Fatalities, Financing 2017 headlines

PLATTSBURGH — Seeking to the stories of 2017 reveals a mixture of the promise of growth that is neighborhood and the reality of tragedies.

Lives have been lost to shootings, drownings, fire and neglect.

The City of Plattsburgh grappled with budget stresses, while Clinton County reveled in the growth of Plattsburgh International Airport.


A July 15 fire which killed a Malone guy and displaced 30 other people from 19 apartments at the Gorman Building in downtown Malone has been ruled accidental by State Office of Fire Control and Prevention, according to Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost.

Edward J. Lamay, 52, was found dead on the kitchen floor of his 9-by-40-foot, third-floor apartment in 384 West Main St. approximately 10 hours after the ordeal has been reported to Franklin County Fire Control in 1:13 a.m.

Volunteers from more than 20 departments tried to conserve the construction in the corner of Main Street and Harrison Place, but it was gutted and later surrounded by village code-enforcement officials.

One man suffered a broken ankle others had limbs or twisted knees, a few had smoke inhalation, and two firefighters suffered minor injuries.

Officials in 386 West Main St. were evacuated as a precaution, and evacuees obtained aid from the North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross in a crisis  shelter created in the Malone Adult Center.

On Dec. 18, village officials put the building’s owner, Wei Zheng, on notice that he has two months to secure the building or demolish it.

— From Staff Writer Denise Raymo


Tupper Lake inhabitants were stunned and saddened when news of a murder-suicide surfaced about 7:30 a.m. May 10.

Jamie R. Martin, 34, a vibrant and dedicated mother of two, was shot and murdered in the front yard of her house in 435 Hosley Ave. with her former fiancé, Stacey J. Ayotte, 47, of 3 Lafayette St., that subsequently turned into the high-profile gun on himself.

Both were used in Sunmount Office for individuals with Developmental Disabilities, about a mile from where their bodies were discovered lying between a single-wide mobile house and a drop.

They awakened more than a year, although Family members said the two had been engaged at a stage.

Their kids, Alexis, Aiden, and 4, 1, were.

A coworker, when Martin failed to show up for work that morning, worried, discovered the bodies and called police.

State Police have formally shut the murder-suicide investigation and said the motive for the fatal confrontation could never be known.

“No note was left behind,” said Troop B Public Information Officer Jennifer Fleishman.

“What’s left behind would be the kids and the families of the deceased,” she explained. “And our expectation is that they are able to find peace.”

— From Staff Writer Denise Raymo

Fire disrupts AuSable Valley Central School

A faulty slushy/snow cone system ignited a fire in the storage region of the kitchen in AuSable Valley Middle High School on Jan. 21.

The fire was included within the kitchen space, but smoke induced damage throughout the building on Route 9N in Clintonville. The school was closed down for two days, and the cafeteria/kitchen region was for approximately five weeks out of service.

Repairs cost roughly $2.7 million, each covered by insurance, AVCS Superintendent Paul Savage explained.

“Repairs, reconstruction, cleaning and equipment replacement has been an ongoing project throughout much of the year,” he explained.

— From News Editor Suzanne Moore


The case of Ellyah J. Elvidge’s untimely passing in August 2016 came to an end in November when his mother, Patricia A. Giddings, 22, of AuSable Forks and her ex-boyfriend, Brandon J. Bushey, 25, of Plattsburgh were sentenced to jail time.

Police have said the pair were responsible to the 2-year-old the night he died. They’d found him unresponsive, his neck caught in a top notch cut in a sheet of plywood affixed to the doorway of his bedroom.

Both were originally charged with negligent homicide in December 2016.

Giddings was later indicted on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter, making a punishable false written statement and also endangering the welfare of a young child.

In August, she pleaded guilty to the manslaughter bill. Clinton County Court Judge Keith Bruno sentenced her to four to 12 years in state prison in November.

She is incarcerated at Albion Correctional Facility in Orleans County, together with her oldest launch date set for Jan. 29, 2021, when she is granted parole.

