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On Friday evening, February 10, Bolton residents and mother/daughter duo Kate Van Dyck and Charlotte Caldwell hosted the first Bolton Landing “Next Up Huddle” at the town’s Conservation Club.

On Friday evening, February 10, Bolton residents and mother/daughter duo Kate Van Dyck and Charlotte Caldwell hosted the first Bolton Landing “Next Up Huddle” at the town’s Conservation Club.

Women’s March Inspires Formation of “PowerOnDacks Coalition” in Bolton

By Michele DeRossi

Monday, March 13, 2017

The unprecedented marches on January 22 that rallied people throughout the country and the world were, in retrospect, only the beginning of a larger movement. It was “Action Number One” in a set of Ten Actions to be performed in  the first 100 Days of the current administration.

The explicitly non-violent movement’s second action took the form of  “Next Up Huddles”, community-building meetings convened to identify future steps and to envision ways to continue the marches’ momentum.

On Friday evening, February 10, Bolton residents and mother/daughter duo Kate Van Dyck and Charlotte Caldwell hosted the first Bolton Landing “Next Up Huddle” at the town’s Conservation Club. About 40 men and women of all ages attended the meeting, which attracted people from Saratoga Springs, Brant Lake, Silver Bay, Hague, Bolton and Warrensburg, among other places.  When asked what inspired her to host the event, Caldwell said, “My mom and I were both disappointed that we were not able to attend a Women’s March, but we were extremely inspired by the marches that took place around the world. When I saw the “Next Up Huddle” as part 2 of the action campaign, I knew I had to host one.”

Led by Van Dyck and Caldwell, the group, which represented  all walks of life, discussed various  methods of action, including contacting local and national officials, increasing support for potentially at-risk organizations and maintaining a sense of action as time continues to pass since the Women’s March. Caldwell said, “I felt it was a way to get community members together to talk not about what we are against but what we stand for. I wanted to share our goals and exchange ideas for how we can achieve these goals whether they be local or global, short term or long term. Most importantly, I wanted to take part in helping this moment become a movement-making sure the Women’s March wasn’t just a single, day-long event but a movement that helps motivate people to become involved in their own communities and work towards positive change.” According to the Women’s March website, the Bolton “Huddle” was one of 5,100 Huddles held across 6 continents from Zambia to Bogota to Tokyo and in almost every American state.

Since the Bolton “Huddle”, members of the group have maintained contact through social media, sharing information about local events, similar groups and available resources. Named the PowerOnDacks Coalition, the group promotes a positive, inclusive space in which people can discuss their ideas, empower the community and “come together for social and political change”.

The Women’s March movement continues to grow throughout the country and the world, engaging people in extensive conversations about equality, justice and freedom and what those ideals mean to each of us. The third and current Action in the campaign is “Hear Our Voice”, a collective wave of direct engagement with local officials at Town Halls or congressional meetings. Currently, 255 “Hear Our Voice” events have occurred throughout the country with communities working to educate themselves to effectively bring issues such as refugee and immigration policies, affordable healthcare, gun violence and more to the table.

For more information or to get involved in the Coalition, attend the community meeting or contact Charlotte Caldwell at charlottecaldwell518@gmail.com.

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Bolton Central School, Bolton Landing

Bolton Central School, Bolton Landing

Performing Arts Building Proposed for Bolton Central School

By Anthony F. Hall

Thursday, March 2, 2017

An $8.8 million performance space that could serve an entire community will be constructed at the Bolton Central School if a referendum passes on March 8.

The new 17,000 sq ft CAMP (an acronym for Community, Arts, Music, Performance), a semi-detached, 250 seat auditorium that would be accessible even when school is not in session, was introduced to the public at a meeting on January 12.

According to the school’s business manager, $7 million would be raised from taxpayers. Annual taxes would rise by $18 per $100,000 of assessed value for the duration of the 22 year bond.

“We’re a better community with Bolton Central School; what improves the school will improve the community. If a performing arts center is open to the community and private sector groups, all the better,” said town Supervisor Ron Conover. “I hope the residents give the proposal the thought it deserves.”

