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Elderly aiding county in responding to record number of tourist inquiries

QUEENSBURY - Several county department heads and a half-dozen residents of the Warren County residential home have collaborated in an effort to boost tourism while offering a little relief for taxpayers.

With a record number of requests pouring into the county tourism office for vacation and tourism information, county employees have been stressed to prepare brochures and leaflets for mailing.

And with the county's budgetary restrictions, hiring workers, outsourcing the job, or paying overtime are out of the question.

So a group of residents of county-supported Countryside Home volunteered to take on the task, and Monday they were busy at the county Municipal Center, stuffing lake-George/Warren County Summer Guides with event calendars and sealing them ready for mailing.

Her hands flying, Countryside resident Rose Beretta, 85, said she enjoyed the work and the socializing.

"I've done volunteer work all my life, and any little thing I can do to help, I'm glad to do it."

Marjorie Rocker, 80, agreed, adding that the job had its benefits.

"I've been retired 15 years, but I love to work like this," she said. "Besides, it's much warmer here than it is at Countryside."

As the workers chuckled, Beretta said that apparently the thermostats at Countryside Home had been turned down to save taxpayer money.

Joining Rocker and Beretta in the stuffing effort were Countryside residents Patty Darton, Mary Terzolo, Tom Russell, Rick Bartlett and Minnie Albanese.

County Tourism Director Cate Johnson and Countryside Administrator Brenda Hayes watched the home residents stuff thousands of the tour guides.

Warren County responded to 220,640 requests for tourist information last year, and year-to-date, the county has seen a 50 percent increase over the prior year, Cate Johnson said. Friday alone, the county received 6,000 requests for tourism information, she said as the Countryside residents worked.

"They are performing an extraordinarily valuable service for us," she said, noting the county's recent beefed up advertising, including video-on-demand, new email blasts, and interactive cable and internet advertising, were all contributing to the onslaught of requests.

"We have a lot of useful people living at Countryside, and they are happy to put their skills to work for the taxpayers of the county," Hayes responded. She said that the residents in the past have had few opportunities for volunteer work outside the home.

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