Village & Town Issues

Malone’s Roads from Hell

Malone's Awful Roads!

"our taxpayers deserve better" (andrea stewart)

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

First, a disclaimer.  Not all the roads in Malone township are horrible. Secondly, there are plenty of roads in the Village of Malone that got hammered this past winter by the relentless freeze-thaw-rain cycle, but this article is not about them.  At the moment I’m focusing on the chronically horrible township roads — several of which I ride my bike on, year after year.

Consider the Houndsville Rd.  Spectacularly terrible! For years it’s been terrible! Parts of the road are literally falling into the creek. Yikes!

Houndsville is one of many such casualties. If this were an isolated problem perhaps it wouldn’t be so alarming. But it’s not. There are lots more, some far more egregious.

It’s often said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Perhaps it is.  In the case of Houndsville Rd, I can affirm it’s paved with lots of busted asphalt about which the intentions of Highway Superintendent Bruce Mallette remain unclear.

Malone Town Supervisor Andrea Stewart finally got fed up with complaints from residents.  At the town board meeting on May 8, speaking on behalf of We, the People, she charged Bruce Mallette with incompetence: 

RiverCityMalone takes a road trip . . .

RiverCityMalone had one of its reporters take the following route and take the photos shown below:

We went down Lower Park St to go to Lovers Lane Rd.  Then south on Rte 30 to Whitten Rd.  Traveled that to the end.  Took a left on Houndsville Rd to check on the bridge/culvert.  Turned around to travel Houndsville to Route 11.  Turned right on Rte 11 to Goodman Rd (left turn) and traveled Goodman to the Teboville Rd.

Drove Teboville to the end, into Bellmont, to see the difference between the two municipalities.  Bull Run and Brick Church Rd( these are off of Teboville Rd):  just looked at from Teboville.

Drove Webber Rd to Fayette Rd, and turned onto Webster Street Rd, to Royce Rd (left), Child, then Cosgrove, then left onto Rte 30 south to McCabe Rd to view the Riley Rd. 

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Beware of LED streetlights in Malone (or anywhere else)!


— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Ten or so years ago, cities and towns across America began swapping out HPS (High Pressure Sodium) streetlights for LEDs.  (Malone did not fall for this fad.  We currently have HPS streetlights — and pray to God we keep them!)  LEDs became the municipal rage.  After all, said the hucksters selling them, they’re cheaper in the long run and use less juice, thus cutting down on the electric bill — except they are very expensive to buy.

The uproar was swift and, frankly, predictable, if municipal officials had done their homework.

When my city of Newton, Mass., announced plans to install LED streetlights in 2014, I was optimistic. I’m all for energy conservation, and I was happy with the LED bulbs in my home office. But months later, returning from a week’s vacation in rural Maine, I was shocked to find my neighborhood lit by a stark bluish blaze that washed out almost all of the stars in the night sky.1

In the meantime, human beings are making their own displeasure known based on health, environmental, and quality-of-life concerns. Some residents of Brooklyn, Seattle, and Houston have joined the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in fighting installations of blue-rich LED street lighting. And in Canada, public outcry over the city of Montreal’s $84 million plan to replace existing streetlights with LEDs centered on light pollution and health impacts.2

In interviews with the media, my fellow experimental subjects have compared the nighttime environment under the new streetlights to a film set, a prison yard, “a strip mall in outer space” and “the mother ship coming in for a landing” in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Although going half-blind at 58, I can read by the beam that the new lamp blasts into our front room without tapping our own Con Ed service. Once the LEDs went in, our next-door neighbor began walking her dog at night in sunglasses.3

I have published a photograph, at the top of this page, from one such community. Here are several more, all taken at nighttime, believe it or

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$5K loans, 1.5% interest for federal employees!

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

I got paid yesterday. The Border Patrol agent wearing the above vest did not.  Neither did this one, below.

I might be indifferent to this if I lived in a state without an international border. But I don’t. NYS has a notoriously porous border with Québec, Ontario, and the St. Regis Mohawk reservation.

Allow me to be more graphic.  This is my street: Clay Street, Malone.

Ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t rocket science. When the United States Border Patrol and Border Protection are obliged to continue working during the federal shutdown to protect my street from hypodermic needles — you’d better believe I’m going to get involved. And you should, too.

