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Historic markers are refurbished for town as part or civic-minded project

SARANAC Markers denoting historic places within the Town of Saranac have new life thanks to the hard work of a group of community-minded residents. Town planning board member Cindy Waldron and some of her fellow residents recently restored 13 historic markers after noticing the signs had become severely weathered over the years, most recently making them very hard to read. Their unattractive, faded appearance was enhanced only by the dark color of rust that developed from the constant exposure to the elements since the first of them was installed more than 15 years ago. Information on signs describing the old Saranac Iron Works mill, the Saranac River and the former Sallaz Academy, the kindergarten through 12th grade school that closed in 1964, was being lost. I thought it was a shame that these wonderful historical markers that show how important our town is and was in where we are today couldnt be read and the history was being missed, said Ms. Waldron. The project was first brought before a Saranac Town Council meeting by another resident a few years ago, explained Ms. Waldron. That project faltered due to that person having other commitments, leading Ms. Waldron and her friend Janice Gosselin to eventually offer to take on the task. With that, the women and some of their friends set out to restore the markers for the town at no charge. The process to restore the markers some of which were made of heavy cast iron and some of aluminum was an involved one, said Ms. Waldron. Upon receiving the markers, which were removed and transported to Ms. Waldrons home by members of the Town of Saranac Highway Department, several steps were taken to ensure they were brought to like new quality. Fellow town resident Robert Chisholm was credited for building a makeshift cradle that held the markers while they were sandblasted. After the markers were stripped of their chipped and faded paint, Ms. Waldron and her band of volunteers Ms. Gosselin, Jack Bryant, Donnie Waldron and Mr. Chisholm worked to painstakingly prime and paint the bare markers a sharp blue and yellow, standard colors of national historic markers. The average drying time for each marker was between one and two days, depending on weather, Ms. Waldron said. In all, the process took about 200 volunteer hours, she said. We worked after work, weekends and nights, said Ms. Waldron. I know it would have taken a lot more time to do this by myself. This is the first time I have taken on a project like this and I am so glad I did, admitted Ms. Waldron. Now, I think the signs really stand out and I actually notice them. I have had several comments that people didnt notice them once they started to fade. I am very glad that we did them. Were so appreciative of their efforts in restoring these markers, said town supervisor Joseph Gerardi. The alternative, he said, would have been for the town to hire a person or firm to perform the work, costing an undetermined amount of money. The idea of doing something like this that helps the common good is an admirable quality, Mr. Gerardi added. I think it is very important to keep the history of our town alive and passed on through the generations, said Ms. Waldron. I didnt realize what a happening little town we live in and it was wonderful to read about things that have gone on and have shaped our town and how important the Saranac River is to other towns. Photographs of the markers restored by Ms. Waldron and her friends may be viewed on-line at the Town of Saranac Web site, www.townofsaranac.com. An historic marker for settlement in the Town of Saranac in 1802 sits atop a pile of other historic markers prior to being refurbished.

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