $100. See Linda Bishop or any Fair Board member if you would like to purchase a ticket.

Volunteers gut a giant pumpkin of all the pumpkin meat and seeds, fill the hollowed-out space with numbered golf balls (corresponding to the ticket numbers), and lift it high in sky using a crane so it can be dropped from a tremendous height. Since the inaugural Pumpkin Festival, Crane Operator Barry Turner has donated his time for several years to make this event a success.

Once the giant pumpkin has been dropped, volunteers then set to work to measure the distance of the golf balls, and the winners of the Great Pumpkin Drop are announced. Don't miss this opportunity to see the pumpkin-smashing action this year during the first and second Great Pumpkin Drop on the Gouverneur Fairgrounds!

Event organizers also said that the 2019 Pumpkin Festival T-shirts will be available for sale at the Gouverneur Chamber of Commerce table.

The full schedule of events is as follows:

On Saturday, September 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the 2019 Pumpkin Festival Vendor and Craft Show will kickoff in the 4-H Youth Building. Vendors are still being sought. For more information, visit gouverneurfair.net.

Children's Activities by the Gouverneur Recreation Center will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a scarecrow workshop ($5), kids crafts, scavenger hunt, kids carnival games, Pumpkin Plinko, pumpkin board games, and more.

Also starting at 10 a.m., there will be a bounce house, obstacle course and huge slide on site ($5 wristband). All youth are also invited to ride the Cow Train, free ride for kids only.

Starting at 12 p.m. (noon), Tim Bango of Bango Valley Percherons will provide wagon rides.

At 1 p.m., there will be music by the McAdam Family Band.

At 3 p.m., will be the much-anticipated first Great Pumpkin Drop of the 2019 Pumpkin Festival. All are encouraged to purchase their $5 tickets ahead of this time for chance to at a big cash payout.

There will be food stands by Mullins, Nibbles Snackery, and Cotton Candy & More on the grounds.

Also on Saturday, the Gouverneur Garden Club will have its Mum and Bake Sale.

The Second Annual VFW Auxiliary Freedom Festival will be held on Saturday, September 28 during the 2019 Pumpkin Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., hosted by the Silas Wainwright Auxiliary to VFW Post 6338 in Gouverneur. Members will there to provide information about the various programs that they do throughout the year to support veterans, auxiliary members and local youth. There will be two free raffles, one for men and one for women. All are invited to stop by and learn about scholarship programs the Auxiliary supports and sponsors locally, the VFW National Home for Children, this year' special project (America's VetDogs), and to find out eligibility requirement to join the VFW Auxiliary.

On Sunday, September 29, the 2019 Pumpkin Festival will commence at 8:30 a.m. for Ripathon Faith & Fitness event, organized by Amber Ormason. Registration will be at 8:15 a.m. There will be a Mother/Daughter (or any female) Defense Course with Master Frank Palumbo from 8:30 to 9 a.m. A Ripit Fitness session will be held from 9:15 a.m. to 10 a.m. Certified “Pound” Instructor Ranisa Young will conduct a class at 10 a.m. with a cool down from 10:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. For more information, see the Facebook event.

The 2019 Pumpkin Festival Vendor and Craft Show will continue inside the 4-H Youth Building from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, September 29.

There also will be a worship service, conducted by the First United Methodist Church of Gouverneur, in the new cattle barn on the Gouverneur Fairgrounds, starting at 11 a.m. All are invited to attend.

Also starting at 10 a.m. and concluding at 3 p.m., there will be a bounce house, obstacle course and huge slide on site ($5 wristband). All youth are also invited to ride the Cow Train, free ride for kids only, starting at 10 a.m. Sponsored by the Community Health Center of the North Country, face painting and balloon animals will be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Another crowd-favorite, the Pumpkin Cruise-In, a classic car show, will return to the Gouverneur Fairgrounds on Sunday, September 29, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A People's Choice Trophy will be awarded.

At noon, there will be available for purchase Chicken BBQ dinners. The chef-in-charge will be Dave Bishop of DeKalb.

Music by the Steelin' Country Band will be performed from the FFA Building on Sunday, September 29, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

The Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off (both youth and adult competitions) will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. The Giant Pumpkin Award Ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. with the prizes going to the heaviest pumpkins entered.

