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Featuring mock kidnapping mystery, benefit gala raises record sum

During North Country Ministry’s recent gala banquet, Dr. James Morrissey (right) was identified as a prime ‘suspect’ in the conclusion of  a fictional kidnapping mystery, as he opened his doctor’s bag and pulled out a fistful of cash at the prompting of plot narrator Bob Myers (left). The drama prompted plenty of laughs from the capacity crowd at the banquet.

During North Country Ministry’s recent gala banquet, Dr. James Morrissey (right) was identified as a prime ‘suspect’ in the conclusion of a fictional kidnapping mystery, as he opened his doctor’s bag and pulled out a fistful of cash at the prompting of plot narrator Bob Myers (left). The drama prompted plenty of laughs from the capacity crowd at the banquet. Photo by Thom Randall.

— A capacity crowd attending North Country Ministry’s recent annual gala banquet participated in unraveling a fictional mystery — the “kidnapping” of famed area auctioneer Martin Seelye — as a record amount of money was raised for the charitable agency. The banquet was held at Hiland Park Country Club.

A meandering wealth of “evidence” — including a ransom note with words cut froma magazine, a glue gun, map and key — led the audience from one witness or suspect to another, all gala attendees.

Concluding the madcap tale, Seelye showed up with his wrists and mouth duct-taped, as evidence indicated that noted area philanthropist and cardiologist Dr. James Morrissey was the prime suspect.

Morrissey pulled a fistful of dollars from a black doctor’s bag, all but admitting he had bound Seelye up in a plot to stash money away to build a halfway house for former SUNY Adirondack presidents.

With the various gala patrons involved in the plot — and peppering their performances with humorous ad-libs, the drama provided plenty of laughs for 45 minutes or so as attendees finished their meals.

The dinner-theater mystery was written by and emceed by Bob Myers, who operates Adirondack FlatLine Players along with Lynn Gorham.

North Country Ministry Board member Anne Smoczynski, who co-chaired the gala with Charleen Bivona, said Saturday that due to the generosity of the gala sponsors and various donors, the event raised a record mount of money for charity.

“It’s really moving to see so many people and businesses step forward like this,” she said. North Country Ministry is the leading outreach agency in northern Warren County, known for helping connect people with job and housing opportunities, as well as providing advocacy work, vital emergency aid and help in parenting and child-care issues for hundreds of families per month over a 650-square-mile area.

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