Terrence and Maria Roche reflect on life in the north country

Maria J. and Terrence L. Roche, at their home in Carthage, make plans for the future, with time divided between the north country and North Carolina. Norm Johnston / Watertown Daily Times

Terrence L. and Maria J. Roche learned how welcoming north country residents were even before they knew they would call the area home.

Stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1984, serving as chief of the investigations and assistance division, Office of the Inspector General, Headquarters, U.S. Army, Mr. Roche said he received a telephone call to meet some people on the Rhine River. The colonel dressed in his uniform, shook hands and took photographs with John B. Johnson, who at the time was editor and copublisher of the Watertown Daily Times. [Read more...]

Harvest Festival celebrates community, local agriculture

Hannah Engle, 6, left, Amber Grose, 12, center, and Jenna Hickman, 14, right, team up to make scarecrows during the Stone Mills Museum annual Harvest Festival on Sunday in LaFargeville. Amanda Morrison / Watertown Daily Times

Dedication, hard work and a little fun.

All three of these are reflected in the harvesting of crops and celebrating the end of the growing season. Northern New York Agricultural Historical Society volunteer Donna Eisele said the same sentiment was put into the nonprofit’s 10th annual Harvest Festival, which took place Sunday at the museum, 30950 State Route 180.

“I think back to the old days when there was a harvest and everyone got together,” Mrs. Eisele said. “It wasn’t just the garden harvest. They had to harvest the corn to feed the animals. Everything was canned; there was no freezers.” [Read more...]

Annual United Way food drive collects thousands of items for hungry families

Many hands make light work.

That is what over 50 volunteers learned Friday during the annual United Way of Northern New York Jefferson County Food Drive.

Individual community members, United Way partner agencies, Jefferson County government officials and other volunteers, gathered and sorted items in the parking lot of St. Anthony’s Church, at the corner of Bellew Avenue and Arsenal Street, before 19 food pantries picked up non-perishable food and personal hygiene items.

Michael W. Woods, the Northern Credit Union’s vice president of finance and operations and a United Way board member, said participation in the event is something everyone should consider annually because local food pantries help many hungry families.

“We want people to make it a habit,” he said, as a truck with $6,250 worth of items from the credit union was being unloaded. “(Pantries) never have enough. Anyone can find themselves in need of food.”

Throughout the past 10 years the credit union has participated in the food drive, it has provided about $70,000 worth of nonperishable foods such as canned vegetables, peanut butter, ramen noodles, soups, pasta sauce, beef ravioli, and other foods, with the help of Hannaford Supermarket.

The credit union also brought dozens of cardboard boxes so pantry representatives could more easily transport food back to their centers.

United Way Chief Executive Officer Robert D. Gorman said a total 30,000 items were collected last year, and that same amount, if not more, was expected this year.

Local businesses, agencies and community members dropped off bags with a few items to several boxes full of food or personal hygiene products. The generosity of Watertown Savings Bank employees, and their partnership with Price Chopper, may help the United Way reach its item total goal. Bank employees had worked for an entire year at collecting funds in order to deliver $11,000 in food, water and paper towels to the United Way event.

A kitchen snack/lunch station was set up, and employees held bake sales, a yard sale, raffles and there were other monetary donations.

“We pretty much do this every day,” said Denise J. Randall, human resources manager.

RoAnn J. Dermady, commercial loan officer, said she’s been amazed at the amount of support people provide for this cause. A few years ago, she said, the company was proud to deliver a van full of food. Passion has made employees dedicated to helping food pantries in Jefferson County stock their shelves.

The United Way also thanked all volunteers and each donor that drove up to the event to either drop off goods, or cash donations.

Watertown Urban Mission Food Pantry Coordinator Anita D. Ciulo, who volunteered at the food drive, said now that it’s getting colder earlier, there is a constant need for soups and stews. They’re also things that people “can just open and eat.”

For more information about the United Way and its services, call 788-5631.


By Rebecca Madden, Times Staff Writer

New home school co-op meets Friday

Families in St. Lawrence County who home-school their children soon will have a chance to connect through a new co-op that plans to meet regularly for shared learning, hands-on projects, field trips and other activities.

The co-op has been named Common Ground and meets for the first time from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday in the basement of Unitarian Universalist Church, 3½ Main St.

Rebecca L. Pickens, a Hermon resident who home-schools her three sons, said the first gathering will be a brainstorming session to find out what kinds of activities parents and children would like to do with the co-op.

“We hope people come with ideas. We want the adults and the kids to come with ideas,” Ms. Pickens said. “There are co-ops like this springing up all over the country. It’s really exciting.”

Last school year it was estimated that about 380 students in St. Lawrence County were home-schooled, about 2 percent of the total school-age population.

Families in the region who home-school also connect through the website:www.northcountryhomeschooling.org

Ms. Pickens is coordinating the group with Jennifer Whittaker, a former teacher at Little River Community School who now home-schools her children.

After the first informational session, the group will meet twice a month during the school year, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every other Friday at the church.

