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Premier Auto Show to be Staged in Lake George

By Mirror Staff

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A premier auto show will come to Lake George in mid-September: the Hemmings Motor News Concours D’ Elegance.

According to Village Mayor Bob Blais, the show will be staged at the Charles R. Wood Park’s Festival Commons on September 15-17.

“This remarkable event brings a nationally- recognized show that will be publicized throughout the United States to Lake George, showcasing our beautiful surroundings,” said Blais.

Established in 2007, the show was held at Stratton Mountain Resort, Vermont, before moving to Saratoga Springs in 2012.

“In the tradition of the classic French Concours D’ Elegance, with each vehicle carefully selected and admitted by invitation only, the show was designed to highlight the progressive design of the automobile,” Blais explained.

According to Blais, the beauty of the Lake George setting helped persuade organizers to move the show to this community.

And because of its proximity to local attractions, shops and restaurants, the Lake George venue “promises to provide ample entertainment throughout the Concours weekend for the entire family,” Hemmings Motor News said.

Another advantage of the Lake George location, organizers said, is that it easily accessible from the Northway.

Blais said the Concours weekend will now include an open-admission, collectible car show on Saturday, an awards banquet and a cruising rally that will lead drivers through the North Country.

The show’s highlight, Sunday’s invitation-only Concours D’ Elegance, will celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird and feature the 1963-73 Buick Riviera; Studebaker; MG; wood-bodied station wagons; and professional vehicles through 1980. Pre-and postwar American and European cars, American muscle cars and vintage trucks will also be featured.

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Mayor Bob Blais, event organizer Austin Glickman and Chamber of Commerce executive Amanda May Metzger announce a new event for Lake George’s Wood Park

Mayor Bob Blais, event organizer Austin Glickman and Chamber of Commerce executive Amanda May Metzger announce a new event for Lake George’s Wood Park

Lake George to Host Family Getaway for Law Enforcement Officers

By Mirror Staff

Monday, February 27, 2017

If you happen to be in Lake George Village on the weekend of May 19, you can expect to see hundreds more law enforcement officers than usual.

No, the Village will not be hosting a head of state or an international conference.

Rather, it will play host to the officers themselves –and their families – in what is expected to be the first annual Law Enforcement Officers Weekend.

Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais is organizing the event with Austim Glickman, a New York City Police Department officer, the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce and leaders of local law enforcement agencies.

While there will be opportunities for the public to observe events as varied as a Memorial Service and teams pulling the Warren County Sheriff’s ten ton counter-insurgency vehicle, the Law Enforcement Officers Weekend is largely for policemen and their families, Glickman explained.

“The event is an opportunity for officers to meet, relax and offer mutual support,” said Glickman.

Referring to the fatal encounters between civilians and police officers over the past few years, Glickman said he hopes “the event will take attention away from the negative publicity that Law Enforcement has received recently.”

Glickman said there are few if any law enforcement-themed events that include educational seminars, a memorial service and recreational and competitive activities.

While the event could eventually attract thousands, Blais said he would judge the inaugural Law Enforcement Officers Weekend a success if only a few hundred attend.

“Many events, whether it be Americade, the Elvis Festival or the Adirondack Nationals car show, started with just an idea and grew larger over the years. I’ve been involved with all of them and never have I been as excited as I am about this first Law Enforcement Weekend,” said Blais.

Blais and Lake George Chamber official Amanda May Metzger said the event will contribute to Lake George’s efforts to broaden its tourist season beyond the eight weeks of summer.

“We feel this is the right time and the right place for this type of event,” said Blais.

Metzger said that more shops and restaurants are opening earlier in the season and remaining open longer than in the past, making Lake George a more attractive site for off-season events such as the Law Enforcement Weekend.

Hotels such as the Fort William Henry and the Courtyard Mariott have offered reduced rates to those attending the event “out of respect for the uniform,” said Blais.

Discounts have also been offered by Great Escape, the Lake George Steamboat Company, Wild West and the outlet stores, said Blais.

Active and retired law enforcement officers living in the area are invited to register for the event, said Glickman. Information is available at leoweekend.com.

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The Canada Street entrance to the New Courtyard Mariott

The Canada Street entrance to the New Courtyard Mariott

The Village’s City Hotel: The New Courtyard Mariott

By Mirror Staff

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The lobby of Lake George’s newest hotel, the six story Marriott International Courtyard Lake George, was a hive of activity Saturday evening.