Bushey pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

Bruno reluctantly handed down a sentence of one to 3 years in prison, a portion of a plea agreement with the Clinton County District Attorney’s Office.

Bushey could be published this past year.

According to the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, he is scheduled to appear until the State Parole Board per week of Jan. 22.

He’s 342 local prison days.

— From Staff Writer Cara


State and Local officials formally opened the new Institute for Advanced Manufacturing in late September after years of preparation and construction, hailing it as the future of local labour training.

The institute in  Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh addresses labour concerns for companies such as Norsk Titaniumand also a founder of proprietary technology that is expected to transform Plattsburgh to a global center for additive production.

An open house in the institute attracted large audiences of newsmakers, who loathed this facility’s potential.

CCC and Clarkson University agreed in November to collaborate on additive-manufacturing research that would strengthen workforce education and training for local businesses.

Anthony Collins, president of Clarkson, also Ray DiPasquale, president of Clinton, signed the memorandum of understanding in  the institute during a ceremony to announce the agreement.

— From Staff Writer Bob Bennett


On the heels of finishing a $54 million growth in Plattsburgh International Airport, Clinton County legislators kept the ball rolling by putting started about a second $42 million worth of projects from 2017.

The airport was one of 74 seeking financing through the state’s   Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Initiative.

Plattsburgh International won $38 million about $52 million in big improvements. The county also snagged $4 million in federal funding.

The plan comprises a mixture of improvements to passenger service as well as the evolution of new air-cargo and industrial operations on the large flight line of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

The project could generate as many as 595 temporary and permanent projects, along with about $1.9 million annually for the county coffers, officials explained.

“That is the future of Clinton County on the market,” said Legislature Chairman Harry McManus (D-Area 1, Champlain). “We believe it will be the economic engine of this county.”

The $54 million growth of Plattsburgh International that ended last year included tripling the size of the terminal to accommodate more passengers.

Together with all the 38 million in state money, the county’s plans a fresh air-cargo centre, large aerospace hangar, U.S. Customs center for general aviation airplane 60,000-square-foot industrial center, rehab of an present hangar and industrial buildingsand new passenger bridge to get international flights, car-rental center, bus terminal, and concession area from the terminal and renovation of the primary parking lot.

Rid space and A parking lot for a potential hotel development is also included.

The airport has performed in the passenger portion of flight services, County Deputy Administrator Rodney Brown  said, and will continue to try to expand that facet.

But the county needs to focus on other locations, too, ” he explained.

“Air freight is not a place that we have managed to do much with, thus we want to set a facility for anybody interested to come in and be in a position to utilize it,” he explained. “And we think that is definitely potential.”

Brown said the airport also has had requests from aviation outfits seeking hangar space.

“Now, we have to start completely developing the potential for other kinds of aviation and especially for industrial development related to transport equipment and aerospace,” North Country Chamber of Commerce President Gary Douglas  explained.

Brown reported the 38 million worth of projects which are going to be undertaken in 2018 should all be full by Oct. 1.

When done, the airport will have five completely renovated buildings, three new buildings plus a new parking lot, and eight derelict  structures will probably be gone.

“The airport not just will look more polished and professional, but it will be more functional, and also we are going to be able to draw more tenants,” Brown explained.

“This can increase our existence and increase our capacity to generate revenue and also improve our traveling passenger’s expertise.”

— From Staff Writer Joe LoTemplio


In August, State Police charged two Mooers inhabitants with criminally negligent homicide  in the March 4 death of Jason Guay, 42.

Amanda L. Yelle and Jason A. LaFountain supposedly abandoned the Mooers man  revved on the side of the street about 500 feet from his house that evening.

Police have said that temperatures dropped below zero, and Guay was intoxicated, donning a T-shirt.

An autopsy revealed he died of hypothermia.

Yelle and LaFountain have been arraigned before Clinton County Court Judge William Favreau Oct. 4.

