15th annual First Frost AIDS Walk raised $42,470

The 15th annual First Frost AIDS Walk “Friends of Carmen” team’s theme of “United We Stand in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS” is a cause all participants, organizers and volunteers represent.

The team, led by Carmen A. Sweet, collected $13,249, but, collectively, all teams — individual participants, men, women, children, the young and the old — raised $42,470. Proceeds benefit ACR Health’s north country youth services, which are not financially supported by many grants. Emergency ACR Health client needs also benefit from the 5k run/walk.

Sunday’s cold weather didn’t stop runners and walkers from participating for the cause.

“It’s a huge representation of this community,” said Jacki C. Coe, ACR Health development associate. “Whether they’re an individual, team, someone younger or older — they walk. They realize it’s a huge issue. Know things like 78 percent of new chlamydia cases in Jefferson County are in people 24 years of age and younger. The same way you get those sexually transmitted diseases are the same way you get AIDS. Every single one of us is vulnerable to get HIV/AIDS if we’re not taking precautions.”

The annual run/walk has been a staple north country event for the nonprofit agency, but ACR Health has shifted its focus from just HIV/AIDS to case management services for Medicaid clients with at least two of the more than 200 eligible chronic conditions. Instead of looking at just one disease, the agency’s Health Home model looks at the person’s overall health.

That ties into another aspect of the run/walk, as for the third year, ACR Health has offered a Couch to 5k program in partnership with Page Fitness Athletic Club. Couch to 5k coach Priscilla Hargraves, who is a trainer at the athletic club, said 20 people not only completed the 5k, but began a journey to healthier lives.

“They did awesome,” she said. “They came such a long way. Everyone lost inches and got stronger.”

She waited at the finish line, blowing her whistle and ringing a cowbell, and handed each Couch to 5k participant a medal for completing the race. Fellow racers and spectators also waited along the finish line, encouraging everyone in their run/walk efforts.

After the 1 p.m. Saturday race, which involved a course throughout Thompson Park and the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, an awards ceremony and lunch took place in the park pavilion. Awards included top youth team to Indian River High School, for having raised $3,764.08. Mr. Sweet received the top individual fundraiser award, for having raised $10,400. He has participated in the run/walk since its inception 15 years ago, and he and his team have helped raise more than $90,000 since.

More funds from the run/walk are expected to trickle in throughout the coming weeks.

For more information about ACR Health, visit www.acrhealth.org.

 

By Rebecca Madden, Times Staff Writer

Five Things Friday – October 17

5thingsfriday-logoREDHappy Friday! With only two weeks left until Halloween, and winter lingering somewhere around the corner, the north country has a few last fair weather hurrahs in store for us this weekend. If you’ve already had enough of the cool weather for the season (it’s OK to admit it – we already miss summer too!), we’ve got a handful of indoor happenings as well! There’s something for everyone this weekend. And don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the page and take a look at the map of what’s going on! Check it out… [Read more...]

You’re invited to Figaro’s wedding

The Met: Live in HD on Saturday will transport viewers to a manor in 1930s Spain, for a new production of “Le Nozze di Figaro” (“The Marriage of Figaro”) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Met Music Director James Levine will conduct the spirited new production of Mozart’s masterpiece, directed by Richard Eyre, who set the action of this classic domestic comedy in a manor house in Seville during the 1930s.

The Associated Press called it “a memorable performance of Mozart’s immortal comedy,” while the New York Daily News said the production was “easy to like,” and praised the “shining voices and visuals.”

Dashing bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov will lead the cast in the title role of the clever servant, opposite Marlis Petersen as his bride, Susanna. Peter Mattei plays the philandering Count they work for, while Amanda Majeski is the long-suffering Countess. Isabel Leonard dazzles as the libidinous pageboy Cherubino.

Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” will screen live from the Metropolitan Opera stage at 12:55 p.m. Saturday at Potsdam’s Roxy Theater. There will be an encore screening at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 26.

The opera will be performed in Italian, with English subtitles. The approximate running time is four hours, including intermission.

The 2014-15 season of The Met: Live in HD is sponsored in the North Country by SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music and J.S. Cinemas.

All productions are shown live worldwide on Saturdays. The encore presentations are offered on Sundays in Potsdam. Doors open a half-hour before show times and there is immediate seating for advance ticket holders.

Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $15 for senior citizens, $12 for students and $9 for youths age 18 and under.

