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Gouverneur, NY, 13642
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Local News

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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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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

Don’t forget: Walk With A Doc comes to Gouverneur this Saturday

Dan McClelland

All are invited to join a variety of St. Lawrence County healthcare providers for a walk on the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fairgrounds track at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 31 and discover a new and safe place to walk.

This latest St. Lawrence County Public Health “Walk With a Doc” event is open to the community, as are all Walk With a Docs. It is co-hosted by the Community Health Center of the North Country.

Participation is free and pre-registration is not required. Walkers will enjoy friendly conversation with health care professionals who will provide support and answer questions during the walk. All walks are held the last Saturday of the month.

SLC Public Health invites everyone to check out the county trails site at to discover more nearby outdoor walking opportunities.

For more information please Brigette Sanderson at 315-229-3404, or go to And there is more on the event on St. Lawrence County Public Health’s Facebook Page, @SLCPublicHealth.

Walk with a Doc is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages and reverse the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle in order to improve the health and well-being of the country.

GCSD Board of Education to hold public hearing on School Safety Plan

Dan McClelland

The Gouverneur Central School District will hold a public hearing on August 26, 6:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria, 133 East Barney Street, Gouverneur. The regular meeting of the GCDS Board of Education will take place following the public hearing.

The purpose of the hearing is to discuss updates and revisions to the School Safety Plan, as enumerated in Education Law and Commissioner’s Regulations. The plan is designed to prevent or minimize the effects of serious violent incidents and emergencies and to facilitate the coordination of school and the school district with local and county resources in the event of such incidents or emergencies.

A 30-day comment period will follow the public hearing. Comments may be directed to Robert Klimowicz, School Resource Officer, at until September 25, 2019.

The District Safety Committee has opening(s) for parent representative(s). Anyone interested on serving on the Safety Committee should contact Officer Klimowicz.

Gouverneur properties not in tax foreclosure auction concern local leaders

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

St. Lawrence County has decided not to include six properties – five residential, and one commercial – in Gouverneur in its upcoming tax foreclosure auction… and that reality drew some discussion from concerned town, village leaders at the August 13 town board meeting.

The topic was raised by Town of Gouverneur Code Enforcement Officer Michael McQuade who said the following: “I received this year’s tax foreclosure list and it was three colors orange, blue and white… Blue is people that paid their taxes, so they wouldn’t be foreclosed on. White, they are in tax sale that is coming up September 15. And then the color orange… I showed (Supervisor Dave Spilman, Jr.) this morning that there are five homes and one commercial property that the county will not take possession of, due to what they feel is not salvageable. I personally, don’t feel that it is right.

“Standpoint 1: They should notify us. Standpoint 2: A village or a town should make that call, not somebody that sits at the county level. Take for instance the house across from Mills Park… that was sold last year at the tax sale for $8,000. The guy had to put $30,000 into it. You go by it right now, it looks like a totally different home with new windows, vinyl siding on the front. I can their feelings on it, but to me, give it a chance. Give to somebody for $1. Give it to him. Say, “Here you’ve got five years to fix it up.”

“Then the other one apparently, the commercial property has contamination, which back in 2011, the tanks were taken out of the ground, and nobody at the county ever got records of it. So, for us being the town and the village both, it comes back on the taxpayer. So we’ve got five homes that are not going up on the tax sale, that are going to sit for another year. If they are not good to sell now, what do you think they are going to look like in a year?”

Supervisor Spilman then said, “They are probably not going to do anything next year either.”

Town of Gouverneur Deputy Supervisor Eldon Conklin said, “Well, I think the code enforcement officer should have been involved in making the decision…”

Supervisor Spilman then said, “I called the county attorney’s office this morning, and it was a joint effort between the county attorney’s office, Real Property, and the treasurer’s office. There was a group that was formed to take a look at them.

“Mike and I went to take a look at these today. All of these structures are still standing. I mean, I have seen worse that have been brought back to life. But what happens now? They just sit there. If the county took them back, then at least sold them, like Mike said, for $1, just to put them back on tax roll. I voiced my concern to Henry Leader today. I don’t know if he was aware of it by the sound of our conversation. These residential properties are in tough shape, but like Mike said, the one down over the hill… We bid on it at the tax sale last year. I knew what we would be getting with it. We were going to level the place, but this guy is rebuilding it, and he has done a good job doing it. I don’t know. It doesn’t set well with me either. And all five of these properties are in the Village.”

Deputy Supervisor Conklin then commented, “If the foundation and the basic structure of the property is sound, why then it is salvageable, I would think.”