A pre-trial convention is scheduled for Feb. 1, with a trial set to begin March 19.  

— From Staff Writer Cara


Facing a serious fiscal crisis, the City of Plattsburgh took bold steps in the summer of 2017 by removing four divisions.

Gone would be the Engineering, Recreation, Human Resources and Information Technology departments.

The movement is likely to save roughly $981,000.

Elimination of those departments was proposed by Mayor Colin Read, who took office Jan. 1, 2017. Read said the town required to make about $1.4 million in budget cuts in order for the town to be solvent.

The mayor said cutting these four departments wouldn’t signify a reduction of services, as the responsibilities would be moved to other departments.

The Infrastructure Division was made to administer the responsibilities of their four removed departments, together with Environmental Engineer Jonathan Ruff named as portion of the new division.

The move was not without controversy, even as some councilors objected strongly, stating they were not given enough details about the proposed cuts and that department heads were not even consulted.

Councilor Josh Kretser (D-Ward 6) and See obtained into many heated discussions about   the mayor’s  strategy at one assembly, with Kretser demanding amounts and details from him.

“I can not vote till I see the figures,” Kretser said in one exchange. “There should be more collaboration on something like this, and I haven’t seen it.”

By stating this was about saving the town, not department heads that were certain, even the mayor countered.

The public also weighed heavily.

More than two dozen individuals spoke to the council through a lengthy interview concerning the proposed cuts, together with many reassuring councilors to pull on the trigger and make tough decisions.

But others implored councilors to not cut these vital services as Engineering and Recreation.

At the conclusion of a four-plus-hour assembly, councilors finally voted to remove the four branches.

In late December, Councilor Becky Kasper (D-Ward 5), that was compared to elimination of those departments, said she’d be watching intently in 2018 to see exactly what the impact will be.

Kasper said the town will have to measure.

“I don’t know yet exactly what the impact is,” she explained. “We probably will not fully understand before the spring of 2018, but I will be keeping an eye on it.”

Kasper said one telling item may be just how much the town has to invest in contracting out services, largely for technology responsibilities.

“My eyes will be open,” she explained.

They will have to discover a way, although if the cuts do not work out, it will be hard for the town to adjust, Kasper explained.

“It is hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube when it’s outside.”

— From Staff Writer Joe LoTemplio


In May, a Clinton County Adult Protective Services see Resulted in the discovery of 91-year-old veteran Ralph Tefft’s remains within his Morrisonville house.

Investigation disclosed he had died a natural death approximately Feb. 1, and also his daughter Tina M. Cummings had murdered  4,647 from Social Security benefits and $15,065 in veterans benefits in a joint accounts they had after his departure.

Cummings was charged in July with two points of third-degree grand larceny, a felony, and making a punishable false written statement, a misdemeanor.

She was sent to Clinton County Jail on $10,000 cash bail/$20,000 bond.

Cummings admitted to freely using the money from September, when she pleaded guilty to the two felony counts in Clinton County Court.

A plea agreement reached with the Clinton County District Attorney’s Office called for 120 days in prison, five years of probation, restitution and a mental-health evaluation and treatment.

Judge William Favreau ordered Cummings to be released Oct. 1, as her sentence can be finished in 80 times with good behavior.

But if she does not appear for sentencing that is formal, she could face two and a second to seven years.

That hearing is set for Jan. 18.

— From Staff Writer Cara


The summer was filled up with drowning deaths.

On July 3, Matthew R. Miller of Ithaca expired in the Flume about the West Branch of the Ausable River in Wilmington.

Five days after, Watervliet resident Keaven W. Green’s body was recovered out of Kiwassa Lake in the Town of Harrietstown.

Acute alcohol intoxication was imputed in their own death and that of Raymond Faville, a 60-year-old chef, who dwelt in Lake Champlain in the Essex Marina on July 17.

Michael J. Butler III, 61, of Long Island lost grasp of his paddleboard July 21. Searchers recovered his body Lake George near Ticonderoga the Following Day.  

