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Calendars raise funds, celebrate history

SARANAC Sylvia Newman has been raising funds for historic projects in the town of Saranac for four years and counting. Newman recently completed her fourth calendar, which depicts the July 12, 1947 flood that devastated parts of Saranac. The 2009 calendar is ready for purchase and all proceeds will be used to either relocate or replicate one of the 18 one-room schoolhouses that once dotted rural Saranac. Plans are underway for the schoolhouse to serve as a museum for the town. Newmans involvement with the history of Saranac began five years ago when she and her husband attended a meeting held by town historian Jan Couture about raising funds to restore the 1888 Civil War Soldiers Monument at Saranacs Independence Cemetery. They were the only two to show up. Be careful what you raise your hand for, she laughed. Shortly after that night, she began work on her first fundraising calendar which featured a variety of historic Saranac photos. In the bottom right-hand corner of each picture page, she placed a tiny soldier, representing the monument that would benefit from the calendar sales. Her second and third calendars each had a picture of a small iron gate in the bottom right-hand corner as funds went to restore the iron fence at the back of the cemetery on Ganong Drive. Her second calendar showcased historic Saranac homes, while the third recaptured the glory days of the River Run, a round-trip tour of the pubs between Pine Haven Restaurant in West Plattsburgh and the Pine Grove Restaurant in Loon Lake. This calendar raised $5,000 to complete the restoration of the historic fence. Newman is hopeful the flood calendar will raise the same amount or more. She decided on the flood theme while visiting Shirley Otten. She showed me a box of old photos while I was there, said Newman, and there were many pictures of the flood. The flood occurred when a localized two-hour torrential rain storm fell on already saturated ground the afternoon of July 12. Creeks and brooks turned into raging rivers, carrying boulders and trees, ripping bridges apart, and destroying roads and personal property. Most tragic was the drowning of Paul Ebere, 41; Leo Lashway, 32; and his 8-year-old son, Donald. They were driving across the bridge on State Route 3, crossing True Brook, when it collapsed. The 2009 calendar captures the power and devastation of the flood with the testimony of numerous pictures. The pictures give evidence as to how the accumulated damages cost the town $500,000 and brought it to the brink of bankruptcy. With the 2009 calendar completed, Newman is already hard at work collecting historic pictures of Saranacs one-room schoolhouses for the 2010 calendar. She enjoys the calendar making process, especially the collecting of pictures and talking to different people and hearing their stories. It is fun, she said. Ill keep doing it until I run out of photos, which may be never. The flood calendar, which costs $10, is now available at most Saranac area businesses and Maggy Marketplace in Dannemora. Past calendars may also be purchased by contacting Sylvia Newman at 293-7337. Donations may be sent to the Saranac Restoration Committee, in care of Sylvia Newman, 170 Chazy Lake Road, Saranac N.Y. 12981.

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