Supervisor Spilman then said, “I don’t know what our next step would be.”

Town Councilwoman Jaimee McQuade then commented as follows: “Well they are just going to sit there. I think it is awful, I agree… My sister bought one three or four years ago for $2,000. My father gutted it, and rebuilt it. It had water coming out of the walls. The water was off. It shot out of walls, out of the ceiling. She took six Dumpsters out of 900 sq. foot house… if that tells you anything. If there is a will, there’s a way. I don’t know why in this world we are not just giving them to families…”

Gouverneur Fire Chief Thomas Conklin then said, “We’ve been in two vacant properties that were vacant from fire calls from reports from other people about incidents there. There’s been junk paraphernalia found in it. I know that two I have been to myself this year where it is vacant, and we were called there for some reason. The smoke alarm batteries are dead, and the neighbor thinks the smoke alarm is going off. You go in there, and the rooms are littered with drug paraphernalia.”

“The County is setting it up for that,” Councilwoman McQuade said. “We’ve got to look at it, and then we’ve got to pay for cutting the grass, snow removal on the sidewalks… Who is paying for that? It’s terrible.

“It’s a terrible decision,” Supervisor Spilman said. “Goes to show you that the County isn’t right about everything.” He then encouraged all those gathered to voice their opinions to St. Lawrence County Legislator District 5 Henry Leader (R-Gouverneur) the next time they saw him.

During his time for comments, Village of Gouverneur Mayor Ron McDougall made the following comments on the issue: “Zombie properties, for lack of a better term… The towns and the villages throughout the county have certainly done a lot of lobbying, I guess you could say a full-court press, on the sales tax issue. I know some legislators, some, that if there is a sales tax question in the towns and the villages, will not even go to their town and the village boards and say, “Well, I voted for the sales tax cut. Politically in the future, if you are thinking about running for a countywide office in St. Lawrence County and you are a legislator and you voted to cut the sales tax to local municipalities, forget it. I don’t care what party you are in, it’s not going to work.

“So, all of a sudden, we sort of get hit. We have six properties, five homes and one commercial. So I am just taking a venture that there are 60, or many more than that countywide, maybe closer to 100. So, it’s interesting because there’s going to be a big pushback on this. I don’t think it is right. The town board doesn’t think it is right. Mike doesn’t think it is right. (Village Trustee Troy Besaw) doesn’t think it is right. I think some of these places can be salvaged. A great example is on Mill St., which Mike alluded to…. There’s a case in point, an example to the county. That’s just my soapbox on this listening to Mike and the town board here. We’ll get at this. We’ll lobby this too.

“A little discouraging, but maybe it shows that the Town Supervisors Association and the Mayors Association have made progress on the sales tax issue. I will look at it that way.”

No more comments were expressed on the issue at the town board meeting.

The next meeting of the Town of Gouverneur Council is to be held on Tuesday, September 3, 6 p.m., in the town offices building.

Country Artist John Michael Montgomery puts on crowd-pleasing performance on county fair's opening night

Dan McClelland

FRONT _ Country Star 1 pic copy.jpg

by Jessyca Cardinell

The grandstands of the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair were filled on its opening evening Tuesday, July 30 as spectators were ready to enjoy the music of country star John Michael Montgomery.

Tony Lynn, DJ of 95.3 The Wolf, introduced the country music legend, stating the star proudly totes 38 top ten hits throughout his extensive career.

Montgomery and his band traveled all the way from Kentucky, Montgomery’s stomping grounds, the night before to join its New York fans.

As John Michael Montgomery took to the stage with his high energy and southern charm, the crowd of people went wild with excitement. He kicked off the evening singing the song “Cowboy Love,” followed by “Beer and Bones” and a crowd pleasing favorite “Life’s A Dance.”

The evening carried on with songs including “I Love The Way You Love Me,” “I Can Love You Like That” and “Cover You In Kisses.”

The crowd was able to join in singing along to the song “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)” as the evening came to a close and everyone left satisfied.

Shirts were on sale and many fans were able to show off their love and support of John Michael Montgomery with great pride.

Along with his successes, includes selling over 15 million copies of his CDs worldwide and two of his songs were covered by R&B artists.

It was a fantastic night for everyone to enjoy and remember as the band put on an energy filled, fun show for its audience.

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Natural gas line breach causes unprecedented product loss

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

Village of Gouverneur Mayor Ron McDougall arrived at the Town of Gouverneur Council’s July 9 meeting to talk about the natural gas line breach that occurred by Gouverneur Hospital, 77 W. Barney St., Gouverneur on Tuesday, July 2.

