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Wells resigns as Saranac Lake chamber president

May 28, 2011
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - Keith Wells has resigned as president of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce's board of directors.

Wells, who's been head of the chamber board for only a year, submitted a written letter of resignation Friday that cited "personal reasons" for his decision, according to chamber Executive Director Sylvie Nelson.

"We're sad to have to accept his resignation, but it's his choice and we have to respect that," Nelson said.

Article Photos

Keith Wells
(Enterprise file photo)

She declined to say any more about the circumstances surrounding Wells' departure, and Wells didn't immediately return the Enterprise's telephone and email messages Friday.

Nelson said the board's first vice president, Adirondack Medical Center Communications Director Joe Riccio, will move up to become the new board president, "and we'll just continue business as usual."

Riccio declined say anything about Wells' resignation Friday.

"Keith has contributed an incredible amount of time and effort to the chamber, but beyond that we wish him the best," Riccio said. "I don't want to comment as to why Keith resigned. That's up to him and him alone."

Wells had been involved with the chamber for a number of years before he took the helm of its board last year from Paul Smith's College President John Mills. Wells has also been involved in numerous community-wide initiatives in recent years, including the Saranac Lake Area Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, the Comprehensive Planning Committee, Access Saranac Lake, Patriot Hills at Saranac Lake and the Adirondack Public Observatory in Tupper Lake.

His resignation as chamber president comes amid what's been a somewhat turbulent time for the community's largest business organization, particularly in its relationship with the village.

Village officials, including Mayor Clyde Rabideau, have been at odds with the chamber over its decision to hold its annual dinner in Lake Placid this year and the village board's decision to cut the organization's funding in the 2011-12 village budget. Last month, the village unveiled a new program designed to provide assistance to village businesses, something that has traditionally been the chamber's realm.

Asked if Wells' departure had anything to do with those issues, Nelson said no.

"It's personal issues," she said. "It has nothing to do with the village."

The Enterprise contacted several chamber board members Friday. Some hadn't heard the news of Wells' resignation.

"This is a surprise to me," said Cal Schmeichel, owner of Branch Farm Bed and Breakfast. "I always had a good relationship with him. I have nothing bad to say about Keith."

Some chamber directors said there had been disagreements recently between Wells and other board members about the chamber's direction, but no one was willing to speak to that point any further on the record.


Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or



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