As guests of every age and nationality crossed back and forth, groups clustered at the Lobby Bar. At one end was a circle of friends who had travelled to Lake George to catch the headliner at this year’s jazz festival, the Diva Jazz Orchestra.

At the other end of the bar: some golfers who reunite once a year, taking advantage of Courtyard Lake George’s recent grand opening to try a new host hotel.

In between, some local residents curious to see something contemporary and urban in the middle of the Village and even someone who may have been business traveller, a representative of the Mariott chain’s traditional clientele.

Taylor Hall, the hotel’s 34 year-old general manager, believes the 119 room hotel can be just as busy throughout the year.

“Don’t say ‘off-season;’ we have to get beyond thinking that Lake George has only one season,” she said, echoing the business leaders and municipal officials who want to keep Canada Street’s doors open and lights on three hundred sixty five days a year.

Ever since local developer Dave Kenny announced his plans to build a multi-story hotel and conference center on the Village’s main thoroughfare, he and his partners have had to challenge the conventional wisdom that Lake George cannot sustain a year-round business of this size.

“There’s no other facility in Warren County where all the meeting and banquet space is on one floor, in the same building with the hotel rooms,” Kenny said when laying out his vision.

Without the promise of year-round operations, it’s unlikely that the hotel would have attracted such enthusiastic support from people such as Village Mayor Bob Blais

“Dave Kenny will help us keep the lights on all year,” Blais promised. “And the hotel will offer year-round employment, which we haven’t had in this community and which has been a problem.”

Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais helps owners cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the Village’s newest hotel

At the ceremonial ribbon-cutting held on August 29, Blais said his support was justified.

“This is the kind of facility our visitors are looking for, it’s the kind of facility they deserve and it’s now the kind of facility we have in Lake George,” he said.

It’s now up to Taylor Hall and her team to translate that vision of a year-round hotel for both leisure and business travelers into a reality.

“She’s the boss,” said Kenny.

As Hall herself concedes, she’s relatively young to be leading a hotel of this size.

For the past ten years, ever since graduating from SUNY Geneseo, she’s worked in Florida, most recently at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa, where she rose from director of food and beverage to assistant general manager.

“My experience has been with full service resorts, and that’s what I want to see this hotel evolve into,” she said. “I want to bring in enough activities that guests won’t have to leave the hotel.”

Fine dining, of course, was intended to be among those activities, but precisely what the new restaurant will be and who will manage it, “is still under discussion,” said Hall.

The hotel currently offers light fare at The Bistro, where Hall hopes to create a menu with fresh, locally-sourced foods.

Its pool and fitness center have opened and facilities for the business traveller are ready and waiting throughout the lobby.

Still to come: a rooftop terrace and the two, 5,000 square foot ballrooms that will be able to accommodate weddings, banquets and conferences.

“People are loyal to Mariott because of the level of service. Here, the traveller will get that same, high level of service and all the amenities of a resort,” said Hall.

Hall said she’s eager to confront the challenges of helping Lake George become a four-season community, one with enough shops and restaurants open year-round to engage the travellers that Courtyard Lake George hopes to attract.

“If I can help persuade one business to stay open one week longer, that’s a start,” she said.

And, she added, “we have great festivals, but we need more of them, and more aimed at younger people. We have great music in Shepard Park. Why not keep the concerts going?”

The new Courtyard Lake George, Hall promises, will be part of a new Lake George.

“We want to help create a new atmosphere, one that will enable people to connect with Lake George in new ways. If you feel that connection, you’ll keep coming back,” she said.

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This map, dated to September 27, 1755, shows two British forts at the south end of Lake George. The smaller fort was torn down shortly after started and another, a sturdier fortification, was built (credit: National Archives of Canada, courtesy: Dr. Russell P. Bellico).

This map, dated to September 27, 1755, shows two British forts at the south end of Lake George. The smaller fort was torn down shortly after started and another, a sturdier fortification, was built (credit: National Archives of Canada, courtesy: Dr. Russell P. Bellico).

Adirondack Bookshelf: Empires in the Mountains: French and Indian War Campaigns and Forts in the Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Hudson River Corrido, By Dr. Russell P. Bellico

By Mirror Staff

Friday, February 24, 2017

Empires in the Mountains: French and Indian War Campaigns and Forts in the Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Hudson River Corridor, the most recent by historian Russell Bellico, is available in local bookstores.