At 3 p.m., will be the much-anticipated second Great Pumpkin Drop of the 2019 Pumpkin Festival. All are encouraged to purchase their $5 tickets ahead of this time for chance to at a big cash payout.

For entry forms and more information, visit GouverneurFair.net.

All proceeds from the 2019 Pumpkin Fest are directed towards the building maintenance fund for the fairgrounds.



Ritchie helps rebuild Hammond CSD Playground

Dan McClelland

Senator Patty Ritchie (right) pictured visiting the Hammond Central School District Playground with District Superintendent Douglas McQueer (left)

Senator Patty Ritchie (right) pictured visiting the Hammond Central School District Playground with District Superintendent Douglas McQueer (left)

The Hammond Central School District has a brand new playground for it students, thanks to $100,000 in grants secured by State Senator Patty Ritchie.

“By encouraging students to get outside, exercise and play with one another, we are helping to improve their growth and development,” said Senator Ritchie. “That is why it is so important to me to secure funding for projects that improve fitness and increase activity in our local school districts.”

The funding allowed the district to purchase new fitness equipment for the playground and build handicap-accessible walkways that lead up to it.  The project was finished just in time for the new school year.

“Hammond Central School appreciates Senator Ritchie's tireless efforts on behalf of all students in her region,” said Hammond Central School District Superintendent Douglas McQueer. “Her diligence through the years has assisted Hammond to be able to purchase supplementary literacy materials, sports equipment and playground pieces for our students.”

In addition to this grant, Senator Ritchie has also helped the students of Hammond Central better understand the importance of agriculture and healthy foods by providing the district with $5,000 for her “Seeds of Success” program.

Legislator tells town board about sales tax discussion

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

St. Lawrence County District 5 Legislator Henry Leader (R-Gouverneur) talked to the Town of Gouverneur Council at its Sept. 10 board meeting on the issue of the potential renegotiation of sales tax apportionment to municipalities. The matter was discussed at the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators’ full board meeting on Sept. 9.

“There is a lot of discussion about the sales tax,” Legislator Leader said. “The background is: Counties were enabled by New York State to collect sales tax because Medicaid expenses became a shared expense between the counties and the state. And so in 1965, effective 1966, because of that they said, “Okay counties, you can collect sales tax.” In and around 1965, the then-county board of supervisors agreed to let the municipalities share the sales tax. And so local governments could get about 50 percent of its sales tax. That would have included the City of Ogdensburg. And then there was an additional 1 percent sales tax in 2012, and as you know, they agreed to split that 1 percent with the county and with the towns and with the City of Ogdensburg.

“So, everything seems pretty good, but what happens was this year, New York State decided to end its responsibility for aid to municipalities payments, the AIM funding. So, out of the 44 towns and villages, I think 36 were affected and it is going to add another $1 million to the county. This whole background is important because all of sudden why is anybody saying, “Let’s renegotiate. Let’s share the sales tax revenue.” And so there’s members in the Republican party, particularly in the leadership, that want to do different sharings with the sales tax.

“And why do they want to do that? So, last night, we hashed it out pretty heavily and I think the purpose for that is that, even though the county is in good fiscal shape right now, the anticipated costs are coming. The anticipated work for bridges and for roads and other costs that are coming down the line are going to be a burden on the county, and they are concerned that they will be in bad fiscal position within a few years and that they will have to raise the county taxes. And the county does not want to do that. So hence the thought of renegotiating the sharing of the sales tax.

“They know where I stand on this, and I am very loyal to my local municipalities. But I keep an open ear and I listen. So, it may come up, it may not come up, but it is going to be contingent upon Ogdensburg. Out of all of the municipalities, the City is the only real player in this that has the ability to do any type of negotiating or any discussion with how the proceeds are going to be shared.

“And they know that is not going to be real popular with a lot of municipalities that are affected. So it may be a dead issue. I will keep you apprised on everything that happens. There may be a bipartisan push to say that the county would take off the missing money from the AIM, and then just split it like it always did. If that were happening, it would be a little bit of a loss, but it would be miniscule compared to some of the other proposals, and there’s about eight different proposals for sharing that are going to be battled out. That’s a thing to keep aware of.”

Legislator Leader reported that there was to be a meeting Sept. 11 between St. Lawrence County and the City of Ogdensburg. “We’ll see where the City of Ogdensburg is on the whole issue,” he said.