They are available by calling the Community Performance Series Box Office at 267-2277, or visiting the Roxy Theater or Northern Music & Video in downtown Potsdam or the CPS Box Office in the lobby of SUNY Potsdam’s Performing Arts Center. You can also reserve tickets online by visiting www.cpspotsdam.org.

For more information on the 2014-15 The Met: Live in HD season, visit the Metropolitan Opera website at www.metopera.org/hdlive.

For more information about SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, go towww.potsdam.edu/crane.

 

Massena Salvation Army celebrating 50th anniversary with dedication of new center

The Massena Salvation Army turns 50 years old this year, and members will celebrate on Saturday along with a dedication of their new Salvation Army Center for Worship and Service at 178 Victory Road, across the street from their former headquarters.

Special guests for the 11 a.m. event are Colonels G. Lorraine and William A. Bamford III from Eastern Territory Headquarters in Nyack. The day will feature the dedication of the new center, an open house and reception, along with a 50th anniversary concert at 4 p.m. by Empire Brass.

“They’re coming up to do the dedication at 11 a.m., the unveiling of the dedication plaque and a dedication service and open house,” said Capt. Cynthia Crowsen, who with her husband, Capt. Russell Crowsen, are the current commanders. Majors Norman and Elsie Rock were the first Salvation Army officers in Massena in June 1964.

“It’s the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Massena Salvation Army and the dedication of our new Worship and Service Center. We’re combining the two and enjoying both at the same time,” Capt. Crowsen said.

The community is invited to take part in the day, which will include a 4 p.m. concert by Empire Brass.

“They’re a wonderful band. They play concerts throughout New York state,” she said.

The day will also include tours of the new building by members of the congregation.

“This is the first new, completely-from-scratch building they built in a long time. We know the community has wanted this building for a long time. It will last a long time,” Capt. Crowsen said.

The new Worship and Service Center, which features approximately 10,000 square feet, includes office space and a chapel area, along with a multi-purpose gymnasium space for both adults and children to participate in activities. “We would love to show that off to our community,” she said.

Capt. Crowsen said Salvation Army leaders want to highlight their current programs, as well as those that they plan to offer.

“We’re already starting to plan those things,” she said, noting they want to make sure they don’t overextend themselves, but are still able to adequately provide for the needs of the community.

Among their plans is to hold a fall festival on Oct. 25, where children can wear costumes before Halloween rolls around.

“They have the opportunity to wear their Halloween costume. It will be an evening of fun family time,” Capt. Crowsen said.

The weekend will continue on Sunday when Majors Arvilla and Donald Hostetler, Empire State divisional leaders, are on hand for the Sunday service in the new chapel.

Once the weekend is over, she said they’re looking forward to providing a facility that the community can use for events such as classes or weddings.

“We’ve had a wedding, and we’ve had a funeral. It’s a community building,” Capt. Crowsen said.

She thanked the Massena Housing Authority for allowing them to use a building as their former headquarters.

“We are definitely grateful to the Massena Housing Authority. They were a big help when we were waiting and planning for the building. They were a big blessing to us,” she said.

Now, she said, “We’re grateful to be in this space. We are excited about the dedication and excited to use the building. We’re excited it will continue to be used for community purposes.”

 

By Bob Beckstead, Johnson Newspapers

Fort Drum family seeks help raising money for son’s service dog

A canine lifeline for a severely autistic 4-year-old boy is about two weeks away from arriving in the north country, as his family looks for support for the final expenses to bring the dog home.

Sgt. Aaron A. French, of the 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, has been working for about two years to get Gunner, a 1-year-old German shepherd, for his son Riley Van Eck, whose autism diagnosis was rated 8 on a 10-point scale by doctors.

“We’re looking for every opportunity for him to live a normal life,” Sgt. French said.

The family is asking for about $2,500 for the lodging and rental car for the dog’s trainers, who will show Riley and the family how to care for the dog, and to buy accessories and food for the dog.

Sgt. French said the approximately $9,000 price tag for Gunner was funded through Army Emergency Relief, a private nonprofit organization that can supply soldiers with emergency funds. The dog was raised and trained by Service Dogs for Independence, a training company based in Tucson, Ariz.

Gunner will come at an important time for Riley. After years of therapy to help with his autism and speech disabilities, Riley attended his first day of prekindergarten last week at Benchmark Family Services, Watertown.

Though at times Riley can show signs of high-functioning behavior, Sgt. French said his son is still adjusting to sharing a classroom with other students.

