Thursday, May 31, 2012

Flu Bug in May?

Last Friday was going to be the start of a beautiful Memorial Day weekend.  And then I came down with the most atrocious stomach/intestinal bug I have ever experienced. It took me off my feet from Friday till Monday.  Now it is Thursday and I am just about feeling like my old self.  This bug also ran it's course through our household infecting my wife and son.  Sorry!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fr. Stephen H. Gratto

Fr. Steve Gratto
I have just learned that my long time friend, Reverend Stephen H. Gratto passed away on May 26th 2012.  Fr. Steve was in the care of the Sisters Of St. Josephs Mother House Infirmary.  I first met Fr. Steve when he was assigned to Holy Family Church in 1973 just shortly after his ordination.  He was a source of realistic christian views and was held in the highest regard by many of my peers.  The Diocese of Ogdensburg has lost a valuable Catholic mentor.

Click here for more about Fr. Steve's Life

Monday, May 28, 2012

A-Bay Memorial Day Events

Alexandria Bay:

Memorial Day started out with the annual parade featuring the A.C.S. Marching Band, the Volunteer Fire Dept. and the Boy Scouts as well as members from the American Legion.

Following the parade, The A.C.S. Class of 2014 sponsored a Community Carnival.  A chance to dunk local personalities as well as various other booths including food, beverages, animal and reptile displays, games and face painting.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Uncle Sam Boat Tours N.J.F.T.

Alexandria Bay:

I decided to do a series on the events and attractions in the 1000 Islands Region that are Not Just For Tourists.  Most consider Ogdensburg, Alexandria Bay, Clayton, and Cape Vincent to be tourist destinations. Once you have been there and done that then you are done there..... never to return again.  That is not entirely true. Last fall we drove to Cape Vincent,  had breakfast at Aubrey's Inn. Visited Tibbets Point and then ventured across to Wolfe Island via the ferry.  That was a fun trip, taking it many times with my parents.  Even though I am from here, I still love it here.  I am always in awe of the beauty that surrounds us.

I have been taking boat tours since the mid-60's and I never tire of them.  Recently my wife and I went on Uncle Sam Boat Tours 1 Hour Millionaire Row Tour.  It was what we were looking for, a short cruise on the St. Lawrence River where we could have a couple of beers and a glass of wine [all reasonably priced] without worrying about the local law enforcement. I have also taken the short trip [10 min.] on the ferry to Bold Castle. Always something new at the Castle, this year it's the new movie room with a High-Def screen. When the heat gets to be unbearable, you can not beat the cool breeze on the St. Lawrence River.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

High Wire LIVE Wire

Wow, this guy must be crazy. I hope he is making a lot of money! What is more dangerous than electricity and water? Working  on High Energy KV lines while dangling from a helicopter 
It looks as though some aerial maintenance work is being done on the K.V. Lines along I-81, just south of the Arsenal St. Exit.  Just another reason why I never leave home without my video camera.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Alex Bay Hires New Police Chief

The Village Board has been searching to replace former Police Chief Brian K. Mullaney, who retired earlier in April.  Mayor D. Jury announced that James M. Marshall could start as early as tomorrow as the full time provisional Chief of Police.  She went on to say, that Mr. Marshall is provisional pending a civil service test that ranks candidates according to how they score on that test.  The old civil service list has expired and it is unknown at this time when the test will be given.

In July of 2009 Mr. Marshall held the #2 spot on the civil service list and was passed over by the former mayor.  The board at that time chose Brian Mullaney. Chief Marshall is a former Watertown Detective and former part time police officer for the Village of Alex Bay.

Related Links: Click Here

Monday, May 21, 2012

Victoria Day Block Dance

Alexandria Bay

What a beautiful weekend to celebrate Canada's Victoria Day.  As a special event for this weekend, Alex Bay Chamber of Commerce sponsored a block dance last night featuring the local talents of Wagner's Agenda. Hopefully this is the beginning of a beautiful summer!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hospital Chokes Out Business In The Bay

Here is an example of a turn of events that the local newspapers do not report on.  At the 4.24.12  Alex Bay Village board meeting R.C. Congel requested the use of the Upper James St Docks for their annual in the water boat show.  This show had for many years been held at the Riveredge Resort transient docks.  But the resort had recently changed the transient dockage into seasonal docking, making it almost impossible for Congels to hold an in the water boat show there.  Congels was prepared to pay the village $3,800.00 in slip fees for the ten day event.  Depending on the weather/economy, dock fees for entire month of any given June can be anywhere from $3000 to $5000!

This would have been the first June in many years that the Upper James St. Docks would have had an event scheduled every weekend.  Events like the Small Fry Fishing Derby and the Poker Runs America.  The village board eagerly approved the boat show, anticipating the extra dock fee revenue and also knowing that the prospective boat buyers would be visiting local shops, restaurants, and bars during the ten day event. 

Click to enlarge
After Congels made the big hurdle with approval of the use of the docks from the village, the next step was to find a place to put the brokers tent.  The tent needed to be in a location where potential customers could comfortably seal the deals for their dream boat. A parking lot which is owned by Cavallario's Steak House and is being leased to the hospital for employees who now  work in offices at the former building known as C.P. Romans Nite Club, seemed like the perfect location. Representatives from Congels had also contacted Cavallario's Restaurant and made  tentative arrangements for hospital employees to park in the upper parking lot during the event with the addition of 2 extra spaces.  Hospital workers would be parking no more than an extra 50 feet away. 