The proposition was not arrived at lightly, Superintendent Michael Graney told the residents attending the public meeting in January.

“The School Board’s Facility’s Committee has spent a busy three years focusing on meeting the requirements of the New York State Department of Education, on the needs of our academic programs and on strenthening our collaboration with the community,” said Graney.

An auditorium will advance the school’s educational and civic goals, Graney said.

New and improved facilities will not only serve the numbers of students expected to matriculate at Bolton Central School through the forseeable future but attract additional students, said Graney.

Graney said the school’s population is expected to stabilize at slightly less than 200 students, a sustainable number.

Tenee Rehm Casaccio, the Glens Falls architect who is an alumna of Bolton Central School, was asked to assess the school’s facilities in light of its needs and strategic goals. The semi-detached auditorium was among her recommendations.

Adressing the January 12 public meeting, Casaccio said the lack of suitable facilities is among the obstacles preventing the school from pursuing its objectives, among them, an arts curriculum equal in strength to its science, technology, engineering and math program.

More than 80% of Bolton’s students participate in music programs without adequate facilities, Casaccio said.

By moving rooms now used for music instruction to the new auditorium, more space would also become available for technology programs, said Casaccio.

Moreover, the gymnasium does not lend itself to the performing arts, said Casaccio.

As a performing arts space, the gym lacks seating, air conditioning, decent acoustics, a full-sized stage and back-stage spaces for storage and rehearsals, Casaccio said.

“There’s too many activities for this one room; it’s burdened with too many, often conflicting uses,” said Casaccio.

Deb Gaddy, a retired Physical Education teacher, agreed, stating her classes were often forced to meet elsewhere or wait in corridors because the gymnasium was occupied by students in other programs.

According to school officials, a portion of the costs of the new auditorium would come from the legacy of Fred and Erika Uhl, summer residents who left more than $600,000 for art programs and arts-related scholarships to the school.

Casaccio said representatives of the Sagamore, the Lake George Theater Lab, The Sembrich, the Darrin Fresh Water Institute, the Lake George Association and other organizations have all expressed interest in making use of the new facility.

“It would be a huge asset to to our community,” said Casaccio.

“The school has made good arguments for the educational need for the facility; the fact that it has applications for the town and the private sector is just icing on the cake,” said Ron Conover.

The proposed auditorium is expected to be discussed at the next meeting of the Bolton Central School Board of Education, which will be held in the school library on February 13 at 6:30 pm.

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US Representative Elise Stefanik discussing federal efforts to combat aquatic invasive species in Lake George last summer

US Representative Elise Stefanik discussing federal efforts to combat aquatic invasive species in Lake George last summer

Stefanik: Federal Legislation Amended to Protect Adirondack Waters From Invasive Species

By Anthony F. Hall

Monday, February 20, 2017

A federal defense bill that included a provision that would have eviscerated the protection of American waters from invasive species, drawing, not surprisingly, sharp rebukes from New York green groups, has been amended, US Representative Elise Stefanik has announced.

According to Stefanik’s office, that provision, known as the the “Vessel Incidental Discharge Act or VIDA, was removed from the bill at the direction of the Congresswoman and some of her colleagues before a final version was sent to the desk of President Obama for his approval.

“I was proud to lead the effort to remove this language from the final National Defense Authorization Act that was passed and signed into law,” said Stefanik, who represents Lake George and much of northern New York in Congress.

The language referred to by Stefanik would have stripped the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to limit the discharge of ships’ ballast water into bodies such as the Great Lakes, a point of entry for many invasive species.

“New York is the epicenter of invasive species and it’s critical that we prevent the spread of these ecological predators. The language of this amendment would have… led to a greater threat of invasive species in our waters, including the St. Lawrence River, Lake George, and other Adirondack bodies of water,” said Stefanik.

While Stefanik voted for the version of the National Defense Authorization Act that came before the House of Representatives last summer, she was opposed to that particular provision, her spokesman said.

