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Controversy erupts over use of old Adirondack schoolhouse

Al and Jess LaFountain review artwork created by students in their Adirondack Arts & Science Day Camp, which has been hailed by area parents. The educational summer school is held in the old Adirondack hamlet schoolhouse. Volunteers who rehabilitated the sturcture for a community center recently aired their complaints to the town board — which rents out the building — that the day camp's use of the building during the summer is hampering its use by civic groups. Students pictured are: Avril LaFountain, Karli Wood, Teddy Fleming, Owen Fleming,Devin Clench-Matteo, Izzy LaFountain and Gracie Staunches.

Al and Jess LaFountain review artwork created by students in their Adirondack Arts & Science Day Camp, which has been hailed by area parents. The educational summer school is held in the old Adirondack hamlet schoolhouse. Volunteers who rehabilitated the sturcture for a community center recently aired their complaints to the town board — which rents out the building — that the day camp's use of the building during the summer is hampering its use by civic groups. Students pictured are: Avril LaFountain, Karli Wood, Teddy Fleming, Owen Fleming,Devin Clench-Matteo, Izzy LaFountain and Gracie Staunches.

— Montague, as well as a town board member, said that the day camp offered the only local summer educational program in Horicon, and parents would otherwise have to send their children to Chestertown or beyond for the experiences the camp offered.

“We want to keep our youth here,” she said.

One of the volunteers, Vince Blando, said the purpose of the building had been bypassed by the board. “The schoolhouse was to be a community center, used by groups for short periods of time,” he said. Another volunteer, Jane Smith, noted the hundreds of hours invested by community members into the building, which was now being used primarily to host a private business.

Others said that the school supplies and curriculum materials remaining in the building made it difficult for groups to meet without disturbing the ongoing school projects. A local resident suggested that the day camp proprietors store the materials over weekends, so other groups could meet and conveniently conduct their functions, which Jess LaFountain agreed to.

“You call use, we’ll clean it out — we’re not here to make things difficult,” she said. “We’re providing something the local kids don’t otherwise have here.”

Rebecca Hopper, parent of a student, praised the day camp program.

“They teach respect, citizenship and a sense of community,” she said. “It’s an amazing program.”

Tom Magee, chairman of the Gore Mountain Region Community Fund which awarded a grant for the schoolhouse’s renovation, spoke up after listening to the controversy on how the building should be best utilized.

“I’m happy that I’ll be reporting to my group that the building and our funds are being used well,” he said.

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