Tupper Lake trail groomers vested

From left, Jules Callaghan, James Frenette, John Gillis and town Councilman (and groomer) John Quinn were honored by the town board for their work grooming the town cross-country ski trails at a recent town board meeting. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — The crew that groomed the town’s James C. Frenette Sr. Recreational Trails for cross-country skiing this winter were thanked at the Thursday town board meeting and given new vests with the town’s hemlock cone logo.

Jules Callaghan, James Frenette and John Gillis attended the meeting while groomers Scott Chartier and Eric Lanthier could not be there.

“Just a small token of the town’s appreciation for you guys and all the hours and hours you put in,” said town Councilman John Quinn, who also grooms the trails occasionally and received a vest. “Maybe this will keep you a little warmer on the groomer.”

“We would not have all of these great trails without all of your ideas and dedication and devotion and going out there when it’s 100 below,” town Supervisor Pattie Littlefield said. “Seriously, all kidding aside, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Littlefield recalled a phone call Gillis made to her right after she was elected to the town board in 2011. He had asked for support in restoring the cross-country ski trails, and she said she thought it was a brilliant idea.

Frenette brought a photo of a newspaper from 1973, when the ribbon was cut on the trails. Callaghan had been involved in building the signage for the trails then.

“We feel like we’ve crested and the trails have been hugely popular,” Gillis said. “We had our longest season ever; we started grooming before Thanksgiving.”

Gillis said there were 600 sign-ins on the trail register over the year and 500 people who attended the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Brew-Ski event, equaling a guaranteed 1,100 visitors over the season.

Chamber of Commerce President Brittany Proulx said Friday that the chamber will give the town a $1,500 donation from its Brew-Ski proceeds at an upcoming town board meeting, in thanks to the trail volunteers and for future upkeep of the trails.

“Brew-Ski was a great success this year, and the well-groomed trails were a huge part of that success,” Proulx said. “It was the first time we’ve had snow to put skis and snowshoes on in a few years. We’re very grateful to the volunteers for the time they invest to help our town and our event.”

The groomers are planning for the future of the trails.

“We got the completed permit from the (Adirondack Park Agency) for our final leg of the trail around the back side of the golf course,” Gillis said. “We’re working our way to a multi-season, multi-use trail.”

Quinn talked about a project to build several bridges on the trail, saying he believed the job could be done for a fraction of the cost of the original estimate by using volunteer labor.

“We’ll need some funds from the town … for these bridges,” Quinn said.

“I found some,” Littlefield said.

Several board members and groomers commented on how the community is very involved in the upkeep of the trails and equipment. Quinn recognized Superintendent of Highways Billy Dechene for his department’s help keeping equipment running, setting up signs and moving snow around the parking lot.

The groomers are doing the end-of-season spring cleaning now and the town board has submitted an application for an application for a grant to winterize the golf course’s pro shop.