“Stefanik actually offered an amendment to the bill that would have removed the VIDA language when the legislation came to the House floor, but unfortunately, it was ruled out of order by the Rules Committee,” said Tom Flanagin, the spokesman,

According to Flanagin, Stefanik began working immediately with her colleagues in the House and their counterparts in the Senate to strike the language from the bill. Stefanik’s version was ultimately approved by both houses and sent to the President for his signature.

Eric Siy, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, said Stefanik’s work was appreciated.

“Invasive species are ecological terrorists and New York is their main way into the United States from anywhere in the world. Only by treating the problem this seriously, can we win the war against them. Success not only demands strongest possible prevention, like we now have at Lake George, but targeted preemption, stopping invasive species before they reach our shores,” said Siy.

Stefanik’s efforts to combat invasive species have apparently been recognized by the House leadership.

According to Flanagin, she has been tapped to be Co-Chair of the Invasive Species Caucus in the House of Representatives.

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Inspecting a brine mixer in the Town of Lake George’s Highway garage

Inspecting a brine mixer in the Town of Lake George’s Highway garage

Lake Towns Embracing Road Salt Reduction Strategies

By Anthony F. Hall

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lake shore towns could reduce their salt usage by half simply by applying a liquid solution to roads before a storm arrives, highway superintendents, contractors and town officials were told at a workshop in Lake George on December 13.

Using the salt and water solution, commonly known as brine, as well as more advanced plows, especially when combined with conservation-minded practices, could reduce the amount of salt spread on local roads and highways even further, perhaps by 75%, said Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, whose organization co-sponsored the workshop.

“The more we learn about the impacts of road salt on the Lake George watershed, the more motivated we are to achieve road salt reductions in the earliest possible time frame,” said Navitsky.

Plowing Tongue Mountain

According to Navitsky, the December 13 workshop was an outgrowth of this past fall’s “Salt Summit” conference and was intended to provide practitioners with more detailed information about brining than was available at the summit.

The featured speakers were Daniel Gilliland and Real Levasseur of Snow Ex Liquid Solutions, a manufacturer of brine mixing, storage and spreading equipment.

The company has loaned the Town of Lake George’s Highway Department a brine mixer that can be used by every municipality within the watershed.

According to Gilliland, brining is an “anti-icing” rather than a “de-icing” measure. By applying the liquid to roads before a storm arrives, snow and ice is prevented from bonding to pavements.

“My goal is that when we leave here today, we will agree that brining works, that it makes financial sense and that it reduces accidents,” said Gilliland, a former president of the Snow and Ice Management Association.

Gililland noted that public safety and costs have to be balanced with the need to protect water bodies from pollution traceable to road salt.

“If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to destroy our water supplies,” said Gilliland.

“Every town around Lake George should be cutting its salt use. If you’re not doing that, in ten years, you’ll wish you had,” he added.

According to Chris Navitsky, “Brining uses only a fraction of the road salt typically applied while producing better results. As a result of this workshop, local municipalities have the tools and information they need to begin incorporating salt brining into their winter road maintenance plans.”

According to Navitsky, salt levels in Lake George have tripled since 1980 and have been found to be even higher in streams flowing into Lake George.

Finkle Brook, in the Town of Bolton, is one of those streams. Salt levels there in are 200 times higher than normal.

Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover said his town is interested in experimenting with brine on roads within the Finkle Brook watershed to slow the accumulation of salt in groundwater, the brook and ultimately Lake George.

“It will be a pilot project, but we will be leading the way,” said Conover.

Similar pilot projects will become feasible once the specialized equipment is purchased, said David Decker, the executive director of the Lake George Watershed Coalition.

“We are looking to procure one or more salt brine dispensing component systems that would be outfitted on existing rolling stock. The equipment would be available for use by all the Watershed Coalition towns,” said Decker.

The Town of Lake George is also a community “leading by example,” said Supervisor Dennis Dickinson.

Dickinson said his Town has not only launched an initiative that includes the use of brine; it has also purchased a new Live-Edge Plow with the assistance of The Fund for Lake George.

“The Fund’s generous $9,750 grant enables the Town of Lake George to start transitioning to equipment that keeps both our roads and our Lake safe,” said Dickinson.