Legislator Leader then continued as follows: “The other significant thing is this is good till 2020, but it is a 10-year agreement, so that could significantly impact things for 10 years. To give credit to some of the county legislators who brought this forward, they are trying to think ahead, they are trying to anticipate what is going to happen. They don’t want to raise taxes. But the other side of it is going to hurt municipalities, and it is going to be a big debt. So really the state is shifting it to the counties, and the counties are trying to shift it to the towns. I would definitely get further input before I made any definitive vote, if it goes that far… and it may not.”

Town of Gouverneur Deputy Supervisor Eldon Conklin then made the following comments: “If Ogdensburg doesn’t, it won’t happen anyway. Ogdensburg is not, in the financial position they are in right now, I don’t think… Besides that, the amount of chargebacks the county keeps shoving on the townships. I have a real problem with the fact that we fund the planning board, but everything we send over there, there is a price tag attached to it. The board of elections, totally funded by the townships… And there’s just so many things that get charged back to the townships already, and now they are talking about taking money away from us. And I don’t know what all these new bypasses or whatever they call them, who is paying for those. I got a feeling…”

“We’ll see it next year in chargebacks,” Town of Gouverneur Supervisor Dave Spilman, Jr. said.

“They fail to look at this,” Deputy Supervisor Conklin said. “Plus we are in a position that we can’t raise taxes something 1.8 percent, amounting to $6,000 or $7,000... I don’t know how the rest of the board feels, but I am going to fight. I will tell you that.”

“If it comes to that,” Legislator Leader said. “And it may be dead on the vine. I don’t know. But the other important thing is the reasoning behind it. Why are we even distributing it at all? That’s where I inquire to find out what’s going on.”

“The thing they want to think about, these townships have got snowplow contracts with them,” Deputy Supervisor Conklin said. “They might have to all of sudden buy 10 or 12 trucks.

“They are getting some space in Gouverneur very cheaply, for nothing, which is good,” Legislator Leader said. “We have a lot of goodwill with them. And Gouverneur is often praised publicly for everything. But we are pretty good partners to them. So hopefully they will return the favors.”

Supervisor Spilman then said the following: “Well, we’ve had a good relationship with them so far. County Administrator Ruth Doyle is wonderful. She is straightforward. But yeah, this will take a little conversation…”

Legislator Leader then informed all those gathered that he would report any new developments at the Village of Gouverneur Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, September 17, 7 p.m., in the municipal courtroom.

During his time for comments, Village of Gouverneur Mayor Ron McDougall said the following on the matter: “We had a St. Lawrence County Mayors Association meeting on Thursday in Canton… We’ll see how it goes. I think it is too early to brag that we think this is all resolved because it is never resolved until it is all resolved. Of course, it doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2021. Working hard on that and teaming up with the Association of Towns, and that’s a reach out there. I have already had two or three other supervisors reach out to me. Of course, the supervisor of the Town of DeKalb (John Frary) is the chair of the St. Lawrence County Town Supervisors Association.”

No other comments were made on the matter. The next monthly meeting of the Town of Gouverneur Council is to be held on Tuesday, October 8, 6 p.m., in the town offices building.


Bonnie Porter Retires From Gouverneur Hospital

Dan McClelland

From left: Human Resources Leader Lori-Anne McCormick, Corporate Communications Coordinator Bonnie Porter, and Chief Executive Officer Eric Burch. (photo provided)

From left: Human Resources Leader Lori-Anne McCormick, Corporate Communications Coordinator Bonnie Porter, and Chief Executive Officer Eric Burch. (photo provided)

Corporate Communications Coordinator Bonnie Porter has retired from St. Lawrence Health System’s Gouverneur Hospital after 36 years of service. Along with her current title, Mrs. Porter also served as Community Relations/Practice Manager, Community Events Coordinator, Administrative Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer, Administration Secretary, and Executive Secretary.

Over the past three decades, Bonnie championed the establishment of Gouverneur Hospital, through St. Lawrence Health System, and its $2.5M emergency department renovation and expansion. She supported the implementation of the Pyxis Automated Medication Dispensing System, Telestroke Technology, CPR Chest Compression System, Definition AS64eco CT equipment, 3D Mammography, and mobile on-site PET services. She was essential in helping with accommodations for the Hospital’s new outpatient Substance Use Disorder service line, the addition of detox services, a hospitalist program, and most recently, launching the Hospital’s Planetree initiative of providing person-centered care at all locations of care.