Bellico, the author of three other authoritative books on the history of Lake George and the Champlain Valley, Sails and Steam in the Mountains: A Maritime and Military History of Lake George and Lake Champlain, Chronicles of Lake George: Journeys in War and Peace and Chronicles of Lake Champlain: Journeys in War and Peace, is a summer resident of Hague.

He is a founder of the Lake George Battlefield Park Alliance and of Bateaux Below. He was a member of the underwater archaeological team that documented the 1758 Lake George radeau Land Tortoise.

While several new books about the French and Indian War have been published in recent years, Empires in the Mountains is the first that focuses entirely on the campaigns and forts along the Lake Champlain, Lake George and Hudson River corridor.

And unlike Bellico’s own, earlier books about Lake George and Lake Champlain, ‘Empires in the Mountains’ treats land as well as maritime battles.

Bellico covers the epic battles and sieges of the war, including the Battle of Lake George in 1755 and the siege of Fort William Henry in 1757.

“I was able to include a great deal of previously unknown material, making use of maps located in Canada, as well as diaries, journals, letters, contemporary newspaper accounts and other archival sources,” said Bellico.

Bellico, for instance, found a map in the National Archives of Canada that shows that the Fort William Henry captured by the French in 1757 was, in fact, the second fort built at the site.

Historians knew from journals and letters that William Johnson wanted to build a substantial fort with ramparts and firing platforms, one that could withstand artillery fire, while his troops refused to build anything more than a picketed compound.

“Johnson accused the troops of being lazy, of having an aversion to digging,” says Bellico.

Portrait of King Hendrick engraved in London after his death in the Battle of Lake George

Johnson prevailed, of course, but without the map that Bellico found, we might never have known that the stockade fort was substantially completed before the second fort was built.

According to historian and archeologist Joseph W. Zarzynski, the cartographic drawing was made less than three weeks after the British defeated the French at the Battle of Lake George on September 8, 1755.

On September 29, the British decided to erect a more durable fortress to hold 500 men and constructed “in the manner that the French build.” The following day, troops began dismantling the first military installation and a sturdier earth-and-wooden fort was begun.

On November 7, 1755, shortly before the second fortification was completed, William Johnson wrote to Massachusetts Governor Shirley stating he named it “William Henry,” after two members of the British royal family.

The siege of that second fort in 1757 ended with what is, perhaps, the most famous incident of the French and Indian War, the massacre that became the basis of James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans.

While modern historians have tended to minimize the incident, or assumed that 18th century accounts exaggerated the level and ferocity of the violence, Bellico concludes that the original accounts were substantially accurate.

“Every colonial newspaper described the incident as a massacre,” said Bellico. “It makes no sense to claim it was something else.”

In his introduction, Bellico writes, “The French and Indian War (1754-1763), the North American theater of the Seven Years’ War, would change the map of the continent and set the stage for the American Revolution. The conflict, which pitted the French and their Indian allies against the English, has often been misunderstood and largely received minor treatment in most general histories of America. To some, the name of the war itself has been puzzling and somewhat misleading because Britain also had Indian allies during the war. The war represented a culmination of a century-old struggle for control of North America. The clash was inevitable.”

Empires in the Mountains is available at Trees, the book and gift shop on Bolton Landing’s Main Street.

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Program from 1955 pageant

Program from 1955 pageant

Once Every Town Staged Historical Pageants

By Anthony F. Hall

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lake George’s historical pageants were not so much entertainment for visitors as civic exercises meant to strengthen the community, Margy Mannix told an audience at the Lake George Institute of History, Art and Science (the former Warren County courthouse) on August 24.

“They promoted pride and patriotism,” she said. “We learned more about our particular place through the passage of time.”

Mannix’s talk, “Pageants in Lake George,” was one of a series of talks presented this summer by the Lake George Historical Association.

According to Mannix, the first historical pageant to be staged in Lake George was in 1855 in honor of the one hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Lake George.

Highlights – if that is not too strong a word – included a long address in the courthouse titled “An historical discourse on the occasion of the centennial celebration of the Battle of Lake George, 1755” by the Rev. Dr. Cortland Van Rennselaer, a prominent American clergyman.

From the 1850s to the 1950s, historical pageants were a characteristic feature of life in American communities, celebrating the town’s founding, its most memorable historical events and its most prominent citizens.

Anyone willing to don a costume and a wig was more or less guaranteed a role, or, if the town happened to be a small one, multiple roles.