According to Chris Navitsky, the Town of Hague, which has used Live-Edge Plows on the road over Tongue Mountain, has reported that its highway department crews now make fewer trips and apply less salt while maintaining safe, bare roads.

“The town’s’ use of Live Edge Plows helps show others what it takes to reduce the use of road salt and the rewards of doing so,” said Navitsky.

According to Ron Conover, the municipalities’ efforts to reduce the use of road salt is one more example of their role in protecting the environment.

“As with Lake George’s model efforts to control Aquatic Invasive Species, our towns are having a real impact on snow and ice removal policies everywhere,” said Supervisor Conover.

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Joan Lapham, Amy Bloom, Jessica Rubin, Sam Caldwell

Joan Lapham, Amy Bloom, Jessica Rubin, Sam Caldwell

Lake George Residents Take Leading in Building New Health Center for Planned Parenthood

By Anthony F. Hall

Friday, February 17, 2017

Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson serves an area larger than some small states. But when creating a campaign to help fund the construction of a new health center in Queensbury, it found its leadership team on Lake George.

Jessica Rubin and Sam Caldwell of Bolton Landing co-chair a Steering Committee that includes Sam’s parents, Ted and Jane Caldwell.

Joan and By Lapham, Fish Point summer residents, co-chair an Honorary Committee.

Among the new health center’s supporters are Lauren and Ken Parlin, Hague summer residents who hosted a benefit for the project in December. To a group representing all points on the lake, Ken Parlin made two announcements. First, that the Parlin family would make a sizeable donation in honor of Ken’s late grandmother, Glens Falls psychiatrist Maria Mintz.

And second, they would join with others to secure naming rights to a staff room that would honor another Hague resident, Sheri Delarm Ginn, who worked as a Planned Parenthood community educator before switching career tracks and opening a restaurant.

Co-ordinating these activities is Amy Bloom, a Director of Special Projects for Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson who has her own Lake George connections: she’s a fourth generation summer resident. Her great-grandparents began spending summers on Lake George in the 1940s, camping on Big Burnt Island before setttling in Basin Bay.

“I knew Lake George residents would be supportive of the new health center, since it will be in our back yard and serve our community,” said Bloom. “Still, I’ve been particularly impressed by how passionate that support is.”

According to Bloom, the new health center, which will be located near the SUNY Adirondack campus, is expected to see roughly 5,000 patients a year.

“We offer all kinds of preventative and primary care, and the new health center, with more rooms, more flexible space and better parking, will make this a much more user-friendly facility,” said Bloom.

Planned Parenthood currently occupies a converted house in downtown Glens Falls that has outlived its usefulness, said Bloom.

The Parlin family, donating to Planned Parenthood in honor of Dr. Maria Mintz

Bloom also acknowledged that many patients had become uncomfortable visiting the downtown clinic.

Although abortions are reported to constitute only a tiny fraction of the services offered by Planned Parenthood, patients of all kinds have been intimidated by the anti-abortion activists who operate nearby, some of whom have vowed to force Planned Parenthood to leave the area.

Jane Caldwell was among those who volunteered to work as a “Clinic Escort,” protecting patients from harassment as they entered or left the building.

“Jane has literally walked the walk when it comes to supporting our local Planned Parenthood; she has been a tireless advocate and volunteer,” said Jessica Rubin, who said that the first donation made to the campaign by Sam and her was in honor of Jane Caldwell.

Their donation, she said, “is an investment that ensures that our family’s values of acceptance, compassion, and respect are actively reflected in this special place.”

Sam Caldwell said, “While this is an unspeakably beautiful place to come of age, it can also be a difficult environment for young people struggling with personal issues. It’s important to us that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, has a safe place where they are respected and can receive sound, nonjudgmental medical care. So we’re proud that Planned Parenthood is growing with the times, providing counseling and services for the LGBTQ community.”

Before moving to Glens Falls with her husband, Dr. Maxwell Mintz, and starting her psychiatric practice, Dr. Maria Mintz worked at the first Planned Parenthood clinic in the nation, the Margaret Sanger Bureau, Ken Parlin said.