She facilitated monthly Lunch and Learn programs to ensure continuous education was available to the public. She helped organize the Gouverneur Hospital Auxiliary’s Annual Golf Tournament, which raised over $11,000 this year. She further helped the Auxiliary by coordinating and overseeing blood drives, and has participated in countless events across the community.

“Bonnie has been instrumental in the Hospital’s growth. Her role in community relations was critical to ensuring the public was aware of new providers and services that were not previously offered in our community,” said Hospital CEO Eric Burch. “She has been an unwavering liaison between the Hospital and our community members and has earned great respect from those with whom she worked.”

Colleagues joined Mrs. Porter for a reception at the Hospital where she was presented with an engraved clock and numerous gift certificates in recognition of her dedication to service within the Gouverneur community.

Assemblyman Blankenbush visits Gouverneur senior citizens

Dan McClelland

Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C,I-Black River) speaking to the Gouverneur Senior Citizens Club on Tuesday, September 10 at the Gouverneur Community Center. (Rachel Hunter photo)

Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C,I-Black River) speaking to the Gouverneur Senior Citizens Club on Tuesday, September 10 at the Gouverneur Community Center. (Rachel Hunter photo)

by Rachel Hunter

Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C,I-Black River) held mobile office hours, ate lunch with local senior citizens at the Gouverneur Congregate Dining Center, and was the featured guest speaker at the Gouverneur Senior Citizens Club meeting on Tuesday, September 10 at the Gouverneur Community Center, 4673 State Highway 58, Gouverneur. There were over 60 people in attendance.

“It's great to be here today, especially in this new facility... I have been here a few times. It's really good to be here,” Assemblyman Blankenbush said. “I guess I should introduce myself since some of you may or may not know me. I live in Black River, which is in that other county. I have been in the Assembly since 2011, and I followed Dede Scozzafava who was there before me.

“My district now is a little bit different since the redistricting. I used to have 10 more towns in St. Lawrence County than I do now. I only have seven. And they took the 10 towns away from me in St. Lawrence County and gave me 10 towns in Oneida. And so, I go from DeKalb down to 10 towns in Jefferson to all of Lewis and 10 towns in Oneida County... So now it is not just representing the North Country, it is representing the North Country and the Mohawk Valley. So, it's been different these last few years. But already, after the 2020 election there is going to be another redistricting. So, who knows what it is going to be like in the 2022 election.

Acting St. Lawrence County Clerk Sandra Santamoor (candidate for St. Lawrence County Clerk in the 2019 General Election) speaking to the Gouverneur Senior Citizens Club on Tuesday, September 10 at the Gouverneur Community Center. (Rachel Hunter photo)

Acting St. Lawrence County Clerk Sandra Santamoor (candidate for St. Lawrence County Clerk in the 2019 General Election) speaking to the Gouverneur Senior Citizens Club on Tuesday, September 10 at the Gouverneur Community Center. (Rachel Hunter photo)

“I can remember when I was not in the Assembly – when Dede was in the Assembly – when they redistrict, they put Dede in the same district as then-Bob Nortz from Lewis County, but what they didn't realize was that Bob Nortz also owned property up on the river, and he ran into different districts. But, who knows what they are going to do with the redistricting in four more years. I can't tell you what is going to happen, but then again, I'll be looking at something different again. I really don't like what they did when they redistrict St. Lawrence County. A lot of people will tell you that because of having so many representatives in Albany, it is a benefit for you. But I am not so sure of that because they chopped us all up. So, in other words, the towns I had in St. Lawrence (when you talk about Star Lake, Cranberry Lake, and all of those) I didn’t have anything on the river. And the person who now has that district is from Herkimer County. So for him to get up to his district in Potsdam area, Star Lake and all of those... he really has to drive through my district to get to his district. Redistricting is a thing that we have to live with. Who knows what is going to happen after the 2020 election.

