Monthly Archives: March 2011

Gary Lee’s Daybreak to Twilight

Become an outdoorswoman by attending annual DEC workshop

Well, you sure wouldn’t know that spring arrived more than a week ago because it still feels like winter in most of the northern U.S. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing as the cold temperatures are holding the last few feet of snow in check.

Let’s hope it doesn’t all melt at once as there will be some flooding in the flat lands.

The two feet that remain in my yard is like solid water. The hard crust has made for very good traveling the last few days. Though I haven’t needed snowshoes, I bring them with me anyway.

My Uncle Max once went into Siamese Ponds on the opening day of trout season with his friend, Don Cull.

The going was great as they walked the seven miles in on hard crust. The lake was frozen and so were the inlets so the fishing was a bust.

The sun came out and melted the crust about noon when they were only halfway out. They post-holed the next two miles and had to quit as they were exhausted. They built a fire and waited until the crust froze over again.

They walked the remaining mile to the road, getting there about midnight.

Yesterday I saw where a group of four or five had walked up Third Lake Creek without snowshoes.

They could have been in the same fix but the crust stayed all day long.

I’ve taken a few jaunts out on the crust when checking my Beaver traps. I’ve been to West Pond in back of Limekiln Campsite a few times.

Otters had been sliding all over the snow the day I set traps there and they haven’t been back yet.

The Beaver were all working out getting some fresh tree limbs as their food had run out.

Now it’s all frozen up and they are traveling under the ice again. You can see the air bubbles under the ice where they have traveled.

This is so they can go further. They put their flat noses against the ice and suck in air at the bubble spots which allows them to travel under the ice long distances from their lodges.

The kits—Beavers in their first year—learn this trick and also travel with their parents far from the lodge.

A few times I’ve found where the Beaver have run out of food stored under the ice and moved to another location during the winter.

There has to be breaks of warmer weather during the season for this to happen however, which certainly rules out this winter.

All four galleries at the Arts Center/Old Forge are full of pictures, paintings and poems as the new exhibits H2O, Pointilism, and Scenery and Solitude opened last weekend. Photos by members of the Camera Club are hanging in the hallway.

I talked with Nancy LaSalle who does the Pointilism, one dot at a time. She said it takes her several hundred hours to do one piece. Now that’s patience.

I also visited with Steven Fletcher about his exhibit, Scenery and Solitude. It was his first opening and he was very nervous. It was Nancy LaSalle’s first opening as well.

If you haven’t been to the new Arts Center yet this would be a good place to start as it’s a beehive of activity.

The annual Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Workshop is being offered by DEC June 24 through 26, 2011 at the Silver Bay YMCA on Lake George in Warren County.

The program offers weekend-long, outdoor skills workshops for women ages 18 or older and is designed primarily for women with little or no experience with outdoor activities.

Nearly 40 different classes will be offered at this particular workshop.

They include canoeing, kayaking, fishing, fly fishing, shotgun shooting, GPS, map and compass, backpack camping, turkey hunting, day hiking, wilderness first aid, survival skills, archery, backpack camping, bowhunting, camp stove cooking, reading wildlife sign, muzzleloading and fish and game cooking.

Women can even earn a Hunter or Trapping Safety Education Certificate.

The early registration fees ranges from $270 to $290, which includes seven meals, two nights lodging, instruction in four classes, program materials and use of equipment.

Workshop information and registration materials are available from the Dec website at: http://www.dec,

Information is also available by calling DEC at (518) 402-8862 or writing to Becoming an Outdoors Woman, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, N.Y. 12233-4754.

Getting a few Beaver on the boards, but that’s another story. See ya.

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Growing up Adirondack by Mitch Lee

Antics of the ‘attack cat’ make for quite a yarn

My sister and I were in the living room winding skeins of yarn into balls for my mother. All the while we were trying to avoid attacks by our cat Blackie.

Blackie regarded the living room as her own personal Serengeti, and like a lioness she chased down anything that moved in her territory.

My father liked to make matters worse. From time to time he would dole out small doses of catnip to the energetic cat which only fueled her pouncing passion.

I sat cross-legged on the floor with the yarn draped between my hands as my sister wound the yarn.

Suddenly I felt Blackie’s claws dig into my shoulder. She was using me as a platform to dive-attack the yarn dangling between me and my sister.

I was so startled by the attack that I sat frozen in terror. I felt blood weeping down my back from the cat’s scratches. I was only five-years-old and tried very hard to hold back the tears.

Meanwhile Blackie scampered about, making five or six quick turns around us.