His mother, Joan Parlin, noted that as a child, Maria Mintz hoped to become a veterinarian, “but her father said that no one would take their pets to a woman. So she became a physician. Apparently, people are less protective of their humans than they are of their animals.”

Female physicioans, however, were such a rarity that as a child in Glens Falls, she would be told, “Of course your mother’s not a doctor, she’s a hurse,” Joan Parlin said.

Maria Mintz “would be so honored to have a have her name on a counseling room in the new clinic,” Parlin said, adding that her mother was a supporter of women and girls not only as a physician but as a volunteer, working on behalf of several local organizations.

According to Amy Bloom, Planned Parenthood needs to raise more than $1 million to finance the reconstruction of the new health center, which is expected to open this spring.

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RPI’s new boat is rigged with two booms which act as anodes, extending from the bow with “droppers” that are lowered into the water

RPI’s new boat is rigged with two booms which act as anodes, extending from the bow with “droppers” that are lowered into the water

Electro-Shocking Boat is New Tool For Surveying Fish Population

By Anthony F. Hall

Thursday, February 16, 2017

“The food web is a key to water quality,” says RPI professor Rick Relyea, the director of the Jefferson Project.

And at the top of that web is the fish population, which shapes the size and the distribution of the organisms that sustain it.

On Lake George, the fish population has been the subject of Dr. Bill Hintz’s scrutiny since 2015.

While portions of Lake George’s fishery have been studied in the past, “this is the first robust study,” said Hintz, who was recruited by RPI and the Jefferson Project to study the Lake George fish population while working on endangered fish species on the Mississippi.

“The goal is to assess the health of the fishery, the end point being a better understanding of how pollution, invasive species and the changing climate influence freshwater ecosystems,” Hintz said last week at the Darrin Fresh Water Institute in Bolton Landing, where he was testing new equipment.

To assess the status of Lake George’s fish species, first they must be caught, and Hintz and his students have used a variety of tools – nets, mostly – to gather samples over the past two years.

“It’s a catch, measure and release system,” said Hintz. “After the fish are captured, they’re weighed and measured and then returned to the lake. We keep about 5% of the sample to analyze the contents of their diets.”

RPI now has a new tool for sample-gathering in its kit – a $70,000 boat for electro-shocking fish.

“Don’t say electrocuting; we’re not electrocuting fish,” said Rick Relyea, reprimanding a reporter for speaking imprecisely.

Electro-shocking, Relyea and Hintz emphasized, merely stuns the fish and for a brief period of time only, long enough enough for the samples to be scooped up and placed in a well before being weighed.

“It’s a much more efficient way of catching fish, one that also enables us to get into places where we couldn’t with nets, where we’re obstructed by logs and rocks,” said Relyea.

According to Hintz, electro-shocking is a common method of conducting fish surveys, used by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation and by natural resource agencies in most other states.

Hintz worked with the manufacturer to build a boat to his specifications so that it would be suited to the Jefferson Project and its requirements, said Relyea.

The boat will be deployed next spring, at the start of the fourth year of the Jefferson Project.

Launched in 2013 by RPI, IBM and The Fund for Lake George, the project is “making significant progress” in acquiring actionable intelligence about such things as the spread of invasives through the lake, the sources of salt and the quantity of nutrients, among other things, said Relyea.

It was recently awarded a $917,000 grant from the National Science Foundation that will allow it complete a network of smart sensor platforms.

“The smart sensor network will operate collectively as a single integrated instrument, the most powerful and comprehensive of its kind, to monitor indicators of physical, chemical, and biological activity on Lake George,” said Relyea.

Last week, researchers working with the Jefferson Project, attempting to understand the impacts of road salt on the health of aquatic ecosystems, announced they have discovered something alarming: chemicals found in de-icing road salts can alter the sex ratios in nearby frog populations, a phenomenon that could reduce the size and viability of species populations.

Relyea said it was not clear yet if other creatures were experiencing similar “sub-lethal” effects of those chemicals.

As of now, however, Lake George’s fish population is relatively healthy, said Bill Hintz.

“So far, so good,” he said.