A subcontractor working for JL Excavation LLC punctured a six-inch gas main with a two-inch drill that was reportedly coming from the other side of the road underground. The work was being done as part of the Village of Gouverneur’s Water Improvement Project.

“They were trying to hook up, get into the hospital. That’s what that was about,” Mayor McDougall said. “Very unfortunate. I can only imagine the legal quagmire this is going to cause.”

A large six-inch gas main was struck and punctured by a two-inch drill coming from the other side of the road underground. Crews evacuated houses in the area of concern and held everyone in the hospital until it was deemed safe. Enbridge crews worked to make a temporary bypass on scene as the gas could not be shut off. After six hours and 20 minutes the gas was contained to the bypass line. Gouverneur Fire crews and Enbridge were on scene for 11 hours.

“The good news is nobody got hurt,” Mayor McDougall said. “It was a tremendous inconvenience to the community, roadblocks, business into the hospital they reopened to take patients at 7 o’clock that night… A lot of cooperation with the police, DPW, fire department, rescue squad, DOT, probably left some people out… and of course, St. Lawrence Gas put a plan together. You know they have a situation when that happens.

“As far as the gas lines, it is one of the largest lines they have had, you know, fracture I’m told in decade or two. But as far as loss, the greatest loss since they have been in business anywhere in the North Country – the greatest loss in gas, a product as they call it. There’s lots of business people in here. That means money – product, loss, gone.

“There will be ramifications, but nobody got hurt. We got a lot of cooperation. We were mighty glad to get that pipeline in and get the bypass in, which was about 6:30 at night on July 2. So anyways, it could have been much worse. I appreciated the cooperation with all involved.”

Gouverneur Fire Department was dispatched to scene at 12:32 p.m. on July 2. They extend gratitude to the Gouverneur Police Department for their help in securing the area and helping with traffic control, the Gouverneur Rescue Squad for standing by at the scene, the Gouverneur Hospital staff for understanding the severity of the incident and working with the GFD crew to make sure everyone in the hospital was safe, Village of Gouverneur DPW, and the firefighters at the Richville Fire Department and Oxbow Fire department for covering the GFD station while they were on the scene.

No further comments were made at the town board meeting.

The next Village of Gouverneur Board of Trustees meeting is to be held on Tuesday, July 16, 7 p.m., in the municipal courtroom.

The next meeting of the Town of Gouverneur Council is to be held on Tuesday, August 13 at 6 p.m. in the town offices building.

Gouverneur Hospital “Lunch and Learn” Free Community Program to be held June 25

Dan McClelland

The June Lunch & Learn program at Gouverneur Hospital will be held on Tuesday, June 25 at 11:30 am in the GH Community Room. The presentation for this month is “Allergic Rhinitis, Seasons, Symptoms and Treatment”. Presented by John Welborn, NP, Edwards Health Center.

The program is free and open to all. Lunch will be served at 11:30 am with presentation and questions to follow. For easy access enter Entrance 3 at GH. Advance reservations are required by June 24. For more information or to reserve your spot today, contact Bonnie Porter at 315.535.9309 or Bring a friend or relative. GH Lunch and Learn Programs are scheduled the fourth Tuesday of the month.

Flag Day Celebration to be held Sunday at fairgrounds

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

The Gouverneur Chamber of Commerce sponsored Flag Day Celebration and Local Business Extravaganza is to be held on Sunday, June 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fairgrounds. The parade will be at 2 p.m.

Fun for the whole family starts at 10 a.m. with the welcoming address, and music until noon.

The Gouverneur Elks Lodge No. 2035 between noon and 1 p.m. will present the Flag Day Service to honor the American flag, to celebrate the anniversary of its birth, and to recall the achievements attained beneath its folds.

Activities on the fairgrounds throughout the day include the following: Vendors and business displays, food and refreshments, farmers market and craft tables. More vendors are welcome to join. Call the Chamber at (315) 287-0331 to reserve space. The spaces are free to Chamber members and current farmers market vendors.

There also will be a patriotic kite contest (for 13-18 year olds only). The Gouverneur Recreation Center will be on hand to keep kids entertained with games and a bounce house (donated by Aubuchon Hardware). There also will be balloon animals and face painting. Flags and balloons will be given throughout the day (donated by Northern Federal Credit Union, Newvine’s NAPA Auto Parts, and the Gouverneur Chamber of Commerce).

The Flag Day Parade will commence at 2 p.m. around the fairgrounds track. All are invited to join, just call the Chamber office at (315) 287-0331 to let them know. Clubs, individuals, businesses and organization welcome to join in the fun. There will be a $50 prize for the Best Patriotic Float.