The secular group is open to all families. Parents are expected to participate by staying with their children and sharing their special skills with the group. Those skills could be academic, artistic, musical or other.

“This is not a drop-off. It involves 100 percent participation from parents,” Ms. Pickens said. “We’re looking for parents to share their interesting skills. There will be a job for everyone.”

Giving examples, she said one parent speaks Latin and Spanish and can share that knowledge with the children.

As a former theater teacher, Ms. Pickens said she is interested in creative writing and theater performance.

“Our community is perfect for this because we have a lot of people with unique skills sets,” she said. “We’d like to get the kids exposed to all kinds of neat experiences.”

For more information, contact Ms. Pickens at: mindseyefarm@gmail.com or at 261-9595.


By Susan Mende, Times Staff Writer

Running: Triathlon organizer seeks ‘incredouble’ debut

Competitors for this weekend’s Incredoubleman Triathlon leave the Sackets Harbor boat ramp on a training run last week. Provided photo.

Diane Casselberry found a unique way to raise awareness for ALS, and after she’s finished, she’ll probably welcome a bucket of ice water being dumped on her head.

Casselberry, a New Hampshire resident, is one of about 200 people registered for this weekend’s Incredoubleman Triathlon at Sackets Harbor.

The event, created and organized by 50-year-old Adams Center resident Wayne Vanderpool, is the first and only in the world to offer half-ironman races on back-to-back days.

Casselberry, one of the many out-of-area competitors signed up, is racing for The Blazeman Foundation, an organization of endurance athletes dedicated to raising awareness of ALS.

“I’m really kind of passionate about it because I want to raise awareness, which isn’t as much of a big deal nowadays because after the ice bucket challenge, everybody knows about ALS,” said Casselberry, who took up the cause when her cousin, Amy, was diagnosed several years ago.

“But when I signed up for (the Incredoubleman), very few people knew about the disease.”

The Incredoubleman will offer a variety of options. In addition to the half-ironman races on consecutive days, athletes can compete in a sprint triathlon on Saturday or an olympic triathlon on Sunday. There will also be several relay and aqua-bike races available on both days.

Vanderpool said many of those signed up have accepted the challenge of back-to-back half-ironman races. A half-ironman consists of a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.4-mile run.

“It’s very challenging. A lot of people are taking that challenge and signing up for the Incredoubleman and they’re doing a half ironman on Saturday and turning around on Sunday morning and doing the same thing,” Vanderpool said.

Vanderpool said he came up with the idea about two years ago. Originally, he wanted to hold a double-ironman race, which would be a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run.

But Vanderpool didn’t think that would work out logistically, so he settled on the back-to-back half-ironman concept.

“I toyed with this for a while,” he said.

Vanderpool started filing paperwork in May 2013 and has been working at organizing the event since. The Incredoubleman is officially sanctioned by USA Triathlon but is not an Ironman-branded race.

Vanderpool said he always envisioned Sackets Harbor as the location. He has long been involved with the annual Henderson Harbor Triathlon and said he wanted something bigger for the sport in the area.

“I wanted to take advantage of the north country,” Vanderpool said. “This area, in my opinion, is one of the best places to have triathlons. … Sackets Harbor is absolutely beautiful and I wanted a destination location to have this, some place where people are going to feel this is a really great place to come and a great venue.”

Vanderpool said he hopes to make the Incredoubleman an annual event that gives a boost to the area economy.

“I want the community to be behind this and see that this could be a really good thing for Sackets Harbor and Jefferson County,” Vanderpool said. “I can see this thing easily growing, and I’m probably going to have to cap it at about 700 people. I think it will take off and within two years, be one of these races that just sells out as soon as it opens. At least that’s my hope.”

Casselberry, who has been running triathlons since 2006 and said she competes in at least one ironman race each year, said she anticipates a difficult weekend.

“To be honest with you, until last weekend, I didn’t think I would have a problem because I do a lot of long trainings. But I think the run on the second day is going to be extremely difficult for me. … That run will be more like a walk. So I’m trying to figure out how to structure both days so I can optimize my performance without killing myself on the first day and saying, ‘Oh God. I have to finish the second day.’”

By Josh St.Croix, Times Sportswriter

Banned Book Week celebrates power and freedom of reading

Reading rebels can celebrate Banned Book Week by turning damaged banned books into a new art piece while talking with others about their favorite books and the importance of censorship-free reading.

“No one follows you in the grocery store and stops you from buying grapes. People shouldn’t be allowed to tell you what you can’t read either,” reference librarian Suzanne C Renzi-Falge said.

The free Banned Book event for teens and adults will be held at the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library on Washington Street on Sept. 27.

According to the American Library Association website, Banned Books Week, Sept. 21-27, highlights the value of free and open access to information. The week-long campaign is arranged to bring together librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers with the goal of increasing literacy and maintaining a free flow of reading material. Mrs. Renzi-Falge said it’s a chance to get together and share support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Mrs. Renzi-Falge said the library will keep informational displays on the walls of the library and put banned books on display through the month.

“I think the books always go fast, especially when people see the books are banned,” Mrs. Renzi-Falge said.