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Rendering of renovated hospital

Rendering of renovated hospital

Ti Hospital Officials Ready to Start Renovation

By Anthony F. Hall

Friday, November 25, 2016

The $9.1 million renovation of Ticonderoga’s Moses Ludington Hospital is scheduled to start in February, 2017.

The renovation, which will replace the existing inpatient hospital with new emergency and outpatient departments, is expected to take two years, said Jane Hooper, the hospital’s director of community relations.

According to Matt Nolan, the Chief Operating Officer, construction will take place in phases in order to prevent any disruption in services.

“It’s incredibly important that healthcare organizations are able to provide patient care, even while in the midst of a significant renovation,” said Nolan.

The new emergency department will be four times as large as the current space and include larger patient bays, a four-bed observation unit and its own waiting area.

“Emergency departments require an appropriate layout and sufficient space for clinical staff to care for patients. This renovation will ensure that staff has the space to care for patients more easily,” said Jane Hooper.

The labs and radiology facilities will be easily accessible from the Emergency Room, said Hooper.

The renovation also includes space for physical therapy and facilities for visiting clinicians such as oncologists and orthopedic surgeons who may see as many as twenty patients in one day.

According to Hooper, the renovated hospital is the center piece of the Medical Village, a method for providing the best possible care as close to home as possible:

“The idea behind the Medical Village is to bring a variety of complementary, health-related services to the one, 70 acre campus in Ticonderoga,” said Hooper.

In addition to a state-of-the-art emergency room, the Medical Village will include a primary care clinic operated by Hudson Headwaters Health Network.

Nursing home and long-term care services, hospice care, senior housing and a capacity to meet other other health-related needs as they arise arise will also be components of the Medical Village, said Jane Hooper, the director of community relations for Inter-Lakes.

The nursing home and adult home, however, are in the process of being sold to Post Acute Partners, a healthcare services company operating a number of nursing homes and adult long-term care facilities throughout the Northeast.

“A closing is expected to take place sometime this spring. The transaction is proceeding smoothly,” said Hooper.

The renovation of the hospital has been funded by a grant from New York State.

“New York State Department of Health officials feel strongly that the Medical Village is a financially viable concept and they want to see it work,” said John Remillard. The hospital’s CEO. “That’s why we were awarded the $9.1 million grant.”

According to Jane Hooper, the source of the grant is a program designed specifically to help community hospitals such as Moses Ludington become economically sustainable, health care delivery facilities.

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Winslow Homer, “The Adirondacks,” 1892. Courtesy of Harvard University Art Museums

Winslow Homer, “The Adirondacks,” 1892. Courtesy of Harvard University Art Museums

Monetizing the Forest

By Anthony F. Hall

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Here on Lake George, we have little direct or immediate interest in forestry as an industry. It’s been generations since the mountainsides were clear cut and the logs floated to saw mills. (And centuries have passed since the straightest white pines were striped and identified as the property of the His Majesty’s navy)

We do, however, have an interest in slowing climate change. So I was glad that I could attend a conference sponsored by the Adirondack Research Consortium on the role that forests can play in that process. Titled “Forest Health and Carbon Storage,” it was held at the Queensbury Hotel on October 12.

Forests inhale heat-trapping carbon dioxide. When forests sequester carbon rather than emitting it into the atmosphere, the flow of gases that cause global warming is reduced. If our only interest is in slowing climate change, the highest and best use of our forests is to leave them intact, said Dr. Charles D Canham, a Forest Ecologist with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem studies.

Incentives exist to prevent forests from being logged or cleared for development, Troy Weldy of the Nature Conservancy explained. He discussed the exchanges that are being created that will enable more private forest owners to acquire and bank carbon credits, selling them later to governments or companies that have uses for them.

Forests can also be a source of alternative energy, but the environmental benefits of using wood products for that purpose are far less obvious.

To be sure, some at the conference argued that burning wood to make electricity is relatively benign, since the carbon that is released when energy is made from a forest is recaptured when a new forest rises in its place.

Robert Malmsheimer, a professor at the State College of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, argued that while the benefits of biomass energy may be delayed, the benefits are nevertheless substantial over the course of time.