Mark your calendars now to attend the 2019 Flag Day Ceremony and Local Business Extravaganza, sponsored by the Gouverneur Chamber of Commerce, this Sunday, June 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fairgrounds.

Village trustees stall on proposal to implement Church St. parking restrictions

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

The Village of Gouverneur Board of Trustees at its May 21 meeting did not proceed to amend a proposed local law to restrict parking on Church St. in Gouverneur to accommodate the movements of the St. Lawrence County Public Transit around the bus stop at the village park.

Faithful readers of the Gouverneur Tribune Press will recall that SLC Mobility Manager Frank Doldo arrived at the April village board meeting to explain the necessity of the Church St. parking restrictions (on parking spaces from the bus shelter toward Grove St.). A preliminary study, conducted by Mr. Doldo, showed that it would not impact parking at the village park, and would provide a much-needed service in the local community as well as in St. Lawrence County.

The topic of amending the proposed local law was raised by Village of Gouverneur Mayor Ron McDougall as an item of old business, following the “next steps” that the village board informed SLC Mobility Manager Frank Doldo that the Village of Gouverneur Board of Trustees would need to take in order for the local law to be adopted.

Mayor McDougall first gave the floor to Attorney Henry Leader of Case & Leader, LLP, in Gouverneur who said the following: “I think it is a decision for the board. I know the board has had discussions the past couple meetings, and also you have had the presentation from Mr. Doldo. So then, the question is if the board wishes to have a bus stop in that area, and then secondly, under what parameters? Will the board desire to have hours for the parking? Or what would be the requirements that the board might have if it wishes to proceed?”

Mayor McDougall then reminded all in attendance that Trustee Rick Wood could not be in attendance. He then continued to comment as follows: “At least as far as I know from Frank’s presentation, it’s Monday to Friday at this time. So we should frame something, Monday through Friday and we should have hours, not 24/7/365. I don’t know what the hours might be, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. but I am not sure if that would do it or not without getting into more details… The last transportation meeting was on the same day as the workforce development meeting, so I did not attend. But the next one is June 20 in the Best Western in Canton, but I am not going to wait that long to talk to Frank. I’ll try to get hold of him and see what his suggestions are, and not only what he has now but what he anticipates in a year or two for bus runs and times.”

Mayor McDougall then asked if any of the village trustees had any comments that they would like to add.

Deputy Mayor Charles Newvine then spoke up, saying the following: “Not to correct you, Henry, but I don’t think the village has a choice whether or not it wants a bus stop there. It has already been erected. I think the only choice the village has is if they want to restrict parking in this area in certain times. That would be the only discussion I have. Other than I don’t think there is a reason to entertain this motion again. The public told us what they wanted the first time that they did it.”

Mayor McDougall then said, “Henry, we’ll get together and try to draw up something that meets to everyone’s pleasure. Then we will vote on it in the not-too-distant future. We’ll have to have a public hearing in that regard.”

Deputy Mayor Newvine then asked, “Is that what this is tonight? In front of us is Local Law No. 1 of 2019. Do we need a motion to approve that local law or are we still just discussing it?”

“We have one, but we certainly want to amend it,” Mayor McDougall said.

“So, you are proceeding then?” Attorney Leader asked.

“It is my recommendation that we don’t need proceed with this local law,” Deputy Mayor Newvine said. “I think the public spoke for itself when we had the first local law, and it didn’t even receive a motion. I understand where Frank is coming from, but the bus stop that is there serves its purpose and to be frank about it, they didn’t abide by anything the local taxpayer has to do to erect a sidewalk or canopy or bench. They just proceeded to put it up in a spot that isn’t the most ideal location for a bus stop, at least parking-wise.”

Mayor McDougall then asked the village trustees if anyone felt any differently. Upon hearing no comments to that regard, he moved on to the next item on the meeting agenda.

While this discussion occurred at the local level, all were reminded by Mayor McDougall at the village board meeting that SLC Mobility Manager Doldo had made a presentation to the SLC Board of Legislators. On May 6, the county legislators voted to adopt the SLC Coordinated Transportation Plan, which includes plans to establish an intra-village bus shuttle service in Gouverneur. Mr. Doldo told the village board at the April meeting that a six-month study started on March 25 toward this goal. For more information about the SLC Coordinated Transportation Plan, visit

The next regular monthly meeting of the Village of Gouverneur Board of Trustees will be held on Tuesday, June 18, 7 p.m., in the municipal courtroom.