These men and women are not protecting an abstraction named “America”; they are protecting Malone Châteaugay Burke Constable Ellenburg Plattsburgh Westville Massena Ogdensburg Potsdam Canton Saranac Lake Lake Placid, and on and on.  All the communities we call the North Country.

You and I have a moral obligation to assist these federal officers to make certain they can pay their bills.  We can’t simply shrug and blame Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi.

Last Friday I checked with several banks and credit unions in Malone to see if any were extending zero or low interest credit to federal employees working without pay. Only one financial institution is doing so: the North Franklin Federal Credit Union (NFFCU) at 494 E. Main St., Malone.

I spoke to a loan officer at Community Bank (Malone) and another at NBT Bank (Malone).  Neither bank was doing anything special for these people.  I called SeaComm Credit Union (Malone) and spoke to a loan officer.  SeaComm is offering a 9% personal loan or 2.99% secured loan to SeaComm members, only. I did not check with other Malone banks.

Click here to read SeaComm’s response to the crisis, reproduced below.

As of this writing, only NFFCU is offering something humane and socially responsible to these people and their families.

The individual chiefly responsible for this decision is this man.

I met with Darin for an hour yesterday.  He was raised

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Jesus on Elm: St. Joe’s at 90 Elm St.

— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

All the photos, below, are from the St. Joe’s “supportive housing” project at 90 Elm Street, Malone. St. Joe’s has christened it “Main on Elm.”

As many of you know, this beautiful rambling building was for many years an Ursuline convent. (Note that the Ursulines are a teaching order.)

After that it housed the nursing program for North Country Community College.

After a spectacular $5.6 million renovation, it is fitting that the building and its grounds have joined the nationwide supportive housing network.  (NYS has been for years a leader in this movement.) Main on Elm is designed, architecturally and programmatically, to be a place of teaching and healing. The Ursulines and nurses would be proud.

More than anything else, Main on Elm is a community project.  Not because it’s funded by NYS tax money — which it is.  The genius of 90 Elm is its commitment to the principle of grace, which is hardwired into human nature.  Evolutionary biologists call it “altruism,” and puzzle over its origin and possible hereditary mechanism.  Anthropologists have long witnessed this grace as the “gift” which is the main driver within all aboriginal societies. The “gift” predates, by tens of thousands of years, economic institutions such as trade, commerce, usury, the accumulation of wealth and, of course, capitalism and corporations.  (No, the “gift” is not the same as “barter.”  And so-called “Indian giving” in the colonial era is a complete perversion and misunderstanding of what actually transpired. But I’m straying beyond the immediate topic.)

St. Matthew tells us that Jesus spelled out the parameters of the “gift” as follows.

People with the title “Saint” before their name took these terms seriously. (Mother Theresa comes to mind.)  The rest of us, myself included, are more comfortable nodding pious assent as we sit solemnly in a church pew.

What’s unnerving is that St. Joe’s insists we take these terms seriously.

St. Joe’s just gambled $5.6 million of taxpayer money on bricks & mortar and 10 highly trained staff to bring Jesus to 90 Elm Street.  No, not for

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The Chair


— Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Behold the chair!   What’s remarkable is its location.  (As realtors are fond of saying, Location, location, location!)  Several weeks ago its owner, a tenant at 21 Washington St., discarded  it as trash, dropping it off the front porch where it shamelessly sat in full view in a neighborhood trying oh-so-hard to be a showcase for civil behavior in this beleaguered village of ours.

The neighborhood is mine, and by “civil behavior” I mean public behavior that respects the social contract.

The social contract?  Never heard of it?  Actually you have, though perhaps by a different name.  The social contract has been the linchpin of community organization dating back to Paleolithic times and doubtless even earlier, into the distant horizons of human evolution.  We witness it among hunter-gatherer societies as well as modern nation states.  It’s what makes group living bearable—or hell.

Jesus of Nazareth, the man who said he knew the mind of God, invoked the social contract when he exhorted us to, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  In fact, 95% of his teaching and public performance were about the social contract—as in feeding thousands of hungry people on several occasions.

