ROUSES POINT - The village of Rouses Point has a lot of which to be proud.
This past May, Mayor George A. Rivers was notified the village had received a Local Government Achievement Award for public works. And, they were honored with first place.
When the New York Conference of Mayors had originally sent out a form to all mayors in the state asking if there were any public works projects they would consider for an award, both Rivers and village clerk Carol Hanfield decided the underground utilities project would fit the profile.
"There's no overhead wires in 99 percent of this village," explained Rivers. "We're working on the last two streets right now. By the end of next year, we'll be done. There'll be no more wires in the village of Rouses Point."
The project originally began in 1992 when the New York State Department of Transportation asked the village if they would consider putting wires underground when Lake Street was reconstructed.
"Very slowly we started going into some of the residential areas," recalled Rivers.
Rivers explained he was on the board of trustees in 1995 and found many people did not want the project done in their neighborhood because of the work that would need to be done.
However, three years later everything changed.
"Then came '98," Rivers said. "The Ice Storm. Everybody that had underground power had their power."
The following summer, many who had originally been against the project, were for it.
But, the project had other benefits besides less power outages.
According to NYCOM's monthly bulletin, "The appearance of the streets of Rouses Point, uncluttered by overhead wires, has been frequently cited by potential businesses and visitors as making the village more appealing than typical upstate communities, contributing to commercial revitalization of the area."
"When you've got 200, 300 villages and cities and you're number one in the state, it makes you feel pretty good," said Rivers. "I was surprised that we were number one."