“It overwhelms him,” he said.

In the meantime, Sgt. French said, Riley is excited about his new service companion.

“Every day he’s asking how he’s doing,” he said.

Among the benefits of Gunner, who will go everywhere with Riley, will be helping him sleep better, staying close to authority figures to keep Riley in view and soothing the boy when he has a tantrum.

In the time before Gunner’s arrival, Sgt. French said, he has been working with Riley’s teachers to help smooth the transition. Sgt. French said the dog’s trainers have told him that for the first month after arriving on post, other family members will have to limit their contact with Gunner to ensure he bonds with Riley. Riley also lives on post with his mother, Candace French, and younger sister, Izabella.

“It’s going to be a learning experience for everybody,” Sgt. French said.

The family’s GoFundMe page can be found at http://wdt.me/uCVXug. A Facebook page tracking Riley’s progress can be found at http://wdt.me/bMno9s.

 

By Gordon Block, Times Staff Writer

From ‘Annie’ to the ‘Vortex,’ Halloween tales in the north country

It’s late along Route 177 between Lowville and Barnes Corners.

You’re on your way home from a Halloween party, batting your eyes to hold back sleep.

When you see the faintest glint of something move in the fog, you recall a story you heard at the party. It’s the one about a woman — the headless “Tug Hill Annie” — who once wandered this road.

Although the specter does not appear — she hasn’t since 2009, according to a paranormal investigator — the tale stays in your head all the way home, joining several other north country ghost stories, legends and myths you heard that evening.

THE ROAD TO TRAGEDY

Anna J. Tebidor was killed in a gruesome truck accident on what now is Sears Pond Road in Montague in June 1954, according to an article in the Journal & Republican of Lowville that summer.

But the story did not leave the earth with Mrs. Tebidor, and many have claimed over the years that her spirit didn’t, either.

By 1960, Anna was being referred to as “Tug Hill Annie,” according to David J. Andalora, the lead investigator for Tug Hill Paranormal, an eight-member group that includes his wife, Kimberly A.

“The way I heard (it), several people told me it was a vanishing hitchhiker sort of deal,” Mr. Andalora said. “If you didn’t pick her up, she’d appear again down the road in front of you.”

Mr. Andalora, also a special-education teacher in the South Jefferson Central School District, claims the Tug Hill group helped release Anna’s spirit in 2009 from the scene of the fatal accident, in which she was decapitated when the 1949 Studebaker truck she was driving rolled over several times.

But if her spirit has moved on, her legend continues to hover over Lewis County.

One theory says Anna, 37, and her baby were in the accident and that she continues to search for her child.

While she did have an infant son at the time of the accident, he was not in the car with her, according to the Journal & Republican article.

‘A TERRIBLE DEATH’

According to Mr. Andalora, Anna’s legend fits an archetype.

“Every culture with a vehicle of transportation has a ghost by the side of the road from a terrible death. It doesn’t surprise me that we have it up here,” he said. “With an archetype like that, you have to question if there’s a little nugget of truth under the legend.”

Although Mr. Andalora said he has reservations about the headless spirit on Route 177 actually being that of Anna Tebidor — since she died nearly three miles away — that stretch of road has seen its share of fatalities and unusual circumstances.

A Journal & Republican article from 1949 tells of Merwin Clemmons, whose tractor mysteriously backed into him and crushed his leg, leading to his death.

In another story, a Lewis County Democrat article from 1900 said a dog was found playing with a severed hand.

The hand was first believed to be part of an old skeleton belonging to a Watertown doctor, but an article a month later questioned whether the hand had been used for studies by a Canadian medical student who disappeared around the time of the discovery.

The article ended on the chilling question, “Was it murder or body snatching? Since the finding of the hand, another hand has been found in the streets of Utica.”

No additional information was listed in the newspaper after that.

Robert J. Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, said ghost stories can become part of the fabric of a community.

“Sometimes a story starts as the result of a horrible thing happening, and the story becomes a point of pride” in that community, Mr. Thompson said.

As an example, he cited Salem, Mass. — home of the 1692 Salem Witch trials, which saw the execution of 20 people. Although the hysteria actually took place in Salem Village, now called the town of Danvers, the city of Salem, several miles away, capitalizes on that local history.

Mr. Andalora said he knows people who still travel the stretch of Route 177 near Sears Pond Road looking for a chill. But if it’s “Tug Hill Annie” they’re looking for, he said, she’s gone to rest, courtesy of his group’s work five years ago.

