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Stepping down after 18 years of service

NORTH CREEK Bill Thomas remembers when the state opened Gore Mountain in 1964, hoping to make North Creek a destination for tourists. The people came, but they drove to Gore and werent even aware that North Creek existed, he said. Thomas is retiring after 18 years as Johnsburg supervisor and seven as chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, but he will retain his seat with the Adirondack Park Agency. He was honored at the last full county board meeting on Friday, receiving a railroad hat from Glens Falls Supervisor Bill Kenny and a plaque from Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe. One of the driving forces in his tenure has been to improve the economy of the area, which didnt happen in 1964, despite what state planners thought. My dream has always been to connect the state ski area and Little Gore, Thomas said. Gore Mountain General Manager Mike Pratt is also working on that dream and Thomas said that a new chairlift is now taking skiers to the top of Little Gore, also known as the North Creek Ski Bowl, a step toward connecting the two. We opened the tubing park five years ago, and now with new lighting, I think it will be a big attraction for North Creek. He said the connection between the ski bowl and Gore Mountain could happen in the next couple of years. Thomas was born and raised in Pottersville, where he worked for a time at Montgomery Department Store. He was a member of the first graduating class from Adirondack Community College in 1963 and married his wife, Carol, in 1965, and they raised five sons. I had to work two jobs for a lot of the time with five boys at home, Thomas said. In 1968, he took a job with National Lead in Tahawus, and worked in several capacities there until it closed in 1989. I was looking for work, and I decided to run for supervisor, Thomas said. Unlike some who leave the area for greener pastures, Thomas never gave that a thought. My family history goes back to the 1790s in the Adirondacks, he said. My parents worked all the time and we never went away on vacation so I never experienced much outside of the area, and there isnt anywhere else Id rather be. Prior to becoming town supervisor in 1990, Thomas was a member of the Johnsburg Board of Education in the mid 80s and was town justice for three years until 1989. He was also an EMT for 17 years. Thomas considers his biggest accomplishment during his tenure has been the successful completion of the railroad line. That project began in 1993 with the purchase of the track with help from state and federal grant money. In 1990, it was an abandoned line, with grass and trees growing up through the tracks, he said. Im never one to be satisfied, and I can see another train on the 28 miles of tracks that go north to the Tahawus mines. The Upper Hudson River Railroad can now run between North Creek and Corinth, with a Saratoga connection in the works. Thomas said if the connection between Gore Mountain and the ski bowl had been completed during his incumbency, that would have been his biggest accomplishment. Thats Sterlings job now, Thomas said. Attorney Sterling Goodspeed was elected Johnsburg supervisor and will take over on Jan. 1. Thomas said one of his pet peeves during the changeover in administration is the perception that he was grooming Goodspeed to become his successor. There are some supervisors and other people who believe they should choose their successor, Thomas said. My opinion is totally different. Thomas said that Goodspeed ran for town supervisor because he wanted the job. Whoever wins the election will take the town in the direction that they believe is best, he said. The town will now go in Sterlings direction, not Bills direction. The voters decide who they want for supervisor. At the county level, Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe, also an attorney, will take over as chairman of the board. It took two lawyers to replace me, Thomas quipped. Over the years, Thomas has worked tirelessly to improve life in his area. We were struggling along, improving the rail line, adding the rail museum with the help of a lot of volunteers, he said. Then the ski hut burned down. The town had used the building at the ski bowl for many things, including town board meetings. I met a couple at a Rotary meeting handing out perfume samples, Thomas said. They asked to meet with the town board, because they felt that the town needed a center. That couple was Woody and Elise Widlund who ultimately built the Tannery Pond Community Center for over $2 million and donated it to the town. That building is ahead of its time, Thomas said. Its a great building, and brings a lot of interest to the town. Its truly a regional attraction. Thomas said he looks forward to relaxing after Jan. 1. I have a part time job with the APA that meets twice a month and Ill be able to spend more time studying those issues, he said. I also love spending time with kids, and I like to chaperone the Teenagers Only dances in town. He said after Jan. 1, he will receive no paycheck for the first time since 1963. I have my pension from National Lead and 20 years in with the county, so I dont really need a job, he said. I feel really good, and maybe Ill work up on the mountain to keep busy.

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