The social contract—be decent and courteous and thoughtful toward your neighbors and community—has been, for millennia, a major theme in philosophy, ethics, and community governance the world over.  Along with the Ten Commandments, God gave us lawyers and judges to get us out of a jam or provide a reality check when we fail to honor this contract.  Everyone in the slammer violated it in one fashion or another.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote passionately on the social contract, as did his compatriot Voltaire, both of whom were struggling to reform French society from the top down.  (Lots of people lost their heads in this fiery debate known to history as the French Revolution.)

I write this on behalf of the Clay-Milwaukee-Washington Neighborhood Group, a loose collection of homeowners, landlords, and tenants living in this section of town where this offending chair brazenly held

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The day the river destroyed Malone


—Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

I imagine it happening in the middle of the night.  (These things often seem to occur in the wee hours, when no one’s around.  At least, I hope that will be the case.)

Nina and I are awakened by a huge crash.  A tremendous boom.  Like an explosion.  Our house shakes.  (We live on Clay Street; I’m almost certain our house will shudder like it does during an earthquake.  Except this earthquake will be man-made.)

Then, sirens.  Wailing, wailing as every fire company for 30 miles around arrives on the scene.  State police, village police, border patrol—all will be there.  Then huge klieg lights, eerily illuminating the downtown.  And the acrid smell, like a pall over the village.

Within minutes, I notice there’s traffic going down Clay Street.  (Ah, yes.  Main Street has been sealed off.)

Such will be the day when the river destroys Malone.

What I just outlined will be the best scenario, mind you, the one we should all hope and pray for.

The bad scenario is:  The collapse happens during the day.  A busy day of traffic downtown.  That is to say, an ordinary day of traffic crawling through the narrow canyon of centuries-old buildings lining Malone’s historic downtown—a downtown now turned murderous.  When suddenly the entire front of this huge building pitches forward onto traffic and perhaps pedestrians, oblivious to the time-bomb which has been silently parked there by the bridge, lo all these years.  Biding its time.


Sirens.  Downtown cordoned off.  Casualties.  Ambulances.  And we all suck in our breath in horror and tell one another, “Such a tragedy!  Nina Pierpont was on her way to Price Chopper in her white Subaru.  Rescue teams are down there now, trying to extricate her from the car.  She appears to be alive, but there’s lots of blood.”

“Has anyone told her husband, yet?”

Nina Pierpont—or you, or me—won’t be the only one.

This building—#395 W. Main St—is going to fall into the Salmon River.

The most significant problem of this building is the questionable soundness and stability of the exterior walls, particularly the east, stone-masonry wall which is founded

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The Village of Malone needs to restructure taxes, not dissolve itself

—Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD

Two financial issues are driving the question of village dissolution:  high taxes in the village and the fear that the village may become bankrupt within a decade.  There is a common perception that the village has mis-managed its budgets and departments by allowing contracts/salaries/benefits to become recklessly generous.  Indeed, there is now a growing sentiment that we don’t really need these village employees who, not surprisingly, are starting to feel blamed for the village’s financial woes.

What’s going on, here, is a cascade of misinformation about village finances.  As I hope to make clear, village dissolution is not the only way—in fact, it is the least attractive way—to restructure taxes and service funding within the Township of Malone.

Dissolution will cause us to lose a critical service—the Malone Village Police.  The Town of Malone is unlikely to establish a town-wide police service (notice that town councilors refuse to commit themselves on this, while two councilors, including the supervisor, are vocally against it).  Nor is there any guarantee the state will designate a special police district within the town if the village is dissolved (we have heard so from Janet Duprey).  With dissolution, the police will go.

Let’s talk about how taxes and services are structured in Malone.  They are pretty complicated, yet essential to understand.

First, how do tax bills compare in village and town for an average family?  Let’s imagine a house and property valued at $80,000 in each place.  In the Town of Malone, this family would pay $893.08 per year in town/county taxes.  In the village, it would pay $605.40 in town/county taxes and $1326.05 in village taxes, for a total of $1931.44.  That’s $1038.44 more in the village.  (School taxes are the same in both locations.)

Why so much more in the village?  What’s different about it?

In the village we have municipal water, municipal sewer, drains under the streets, lights over the streets, sidewalks, street cleaning, a police force, a recreation program with parks and an ice rink, leaf and brush pickup, tree maintenance, and unsafe building demolition.