Gouverneur Breast Cancer Walk is next Saturday

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

With only a week until the 18th Annual Gouverneur Breast Cancer Walk, it is time for residents and businesses owners “pink out” their buildings before the “sea of pink” descends on Gouverneur next Saturday, May 18. The Gouverneur Breast Cancer Fund will announce the three pinkest businesses and individual homes during opening ceremonies.

The 18th Annual Gouverneur Breast Cancer Walk will be held on Saturday, May 18. Registration starts at 8:30am in the Gouverneur Village Park. Opening ceremonies will be at 10:15 with the walk immediately following. First 300 walkers to register will receive a gift bag. And t-shirts for anyone donating a minimum of $35.00.

The team and individual raising the highest amount of money will be recognized the day of the walk.

The Gouverneur Breast Cancer Fund hosts this annual walk to bring survivors, fighters and supporters together to honor all who have fought this fight, are fighting or to remember those no longer with us.

This one-mile walk is organized to raise funds for those fighting breast, ovarian or a cancer that has mestastized from said cancers.

The money raised is 100 percent used to assist these patients in St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis or Franklin Counties of New York with their household, utility, automobile, medical, prescription medication and many other necessary expenses during treatment.

There will be pink hair extensions, pink merchandise, raffles, bake sale and so much more available. All are encouraged to mark their calendars, and come out and join in this amazing event to celebrate the survivors, support those currently fighting and honor those no longer with us.

For more information and pledge forms, visit

Bickford Studios to be presented with Chamber Business of the Year on May 8

Dan McClelland

Bickford Studios, 3592 NY State Highway 58 in Fowler is this year's Gouverneur Area Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. The honor will be presented to Wilson and Glenda Bickford at the Chamber Banquet on Wednesday, May 8 at the Gouverneur Elks Lodge No. 2035, 1419 U.S. Highway 11 in Gouverneur. The public is welcome to attend. There will be a social hour from 6 to 7 p.m. with the banquet following. Tickets are $23, and available at the Chamber office and local banks.

The Gouverneur Chamber of Commerce in announcing the honor said the following, “Congratulations to Wilson and Glenda Bickford, your talents have given you a business to be proud of and we admire how much your artistry has given back to our community!”

The duo of Wilson and Glenda Bickford have showcased their artistic talents under one roof ever since Bickford Studios opened to the public in October 2009. The studio displays both Wilson's paintings and Glenda's photographs.

North Country native, artist and author Wilson Bickford is well-known in the North Country for teaching art classes and painting scenes of the Adirondacks. He and wife Glenda have traveled widely, presenting workshops as far away as California, bringing his "Fast and Fun" painting techniques to communities across this country and Canada.

Wilson is an artist and art educator. He has perfected the art technique of "wet-on-wet" painting. This extremely popular painting style is easy to learn and yields fantastic results. Bickford has even shared his knowledge, work, and talent with the artistically-inclined viewers in WPBS-TV's broadcast community. His painting series can now be seen on CreateTV.

Wilson has numerous online painting tutorials and demonstrations available to anyone online. Painting With Wilson Bickford is a well-loved program on public television. His workshops, demonstrations and lessons have enriched budding artists and promoted art to those who never considered themselves an artist. This is the miracle of Wilson Bickford – his work has inspired personal creativity and the spread of art in the world.

North Country native Glenda Bickford has turned her long-time photography hobby into a thriving business, Glenda Bickford Photography. She is well-known in the local community for her exceptional skill at taking portraits of children, seniors and pets both in the studio and on location.

The entire Gouverneur community is encouraged to attend the Annual Chamber of Commerce Dinner on Wednesday, May 8 and help recognize Wilson and Glenda Bickford. For more information, call the Chamber office at (315) 287-0331.

Gouverneur Kiwanis Club Benefit Auction to be held April 26

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

The time is quickly approaching to help the Kiwanis Club of Gouverneur, Inc. “serve the children of the world” starting right here in Gouverneur. The Gouverneur Kiwanis Benefit Auction, the largest fundraiser of the year for the Gouverneur Kiwanis Club, will be held on Friday, April 26, 7 p.m. at the Gouverneur Elks Lodge No. 2035, 1419 U.S. Highway 11, Gouverneur.

The Gouverneur Elks will be serving their famous Friday Night Dinner featuring prime rib from 5 to 7 p.m. All are encouraged to come early, preview the items up for auction, and bid high and often to support the many projects of the Gouverneur Kiwanis Club.

The auctioneer will be Don Peck of Gouverneur.