SPOOKS WITH A SWEET TOOTH

In Jefferson County, there’s a fall favorite for paranormal enthusiasts and families alike: the Burrville Cider Mill, 18176 County Road 156, where visitors will find apples, apple cider, doughnuts — and possibly a spirit or two.

“They are here,” said mill owner Cynthia L. Steiner. “I’ve seen them, heard them, smelled them and felt them, and I’m not the only one.”

Mrs. Steiner has owned the mill with her family since 1996. The structure was built in 1801 and was used as a sawmill and gristmill. At one point it was owned by Capt. John Burr, founder of Burrville and a purported Lake Ontario pirate.

The mill owners have dubbed one of the spirits Captain Burr.

Another spirit said to cause trouble at the mill is a mischievous 8-year-old boy, who was named “Roger” by a medium.

“Twice the microwave has spelled out the word ‘child’ where the time is, and there’s no way to punch in letters,” Mrs. Steiner said. “At times we have to heat the cider up to make doughnuts, and when the cider is hot we will go to mix it in the bowls and it’s cold. Or the stove has been turned off and we didn’t turn it off.”

Although several spooky things have happened at the mill over the years, Mrs. Steiner said the most recent was last month.

“There was a boy about 3 at the cash register. Next to the pellet stove there’s a rocking chair where my granddaughters were,” Mrs. Steiner said. “The boy says, ‘Who’s that man standing by the fire?’ There was no fire, and this was the third sighting of a man by the pellet stove.”

Mr. Thompson said there’s a “certain optimism” to paranormal activity or ghost sightings.

“That one happy element is that when we die, we don’t simply cease to exist,” he said.

It’s a sentiment Mrs. Steiner shares.

Next year will mark the Steiners’ 20th year in business, and when it comes to who haunts the mill — besides “Roger” — there’s one thing Mrs. Steiner is certain of.

“When I pass, I will find out and tell you. I’m coming back. I know that for sure,” she said.

‘GRAVEYARD OF SHIPWRECKS’

More than a century ago, Lake Ontario was home to a bizarre incident.

In May 1889, the barge Bavaria broke from its steamer during a storm. Two days later it grounded on Galloup Island, about 10 miles from Henderson Harbor.

According to newspaper clippings at the time, nothing was amiss on the ship, save for its 19 crew members, all of whom had vanished.

While the crew likely jumped ship during the storm and drowned in the dangerous waters, the tale of the ghost ship, Bavaria, remains one of the more mysterious losses attributed to the “Marysburgh Vortex.”

“The eastern part of Lake Ontario is a graveyard of shipwrecks,” said Francine J. Glassic, a maritime historian from Rochester.

“What these storms could do to a body was positively vicious. They could rip all clothes from the body; sometimes the scalp was peeled off. In the wreck of the Belle Sheridan on the Canadian shore (1880), they found a heart, a set of lungs and, sometime later, a jaw bone.”

The vortex, similar in legend to the Bermuda Triangle, encompasses the area between Wolfe Island off of Cape Vincent, Mexico Bay off Oswego, and Canada’s Point Petre.

Along the Lake Ontario coast, there also are legends of spirits, including haunted lighthouses. Another legend involves the sighting of ship captain Russell Disbrow of Ogdensburg, who allegedly was seen by his granddaughter in 1869 after his death some years earlier, when a body initially believed to be his washed ashore “with several stabs on it,” according to the Oswego Times.

It later was determined the body belonged to a “Mr. Thomson.” Disbrow’s remains washed ashore in 1899.

Whether the Disbrow legend and others are fact or fiction is up to the individual. Ms. Glassic falls into the latter category.

“As an historian, I’m seeking out the truth, and I have very little belief in any stories,” she said. “They are truly myths and legends.”

 

By Amanda Thomson-Tangalin

Five Things Friday – October 10

5thingsfriday-logoRED

Happy Friday!