With the permission of Cavallario's Restaurant, Congels then approached  the River Hospital and asked if they could use 3 parking spaces for the brokers tent. Congel's was sure that with a trade off of 3 parking spaces for 5 spaces,  would make the hospital more than happy to cooperate.  A representative of the hospital said NO to Congels request.

Our community has rallied for the hospital, held fund raisers, emotionally and financially supported it.
No is an unreasonable and selfish response from the River Hospital.   With  the word NO, The village and business owners  in downtown Alexandria Bay have lost the opportunity for a boost in revenue in June which is considered a "soft" month in a very short summer season.  

Even though Riveredge was not a viable spot this year for the Congel's In The Water Boat Show, Congels went back and worked out a plan with the resort.  I am not sure what concessions were made but the two businesses made it work. There is a lesson to be learned from all this, as  My father-in-law used to say:


I did call a representative from the River Hospital in hopes for a comment that might explain the hospital's position on this,  but I have not received a return call.

We should all be wondering what the fate of some of the events held at the Upper James St. location will be. No tent for the Blues in the Bay event?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ice In May In The Bay

Town Of Alexandria Municipal Arena located in the Village of Alex Bay has had an extended season this year.  Ice was available in September and continues till May 18th.  Bobby Cantwell from Clayton was kind enough to give me a quick sound byte on  what he thinks about the late season ice.  Don't Forget about the Bumper Cars

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Alexandria Negotiations?

Town Of Alexandria:

This audio clip is from the Town Board Meeting held on 5.9.12.  A brief discussion of the appointment of 2 councilman to act on behalf of  the board and negotiate with the Teamsters Union that represents the Town Employees. Supervisor Hunneyman accepted volunteers Councilmen Durand and Sweet.  Town Clerk Peck mentions a possible conflict of allowing Durand to negotiate because he has more than one relative that belongs to that collective bargaining unit. Durand even questions if it is ok?  Under advice of council, J. Russell gives it the ok by saying that  If you live in this town you've got relatives

The following is from the Town of Alexandria Code of Ethics that was adopted on 3.14.12.  Seems cut and dry to me.  Maybe everyone did not get a chance to read it?  I am sure the argument can be made that I am misinterpreting this.  If that is the case, then who am I to argue? Just a taxpayer.

Section 7. Recusal and abstenation

(a)   No municipal officer or employee may participate in any decision or take any official action with respect to any matter requiring the exercise of discretion, including discussing the matter and voting on it, when he or she knows or has reason to know that the action confers direct or indirect financial or material benefit on himself, or herself, a relative[s]......

(b)   In the event that this section prohibits a municipal officer or employee from exercising or performing a power or duty:

        (1) if the power or duty vested in a municipal officer as member of board, then the power or  duty   shall  be  exercised  or performed by the other members of the board

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Shadows In The Cave Series

The Shadows were a local band from the early 90's.  They are Phil 'Crush' DuMond, Tommy "Gunn" O'Riley, and David "The Knappster" Knapp. They found themselves brought together for a brief 2 night reunion.  Also featured in these videos are John Meyers and D.J. Rogers.  Collectively I call them my friends, which is a rare commodity these days!

This "suite" of videos are raw and gritty.  The lighting is poor and my camera does not do well in low lighting.  I have tried to compensate for the dimness with some filters in my editing software. They are still a representation of what I saw in the musicians cave on the nights I recorded them.  The band members are practicing, rehearsing new songs, sometimes they hit the notes while other times they seem to be searching for the harmonies.  I never judge them when they miss  because I know they will keep trying till they make those harmonies perfect.  

Some musicians have huge egos which I do not care about capturing.  That is always the downside of recording bands.....individuals trying to outdo the others in the band or not even caring about what the audience wants.  Unfortunately those types are blind to this point and will be wondering who I am referring to.   You won't see much of the ego thing with this group of guys.  But it does exist with some and it is not pretty.

If I wanted MTV style videos, then I would have set up the lighting with multiple camera angles and digital audio recording.  What I was really after was just a quick glimpse into musicians practicing, with all the mistakes that go with it.  After all, you only see the final perfect package when the band steps onto the stage to perform.  I hope you enjoy watching these behind the scenes videos.  They are from my perspective and are still life paintings that have come alive using the medium of video.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Zero Increase in Alex Bay Tax Rate

Alexandria Bay:

Despite tough economic times, on 4.30.12  the village board adopted a budget with a zero percent increase from last years budget.  The tax rate is the same at $7.9218 per $1000 of assessed property value.

One of the many Budget Workshops
According to Mayor Jury this is the first year the board as a whole has sat down with pencils, worksheets, and calculators. We were given worksheets and  the board plugged in numbers, we erased them and changed them.  But in previous years this [Already Prepared Budget from the Treasurer] is what you got and you read through it and that was it.  This is the first time we [the board, the treasurer, and clerk] have put a budget together.

The Budget hearing was held on 4.25.12 and it lasted about 35 minutes.  Myself and two others attended.  Some questions were asked and promptly answered.  The board had a daunting task preparing this budget as it came on the heels of an audit from the NYS Comptrollers office that found deficiencies in board oversight and an abnormally large excess of reserves in village accounts.  Mayor Jury, the trustees, and the village treasurer are still working to reconcile the auditors findings. Mayor Jury assured us that they will continue working until all the village finances and bookkeeping  are in alignment.

The following audio clip is from the budget hearing.  It is an edited version with highlights from that hearing.  I increased the speed of the clip because of long pauses between questions. To listen to the unedited clip, click here.