It was through the great support received from generous community members at last year's auction that the Gouverneur Kiwanis Club was able to maintain its many projects. The auction proceeds will benefit the Key Club Scholarship, Kiwanis Scholarship, Southwest Tech Service Award, Kiwanis Backpack Program, Holiday Food Drive to benefit local food pantries, Friday Senior Luncheon, and local sports teams. The Gouverneur Kiwanis Club is the parent organization to Gouverneur Key Club (for high school students), Gouverneur K-Kids Club (for elementary students), and the Gouverneur Builders Club (new this year at Gouverneur Middle School).

There will be a drawing for a 55-inch Samsung Smart TV, including HDMI cables, wall hanger brackets, and more, donated by Capital Assurance/AXA Advisors, Watertown, NY. Special appreciation has been extended to Micahel Leonelli and Carrie Penoyer. See any Kiwanis Club member for a ticket or call: (315) 578-2344 or (315) 276-5199.

The Gouverneur Kiwanis Club is seeking donations for the auction, including quality items or gift certificates, or even cash donations to carry on their projects. All support of the Gouverneur Kiwanis Club's many programs would be gratefully received. Contact any member for more information.

The Gouverneur Kiwanis Club is always seeking new members and new ideas. If you are interested in joining this global organization serving local kids, ask any Kiwanis member. Those interested can also check out the club Facebook page “Kiwanis Club of Gouverneur, Inc.” or the Kiwanis Wildcat Backpack Program page.

Two local contestants vie for SLC Dairy Princess crown

Dan McClelland

The St. Lawrence County Dairy Promotion will hold its 55 Dairy Princess Pageant on Saturday, April 20 at Madrid Community Building. Light refreshments and “Cowtails’’ will be served at 2:00 PM followed by the pageant. The St. Lawrence County Dairy Promotion Committee invites all members of the community to attend and most especially farmers. Reservations are not required and a suggested donation of $5.00 per person would be appreciated. Farmers are free.

Contestants running this year are: Chloe Renaud of Gouverneur, daughter of Brooke Bush and Derek Renaud sponsored by Scotch Acre Farm in Gouverneur. Elaina Wainwright on Rensselaer Falls, daughter of Michael and Heather Wainwright sponsored by Baynes Farms in DePeyster.

The Dairy Princess Program promotes and educates the public on the dairy industry, dairy products, and supports dairy farmers. Visit the St. Lawrence County Dairy Promotion FaceBook page for more information. Look for the new princess and their court at the Canton Dairy Princess Parade on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 1 p.m.

Free movie matinee at Gouverneur Community Center this Saturday

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

Town of Gouverneur Supervisor David Spilman Jr. announced at the April 9 Town of Gouverneur board that the Gouverneur Community Center will be open this Saturday, April 13, noon to 2 p.m. for a free movie matinee.

The movie is scheduled to be “Peter Rabbit,” the feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter's classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer's vegetable garden.

All are encouraged to attend.

Health & Hope Mission 1 John 3:18 Gouverneur Free Clinic closes its doors

Dan McClelland

by Rachel Hunter

The Health & Hope Mission 1 John 3:18, commonly referred to the Gouverneur Free Clinic, closed its doors on March 29, 2019.

Health & Hope Mission 1 John 3:18 was part of a larger not-for-profit organization called Christ Health Care Ministry. The mission of Christ Health Care Ministry is to support physical and spiritual healing of the least… and raise appropriate funds to operate the free clinics. Locally, Pastor Orv Eacker and Rachel Raven remain on the Board of Trustees.

“God had the clinic here for a season,” Rachel Raven said. “It served an amazing purpose and I am so glad to say we were a small part of it.

On Friday, March 29, volunteer staff helped load a U-Haul with the equipment and furniture from the Gouverneur Office. Much gratitude is extended to those volunteers that assisted in closing the clinic, including the following: Pastor Howard Maxson, James and Donna Moore, Vincent Ferry, Bill and Donna Thorpe, Mark Lingerman, Herb Fuller, Terry Meyers, Rachel Raven, and Noreen Boclair.

Executive Director Mark Lingerman delivered all the clinic content to a new clinic in Warwick NY. The new clinic has volunteer providers, nurses, and clerical staff in place and will open in the upcoming months. Christ Health Care Ministry also has a free clinic in Ferndale NY which is open weekly for uninsured.

“We would like to thank all our sponsors, individuals and local organizations that have helped us keep our doors open for the last six years,” Rachel Raven said. “We have met the healthcare needs of about eighty uninsured adults annually during this time. We (through God’s love and compassion) have provided an invaluable service of physical, emotional, and spiritual healing to our patients and our volunteer staff. We met patients where they were in life and provided the means to help care for the physical health issues, provide medication, routine cancer screenings, monitoring and diagnostics labs, and imaging.