“I had a few people ask me about license plates,” Assemblyman Blankenbush said. “For those who know me, know that I will not be in favor of making people replace their license plates, especially if the license plates can be read. A few years back, they put out license plates that – if you look at some of them as you are driving around – you can't really read them... That's not the people's fault that are driving those cars. That's the State of New York and whoever made those license plates. It is not the fault of the individuals, and in my opinion, those license plates were being replaced free... If you took them in right now, you can get them replaced free. If this bill is passed before individuals do that, the governor is going to want to charge you. So, if you have a license plate or you have friends that know that their license plate is deteriorating, you can take it to the DMV and get new license plates before this thing hits and we have to all replace our license plates. So, I believe it is a money grab from the governor... and I guess he can call it a fee rather than a tax. I am not sure when that is going to come out. I think it is on hold right now. I think there has been some backlash on that. I believe when we go back into session it's probably going to come back for the legislators to vote on that.”

“January is going to start my 10th year,” Assemblyman Blankenbush said. “I can honestly say that out of the nine budgets that we have voted on over the years, that this is the worst budget that I voted on since I have been in there for Upstate New York and the North Country. There's 10 parts to the budget. It's not just one vote for the budget. It's 10 parts. And this was the very, very first time that I voted no on all 10 parts to the budget. I didn't see any good coming out of the budget negotiations that happened this year. Talked to the Town of Gouverneur Supervisor Dave Spilman, Jr., for example, when they took the money out of what we call the pothole fund for the highway department... then we put it back in, and then we took it back out. If you live in the town, the town tries to do three miles per year to try to keep up with it. By cutting some of the money out of that budget, it was a really bad thing to do and hopefully we got it back in. But, whether we see it or not, that's another subject. I really didn't like the budget.”

Assemblyman Blankenbush then continued as follows: “Some people ask me, “Why don't you get up and talk about what's happened this year in Albany?” I can tell you right now I was not very happy with what happened after the budget process. Some of the bills that we voted on this year, again it was probably the most no-votes that I have had since I have been there, starting with the abortion bill right up until the time of labor. I couldn't vote for that. But we are having a left-wing swing in New York, as probably everyone here has read about. What's coming next year? It's probably the legalization of marijuana. They decriminalized it a little bit this year, and I just think that it was a stepping stone for the legalization.

“They also passed – for the Second Amendment people who are here – the Red Flag Bill,” Assemblyman Blankenbush said. “If you listen some people, there's not really a lot wrong with the Red Flag Bill. If somebody shouldn't own a gun, they shouldn't own a gun. If they have mental problems or is going to hurt others, everybody can agree on that. However, if you read the whole bill, it takes away due process. If I call the Sheriff's Office and say, “I believe my neighbor is going to either hurt himself or hurt someone else.” They are obligated now to go to the court, ask the judge to give an order to take away the guns.

“Well, my problem with that is, if you are going to go to a judge, the person who owns the guns ought to be in front of the judge right then to answer the problem or the complaint. That's not what is going to happen. The judge is going to order the guns removed from the house. Then, that person is going to be able to appeal. The appeal is supposed to happen within six days. I don't know a court that works that fast, but that's what the bill says. And the problem I have with some of that is that I believe that individual who has been called on, if the judge is going to order that removal of guns, he ought to be able to talk to that individual, question that individual, and not just listen to a complaint that is given by a neighbor or an ex-spouse.

“Let's face it, if you are going through a divorce, it's not usually a happy time. I can imagine up here in the North Country that someone who is getting ready for hunting season... hunting season starts on Saturday, and somebody calls in and says that they think he is going to hurt himself or someone else, and they'll take the guns away. I just think you are taking away due process. I don't like that part of the bill. I agree with the concept that we should not have people who have some mental issues not have any guns. But I still think that individual should have due process. I think we are taking away the rights that some individuals have...”

Assemblyman Blankenbush then continued as follows: “People ask me all the time, “How can you vote against the Women's Equality Act?” Well, there's 10 bills in the Women's Equality Act. Then 10th one was the abortion one. I voted for all nine of them, except for the bill that allows abortion all the way up to the time of labor. And by the way, I have had several pro-choice individuals email me and call me, and say that they don't agree with that bill either... that they believe that the bill is going way too far, even to the point of if the baby survives the abortion, the doctor is allowed to allow the baby to lay there and die. Think about it, they now say that you don't have to go to the hospital to have the abortion. You don't have to go to a doctor to do the abortion. You can go to a clinic and have a physician’s assistant do it. I just think that's going backwards for women's health, not supporting women's health. So there's a lot of things on that bill that there was no way... but the nine other bills that were there, I support. But the 10th, I just couldn't support.”