Welcome to Friday! It’s three weeks until Halloween – time to start thinking about your costume. As for right now though, it’s time to start planning out your weekend. Here’s what’s happening:

1) First up we have some family events. Tonight at 6 p.m. at the Wead Library, 64 Elm St., Malone, the library will be showing “Monsters University“! Bring your own little monsters and snacks to this free event. The movie is rated G. If you’re a little farther south and jonesing for a movie tomorrow, you can bring your family to the Community Room at Flower Memorial Library, 229 Washington St., Watertown, to see “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” from 2 to 3:15 p.m. The movie is rated PG. For more information, contact Suzanne Renzi-Falge at either 785-7715 or srenzi-falge@ncls.org. If you want to get outside this weekend, we’ve got the Rock Shanty Haunted trail today and tomorrow from 8 to 10 p.m. each day, at 65 Pinner Road, Harrisville. The event benefits the Harrisville School senior class after-prom lock in. Glow necklaces and refreshment will be available. The cost is $3, ages to 12; $5, 12 and up; $10, family of four; $15, unlimited scream pass. For more information, call Nickie at 543-7012, Heidi at 221-1033, or 816-0208. Tomorrow morning, you and your super family can join in the Super Hero Run, starting at Carthage Park. The event is sponsored by the Carthage YMCA. Dress up like your favorite super hero for this 2.2 mile fun run. You can register today from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., or tomorrow before the race, from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., at the Carthage YMCA, 250 State St., Carthage. The race starts at 9 a.m. Super Hero Prizes will be awarded at 10:30 a.m. The cost for members is $10; nonmembers, $13. The event will benefit the Scholarship Program at 4-H Camp Wabasso. For more information, go here.

2) Art‘s up next. This evening from 6 to 9 p.m., you can attend the opening of the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors, at Arts on the Square, 52 Public Square, Watertown. The admission price is $3 at the door; $2, advance. The show runs through Saturday, Nov. 22. For more information, call 661-6361. If you’re closer to Old Forge, you can visit the preview reception for the 2014 Quilts Unlimited Exhibit at View (Arts Center) Old Forge, 3273 Route 28. The exhibit runs Saturday, Oct. 11, through Sunday, Dec. 7, and includes “On and Off the Wall” exhibit by Adirondack Regional Textile Group. The preview reception is tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. Opening festivities are tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, and include a lecture by Adirondack Regional Textile Group. The cost for the lecture and luncheon is $20; for members, $15. Pre-register for the lecture and luncheon by emailing info@viewarts.org or calling 369-6411, ext. 201. As for music this week, we have two events, both at The Paddock Club, 1 Public Square, Watertown. Tonight, you can catch Travis Rocco, playing from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Tomorrow, Dragon Fly will be playing from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. For more information on either event, call 786-6633.

3) This weekend also brings a fair number of craft festivals and shows, all happening tomorrow. If you’re in Harrisville, you can stop by the Craft Fair and Flea Market, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Grange Hall, Route 3. The event is sponsored by Adirondack Grange. It will feature a large variety of crafters and vendors. Refreshments and lunch will be available, including homemade soup and chili, pulled pork and other sandwiches, donuts and homemade pies. The Lawrenceville Fire Hall, 1081 County Route 54, will host a craft fair tomorrow, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will benefit Lawrenceville Volunteer Fire Department and Auxiliary. There will be craft tables, a silent auction and food available. For more information, call 389-4437 or 328-4939. The Louisville Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary is also hosting their Craft Show tomorrow at Fire Station No. 2 on Route 37, Louisville, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $1. Lunch will be available for a fee. Lastly, the New Bremen Fire Department is holding their third Annual Craft Fair tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at New Bremen Fire Hall, 8154 State Route 812.  There is no admission fee. For more information, call 376-2377 or 955-9601.

4) It’s harvest season, and what would harvest season be without harvest festivals? Tomorrow, the Harrisville Free Library, 8209 Main St., is holding their second Annual Harvest Festival from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pumpkins will available for carving and painting, local produce will be for sale, and cider and donuts will be available. While the event is free, donations will be taken for a renovation project. For more information, call 543-2577. If you’re closer to Long Lake tomorrow, you can visit the Fall Fire and Harvest Festival, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the town hall and Long Lake Central School, 1204 Main St. There will be a craft fair, kids carnival, Portaits in the Wilderness and live art installation with Matt Burnett. LightExpo with fire breathing, fire eating, fire rings, shows are scheduled for 3:30 p.m., 4:15 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tomorrow, you can also attend the Autumn Festival at the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center, 44927 Cross Island Road, Fineview, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will include a craft show and sale, music, entertainment, farm animals and food. Admission is$3; $2, military, seniors; children 16 and younger, free with food pantry donation, $1, without donation. All admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, call 482-2479. For one last harvest hurrah, you can head over to the Sackets Harbor Harvest Fest on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Sackets Harbor Brewing Company and Sackets Anchor parking lot, West Main Street. There will be food, wine tasting, beverages and local products available from restaurants, shops and vendors. For the little ones, they will have children’s activities, face painting, storytelling, fall fashion show and live music.