She made a strange growling sound and laid her head close to her body. She sat motionless and we sensed she was planning another pounce.

Simultaneously, my sister and I dropped the yarn and fled to the comfort of the couch. We tucked our feet underneath us, leaving the yarn on the floor for Blackie to dismember.

After having her way with the yarn she retreated for cover behind the couch.

I knew we were not going to be able to resume our yarn-rolling until the effects of the catnip wore out, so I started another task.

I took sections of the Sunday newspaper and folded them in a tent-like fashion to build a long tunnel on the floor.

But it was soon massacred by Blackie who ran through at the speed of light. If one dared to have had so much as a toe close to her target, it would have been bloodied in her path.

I played this game with her a while. After about an hour she became sleepy.

She plopped herself down on a spot on the floor that had been warmed by the late morning sun.

As she laid there I stroked her head. Even in a deep sleep her movement continued.

I watched in amazement as her tail slapped the floor every five seconds or so.

With the exhausted cat snoozing soundly just three feet away, my sister and I resumed our yarn project.

The only evidence that remained of the Adirondack attack cat carnage was the surrounding mounds of shredded newspaper.

Mitch Lee, Adirondack native & storyteller,lives at Big Moose

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Talkin’ Code with Andrew Getty

Since 2004: Single family construction yet to show big uptick

Though the number of new single family homes built in 2010 was 26—fewer than half the number built just six years earlier in 2004—commercial construction was nearly as high as it has been all decade.

Residential additions and remodeling projects have stayed fairly strong throughout the decade, with the most discernable off-year being in 2005 when the number dipped to 89 from a high of 128 in 2002.

The numbers rebounded quickly, however, with the highwater mark of 128 being hit again in 2008.

There was a precipitous drop in applications to the Town of Webb Zoning Board of Appeals after a 2003 high of 48.

The yearly decline that followed bottomed out in 2007 with a mere 15 applications being filed.

That was the second lowest yearly amount of the decade.

Increases have happened in each year that followed, with numbers continuing to be relatively strong.

Planning Board applications also surged to start the decade, and though current numbers aren’t as high, they too remain strong.

Where do you think 2011 will be?

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Student blues composers perform for library concert

A Blues Concert was held at the Old Forge Library on Sunday, March 27, featuring the participants in the Blues Frees the Spirit Songwriting Workshop, who performed original blues songs they had composed during the three-session workshop.

The workshop, which was also held at the library, was conducted by blues musicians and composers, Monk Rowe and John Hutson.

The pair added electric instrumentation to the student concert performances—Rowe on keyboard and Hutson on guitar—along with drummer Tom McGrath.

Those performing their original blues songs included Justin Bennett and Grover Bennett, both of Ilion; Gwen Tracy, Jim Tracy, Patti Delano, Mary Brophy Moore, all of Old Forge; Bella Beck of Woodgate with assistance by Izzie Worthen of Old Forge; and Maureen Van Slyke, Big Moose.

An original blues song by David Beck of Woodgate, was performed by Monk Rowe and John Hutson.

A reception with refreshments followed the concert.

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Arts Center holds reception to open latest exhibits

The Arts Center/Old Forge held an afternoon reception on Saturday, March 26 to open its themed exhibition, H20, which featured visual and written works submitted by anyone wishing to enter their work in the juried exhibit.

The judge for visual arts was Debra Burrington, noted watercolor painter and owner of Gallery 3040 in Old Forge.

Judging the written works was Bibi Wein, author of several books, short stories and a contributor to various magazines.

Honors and monetary prizes were awarded to the winners in both categories.

The Written Works first place winner was Adrienne Grago for “Names of Lesser Lakes.”

Second Place winner was James Longstaff for “Rock Mulls things Over from a Bend in the Wapsipinicon.”

Third Place winner was Donna C. Veeder for “Northern Spring.”

The first place winner for visual arts was Sandra Hildreth for her 60 “x 40” oil painting, Rocks & Water.

Second place was awarded to Constance Smith for her watercolor, Black River Series #6.

The third place winner was Tom McCarthy for his 24” x 20” photograph, Icicalation.

The show also featured two new exhibits:

Scenery and Solitude by Stephen Fletcher, whose paintings often depict mountain people, and the exhibit, Pointilism: Something Different, by pointilism artist, Nancy LaSalle of Utica. They will be on view until May 7.


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Marketing the Adirondacks: Mike Farmer reflects on h is first full year as Town of Webb publicity director

Town of Webb Publicity Director Mike Farmer said he is looking forward to the quiet of the post-snowmobile, pre-summer shoulder season, but not because he intends to slow down.

