MOUNTAIN - Mountains of congratulations go to Erik Bottcher, who was born and raised in Wilmington and started a new job Tuesday as Gov. Andrew Cuomo's special assistant for community affairs. We know his parents but weren't aware he was working for New York City Hall until he got this bump up to the new governor's staff - during an exiting time, too. He told the newspaper City Hall that in five years he'd like his business card to read, "advisor to the Mayor of New York City"; we hope the governor isn't too poor a substitute.
MOUNTAIN - More congratulations go to the Saranac Lake High School students who stood up against intolerance in a positive way, by doing "random acts of kindness" to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. A school diversity-awareness group, FREE (Friends Respecting Everyone Equally), evolved out of a "Purple Against Homophobia Day" students held in October. Advisor Kathleen Bullard and the school Key Club also helped with Random Acts of Kindness Week.
The problem of bullying came into sharp focus last school year when a middle-school girl was persecuted because of her race - something the school district and village police still haven't punished anyone for committing. While FREE wasn't necessarily formed in response to that offense, many of its members know first-hand how terrible it is to be bullied, and they are trying to change the culture that leads to bullying. Instead of fighting back with anger, they're using random acts of kindness - exactly the kind of good-hearted courage that Dr. King preached and lived. He would be proud.
VALLEY - Suspicion seems to be increasing in the rhetoric on both sides of the debate over the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake. As an adjudicatory hearing approaches - it could begin as soon as February - some supporters and opponents are getting more dead-set on beating each other by questioning each other's motives and honor. It's disappointing that pro-environment and pro-economy groups can't spend more energy making their points and less energy bashing each other. However this turns out, we will all have to live with each other afterward.
MOUNTAIN - In the seven years since the ACR was first proposed, surprisingly little has happened to sway people's opinions on it, including ours. We still support it, even though we are wary of its payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan. Nevertheless, the PILOT should be a matter for the Tupper Lake taxpayers and taxing authorities to deal with, not the Adirondack Park Agency or environmental groups. Therefore, we hope to see the adjudicatory hearing and the subsequent APA board review move swiftly toward approval of this project. Yes, it's huge, but Tupper Lake needs something huge, economically.
MOUNTAIN - Finally, let's have a mountainous round of applause for Big Tupper Ski Area, for the mostly volunteer effort that resurrected it and for the snow that finally allowed it to open this past weekend, for the first time all winter. The ski fee is just $15 a day, and we encourage locals and visitors to go there often. It's a fun place anyway, but also, supporting the local effort might help it reopen for a third winter as well. After that, maybe the ACR will be ready to run it.