Program from 1938 pageant

Program from 1938 pageant

Pageants were staged in Lake George again in 1912, 1926, 1929, 1933, 1938 and 1955.

In many towns, the residents relied upon one vigorous, disciplined individual to write, produce, direct and cast the pageants.

In Lake George in the 1920s, that role appears to have fallen to Mrs. Charles Tuttle, who was able to persuade such prominent residents of “Millionaires’ Row” as the Ochses, the Peabodys, Louise and Sidney Homer and Marcella Sembrich to lend helping hands.

For the pageants of 1938 and 1955, the community relied upon the John B. Rogers Producing Company, an established supplier of costumes, sets, lights, and scripts for amateur theater.

According to historians of these matters, the company could also supply singers, dancers and actors if the local population was lacking the requisite talent.

That was unlikely to be the case in Lake George, which could rely upon vacationing actors like Edward Everett Horton and the Minzeys to give its pageants a bit of show biz flair.

Pageants declined in popularity as movie theaters, drive-ins and finally television displaced live, more public forms of entertainment.

In the popular imagination, however, historical pageants are still identified with small town American life. If you doubt that, stream “Waiting for Guffman” through your tv set.


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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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Jeff Kapell, South Shore cranberry farmer

Jeff Kapell, South Shore cranberry farmer

Where do Your Thanksgiving Cranberries Come From? Lake George Visitor Tells All

By Paul Post

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Jeff Kapell makes a living at one of the oldest forms of agriculture in North America, in the place Pilgrims first landed almost 400 years ago.

Kapell Cranberries in Plymouth, Mass., is one of the Bay State’s many farms that raise this tart tiny fruit, which adorns Thanksgiving tables throughout the U.S. each year in a variety of forms including sauces, juice or served fresh to accent tasty salad dishes.

It’s a demanding, labor-intensive industry fraught with many challenges such as this year’s drought that has affected all types of Northeast agriculture.

“Berries are smaller than normal this year because of the drought,” Kapell said. “It’s a good crop, but probably about 15 percent less than it should be.”

Before the busy harvest season, he and his wife, Alex, vacationed in Lake George this summer and were so impressed that they came back for a second visit during the Adirondack Balloon Festival.

“We have already booked a week stay for next summer,” Kapell said. “Upstate New York has always been a favorite area for me and the Lake George region provides a beautiful setting with plenty of potential activities to choose from when the motivation to pursue something strikes.”

“Vacations for us there are RV camping-based, so obviously relaxing in nature is the first priority,” he said. “But we bring road bikes and did the Warren County Bikeway from Lake George to Glen Falls. Next year we intend to take in a race at Saratoga Springs and a boat ride on Lake George in addition to the camping, biking, sampling local fare and relaxing. The combination of proximity, beautiful country side, family and availability of a variety of activities is extremely appealing.”

Kapell has been raising cranberries for more than 40 years.

Recently, he served as a guide for the thousands of visitors who braved Hurricane Matthew to attend the 13th annual Cranberry Harvest Festival in Wareham, Mass. The storm put a damper on the event, but provided welcome relief to growers, as precipitation in their region was 10-12 inches below normal this year.

“Festival organizers aren’t too happy, but ask any grower and they’ll say, ‘Thank God!’” Kapell said.

As with all types of farming, raising cranberries is weather-dependent and water is essential. With cranberries, water not only nourishes plants, but is also critical to harvesting.

Well into the 20th century, cranberries were largely dry-harvested by hand.

Beginning in the 1960s, growers developed a system of wet harvesting with machines. First, man-made bogs are flooded with a shallow amount of water. Next, a picking machine goes through the bog, knocking berries off plants.

The bogs are then flooded with more water. As berries float to the top, they are corralled using a large boom.

Powerful pumps draw berries up through hoses to a sorting machine, which separate the berries from plant debris. A steady stream of water cleans berries during this process.

From there, the fruit is trucked to a nearby processing plant — Ocean Spray in the case of Kapell’s Cranberries — where it’s used to make juice, sauce and other value-added products.

A small percentage of berries sold for fresh fruit are still dry-harvested, with machines.

Ocean Spray has processing plants in Pennsylvania, Texas, Nevada and Wisconsin, the latter of which has far surpassed Massachusetts as the nation’s leading cranberry producer.

“There are about 800 cranberry growers in the world,” Kapell said. “There are 400 right here in Massachusetts. Wisconsin is fewer in numbers, but they have much larger and newer operations.”