Farmer said he plans to spend the month of April regrouping and planning for the town’s upcoming marketing season.

And it’s the first time he’s had the chance, because at this time last year, Farmer had just been hired as publicity director.

“I missed this season,” he said. “This time last year it was a get-down-and-go-to-work period; and I had a lot to learn.”

Now that he had a year under his belt, Farmer said he plans to reflect on marketing changes that may need to be made for the future.

“This year, I can look at the results of the advertising and marketing plan we did last summer and tailor things for the upcoming season,” he said.

Since he was new to the job, Farmer said that in many ways he was making up the plan as he went along.

But now, having time to reflect, he sees where he can coordinate a little better for this next summer.

“I found I was a little ahead of myself. In marketing the Town of Webb, I was marketing a brand, but I hadn’t really defined what that brand is,” he said.

Farmer said he has a better handle going into this year.

Old Forge is the “name recognition” component, but each hamlet in the Town of Webb is a necessary component.

Farmer said he plans to shine a light on the whole Town of Webb in future marketing efforts.

And he’s already started in some of the town’s early-season print advertising, he said.

“I have started to list the hamlets—Thendara, Eagle Bay, Big Moose, Stillwater, Beaver River…”

Farmer said those names and places have a charm and character that locals may tend to lose sight of.

“If you wanted to give someone the impression of the Adirondacks, you couldn’t find made-up names that would do the job any better,” he said.

“So first, I want to include all those communities. This is a group effort, and I don’t want them to feel overshadowed by the emphasis on Old Forge. They are all really important,” he said.

Farmer likens the “Old Forge only” marketing approach to a steak dinner.

“Without the potatoes, the vegetable, there’s nothing,” he said.

Farmer said he intends to carry news of the Town of Webb to the major advertising markets, along with a description:

“This is Adirondack.”

And indeed it is, Farmer said.

“As soon as visitors arrive, we’ve got everything they want in an Adirondack vacation. They don’t need to go any farther. And with the gas prices, they don’t want to,” he said.

And the individual hamlets that make up the Town of Webb are its jewels, he said.

There have always been people that come to stay in Old Forge partially because they want to get up to “Big Moose,” according to Farmer.

“I bet people look on maps sometimes to see if it’s really a place,” he added.

So when people think of the Adirondacks—and many do, all across the country—we need them to also think Old Forge, Farmer said.

“I want to help them make that association.”

Farmer said his best tool in crafting a marketing approach, has been the area’s many visitors.

He said he frequently introduces himself and asks four questions of people and families he sees on the street.

• Where are you from?

• Have you been here before?

• How did you hear about us?

• How long are you staying?

“I found myself getting more information than I ever anticipated. I didn’t need more questions,” he said.

And when he took the answers and distilled them, Farmer said he found that people are simply comfortable here.

“They get out of their cars when they arrive, and they feel at home,” he said.

Comfort, scenery, and plenty of things to do and enjoy. That’s the Old Forge area’s special combination, Farmer said.

“That feeling of comfort in concert with the natural recreation, however they want to enjoy that. Whether they want to sit on a dock or ride the cruise boat; paddle down the river and ride the train back, or mountain bike at McCauley. Whatever level they choose, there is plenty for them to enjoy.

“We team the rustic, classic, Adirondack recreation with that feeling that everybody’s comfortable here. That’s our brand,” he said. “It’s pretty simple stuff.”


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Adirondack North Country Association t aps Mike Farmer for board of directors

Local publicity director should strengthen Herkimer County voice, says Dick Bird

Mike Farmer was elected to the Board of Directors of the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) at the organization’s quarterly meeting held last week in Malta.

Farmer, who resides in Old Forge and serves as publicity director for the Town of Webb, had been nominated by Dick Bird, he said.

Bird, a longstanding ANCA board member and Central Region Vice President, said he is pleased to have Farmer onboard.

“It will give northern Herkimer County an opportunity to participate in economic development and tourism activities that are sponsored with ANCA,” he said.

The statewide Scenic Byways program is among the projects ANCA is currently involved with, according to Bird.

ANCA also seeks to bring grant monies to worthwhile economic development projects in the Adirondacks, he said.

“Mike’s involvement should give some good representation for Herkimer County,” he added.

And Farmer said he can’t wait to get started with ANCA.

“I’m honored to have been chosen to participate,” Farmer said, adding that ANCA has a long history of working for economic development across the North Country.

“They understand and give support to local businesses, local industries, and the local people, and I’m looking forward to being a part of it,” Farmer said.

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