She said the library’s annual Banned Book Event is normally attended by enthusiasts against banning books or people who find out one of their favorite books is banned.

“It’s kind of in-library law that you’re not supposed to stop reading something, no matter who tries to tell you to stop,” Mrs. Renzi-Falge said.

The American Library Association website says Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

“‘The Lorax’ was banned in California because it was perceived to be against forestry,” Mrs. Renzi-Falge said.

She said the book “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak has also been banned because the monsters were believed to be “too disturbing for children.”

Mrs. Renzi-Falge said there are a lot of books that she herself doesn’t like, books that don’t reflect her values or are too “smutty.” But she said it shouldn’t be in anyone’s power to stop someone from reading and experiencing another person’s ideas if they want to.

“The reasons why books are banned are sometimes chaotic,” Mrs. Renzi-Falge said.

According to the American Library Association, the top ten classic banned novels include: “The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald; “The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger; “The Grapes of Wrath,” by John Steinbeck; “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee; “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker; “Ulysses,” by James Joyce; “Beloved,” by Toni Morrison; “The Lord of the Flies,” by William Golding; and “1984,” by George Orwell.

Mrs. Renzi-Falge said that during the workshop, participants will transform older copies of banned books that were damaged and can no longer be lent at the library.

“We’ll turn them into boxes, people can use the pages, the artwork, anything to make something unique,” Mrs. Renzi-Falge said. “They can be used as a jewelry box or a place to keep their library slips — whatever they want.”

While the group works on the crafts, there will be a presentation and open discussion about why certain books are banned in different places and why it’s so important to keep fighting for the “freedom to read.”

“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t read,” Mrs. Renzi-Falge said.


By Katherine Clark Ross

Response to kidnapping case brings Amish and non-Amish worlds together

A group of Amish boys dressed in their Sunday best walk along Mount Alone Road in Heuvelton. The Amish have expressed gratitude to police agencies and volunteers in the week of the kidnapping ordeal. Melanie Kimbler-Lago / NNY Living

A group of Amish boys dressed in their Sunday best walk along Mount Alone Road in Heuvelton. The Amish have expressed gratitude to police agencies and volunteers in the week of the kidnapping ordeal. Melanie Kimbler-Lago / NNY Living

Instead of suffering strain, the connection between the Amish and non-Amish in St. Lawrence County may have been strengthened as a result of the abduction last week of two Heuvelton sisters.

The massive search for the Amish girls by law enforcement agencies, along with an outpouring of support from neighbors and volunteers, showed the Amish that “the English,” or the broader community, will rally to their assistance in a crisis, according to several people interviewed this week.

In that sense, some Amish residents said, they feel safer than ever. That feeling was reinforced by the girls’ quick return and an awareness that the outcome could have been much worse.

The girls, ages 7 and 12, were dropped off 24 hours after disappearing Aug. 13 from their roadside vegetable stand on Route 812 and Mount Alone Road, outside Heuvelton. Two non-Amish Hermon residents are accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting the sisters. [Read more...]

Time to open the lid on your grill and move the kitchen outdoors

Spice up your backyard barbecue with simple seasonings [Read more...]

City still faces a ‘tree-mendous’ job cleaning up from ice storm

Logger J.R. Hackbarth operates a hydraulic claw to clear tree debris Tuesday on Bugbee Drive in Watertown. Norm Johnston / NNY Living

Logger J.R. Hackbarth operates a hydraulic claw to clear tree debris Tuesday on Bugbee Drive in Watertown. Norm Johnston / NNY Living

For more than a month, Timothy J. Monica and his crew have been going up and down streets picking up logs, limbs and other debris nearly six months after the Dec. 21 ice storm hit the area.

“We’re gaining on it,” he said while working in the Bugbee Drive and Harris Drive neighborhood Tuesday morning. “We’ve moved a lot.”

Another crew is working on the north side. The mission won’t be accomplished until the end of June, Public Works Superintendent Eugene P. Hayes said.

When all is said and done, the crews will complete three passes around the city and take between 1,000 and 1,200 dump truck loads of limbs to the city-owned quarry off Route 11, just north of the city, Mr. Hayes said.

So far, a pile of debris about 200 yards long and 40 feet tall has been taken to the quarry. [Read more...]

Little Free Libraries spreading the love of books in unexpected places

Allison F. Gorham stands next to Helen’s Little Free Library near the corner of Sherman and Paddock streets in Watertown, at the home of her late mother, Helen G. Farrell, who was an avid reader. Justin Sorensen / NNY Living

Allison F. Gorham stands next to Helen’s Little Free Library near the corner of Sherman and Paddock streets in Watertown, at the home of her late mother, Helen G. Farrell, who was an avid reader. Justin Sorensen / NNY Living

The tiny library on Paddock Street sticks out like a bookmark tucked into a good mystery novel.

It’s on a post in front of 168 Paddock St. At first look it could be mistaken for a mailbox.

But for neighborhood residents like George L. Marlette of Sherman Street, the box, full of free books, is a carousel of mysteries, biographies and words of wisdom. [Read more...]