However, the Bay State is celebrating the commercial industry’s 200th anniversary this year. In 1816, retired sea captain Henry Hall first cultivated cranberries in Dennis. Before this, they simply grew wild.

One year, strong winds covered plants with sand and Hall thought they were ruined. Instead, the plants did better than ever.

Picking up on this, Hall realized that sand helps the plants thrive by covering their woody stems, thereby supporting a healthy root system, allowing fruit to grow from each year’s new green shoots above ground.

Today, growers apply sand regularly. Every few years, in winter, plants in large man-made bogs are covered with water. When ice is 4 to 6 inches thick, water below is drawn off for safety reasons, in case someone falls through, and workers haul and distribute sand on the frozen surface.

In spring, as the ice melts, plants benefit from a fresh layer of sand.

Bogs are built at slightly different elevations — water flows from one bog to another as needed through a series of sluices — so water is re-used efficiently.

“Because water is so critical to what we do, we work very hard at creating and maintaining water resources — reservoirs and ponds — and an ability to reuse water we are storing so we can be as efficient as possible with that resource,” Kapell said.

Growers also depend heavily on water to protect plants from harmful autumn frosts, which can devastate the following year’s crop.

“We do that with sprinklers,” he said. “In the old days they had to flood the bogs, which took a lot of time and water. The advent of the sprinkler system has really been one of the major steps forward in the ability to protect cranberry crops.

“In summer, we use this same system to irrigate with,” he said.

So while Matthew devastated Haiti, the Bahamas and coastal regions of the Southeast, its rains were quite welcome to Massachusetts cranberry growers.

“It gave us a small amount of relief from what has been a long period of drought,” he said. “We welcomed the rains and they provided relief, but they didn’t end the situation we’re in. We would love to have five more nor’easters with an inch-and-a-half of rain spread out over time.”

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Repairing Taurus. Irving Sandler, left, and Isaac Witkin, center, look on.

Repairing Taurus. Irving Sandler, left, and Isaac Witkin, center, look on.

Isaac Witkin and the Prospect Mountain Sculpture Show

By Anthony F. Hall

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sculptor Isaac Witkin (1936-2005) is a Lake George artist by virtue of his participation in the “The Prospect Mountain Sculpture Show – An homage to David Smith,” which the Lake George Arts Project mounted in 1979.
Composed of nearly a score of welded-metal sculptures by artists influenced by Smith, the famed sculptor who lived and worked in nearby Bolton Landing until his death in 1965, the show was organized by Beth Rowe, the Arts Project’s executive director.

“A Sculpture exhibition honoring David Smith was a dream and hope of mine since I first visited Smith’s studio in Bolton Landing,” she wrote in the exhibition catalog. “Prospect Mountain provided space for siting an exhibition of large sculpture within the dramatic Adirondack landscape that had inspired David Smith.”

To select the artists and curate the show, Rowe turned to Irving Sandler, a well-known art critic and one of the first historians of the School of New York painters.

“Prospect Mountain was a perfect venue for a show of sculpture in landscape,” Sandler wrote in his 2003 memoir, A Sweeper Up After Artists. “The work was highly visible and easily accessible to people, who could park their cars at various places, get out, walk around and look.”

At the time, Isaac Witkin was among the most prominent sculptors in the United States, so there was little question that he would be invited to contribute a piece to the exhibition.


The British-born sculptor submitted a 1975 work titled Taurus. John Ashbery, the poet who was New York magazine’s art critic at the time, described it as a “terrra-cotta-painted cluster of drums and broken planes,” whose source of inspiration was “Smith’s baroque side.”

Installing Taurus on Prospect Mountain provided “the most dramatic moment of collaboration” between the artist and the local construction workers who were hired to move the sculptures into place, Sandler wrote.

“Taurus had been mangled in transport to Lake George and Witkin dejectedly told us to remove it from the show. Examining the piece, the foreman said that he saw how it might be fixed. Witkin shook his head but agreed to the foreman’s proposal that we give it a try. We met on the site at day break, hours before the opening. The foreman had his man on the crane lift the piece weighing tons as high as it could go and let it drop. As it hit the ground with a heart stopping crash, two workers wielding sledgehammers banged it into shape while Witkin and his assistant bolted it together. It succeeded. But Isaac’s nerves were so jangled that he left immediately, leaving Beth Rowe to repaint the sculpture as best she could,” wrote Sandler.

Fortunately, the Lake George Arts Project’s archives include photographs of what Dan George, the Lake George native whose work was also shown in the exhibition, referred to recently as “Isaac’s incident.”