“So, what is going to come this year, I don't know,” Assemblyman Blankenbush said. “All I know is that the last session was not a very popular session for Ken.

“The only other thing I can say is that when we are looking at 2020's election, and we're going to go into 2022, the State of New York is going to lose two congressional seats. So, the Empire State is shrinking. Over 1.4 million have left the state at the last count. We are going to lose one for sure, and I believe we are going to lose two congressional seats because it goes by population. The people are leaving the State of New York. I disagree with the governor. It's not because of the climate, it's because of the business climate. It's because of the taxation. It's harder and harder for businesses to do business in the State of New York.

“Years ago, before I qualified as a senior, I had a lot of people that were called snowbirds. They would leave the State of New York and they would go down to Florida for four months and they would come back. Well, they are still doing that, but they are really not snowbirds anymore because when they are coming back they have Florida plates on. They are changing more and more. The people that are in my age group that I know personally are now coming back and spending three or four months here, and they are going back to Florida... The people in New York City tell me that even though we talk about people leaving the State of New York, they are talking about some of the boroughs in New York City that have actually grown in population...”

Assemblyman Blankenbush then answered questions from the local senior citizens for several moments before introducing Acting St. Lawrence County Clerk Sandra Santamoor, who is running for the St. Lawrence County Clerk seat in the 2019 General Election. Assemblyman Blankenbush encouraged all those in attendance to take the opportunity to meet and talk with Mrs. Santamoor. A great applause sounded as Assemblyman Blankenbush handed the microphone to the candidate.

“Hi, for those of you who don’t know me, I was (former St. Lawrence County Clerk) Mary Lou Rupp's deputy for eight years. She trained me well,” Mrs. Santamoor said. “I am prepared to do the job. We have a lot of things in the works right now, but we will continue from what Mary Lou started – e-filing, e-reporting, it all saves the county time and money. Right now, I am in the process of getting a $125,000 grant to have all of our civil and criminal files digitized so that they are available. We are trying to figure out a way to move the road test site in Canton, so I am working with the State DMV and the Village of Canton. If anyone has been down Judson St. in Canton, they know we have the village buses on one side and road testing on the other, which causes a very dangerous situation. So we are working on that... Downstate business, that is our big one. We are still doing that. We make a lot of money doing that. It helps with the tax levy, so it is important to keep that business going.

“As well as you all know here locally, in Gouverneur, we put in a new terminal in there, so we now have three staff there. We are trying to keep on top of the downstate business and make sure that we are providing the best service that we can to the local residents. In a couple weeks we will be opening a new terminal in Massena, so we will have four staff there. We have three in Ogdensburg and 13 in Canton. If you all keep doing your business locally, we would appreciate it. It really does benefit everyone in the county. Hopefully, I look forward to serving you all for four years beyond this.”

At the conclusion of her address, Gouverneur Senior Citizens Club President Joanne Bitter extended gratitude to both Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush and Acting St. Lawrence County Clerk Sandra Santamoor for their speaking to the crowd gathered, and all gave a rousing round of applause. Other local dignitaries in attendance included Town of Gouverneur Supervisor Dave Spilman, Jr., Town of Gouverneur Deputy Supervisor Eldon Conklin, and Town of Gouverneur Councilman Eldon Conklin, among others.

The Gouverneur Senior Citizens Club then continued with their regular monthly board meeting at the Gouverneur Community Center.

80th Annual Hammond Fair to be held September 13-14

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

Volunteers are already hard at work to ensure the 80th Annual Hammond Fair – scheduled for Friday, September 13 and Saturday, September 14 – will be a success.

Started by a local agriculture teacher in the early 1900s, the 2019 Hammond Fair continues the long tradition of developing local youth’s agricultural knowledge during the two-day country fair – featuring skills contests, livestock shows, vegetable and homemaking judging, and so much more.

Hundreds of volunteer hours make the Hammond Fair function each year. The Hammond Fair Association includes the following officers: Chairman Kevin Toland, Vice Chairman Bill Stine, Treasurer Tina Gleason and Miranda Toland, Secretary Joan Hadlock, Assistant Secretaries Allison Barrigar, Ann Root, Chris Jewett, John Kingston, and Carol Wright.