“This was accomplished through the generous donations of our greater community. We have also had a pastor available during operational hours to meet with our patients on an as desired basis.”

Releases for medical records can be directed to PO Box 510 Gouverneur NY 13642 and any future donations to Christ Health Care Ministry can be made online through the website:

“Again, we would like to thank the community for being the hands and feet of this medical mission,” Rachel Raven said.

Capital Project Update: Voters to decide whether GCS uses $1 million capital reserve

Dan McClelland

by Jessyca Cardinell

The Gouverneur Central School District has been under a major overall, involving lots of construction and renovations. The first two phases of the $31.45 million dollar project have been completed. Phase one involving the East Side school's transformation into the upgraded Gouverneur Elementary. Phase two of the project upgraded the West Side school to become the new and improved Gouverneur Middle School.

Lauren French, GCS Superintendent of Schools, gave an update on the project to the Board of Education at their regular meeting held Monday March 25th in the high school auditorium. The project which was set to begin the third phase of construction in the high school had a setback as Mrs. French explained the Board would have to make a decision.

“The bids we received are far in excess of the amount of funds that we have. We have to look at the way to resolve that. What is difficult about this project, is it is not a stand alone project. So you cannot take down the Dean building, without having the ability to finish the area where the Dolan building and the 1961 high school come together. That has to be finished. That involves not only construction but it also involves all the mechanical, plumbing and electricity. Those bids were in excess of the funds that we have.” said Mrs. French

There were four options presented to the Board of Education to consider. Option one would be to rebid the project, option two would be better pricing, option three would be to completely cancel the rest of the project, option four, which was recommended, would use the $1 million dollar capital reserve. This capital reserve has been set aside for projects such as these to use if needed.

“We scaled back the project and have a suggestion for you to consider. That is that we had already put $1 million dollars in a Capital Reserve, that is a separate account. One thing I want to make very clear is that this Capital Reserve can only be used on the building project. So, I want you to make sure that you understand that I can't take that money and balance the budget. It can't be used for salaries or field trips. Just so that is out there, very clear. But that money can be used if the voters pass a referendum by saying we want to use the money that we've set aside for Capital Project to finish this portion of the project so that we can move everyone back into the high school. What that would do is address all the fire alarm systems in the high school, the Dolan building and the 1961 structure. It would take care of all the safety features, with the door closing in the double entry way and the swipe cards. It would remove all the remaining asbestos. It would remove the Dean building, it would also create areas in the Dolan building so that we have a way to enter the building and a way to egress out of the building. This would mean a new set of stairs. As I said, all the safety issues, it would renovate the bathrooms for school use on the first and second floors.” said Mrs. French, who went on to give the items that would have to be removed from the construction completely.

“What this would remove is technology closet, the closet that runs the internet and the local area networks for the school. That would be all up to date and completed ready to use.

“We would not be able to do anything with the third floor, this is the administration offices, that's not an issue to us. We're more than happy to sit upstairs as long as we have running water and heat. It would not address the areas that we wanted renovated in the cafeteria, in terms of the kitchen. It would not renovate the freezer areas, it would not address the old windows. Windows alone came in at $1.2 million. So when looking at the fact we had $5.2 million left, that had to be pulled out.” said Mrs. Lauren French

“The suggestion I am making to you, both Carol and I, would be that we educate the community and the use of the $1 million dollars in Capital Reserve, how beneficial it will be to be able to go back to the high school and get that building as safe and secure as the Elementary and the Middle School buildings are.” said Mrs. French

David Fenlong, President of the Board of Education then spoke to the Board explaining that there were four options the Board had to think about and decide on.

“The fourth option is of course the one Lauren said is most feasible and makes the most sense, but all four are on the table. She went into some detail on the fourth one, if you want to discuss the other three in more detail we can.” said Mr. Fenlong, as he went over the other three options.

“Rebidding this, just as she spoke, will come out worse. They will not rebid like they did the first time. If we rebid this I think we will fall back even further.

“Better prices offers the same exact scenario and finally to cancel the project entirely I think would be a foolish mistake. I think we need to preserve what we've started and everything gathered here completes the security and safety aspects that we started. Again if anyone would like to discuss options one through three or four further we can.” said President Fenlong.

Board member Nick Ormasen stated his opinion on the options presented to the Board of Education.

“I don't seriously want to consider this, but if we were to cancel the project, we would forfeit any additional money from the state and it would go back to the state that was approved for Capital Project?”