5) Last but not least this week are a few things to celebrate reading. Today, you can visit the used book sale at the Lewis County General Hospital, 7785 N. State St., until 5 p.m. The sale is to benefit Fund for Hope. Tomorrow, you can go to the Ogdensburg Public Library, 312 Washington St., for Star Wars Reads Day, at 2 p.m. There will be Star Wars games and activities to promote reading. Lastly, the Hay Memorial Library is hosting a Meet the Author and Harvest Fest Book Fair at Seaway Trail Foundation’s Union Hotel, Ray and West Main Streets, on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. Authors David Shampine, Jeannie Brennan, Hope Marston, Katrina Thomas, Holly Gaskin, Marcus Mastin, Val Silver and Paula Youmell are scheduled. A wellness program by Paula Youmell, “Healing Your Body with Whole Foods,” is scheduled for 1 p.m. Refreshments will be available. The event is free. For more information, call 646-2228.

Have a fun and safe weekend! As always, let us know your events for the upcoming weekends!

Watertown considering six possible sites for dog park

The city has selected six possible sites for the proposed dog park.

At the request of Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham, the city Planning Department has started looking at potential sites. Last month, the Watertown City Council informally agreed to allow the dog park on city-owned property.

Two sites are in Thompson Park, one near the Gotham Street entrance and the other near the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park. For years, dog park supporters have mentioned Thompson Park as where they would like to see the facility built.

City planners also have singled out Factory Square Park, Marble Street Park, Waterworks Park and Sewall’s Island as potential sites.

“They have their pluses and minuses,” Mr. Graham said, adding that he has “a favorite” but would not say publicly which one he likes best.

As part of the criteria, the site must have the availability of water, City Councilman Stephen A. Jennings said. Water will be needed for dogs to drink and for watering the grass, he said. Mr. Jennings said that at this point, he does not have a preferred site.

“I have an open mind,” he said.

In recent weeks, Mr. Jennings has arranged for the Northern New York Community Foundation to be the conduit for any money raised for the proposed park. The nonprofit organization agreed to hold onto the account during fundraising efforts for the project.

Mr. Jennings also is working with Scott A. Gates, who has been lobbying for a dog park in Watertown for eight years, on the project.

Kenneth A. Mix, city planning and community development coordinator, said the cost of site preparation also will play a role in selecting a site.

During a conversation Thursday about the redevelopment of Sewall’s Island, members of the city’s newly formed Citizens Advisory Board said they would welcome the dog park on the island or at Factory Square Park, a small park near the interesection of Factory, Huntington, Pearl and High streets.

During the meeting, Mr. Graham said that people vehemently opposed the idea five years ago.

Advisory board member Carolyn D. Fitzpatrick, chairwoman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, said that was before several north country communities built dog parks.

“I don’t have a dog, but I support the dog park,” she said.

At the Sept. 15 meeting, council members informally agreed to support donating city land for the project, warning Mr. Gates that no city money would be used to build or maintain the park.

City officials have learned a dog park would need about two acres of fenced-in land. Typically, the dog park would be divided into two paddocks, one for large dogs and the other for smaller ones.

The entrance normally would include a gate for dogs to enter an area where owners would remove their leashes, and another gate to actually get into the dog park. Usually, that area is covered. Mr. Gates said he hopes the project will be finished by spring.

 

By Craig Fox, Times Staff Writer

SPCA of Jefferson County seeks continued operational support from the community

The work of staff members and volunteers of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Jefferson County goes beyond the walls of the main shelter at 25056 Water St.

An adoption center within Petco, 21851 Towne Center Drive, and foster families for animals before they are ready for adoption contribute to the costs and needs of running the agency. Executive Director Douglas J. Marlow said the annual operating budget is only $315,000, because so much of the organization’s support comes from donations, both monetary and material.

“The in-kind contributions save on our budget,” he said. “We are in partnership with Sam’s Club, Walmart, Kmart, Target, Petco and Hannaford, and if those large corporations have a busted bag of kitty litter, they donate it to us. That saves the agency about $3,800 a year.”

About 60 to 65 percent of the budget, Mr. Marlow said, is covered by animal adoption fees. The remainder is raised through fundraising and charitable giving. The SPCA’s operational budget includes heat, lights, salaries, contractual costs for veterinarian care, education for staff and expenses related to administration and fundraising.

