Gentle giant tamed by time?

LAKE GEORGE - For four decades, a gentle giant has been at the helm of Lake George Village.

Six-foot-five Robert Blais has served as mayor of the renowned resort municipality since Nixon was in office, the microprocessor was invented, and the U.S. Jaycees presented Elvis Presley with an Outstanding Young Man award.

He's the longest serving mayor in New York State, according to a spokesperson for the state Conference of Mayors, who could only gasp when hearing this week that Blais was first elected mayor in 1971 after serving several years as a village trustee.

In recent years, there have been rumors circulating at one time or another of his resignation or retirement.

Nearly three years ago, some speculated he'd leave office before the village went through dissolution - to allow the process to take place smoothly, or without bias.

Blais, now 74 years young, stayed on through the village residents' repeated rejection of disbanding, to face another crisis - the failure of the sewer main along Shepard Park Beach, a spillage with contamination that was met with quick action and brought to resolution.

This past year, Blais said his plans to run for re-election were in limbo, and some folks suspected, again, that he was retiring.

This week, he confirmed that he's still unsure of his plans of whether he'll run in the March election.

Blais has had a preliminary diagnosis of cancer, he said, and he may be starting treatment that will make staying in office a hardship.

Monday, Blais said, after meeting with a doctor, he's likely to have a clearer outlook of what's ahead, including whether he'll run for office.

"I'll be talking to my kids and see what they think about me running again," he said with a characteristic smile.

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