That Identical afternoon, George W. Mitchell, 32, of Plattsburgh died of an accidental drowning in Indian Lake from the Town of Bellmont, State Police Troop B Public Information Officer Trooper Jennifer Fleishman said.    

Ralph “Skip” Baker, 50, of Webster was reported missing while hiking in the High Peaks. On Aug. 1, searchers found his body in the Ausable River; he may have endured a medical event before falling in.

And Aug. 10, Peter C. Reed, 72, of Albuquerque, N.M., fell off a paddleboard to Lake Champlain near Point au Roche.

Fleishman stated the reason for death was listed as undetermined, although he did was discovered to have had a pre-existing medical condition.

In September, Alexander Stevens, 28, of Hopewell, N.J.,  has been  found dead near the base of Wallface Mountain from the Town of Newcomb.

An autopsy determined the missing hiker had succumbed to bronchial pneumonia.

Prior to these fatalities, 20-year-old Saige Borden expired  after her canoe capsized in Lake Placid in May.

On Dec. 14, State Police detained Matthew J. Pilawa, 29, also Camilla Varoli, 19, both of North Elba after a lengthy research into Borden’s departure.

Pilawa faces a misdemeanor charge of second-degree unlawful annoyance, which police say is for allowing underage use of alcohol and drug use to happen in his Lake Placid house the night until Borden drowned.   He was introduced on a Lake Placid Village Court appearance ticket and can be set to appear p.m. Monday, Jan. 18.

Varoli was charged with three counts of first-degree unlawfully dealing with a young child and one count of petit larceny, both misdemeanors.

She allegedly gave alcoholic drinks to three individuals younger than 21, for example Borden, also produced an unauthorized purchase using a 48-year-old girl’s credit card.

Varoli was released on Village Court and North Elba Town Court appearance tickets. As of Thursday, no dates had been set.  

— From Staff Writer Cara  


Norsk Titanium is on the lookout for a new CEO, as Warren Boley goes into a advisory and consulting part.

John Andersen, the organization’s board chair, is serving as interim CEO while also Norsk lines up Boley’s substitute.

Those improvements in the firm, which established its Plattsburgh presence happened as 2017 attracted to a close.

The company won final approval in 2017 to build a thinner version of this SUNY Polytech facility slated for construction this spring in the prior Clinton County Airport, cutting it back into 100,000 square feet from 166,000 square feet.

Norsk had originally planned to add shell space in the facility that would have left space for additional rapid plasma purification machines, but   it chose to stay with the 32 it already has.

Each machine is capable of generating around 20 tons of printed material every year.

Earlier in the year, Norsk  procured a production order order for structural titanium aerospace parts from Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems.

The Plattsburgh website attracted visits from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie along with  Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that touted the facility as an economic power for the North Country.

“We’ve got much to look forward to in 2018 and outside Plattsburgh becomes a new international hub for innovation from aerospace and additive production,” explained North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas.  

— From Staff Writer Bob Bennett


On Sept. 29, SUNY Plattsburgh suspended Pi Alpha Nu’s actions after University Police received a report which hazing had taken place in the fraternity during pledge weeks.

Twenty-one  current pupils and a single alum were indicted on criminal misdemeanor charges.

Each was charged with a minumum of one count of first-degree hazing, also four also face the charge of second-degree unlawful nuisance.

One is charged using.

SUNY Plattsburgh Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs Ken Knelly said Wednesday that no additional criminal arrests had been made and there  had been   no last resolutions from the campus judiciary process.

In addition, the fraternity remains under a cease-and-desist activities order.

Police have said five former pupils will be expected to face charges.

— From Staff Writer Cara


Friends Megan Rea and ToniAnn Buscemi were one of the 600,000 thronging Manhattan during the Women’s March on NYC, a sister march to the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2017.

“I went because I was very mad about the (presidential) election, I presumed pretty much everyone who went into the march was,” said Rea, who is the president of the Center for Women’s Concerns at SUNY Plattsburgh.