“The debate is about the timing of benefits, not whether these benefits exist,” he said.

I happened to be scrolling through the Lake George Mirror’s Twitter feed during the lunch break when I came upon a tweet from Bill McKibben, noting that powering an automobile with corn ethanol generates more carbon pollution than using gasoline.

Is wood an equally inefficient source of energy? I tweeted idly. Almost immediately, McKibben responded, “’fraid so,” and referred us to an article that he had written in September for the on-line journal Grist titled “Burning trees for electricity is a bad idea.”

While acknowledging that planting a new tree will recapture at least some of the carbon released when the tree is burned, McKibben wrote, “a slowly growing new tree won’t suck it all back up until after we’ve broken the back of the climate.”

Whether burning trees for electricity is a bad or a good idea is a question that Congress is now debating

A version of the Energy Policy Modernization Act expected to reach the President’s desk before the end of the year asserts that wood and other organic matter from a forest is “a renewable energy source.”

Although some experts say that burning forest biomass will add at least 620 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, this new version of the bill defines wood-generated electricity as a “zero-carbon fuel” or as “carbon neutral.”

That means that any emissions produced by wood will be permitted under a plan that is, of course, meant to slow climate change by limiting the amount of carbon entering the atmosphere.

No doubt there are many representatives of the forest products industry, economic development organizations and state and local governments who hope the federal government agrees to treat wood-generated power as carbon neutral. As more biomass generators are built, new markets for wood products are created. Which, of course, means retaining jobs in places like the North Country. But if critics like Bill McKibben are to be believed, any economic development benefits will be inconsequential when compared with the long-term harm to the planet.

“If the wood products industry can force the EPA to ignore the carbon pollution from wood-burning power plants, the business will really boom. (But) one result will be the deforestation of many of the nation’s wooded regions. Another will be the elevation of our planet’s temperature,” writes McKibben.

Banking and selling carbon credits, it seems, would be a much better way to monetize our forests.

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Lake George Residents Volunteer for Homeless Vets’ Shelter

By Paul Post

Friday, November 4, 2016

Alyson McMurry could have spent her day off taking care of errands or doing something fun, like watching a good movie.

Instead, the Lake George resident got her hands dirty to beautify a veterans homeless shelter, as a show of appreciation for all U.S. military personnel.

“My brother, Adam Dudley, is a medic with the Army National Guard,” McMurry said. “I always like giving back to veterans. They gave us our freedom.”

McMurry, fellow Lake George resident Jordan Fullen, and several other Home Depot volunteers turned out early on Thursday, Oct. 27 to spruce up the grounds around Vet House, a shelter for 14 homeless veterans, in Ballston Spa.

They all work at the Home Depot store in Queensbury.

The project was part of a nationwide Home Depot employees “Celebration of Service” campaign to help veterans throughout the U.S., from Sept. 1 to Veterans Day — Friday, Nov. 11.

“I love working outdoors,” Fullen said. “Anything I can do for veterans is definitely worth it.”

Since 2011, the Home Depot Foundation has invested more than $160 million to provide safe housing to veterans, and with volunteer help from employees, has transformed more than 25,600 homes for veterans.

The foundation has pledged to increase its support for veterans-related causes to $250 million by 2020.

The recent effort is one of many things Home Depot has done to improve local veterans housing the past few years.

In early October, Home Depot volunteers put a new porch roof on Vet House. Previously, they’ve also done work at Guardian House, a women’s veterans shelter in Ballston, and single-family veterans homes in Wilton.

All of these facilities are run by Saratoga Rural Preservation Company, which hosted a first-ever Veterans Ball on Oct. 29, at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, to raise money for ongoing maintenance projects.

Home Depot provided a grill for Vet House on the Fourth of July, and built patriotic-themed Adirondack chairs for residents’ use.

“We’re always looking for projects within the community,” said Vicki Goodyear, a Home Depot human resources official. “We recently had a Fire Safety Day and we also do things with schools. Fall is when we like to do things for veterans.”