Business Manager Carol LaSala replied to Mr. Ormasen's question.

“I don't know that the money would go back, if we did not spend all the money. My concern with that is we already spent money on Phase Two as far as design and things like that. With that project being included, I don't know how we would prove we had those expenses.” said Mrs. LaSala.

“You wouldn't.” replied Board member Dr. William Cartwright.

“If you just trashed it, you would have problems in the future that you are going to have to figure out how to pay for it. Repair the roofing, the asbestos and probably water problems and so forth. They probably won't grant you another building project for five or six years, under the document, someone could come in and say, “why haven't you gotten rid of the asbestos here?” said Dr. Cartwright.

“I think it would also damage our credibility with the community.” said Board member Lisa McGregor.

“If we said to them we're not going to do this after you said its what you want.”

Board member Laurie Roberts posed the question of whether that $1 million dollars mentioned was in place for future projects and if it was in fact there for the capital reserve. Mrs. French confirmed that yes her thinking was correct.

“Hopefully in the future we can get that funding back up.” said Mrs. Roberts.

“That was my concern that if we did not move forward, we've lost not only the momentum on this, but what Dr. Cartwright points out. I think it would be very difficult to go back to the state and say, “we're ready now.” said Mrs. French, as she explained the funding may not be there in the future, as it is now.

“We looked at the cost of steel alone, that was a significant increase from the initial phase to when the tariffs went into place.” said Mrs. French, who explained there is only one firm that does a certain aspect of the construction, there is an 18 month wait. If the District does not stay on top of getting construction done, this could be an issue of things getting completed.

“Using the $1 million dollars that we already have set aside is going to be a matter of educating our community as to why we need to use that now to finish this project.

“I think we also hold out as much possible that is not directly student related. We all benefit from having a safe and secure and locked facility. We all benefit from swipe cards. Looking at the third floor alone, that was going to be an expense of I believe $489,000. We don't need that for office space, that was an easy thing to peel away. Some of the other things we don't want to peel away, so we've taken out everything else that you can take out and still have functioning. You can't have plumbing through floors one and two and not go to floor three. The same thing goes with electricity.” said Mrs. French

“So major construction will be on floors one and two, bridging the building back together and the large part of that is going to be the technology, setting up for second floor secure technology space for what runs the district.” said Mrs. French

“We have people who have turned in bids and they are willing to hold their bids at the level that we would accept through the duration of our project. So that is very nice to hear from them, because they don't have to do, but they are willing to do that.

“The timing is going to be not as pleasant as what we would have liked because now we can't move forward, until we get voter approval. Technically tonight you would have been accepting bids and now, we can't until May and we will take action in June, opposed to April, and that's if it passes.” said Mrs. French

Mr. Ormasen inquired if the district would have to scale back more of the project if the community does not vote to use the $1 million in reserve.

“There's nothing in this really left to remove. When you start taking this apart, the General Contractor number is about $4 million dollars, when you start layering in as I said, the plumbing, the electrical, the mechanical and the technology, that has to be an all or a none. You can't just say you'll do two thirds of the electrical, that's not going to work.

“I personally think, my intent is to run with your support of this project is to run this just like I ran the initial project, that is I will go out and speak to the people. I did 32 presentations for the initial project in 2014. We will speak with our staff, we'll speak with our community and we'll speak with the parents. The focus on this is safety and security of our students. The feedback that we've had on our Safety Resource Officer has been phenomenal. People want their children safe and I think that they will go ahead and say that we'd like our children safe in the high school as well.

This is not going to be an additional burden financially because we are using money that is set aside. It's just to have people understand that in my household the checking account and savings account go back and forth. I have that ability, but in a school I can't just take capital reserve funds and hire a teacher. That's going to be an educational point of view. That's not how people run their homes but that's how you have to run a school budget, so that's going to be a point of education.” said Mrs. French, as she asked the BOE members for their support in this fourth option.

Mr. Fenlong and Dr. Cartwright both explained that there is no wrong doing or mismanagement that caused this to happen with the Capital Project, but rather the 30% increase in tariffs. Mrs. Carol LaSala as well stated that there is a lot of work right now for construction companies so their bids are going to be higher at this time.

The Board of Education discussed what had been presented to them and it was then time to make a decision on the proposed proposition.

BOE member Lisa McGregor made a motion to approve the proposed proposition to be on the budget vote for registered voters of the community to have the ability to vote whether to use the $1 million capital reserve or not. Dr. Cartwright seconded the motion. The motion carried with one abstention.

As the future of the remainder of the Capital Project is up in the air, be sure to get out and vote on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.