“I definitely saw President Trump as a predator, and I definitely just needed to do something which felt as though I was protesting in some way. Be cautious about it and I didn’t want to sit around .

“I understood it was going to be one of the biggest marches ever, and I did not want to look back on it and regret not moving.”

Dr. Connie Shemo, a professor of history in the college,  did not attend any of their marches but shared her thoughts.

“The march was significant as a sign of widespread dissatisfaction with a candidate that did, in reality, lose the popular vote,” explained Shemo.

“The size of this march on Washington — near half a million individuals, the largest march since anti-war demonstrations from the 1960s and early 1970s — revealed the degree of feeling from the incoming administration.”

— From Staff Writer Robin Caudell


Ken Parkinson assumed the role of Plattsburgh City Police leader in March, succeeding Desmond Racicot, who retired in January.

Prior to his promotion, he had 24 years on the drive.

His other positions included patrol sergeant, Special Response Team member and administrative lieutenant.

Parkinson was provisionally appointed and must score in the top three of a civil service exam for chief, which he said are usually held in March.    

“It’s been sort of a busy, somewhat hectic year,” the main reflected, “but we are hoping to continue doing what we’ve been performing, solving crimes and improving community relations in the coming year.”

— From Staff Writer Cara


Hundreds attended the State Police Centennial Celebration in Troop B headquarters in Ray Brook.

Activities included demonstrations  from the Special Operations Response Team/Aviation Unit, K-9 Unit, defensive-tactics teachers, the Underwater Recovery Team plus a ceremonial mounted unit; a registering of this new book “Relentless Pursuit” by its author, retired Troop B Commander Maj. Charles E. “Chuck” Guess; and obstacle courses for kids.

As well, a comprehensive timeline and the flying Wall of Honor have been on display.

Troop B Commander Maj. John H. Tibbitts Jr. said it was fine to open the doors and say, “Hey, listen, this is us, thank you personally for what you do to us, and we are going to continue to do what we do to you.”

— From Staff Writer Cara


Two teams aimed at promoting mental health went live in 2017.

Even the  Clinton County Suicide Postvention Response Team, which launched April 1,  plans supply postvention services to families, faith-based groups, colleges, work places and many others who’ve lost loved ones to suicide.

Their intention is to promote healing so as to avoid suicides and decrease risk.

The Clinton County Suicide Postvention Response Team  may be contacted 24/7. Call 800-724-0747 and request the suicide response team mates.

And on Nov. 6, the Clinton County Mobile Crisis Team and its North Country Crisis Helpline  started offering services.

Calls to the helpline — 866-577-3836 — are answered by a crew member from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The team member enables the callers determine if they need   referrals to resources, to set up appointments using their present suppliers or to have the Crisis Team match them.

The group — whose objective   is to reduce unnecessary emergency room visits to people in crisis — could react everywhere within Clinton County, such as the Essex County sides of Keeseville and AuSable Forks.

An on-call service replies the helpline out of team hours.

— From Staff Writer Cara


In March, Tanveer Hussain, then 24, of India, who participated in the World Snowshoe Championships in Saranac Lake, was accused of participating in a passionate kiss with at 12-year-old girl and touching her in a romantic area within her clothes on Feb. 27.

Saranac Lake Village Police him with first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

Over the summer an Essex County grand jury indicted Hussain about an additional child endangerment count.

On Dec. 6, he also pleaded guilty to one of those misdemeanor counts, that charged him “with improper communications using a 12-year-old female child and that such communications were not age appropriate and also a sensuous and intimate nature,” Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague’s Office explained.

As part of a plea agreement, Acting Essex County Court Judge Keith Bruno sentenced Hussain to time served and a mandatory surcharge, also issued a 5-year sequence of protection for the girl.

Federal agents took Hussain into custody ; on Dec. 13, he was moved out of Clinton County Jail, according to VINELink.