“My son, Matthew is overseas with the Marines,” said Alona Frye, assistant Queensbury store manager. “All service members and veterans deserve our wholehearted support. This is a way to give them some credit and show appreciation for what they’ve done for us.”

The volunteer group planted perennial flowers, laid down mulch, did extensive weeding and the base for a new portable generator at Vet House.

Workers finished up just before winter’s first snow began to fall, right before Halloween Weekend. However, there are sure to be nice late-autumn days yet, for shelter residents to enjoy the volunteers’ outdoor work.

Shelter residents not only have a clean, safe place to stay, but are given job and financial counselling, healthcare assistance and help securing veterans benefits.

Residents greatly appreciate what Home Depot employees do, Vet House Director Terence Clare said. “It isn’t just the work volunteers do that’s so important. To have such a variety of people come in and show their gratitude for what veterans have done; that stuff is without parallel. A lot of friendships have been made, too.”

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Briefly: A Reporter’s Notebook

By Thom Randall

At the October meeting of the Lake George Town Board, Supervisor Dennis Dickinson noted that board member Nancy Stannard was not present due to the passing of her husband, George Stannard, on Oct. 13 — and his pending funeral.

“George Stannard was an outstanding, compassionate citizen, very involved in the community,” Dickinson said, noting that Stannard, a retired Warren County Sheriff’s Department sergeant, had coached a variety of youth baseball, softball and basketball teams, and more recently had been an advocate for local senior citizens. Dickinson added that the two attended school together.

“He was a great friend and fine citizen, and we’re all going to miss him.

In other matters, Board members noted that vehicles have been traveling far too fast along Rte. 9, particularly where Gateway project construction is ongoing.

“Cars are flying through there,” Dickinson said. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Dickinson noted that the board had asked state DOT officials to substantially reduce the 45 miles-per-hour speed on the roadway, but the state declined to reduce it as much as requested — and a compromise of 40 miles per hour was agreed upon.

“When this project is complete, we’ll be having the Warren County Sheriff’s deputies monitor speed there,” Dickinson said.

Lake George Village’s Board of Trustees, meeting on October 17:

• Endorsed drafting a proposed law that bans the use of ATVs and other motorized vehicles on cross-country ski trails on village property adjacent to the village recreation fields. The proposed law is likely to be prepared for a public hearing in December;

• Heard from Mayor Blais that he plans to expand the village’s annual Lite Up the Village holiday kickoff event to feature a performance of  The Nutcracker by a youth ballet company from Glens Falls, as well as pony rides and a parade of decorated fire trucks representing fire departments throughout the Hudson Valley;

• Decided to sign off on Shoreline Cruises dredging sand that has accumulated around their docks and is causing problems for their boats’ arrivals and departures — and to assist Shoreline in obtaining a permit to build a new boat ramp;

• Approved spending about $2,500 on upgrading several of the village’s parking pay stations that accept credit cards;

• Appointed village DPW superintendent Dave Harrington as village Climate Smart Coordinator;

• Approved the erection of a sign directing guests of  the Lake George Marriott Courtyard to the hotel’s main entrance and parking garage. The directional sign, to be placed close to the hotel above the village sidewalk,  is subject to an annual licensing fee;

• Announced that the village’s annual financial report has been completed and is now ready for public inspection. Noting that the unexpended balances from prior years had not been depleted, Blais praised village department heads for not spending their entire allocations in their individual budgets;

•Approved a plan to charge for upcoming out-of-village sewer charges to be adjusted higher according to overall expense increases, while village officials research how to permanently set a formula for equitable sewer fees;

• Heard from Blais that the summer trolley service in Lake George carried 152,700 passengers this summer — compared to 5,000 in its first year 15 years ago;

• Heard that the Lake George Music Festival — an annual series of classical concerts — was very successful this year, and plans for 2017 include a concert atop the Lake George Marriott Courtyard rooftop garden patio. “Everything Alex Lombard does is first class,” Blais said about the festival’s founder and CEO;

• Expressed a lack of interest in obtaining the MacDonald residential property adjacent to the firehouse — for parking and future expansion — due to the high value of the property and the expense of demolishing the buildings there.

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