While the nonprofit received a $224,545.62 bequest from former Watertown police officer Richard M. Banister, who died in November 2012, Mr. Marlow said the agency’s board of directors has designated those funds for capital improvements, not operational expenses.

“Those needs don’t go away by a large donation,” he said.

The SPCA is looking to expand its surgical space and reconfigure components of the main shelter with Mr. Banister’s donation. To help keep operations sustainable, Mr. Marlow said, the SPCA relies on continued support from the community. People and groups often donate towels, cleaning supplies, litter, toys, leashes and other materials, but monetary donations help cover other operational costs.

That is when fundraisers such as the agency’s annual Bowl-a-Thon, at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18 at Pla-Mor Lanes, 577 State St., come into play. The participation fee for the event is $20 per person and includes three games of bowling, shoes, food and prizes. The SPCA would like to see about 100 people at the event.

Although not required, all bowlers are encouraged to seek pledges and donations from others beforehand.

The 2013 event raised nearly $4,000. Mr. Marlow said if the 2014 Bowl-a-Thon raises $5,000, that would cover the cost of spaying/neutering 85 animals.

The funds also could help provide care for Red, a cat of unknown age at the main shelter who meows when people walk by and tries to squeeze through the cage’s bars. About a dozen kittens are at the agency, along with a handful of dogs. The SPCA also plans to reach out to local school districts to see if they want fostered rats and hamsters as classroom pets.

For more information, or to sign up for the Bowl-a-Thon, call the SPCA at 782-3260.

 

By Rebecca Madden, Times Staff Writer

Feature film shot in Massena gets screening at Massena Community Center

Nearly 50 people were on hand for a recent screening of a film project that took more than two years to complete.

“Behind the Glass,” a 90-minute feature film based on an original movie script written by Thomas Savage and James Bello and shot locally late last year, was screened for a select audience of cast members and close friends at the Massena Community Center. Mr. Savage and Mr. Bello were on hand for the debut viewing.

“It got good reviews,” Mr. Savage said.

Mr. Savage and Mr. Bello had teamed up to produce the independent, supernatural thriller set in New York state.

“Even though the film was made with a minimum budget and volunteers, it conveyed the theme of struggle, suspense — and a surprise ending hopefully captivated the audience,” he said.

Mr. Savage said the story revolves around Dayna Matheson, a young woman played by Shauna Gordon, who battles two demons — her internal conflict with alcoholism and external demons from her past that are trapped in an antique mirror.

In the film, Dayna has two children from a previous marriage. She remarries and they come to live with an elderly woman in New York. The woman they live with knows about the evil trapped in the mirror, but keeps it hidden. When she dies, she leaves everything to Dayna and her brother — with one condition: The two of them must stay one night in the house.

The story is based on the premise that in the 1860s, individuals used to cover up mirrors and stop clocks when someone died because they did not want the spirit trapped in the mirror.

Mr. Savage called Ms. Gordon’s performance “riveting,” as well as the performance of Jesse Marasco, who played her younger brother, Ryan.

“From the main leads to the smallest of parts, each and every actor offered a wonderful take on the characters they portrayed, making the movie extremely convincing and real,” he said.

Mr. Savage said the film was a labor of love for the more than two years that it took to write the script and produce the movie.

“It has always been a dream of mine to write a script and develop it into a feature movie,” he said. “Without the help of Mr. Bello and close friends, the movie would not have been possible.”

The project marks the first time he and Mr. Bello, who describes himself as a “lifelong enthusiast of making movie shorts,” have worked together on a project of this magnitude.

“This is the first full-length movie we’ve done together,” he said. “It has been a labor of love, and, at the same time, bittersweet now that it’s done.”

It’s not the last time the pair will be working together, though. They are already preparing to begin work on their next film.

“About 10 years ago, Jim and I wrote a script about an old woman who encounters an alien,” Mr. Savage said. “It is a dark comedy with unsettling undertones. With lack of funding and actors, nothing more was done with it.”

“We may consider updating the script and producing it, or doing something entirely different,” Mr. Bello said.

As far as “Behind the Glass,” Mr. Savage said they would like to submit the script to a film agent, but they don’t have any plans right now for a public showing.

“We really haven’t thought much further than showing it to friends,” he said.

 

By Bob Beckstead, Johnson Newspapers