Both the town and village maintain roads, plow snow off

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Malone: A story

—Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

There was once a brave little boat named “Malone”—a vessel ship-shape in every way.  Smartly fitted, seaworthy, and manned by a crew of two:  first mate on oars and skipper at helm.

With a dream and a star to steer her by, crew and captain launched themselves on uncertain seas.

Meanwhile the skiff somehow magically grew—imperceptibly, yet grew.  To become a stately ship clothed in sail, still following a dream—and a star to steer her by.

(Some say she grew so others might come aboard—seafarers seeking life on fairer seas.)

Year after year our good ship “Malone” navigated the sea lanes of Time under prudent command of captain and crew.

What the sea giveth, the sea also taketh away—and the wise sailor takes nothing for granted.  So there were times when billows grew large and battered the good ship “Malone.”

Through fair weather and foul, she proved her worth and sturdy timber—and mettle of captain and crew.

When sheets were shredded in screaming gales, and deck awash with deadly sea, “Malone” held course—to that star they steered her by.

Even so, fate is cruel to men who hunger for the sea.  So fate seemed to steer the good ship down channels uncharted and unknown, concealing reefs and shoals to make wreck of vessels like “Malone.”

There, with shuddering thud, sudden lurch to port and scream of rending timber—the brave vessel ran aground.

Aground indeed, but—thanks be to God!—not sunk.  Taking water below—yet no shouted command from captain and crew to lower lifeboats and abandon ship.

Serene stands the . . . captain.
He is not hurried, his voice is neither high nor low,
His eyes give more light to us than our . . . lanterns.

—Whitman, “Leaves of Grass” (1855)

From the bridge he calmly orders, “All hands on deck!”  With voice raised above wind-whipped seas, to all assembled he exhorts,  “Be of good cheer!  By our Lord’s grace and the willpower of every man, woman, and child on board, we can save our vessel.  For she is built of strong, well-joined timber—and we shall all live to

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“Heart & Soul Community Planning”: Blueprint for Malone?

Editor’s note:  Take a look at this video.  “Heart & Soul Planning” for communities like Malone.  It’s a program run by the Orton Family Foundation, Middlebury VT.

My thanks to Boyce Sherwin for bringing this to my attention.

Unlock Your Potential: Heart & Soul Community Planning
from Orton Family Foundation on Vimeo.

In 2008, the Orton Family Foundation began a $10 million, five-year initiative to develop a new approach to values-based community planning designed to bring citizens back into the process of charting the future of their cities and towns. We call it “Heart & Soul Community Planning.”

We piloted the process in partnership with five communities in the Northeast and Rocky Mountain regions, testing new methods, tools and messages. Our early challenges and successes have inspired us to further refine our approach so that citizens have the tools they need to unlock their potential and keep their places special.


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“Place-Making”: Reviving downtown Malone!

“Virginia Developer Is on a Mission to Revive His Town” (Roanoke VA)

Editor’s note
:  Could Roanoke VA become a model for Malone’s “renaissance” (rebirth)?  Read the NY Times article, below, and see what you think.  

There are interesting parallels between Roanoke, which is far larger than Malone, and Malone.  John Mills (Malone’s “Painted Lady” Genius), Hugh Hill (Exec. Dir. of the Malone Chamber of Commerce), and I have been discussing a concept rather similar to the one described in the article, below.  It has a name; it’s called “placemaking.”  Much of our concept has to do, believe it or not, with “paint.”  (You will notice that Frank Cositore used this approach with the Flanagan:  Once he fixed the windows and painted the building, it stopped being an eyesore and everyone stopped hyperventilating about “The Flanagan.”  There might be a lesson in that little story.)

Incidentally, Boyce Sherwin has been preaching “placemaking” for years.  That’s what the “Mullin Report” was all about—years ago.  (“Boyce, I think some of us, including yours truly, are only now beginning to grasp what you were talking about.”) 

—by Melena Ryzik, NY Times (7/24/12)

ROANOKE, Va. — The Kirk Avenue Music Hall, a four-year-old club named for its downtown block here, offers an unexpected perk to its performers: an apartment. For a night or so, before or after gracing the stage, artists stay at no charge in a loft a block away, signing the guest book with notes of gratitude.