Irving Sandler can be seen in one of them, obviously anxious himself, as Witkin, a large bearded man, approaches the sculpture. Beth Rowe stands near the pick up truck, incongruously, inexplicably, laughing.

At the time, Witkin was teaching at Bennington College, another link between himself and Smith, who had taught there before his death.

According to Witkin’s obituary in the New York Times, in the 1960s Bennington College was “a magnet for modernist artists like Anthony Caro, Kenneth Noland, Paul Feeley and Jules Olitski, who, along with the critic Clement Greenberg, collectively came to be known in the art world as ‘the Green Mountain boys.’”

Witkin came to Bennington from London at the invitation of Anthony Caro, with whom he had studied at St. Martin’s School of Art (now Central St. Martins College of Art and Design). After leaving Bennington, Wikin ceased making welded-metal sculptures and began working with bronze. He died at his farm in New Jersey.

In a monograph about Witkin’s work published before his death, the critic Karen Wilkin writes, “If Witkin had continued to make only steel constructions like the ones that evolved after his move to the United States, his place in the history of recent sculpture would be assured, as an artist who expanded the possibilities of the inherited language of Picasso and Gonzalez…Since younger artists constructing in steel in the 1970s and 1980s frequently found themselves overshadowed, in terms of public attention, by sculptors exploring alternative materials and methods, Witkin’s seriousness, deep engagement and substantial reputation served as important examples.”

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Exhibit illustrating defence of Fort William Henry, 1757

Exhibit illustrating defence of Fort William Henry, 1757

New Display at Fort William Henry Unveiled, Dedicated

By Mirror Staff

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What might Lake George have looked like 260 years ago, on the eve of the French attack on Fort William Henry?

That’s what Steve Collyer, an artist and Fort William Henry’s lead interpreter, has attempted to depict in a new display in the entryway to the museum and historical attraction.

The display, which includes three figures – an American colonial, a British regular and a ranger, all sculpted by the late Jack Binder decades ago – was unveiled on October 24.

It was dedicated to Bob Flacke, Sr., the former state commissioner of Environmental Conservation and longtime president of the Fort William Henry Corporation, for his stewardship of Lake George and its history.

According to Melode Viele, the museum’s director, the display “is the first thing visitors see when they enter Fort William Henry; it not only has to be up-to-date but authentic in its portrayal of Lake George in 1757.”

One inauthentic feature was a figure who looked more like Daniel Boone than one of Rogers’ Rangers or Hawkeye, the hero of the novel by James Fenimore Cooper that was based on the events at Fort William Henry in August, 1757.

“Daniel Boone was not at Fort William Henry in 1757 so Daniel Boone had to go,” said Viele.


Detail of exhibit, illustrating Rogers’ Ranger

The display is titled “Preparing for Battle.” Throughout the summer of 1757, the Marquis de Montcalm and his force of French regulars, Canadian militia and Native American warriors were moving south from Carillon, over the Tongue Mountain range, through the swamps and up the lake in bateaux.

The British had fortified their northernmost outpost with at least 18 cannons, one howitzer, two mortars and 17 swivel guns.

On August 1, they were anticipating the attack that would become one of American history’s most famous.

Following the siege and massacre, Montcalm ordered Fort William Henry destroyed. In the two centuries that followed its destruction, the only visible reminder of the fort’s past was the old well on the grounds of the Fort William Henry hotel.

In 1954, a replica of the fort opened to tourists.

Interpreter Steve Collyer displays plaque dedicating exhibit to Robert Flacke, Sr.

The new display establishes a context to help visitors understand what they will see once they enter the fort, said Tom Wysocki, Fort William Henry’s director of sales and marketing.

The Archaeology Hall and other rooms in the Fort contain thousands of artifacts discovered on the grounds since the 1950s, when reconstruction of the fort began. Recent discoveries, such as prehistoric pottery shards as well as buttons from the uniforms of American soldiers in the War of Independence, suggest that the site was used before and after the fort was burned in 1757.

The exhibits are part of a larger “Living History Program” designed to enable visitors to better understand the history of the colonial era. The program includes tours led by guides in authentic costumes, the firing of 18th century muskets and cannons, recreated scenes of life at the fort and scenes from the events that took place there, as well as visits to dungeons, a powder magazine and a crypt of the victims of Montcalm’s 1757 massacre.

Fort William Henry is open from May through October.

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