The DA’s Office said he would be moved to Batavia to wait for transportation back to India.

Saranac Lake Village Trustee Rich Shapiro reported that in  Hussain’s hearing, the Indian guy said via a translator that he was pleading to the child-endangerment bill so he can return home.

— From Staff Writer Cara


Blazes in two Witherbee apartment houses displaced a total of 21 individuals.

On March 16, fire broke out in a second-story toilet of the building at 371 Witherbee Road.

Amy Armstrong and her boyfriend, Steven Gagnon, lived in one unit using Amy’s daughter, Jamie Armstrong, and her two kids, Braydon and Gracelynn, that in the time were 8 and 3, respectively.

Steven’s sister, Ella Fields, lived in another together with her daughter Tiffany Fields and two grandchildren, Tanner, then 8, and Skyler, then 4.

Steven and Ella’s brother, Francis Gagnon, lived in a third apartment.

“We are all doing well; times are still rough,” Amy said last week, adding that they are attempting to have the building torn down again.

“But we’re all healthy and together and had a pleasant Christmas and hoping for a better new year.”

In June a bent electric wire ignited the interior walls of the kitchen space in 432 Witherbee Road.

Mark Fleury resided on a single side of this duplex there together with his wife, Tammy Cole-Fleury; their own sons, Dakota, then 12, and Julian, subsequently 10; and Tammy’s cousin, Joshua Streeter.

At the time, Tammy said Trever and Tori Fleury, just two of Mark’s older kids,  lived on the opposite side with Trever’s girlfriend, Maranda Bacon, and their daughter, Emilia Fleury, 2, together with Tori’s boyfriend, Kylelee Combs, and daughter, Storm Fleury, 2.

— From Staff Writer Cara


Agencies in the area put forth many initiatives targeted at combating the opiate epidemic in 2017.

In January, University of Vermont Health Network, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital declared that its Emergency Department would start giving Narcan kits to those struggling with addiction.

More than 900 people packed the Strand Theatre from April to see “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict” and listen to a panel of service providers, law enforcement and individuals directly affected by the situation.

Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery of Clinton County, or SPARCC, sponsored that and other screenings held in area schools throughout the year.

SPARCC and also the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System produced a booklet and program named “Routes to Recovery” that provide individuals with contact information for substance-abuse and mental-health treatment providers as well as other support providers.

Over the summer, Champlain Valley Family Center for Drug Treatment and Youth Services Inc. started offering substance abuse counselling at Clinton County Jail.

The Family Center also enlarged recovery coach services to CVPH and the Clinton County Department of Social Services.

In August, Citizen Advocates Inc. held an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony for its fresh Crisis & Recovery Center.

Assemblyman D. Billy Jones toured treatment suppliers’ facilities in Clinton and Franklin counties in September to discuss the opiate epidemic with professionals and people in recovery.

A month after, employers and treatment specialists participated in roundtable discussions in the Butcher Block concerning the challenges, blot and options of employing people struggling with addiction.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie’s Office compensated for former  pro quarterback Ryan Leaf to visit the SUNY Plattsburgh Field House in November to Provide a keynote speech on his career, addiction and recovery.

The same month, the Franklin County Board of Legislators approved a measure allowing the County Department of Social Services to bring another caseworker due to worsening situation loads, that Commissioner Michele Mulverhill credited to this opioid tragedy.

Mulverhill hired an additional 3 employees to cover visitations.

Renovation of the former Adirondack Residential Center to a brand new  alcohol and drug detox facility is expected to head out to bid early January, using a builder to be selected in February, ” Family Center Executive Director Connie Wille explained.

She added that the Family Center’s present outpatient clinic  in Plattsburgh — that now occupies the full distance at 18 Ampersand Drive — will start supplying open entry in Feb. 19.

“When someone wants assistance, all they have got to do is walk in door, and we are going to begin service immediately.”

Assessment appointments will be scheduled as necessary.

— From Staff Writer Cara