Community members involved in Roanoke’s revitalization gathered last week at a building that is to become a rock climbing gym.

“We don’t have money, we don’t have fame, so hospitality is really critical,” said Ed Walker, the club’s landlord and a founder.

It is hard to miss Mr. Walker’s brand of hospitality on Kirk Avenue. He owns nine of its storefronts, turning what was a forlorn block not long ago into a social destination. The music hall doubles as a microcinema and event space. There is Lucky, a restaurant run by a touring rock band that decided to stay put, and Freckles, a cafe and vintage shop

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Re-Imagine Malone (Part 2)

—by Hugh Hill, Malone Village Trustee & Executive Director, Malone Chamber of Commerce

Checklist of Economic Opportunities:

(1) Develop our tourism economy by creating a modern and effective marketing effort funded by a fee collected from lodging visitors and managed by a private sector board of directors based on the proven record of success in Essex and Clinton Counties. (This opportunity deserves an essay all by itself!)

(2) Understand and exploit the seasonal resident potential by developing housing that takes advantage of our proximity to Titus Mountain, the golf course and the residential lakes in the area. Building. Selling 15-25 seasonal residences a year would have a multi-million dollar annual impact locally, providing new revenue for business and municipal governments. I think the potential is greater than the number I mentioned because we are 1.5 hour away from the nearly 4 million residents of Montreal, whose per-capita incomes are among the highest in North America.

(3) Domain and brand the area a value-added agricultural food basket specializing in agricultural products we already produce (dairy products, maple syrup, etc.) and are capable of producing in greater quantities (organic meats, tree fruits, specialty produce and high-value products like vegetable oils, beer, wine and more).

(4) Create an agricultural incubator space that would help small producers reach consumer markets by using shared administrative services (order taking, shipping services, etc.) and health department certified production equipment that they cannot afford to own when transitioning from home production to commercial production.

(5) Clean-up and fix-up local communities & neighborhoods through code enforcement, and deal with restrictive state and federal rules that prevent the removal of blight. This will be a small step in positioning our communities to better attract some of the estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers a day who are turning 65 years old (76 million people). That daily trend started last year and will continue every single day for the next 19 years.  America is ill-prepared to house and service the changing needs of this gigantic number of people. We have an opportunity here!

Communities like Malone are safe, have nearby high quality health care services, retail services, are walkable,

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Re-Imagine Malone!

Re-imaging Distressed Communities: A Strategy to Reverse Decline and Attract Investors”

—by Catherine Toups* and James H. Carr (Spring 2000)

Recasting the image of a community is a potentially powerful tool to promote revitalization in distressed inner cities. While neighborhood leaders and redevelopment professionals struggle with the overriding tasks of earning community trust and participation, structuring real estate deals, raising money, and gaining political support, the challenge of turning around the community’s image may be relegated to the sidelines.

It is, however, a critical task: If a community plagued by a public image of abandonment, crime, and blight can reimage itself early in the process, it is better positioned to attract new residential and commercial development and engender a new sense of community pride and hope in the future among current residents. Across the country, formerly distressed communities have repositioned themselves with remarkable results.

This article outlines strategies that can be used to recast a community’s image and illustrates how such techniques have been used successfully. One of the primary strategies often used to change the perception of a neighborhood is giving it a new name that creates a positive image, possibly highlighting historic or positive elements in the community. Often, a logo is created to reinforce the name with a graphic image. Other reimaging techniques include packaging creatively the community’s unique or historic assets, making highly visible physical improvements, and target marketing the neighborhood to carefully selected potential residents and merchants.

Identify Community Assets

An important first step to recasting a community’s image is to take stock of its physical, social, and human resources. Engaging stakeholders — neighborhood groups, community development associations, merchants, local government and institutions, the school district, churches, local foundations, and interested corporate citizens — in the community’s future is a critical part of this process. Together, the stakeholders can identify the community’s assets, incorporate them into an identity, and envision a new image.

In inner cities across the country many eyesores are actually hidden assets: rundown old houses, busy streets, vacant warehouses, boarded up buildings, empty lots. They often possess an infrastructure no greenfield could begin to compete with

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Malone in the 21st Century (Part 2)

—Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

In Part 1, we surveyed Malone’s history and decided (I hope) to stop wringing our hands over the closure of the factories and mills.  (They closed all over America, after all.  The chances of a town hanging on to its factories in the last 30 years were about as good as the odds of my getting a date with Angelina Jolie.)