Volunteers on the Hammond Fair Committees include the following: Gate Admission (Liz Bawden), Music (Steve Bogart and Bridget Sherman), Building and Grounds (Steve Bogart, Kevin Toland, Miranda Toland, James Gleason, Nancy Gleason, Tim Gleason, Tina Gleason, Kaitlyn Gleason, Ron Tulley, Cathy Tulley, Bill Stine, Tammy Stine, Jon Bickelhaupt, Roger Hadlock, Donald Greene), Food Booth (Jim Gleason, Nancy Gleason, Tim Gleason, Tina Gleason, Ron Tulley, Cathy Tulley, Kevin Toland, Miranda Toland, John Jewett, Chris Jewett, Shanna Ridsdale, Doug Side), Raffle Booth (Erin Cunningham, Lynn Milsap Spraberry, Shirley Bogart, Mary Rice, Shanna Ridsdale, John Wayne), Events and Games (Carolyn Pierce and family, Jennifer Gardner, Debbie Richards, Barb Hadlock, Bill Stine, Tammy Stine, Skip Hurlburt), Antique Equipment and Machinery (Bill Stine), Vendor Committee (Amanda Kroeger and Danielle Greene), Social Media Director and Website Designer (Kaitlyn Gleason and Piper Phalen).

Much gratitude is also extended to the fair department superintendents, including the following: Terry Neuroth and Bill Stine (Dairy Cattle), Allison Root Barrigar (Sheep), Anna Moon (Goats), Timothy Gleason and James Gleason (Beef Cattle), Susan Ellis (Horses and Ponies), Mia Brown (Poultry), Caleb Stamper (Rabbits), Natalie Towne (Farm and Garden), and Joan Hadlock and Barb Hadlock (Homemaking).

Much gratitude has also been extended to the Town of Hammond crew for all their help to make this year’s Hammond Fair happen.

Clubs and organizations are invited to come and volunteer during the Hammond Fair, and/or set up booths in the homemaking building.

With less than a week before youth start bringing their projects to their Hammond Fairgrounds, there is much excitement for all that the 2019 Hammond Fair is going to bring.

Hammond Fair officials have announced that there is going to be lots to see and do at this year’s fair!

The new attractions this year includes the following: A scarecrow making contest. All are encouraged to make a scarecrow at home or bring the items and assembly at the fair – and enter it into the costs. A number will be assigned, and people will vote on their favorite. Prizes will be awarded in this contest. Pumpkin Carving Contest: All are encouraged to carve a pumpkin at home or decorate a pumpkin and bring it to the fair. A number will be assigned, and there will be a people’s choice vote.

Returning attractions include the following: Cake Decorating Contest (for adults), Pet Show (dress up your animal and parade around), Cake Walk, Bossy Bingo, Children’s Games, raffles, artificial flower and wreath decoration contest.

The full schedule of events has been published as follows:

On Thursday, September 12, exhibits will start coming on the fairgrounds at 1 p.m.

On Friday, September 13, a Fitting and Showmanship Clinic will start at 9 a.m. FFA and 4-H Judging Contests will follow at 10:15 to 11 a.m. At 11 a.m., the beef show will commence, followed by the dairy showmanship and individual classes. Also at 11 a.m., the vegetable and homemaking judging will commence. At noon, Hammond Central School will have music on the grounds. At 3 p.m., there will be an ice cream social with entertainment. Bossy Bingo will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. An outdoor movie will be shown at 8 p.m. (when dark).

On Saturday, September 14, exhibits open at 9 a.m. The 4-H Draft Horse/Horse Show, Rabbit Show, Poultry Show, Sheep Show, Swine Show, Goat Show will commence at 9:30 a.m. At 11 a.m., there will be entertainment. At 12:30 p.m., there will be games for everyone who wants to participate. At 1:30 p.m., there will be Bossy Bingo. At 2 p.m., there will be an ice cream social, pet show, and cake walk. At 3:30 p.m., there will be recognitions, decorated cake auction, drawing for raffle prizes, and the announcement of scarecrow contest winners and pumpkin carving winners.

Hammond Fair entries are open to 4-H and FFA members of St. Lawrence County and Jefferson County. Any non-member aged 18 and under who clears his or her entry with the department superintendent may also be eligible. There is no entry fee in any department.

The entire North Country community is invited to the 80th Annual Hammond Fair on Friday, September 13 and Saturday, September 14. Fair officials confirm that there should be plenty of exciting things for everyone to see and do at this year’s fair!

For more information, visit HammondFair.com.