State prisons filled the breach.  They’ve been an economic boon and life saver.

The only problem being that prisons are a crap shoot; they survive at the caprice of state legislators and governors who, let’s face it, will sooner or later have to make deep cuts to a state budget which is stupendously out of line with state revenues.

If we lose our prisons we’re up the proverbial creek.  Alice Hyde could receive a mortal blow, as would all the physicians in town, school budgets, tax base, Walmart, etc.

On the other hand, it’s unlikely we’d lose our prisons outright, wholesale.  More realistically, there would be staff cut-backs.  Followed a year or so later with more cut-backs.  It’s called “death by inches.”

Whether Malone’s prisons die by inches or in one devastating blow or one at a time, like bowling pins, their future is a ticking clock, rather like Cinderella’s fantasy ball.  When the hour strikes midnight—which it will inevitably do—Malone, I fear, will turn into a pumpkin.

While the clock ticks, let’s plan for a future we control, not Albany or Washington DC.

Before we rush headlong into brainstorming, we must be clear about what exactly happened to Malone over the last century, since it’s not immediately obvious—till someone points it out.  In 1918, when Frederick Seaver published his “Historical Sketches of Franklin County,” state and federal control over Malone was minimal. One hundred years later, we’re practically owned by the state and feds. Today, a mere 15% of Franklin County’s budget comes from taxes. The rest is state and federal money. And that money comes with strings attached. Lots of them.

Unfortunately, none of those strings is going to raise Malone from the (near) dead. They may

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Malone in the 21st Century (Part 1)

A Malone “with hope and promise”

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

In 1918, a local journalist named Frederick J. Seaver published a learned and exhaustive history of Franklin County.  It’s fascinating reading.

Not quite a hundred pages into the book, Seaver asks wistfully, “What of the future?”  To which he cautiously replies,

It is believed not to be without hope and promise, though conditions and our location, remote from manufacturing centers, can not be thought favorable to a very large growth or to a very great industrial development.  Aside from the timber supply, our natural resources are few, and not likely to attract capital for the establishment of large manufactories (p. 71)

Seaver was right about “manufactories.”  Although abundant and thriving at the time of his writing, and certainly vital to the region well past the mid-20th century, Franklin County’s “smokestack” industries (mills and factories) would one day fail.

(Photo by Mindy Robinson)

(Photo by Mindy Robinson)

Jay 0. Ballard & Co. have a woolen mill and men’s garments factory on the site of the old Parmelee saw mill, with surrounding grounds handsomely laid out and kept—making, with the well lighted and sanitary buildings, one of the most attractive industrial establishments to be found anywhere.  This concern began operations in 1891 in the old Whittelsey mill at the bridge on Main street, and continued there until 1901, when it bought at its new location, erected suitable buildings, and installed all new and modern equipment.  It has had a remarkable success, employs a hundred and fifteen to one hundred and twenty hands, and would work a still larger force if procurable (Seaver p. 451).

(Photo by Mindy Robinson)

The date of the erection of the first Horton grist mill, which was of wood, is not known, but was earlier than 1806.  It was razed in 1853, and the present stone structure erected on the same site.  W.W. & H.E. King were part owners of it at one time, and sold their interest in 1868 to Eugene H. Ladd.  William E. Smallman bought the Horton interest later, and the mill was run for a long

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Where’s the Code Officer? (Death by Slums, Part 2)

News Flash!

Ladies & gentlemen, there’s a new mayor in town.  I mean, a new breed of mayor.  Mayor Todd LePine.

Since publishing the article, below, has learned that Mayor LePine had himself deputized as a part-time Code Officer.  Over the past week, Officer LePine and Officer Charlie Robert have been inspecting slum housing throughout the village and issuing numerous Code Violations.  This is unprecedented!  A breath of fresh air!

Ladies & gentlemen, after a series of disappointing men and women occupying the Big Desk at City Hall, it’s looking like Malone finally has a real, honest-to-god mayor!


Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Part One” in this series argued that Malone is being strangled by slums.  Slums that take the form of either unoccupied, derelict buildings, or buildings with tenants whose rent is paid by “public assistance” (essentially DSS)—the latter being no more than publicly subsidized, taxpayer supported slums.

There are doubtless other categories of “slum” and “shanty housing” in the village; these two, above, are  the most obvious and egregious.

I use the word “strangled.”  Strangulation happens when a slum devalues surrounding properties.  Strangulation happens as well when “slum behavior” creates what I call a reign of terror within a neighborhood.

(For an unforgettable, first-hand experience of this reign of terror, spend several days living on Milwaukee, Academy, or First St.  Experience the violent, aggressive, shouted obscene language.  The 2 am drunken parties complete with smashed beer bottles.  Interview neighbors cowering indoors—the homeowners who describe themselves as prisoners inside their homes.  This reign of terror has legs; it strolls up and down Washington & Clay Streets and others, at any hour of the day or night.  Without exception, the individuals responsible for the reign of terror live in slums.)

Part One featured Jack & Elvira Stewart for the following reasons:

(1) Because every single one of their 11 village properties is shamefully and unacceptably maintained.

(2) Because every single one of their 11 village properties is hammering neighboring property value.

(3) Because every single one of their 11 village properties is hammering neighboring quality of life owing to certain tenants (or

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Death by Slums (Part 1)

Calvin Luther Martin, PhD

Have you noticed Malone is dying?  Our village has a malignant tumor.  We’re being devoured by a cancer killing us street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood.

It’s called “slums.”

The above building is familiar to most of us.  It’s hard to miss.  It’s the Jack & Elvira Stewart rental property on the corner of Morton and E. Main Street.

I will come back to Jack & Elvira in a moment.  First let me say that Malone has many fine and responsible landlords.  Three have rental properties on my street—Pat Ward, Dennis Bannon, and the Greenos.  Rick Chapman, on Washington, is also a reputable landlord.  Gary Mageean comes to mind as does John Mills.

All these people—and there are many others—maintain their buildings and properties in keeping with the character of the neighborhood.  (In Mills’s case, he goes well beyond the character of the neighborhood.  John sets the bar and sets it high.)  Furthermore all of them monitor their tenants, making certain they respect the visual amenity, civility, and tranquility of the neighborhood.

These people are not the problem.  The problem is people who either inherit or purchase distressed buildings which they pack with tenants and allow the building and grounds to go to hell.  I would venture to say these landlords are in the minority—perhaps only a handful or so of landlords.  Yet their impact on the village is disproportionate to their numbers; it’s huge and disastrous to the surrounding neighborhood.

I call it “death by slums.”

The slumlords of course are not the only reason for the “slumification” of Malone.  Witness the numerous empty, derelict, ramshackle buildings littering the village.  They seem to pop up like mushrooms in the night.  Yes, somebody owns them; however it’s nearly impossible to  track down the owner and get him (her) to fix the problem—a matter I will take up in Part Two of this series, where I focus on the currently dysfunctional Village Code Office.

That said, it’s one thing to be, say, an absentee owner of a decaying, unoccupied building.  That’s reprehensible enough.  It’s another to be running a “rental property” business where

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Booze at County Fair

» To the Franklin County Fair Board:

We, the undersigned, ask that you switch the location of the beer tent.  From its usual spot to a new one, such as the other side of the grandstand (near the entrance in front of the NCCC campus).  Doesn’t matter where, so long as it’s moved from its current, inappropriate location.

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Malone Raceway?

Racetrack 1

The Race Track.  It’s called the Malone International Raceway and Entertainment Park.  (MIREP, for short.)  Owned by former state police BCI officer John “Chick” Fountain.  Located next to the Market Barn and Bokie’s Drive-In.  Technically it’s in the Town of Malone, although literally it’s on the doorstep of the Village of Malone.  The racetrack was approved by the town in 1995 and did in fact operate for several years.  Then, for reasons we won’t explore here, it sat idle for years.

Now Mr. Fountain is back and intends to re-open it.  There is a special town meeting at 6 pm this Wednesday (July 2nd) at the town offices (Malone Dufort Airport) to discuss the terms of re-opening.  RiverCityMalone urges you to attend and ask some questions of the town board and Mr. Fountain.

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